Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Heb. 1:1–4)
To be perfectly honest, sometimes the most difficult paragraph for a writer to compose is the very first one. How can I captivate my readers’ imaginations, weaving each reader, somehow, into the fabric of the story? Sitting before this screen with my Bible before me, I find myself at a loss for words pristine enough to ascribe what’s deserved to this book and the God-Man who inspired it—as if I’d been asked to introduce Abraham Lincoln or the Queen of England to you, but was limited to the text of a Dr. Seuss book.
But I believe in the power of God’s Word to do the work for which I am inadequate, and so I begin by making a simple request: If you have a moment, would you go back to the top of this post and read Hebrews 1:1–4 again? Let it soak in and permeate every corner of your mind and heart.
The writer of Hebrews spent no time on pithy anecdotes, begets and begats, or even Pauline greetings of grace and peace, lovely as they are. He begins with a mic drop moment, handing to us the spectacles through which we can view the rest of this letter, and the rest of Scripture, for that matter:
Jesus is preeminent.
Jesus is permanent.
As we glean new mercies from each chapter of the book of Hebrews throughout the course of this month, if we learn nothing else, let us remember this: Christ our Savior is above all things, and He remains forever. Preeminence and permanence. Let’s pull back the curtain on these two ideas as we begin to explore the book of Hebrews.
Christ: Our Preeminent Prince
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the author of Hebrews begins by meeting the Hebrews where they are—in the past. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways,” he begins, “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but,” he continues, “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (1:1–2). Jesus, says the author, is literally the last word. The Omega. The end (Rev. 22:13).
Beyond that, we learn that as God speaks today through the life of His Son and through His Word, that very same Son is both the creator of all things and the heir of all things! What does that mean? It means that there is nothing—absolutely nothing—in heaven or on earth, physical or spiritual, that is not made by Christ (John 1:3), bought by Christ (1 Cor. 6:20), or belonging to Christ (Rom. 11:36).
It is all His.
And why? Because of who He is. Jesus, who, if you know Him as Savior, you can call “God with Us,” is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature. The Greek word for “radiance” used here, apaugasma, is used only this one time in all of Scripture. It’s defined by Thayer and Smith’s Greek lexicon as “reflected brightness, of Christ, in that he perfectly reflects the majesty of God,” and also as “effulgence,” which means “shining forth, of a light coming from a luminous body” or “out-raying.”
Do you long to be “touched” by God? Do you ever ask to “feel” God’s presence? Jesus, Himself, is God’s glory “out-rayed,” undiluted. This glory is exactly the same as it reaches the depths of your heart as it is at the throne of God. You aren’t longing for an experience, sister. You are longing for Jesus, the perfect, present imprint of your Father’s nature.
And not only is Jesus an imprint of His Father’s nature, He is the imprint of His Father’s nature. He is not a clone, not one of many, but the One and Only. Jesus doesn’t say, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen something that is a close representation of the Father.” He says, unequivocally, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Christ: Our Permanent Priest
Jesus is also our High Priest, our permanent pathway to the Father. In verse one of Hebrews 1, we learn that Jesus was present and active in creation. In verse eight we hear these words: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.” So we know God’s throne is eternal, but before we pass by these words too quickly, notice who the speaker is here: the Father is saying these words about His Son! The Father says to the Son (calling him “God,” by the way!), “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” He says, essentially, “You are the King, and this is Your kingdom, forever.”
From the beginning to the end, we read in Hebrews, Jesus was there, laying the foundation of the earth, working the expanse of the heavens with skillful hands (1:10). But Jesus is no temporary prince and no time-entangled priest. In the end, we read, everything He has created will perish (1:11). This earth is wearing out before our eyes, becoming ever more threadbare by wind, water, and fire. And one day, He will pick up His tent. He will roll up the whole thing like a garment, and it will dissolve with a flame as fast as it came. But Jesus?
He remains. Unchanged. Forever on His Throne, advocating for us, lowly though we are.
We should see the wonder in this every day—that a man, who is also God, once walked upon this earth, holds it all together, and will one day return to it. All will see His Father’s glory, once and for all. It’s too great a gift and indeed too great a task to sum up with feeble human words, so I’ll end as I began, letting Scripture interpret itself. Read Colossians 1:15–20 now as a song of praise to Jesus, our preeminent and permanent Savior.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.