God Gives…. The Son

God Gives…. The Son

Hebrews 1:1-5

I want to fill your head with some random facts that I learned this week, and I will leave the fact checking up to you:

  • Some cats are allergic to humans.
  • The apple pie is not really American.
  • The national animal of Scotland is… the Unicorn.
  • The 100 folds in a chef’s hat represent 100 ways to cook an egg.
  • The largest known living organism is an aspen grove in Utah.
  • Facebook has more users (2.89 monthly) than the total population of China (1.4 billion) or India (1.3 billion)
  • The odds of getting a royal flush are exactly 1 in 649,740.
  • Four times more people speak English as a second language than as a native language.
  • There is an Australian bird (The Lyrebird) that has the ability of mimicking almost any sound including car alarms, camera shutters, and even the sound of a chainsaw. 
  • There is a world record for the most world records held at a time.
  • The largest sandcastle in the world measured 54 feet high.
  • Chocolate is a fruit… in the sense that cocoa powder comes from the fruit of the cacao tree (which is really a bean).
  • Baby elephants suck their trunks for comfort.
  • Roller coasters were invented to distract Americans from sin.
  • People used to say “prunes” instead of saying “cheese” while having their picture taken.
  • It is impossible to hum a melody while holding your nose.

In some ways, we treat our relationship with God in the same way we treat some of the things we learn.  We receive it, decide whether or not we want to remember it, and then file it for a time we might want to use it during our lifetime.  I think we treat the Gospel of Jesus Christ this way in the same way that we believe the message of the gospel saves us, in the sense that it initiates us into the Christian faith.  However, in order to grow as a Christian, we must move beyond the gospel to continue to grow as a Christian.  I believe Hebrews 1:1-5 shows us, in the words of Dane Ortlund: “The gospel is not a hotel to pass through but a home to live in. Not a gateway into the Christian life but the pathway of the Christian life.  Not jumper cables to get the Christian life started but an engine to keep the Christian life going.”[1]

The book of Hebrews does not begin with its statement about Jesus as a refresher, but a statement that sets the tone for every proceeding verse.  The epistle was written to encourage suffering Christians that Jesus is worth the losses they suffered resultant of their faith.  The first five verses serve to show its readers that unlike the gods that other people worship, our God speaks to his people and that Jesus is the best and most complete way he communicated himself to the world.

Last week I began this sermon series by telling you that generosity is a character trait of God that he does not need to improve upon.  His generosity is as complete as his love, his grace, his mercy, his justice, his power, his wisdom, and his holiness are complete.  I said last week that his generosity is limitless as is his worth.  I also said that our worship of him is not something we do because he needs something from us, but that we acknowledge his worth by coming to him with empty hands that only he can fill and empty hearts that only he can fill.  I concluded our time last week by telling you that God created you for the purposing of loving you, and the way he has made that love possible is giving his Son for the forgiveness of your sins and your reconciliation to him.

God Has Spoken to Us

According to the author of Hebrews, God has gone out of his way to make himself known to humans.  How has he made himself known to humans?  “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke… by the prophets” (v. 1).  The assumption made by the author is that his readers did not need proof that God exists, but what they did need was to be reminded that he is not indifferent, distant, or emotionally unattached from his creation.  He is a God who, out of his generosity, has invited all to know him. 

There is no explanation for the origin of God, but that he simply existed long ago.  He is the maker of the heavens and the earth.  The psalmist said of God: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, form everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2).  The apostle Paul provided a reasonable explanation for the existence of God in his opening chapter in his epistle to the Romans: “For what can be known about God is plain to them. Because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in things that have been made, so they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19-20). 

How often has God communicated himself to mankind?  He did it, “at many times and in many ways…”.  God revelated himself in words and deeds, through visions and through dreams, and he has done this in the past by the Prophets as his instruments of communication. God revealed himself through Moses, through Joshua, through Samuel, through David, Solomon, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.  God also revealed himself through the apostles and disciples of the first century through individuals like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, and even individuals whose names we are never given.  What is so critical for you to know and understand is that these individuals did not communicate their ideas about God, but that God spoke by these individuals.  This is why the testimony of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is this: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that person of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

God has spoken and what we have in our Bible are his words!  His word has authority and his word changes lives! Throughout the centuries that God has communicated himself, he promised that one would come who would reconcile sinners to God.  What did God say about Jesus by the Prophets?  

To Adam and Eve, God said: “I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

To Judah, God said: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his” (Gen. 49:10).

Through the prophet Isaiah, God spoke: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).

Through the prophet Micah, God promised: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).

But, when Jesus was born, God communicated himself in the fullest and most perfect way.  Literally, this was God’s fullest and most complete revealing of himself. 

God Revealed Himself to Us

Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel and was told that she would give birth to the one spoken of the prophets of old: “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:30-33). 

When Jesus was born on that very first Christmas night, for the first time in history, God took on human flesh and became like us.  Jesus was born so that we could have One who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses as he lived a life fully experiencing our humanity.  Jesus lived the life we could never live so that “…we may have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin” (see Heb. 4:14-16). 

It is Jesus who has been spoken to us in these last days! This was God’s most complete revelation of Himself.  This does not mean that what God has spoken through his word is now obsolete, it means that Jesus fulfills what God has spoken by the prophets long ago.  Jesus is God’s “Yes” to all his promises in the scriptures (2 Cor. 1:20).  This is why Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17).  Jesus is the point of the Word of God. 

Long ago, at many times and in many ways” Men like Noah believed God that it would rain, and men like Abraham became characterized by their deep faith in God, men like Moses withstood Pharaoh, and men like David slew the Goliaths of the world because they knew their God through the message of the prophets.  As great as God’s creative forms of revealing Himself were, His spoken word was never complete, that is until Jesus was born. 

God’s ultimate and complete expression of Himself was and is Jesus.  He is more brilliant than the burning bush, he is better than the Law in that he fulfills it, he is better than the prophets because he is whom they pointed to, and he is superior to the angels because he is God.  Jesus is the heir of all things, and it is through Jesus all things were created.  Jesus is not only love with with flesh, he is God incarnate.  The author of Hebrews explains how Jesus is better than what was spoken long ago: “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” (Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus is radiance of the glory of God in that he reveals the Father’s glory.  When we see Jesus, we see God in the flesh.  Jesus is the “exact imprint of his nature…” in the same way the design on a coin is the representation of the die from which it was cast.  This does not mean that Jesus was created, it means exactly what Jesus claimed of himself: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).  Because he is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, it is he who, “upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

Do you remember when Jesus calmed the sea in Mark 4:35-41?  Jesus was in the boat sleeping while the disciples were wigging out over the ridiculous storm that threatened to capsize their boat.  They woke Jesus up and asked him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  Jesus got up rebuked the wind and said to the sea: “Peace! Be still!” Immediately the storm went away.  After Jesus calmed the storm, we are told that the disciples, “…were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”  Do you know why the disciples in the boat, who were seasoned fishermen, were filled with great fear?  Because they had sung and memorized Psalm 107, which was also known by their peers as, “The fishermen’s Psalm.”  They understood this Psalm to be about a God who alone is capable of stilling violent storms.

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.” (Psalm 107:23–30)

What blew the disciples away was that the person who was asleep in their boat did what only God is capable of doing.  They were filled with great fear because they did not know how to reconcile Psalm 107 with Jesus.

The same power that hushed the storm that day is the same power that sustains the universe. The same power that multiplied five barley loaves and two fish into a meal to feed five thousand men and more is the same power that sustains the universe.  The same power that made the demons flee is the same power that sustains the universe.  The same power that made the lame walk, the blind see, and raised the dead, is the same power that sustains the universe today!

I heard an illustration this week about the size of our universe measured by slices of paper.  Considering the size of our sun in our solar system, and one slice of paper represented the size of our planet, you would need a stack of paper 70’ high to fill the sun.  The diameter of our little galaxy (if earth was the size of a slice of paper) would be a stack of paper 310 miles high.  Considering the fact that our galaxy is only one of billions, our galaxy is the equivalent of a speck of dust. 

According to Hebrews 1:3, Jesus upholds the universe by the word of his power.  Is he the kind of person you ask into your life to be your assistant?  Is he one you treat as your consultant when you need him or when you think his advice lines up with what you want for your life?  Of course not.  This is the Jesus who does not agree to be your assistant, consultant, good-luck charm, mascot, co-pilot, or any other role in your life other than Lord!  When it comes to his role in your life as Lord, it is either all or nothing. 

God in his generosity gave his Son not so that he might become your servant, but that you would become his. This is why Jesus warned: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:21-23).  Jesus is not you sugar daddy; He is King of kings and Lord of lords.  As the heir of all things, he owns all things; through him, you own your existence.  Yet, even though he is God, he was born in flesh to bear the wrath of God on your account. 

God Provided the Way to be Known by Him

Jesus, God’s final and perfect revelation of himself, the one who upholds the universe by the word of his power, made purification for your sins.  The Word of God was born in Bethlehem to be wounded on Calvary.  Love wrapped up in flesh was stretched out on a cross as a demonstration of the great love God has for you. 

Consider the irony of the Word of God making purification of sins on your behalf.  In just five verses we are given seven characteristics of who Jesus is: He is the heir of all things.  He is the creator of all things. He is the sustainer of all things. He is God over all things. He is over all things. He is supreme over all things (v. 5), and he is the all-sufficient savior of sinners who did not protest a death he did not deserve.  Instead of protesting the cross, the Word of God carried the instrument of his death willingly, or as the author of Hebrews wrote in a later chapter: “…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). 

God spoke through the prophets of old that this was the way it would have to be.  The promised messiah would be born to die:

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:5–7)

The Word of God was silenced on the cross as the Lamb of God, as the only one qualified to take,“away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  He was silent for three days in a grave, but on the third day he conquered death by rising from the dead.  After ascending to heaven, we are told that, “he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (v. 3).  Why did he sit down?  Because he only had to make a sacrifice for sins once.  His death was sufficient for all your sins! 

What does the giving of the Son of God mean for you?  Here is what it means: “You are more sinful than you ever dared believe; you are more loved than you ever dared hope.”  If you truly understand what your salvation and your pardon cost God, you will not be able to remain indifferent.  It will change you.  It will affect you.  It will transform you.

God gave his Son so that you can experience his love; God is a generous God. 

[1] Dane Ortlund, Deeper (Wheaton, IL: Crossway; 2021), p. 85.