"The Greatness of Christ" (Hebrews 1:1-4)
The letter to the Hebrews, written in the mid-60s A.D., was addressed to a group of Jewish-background believers who had been feeling the weight of cultural opposition, both from the Roman and the Jewish cultures. Many of the readers of Hebrews were feeling the temptation to give up, or give in. Some had begun to drift from their faith, some had given up on church fellowship, some had returned to their Jewish culture and beliefs.
In the first four verses of chapter 1 we are presented with a majestic panorama, a great cosmic mural, of the greatness of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. There is similarity here with the portraits of Christ given also in John 1 and Colossians 1.
Put in graphic form this mural might look this way:
What a multidimensional Savior we have! My main thought in this passage is that it's ultimately the greatness of Christ that keeps us going. The full view of his nature and work is what we should keep before our eyes as we face temptations to give up.
Three uses of this passage:
Content. This is the message that we preserve, present to others, and persevere in. This is the gospel in its broadest form. At the center is the atonement and resurrection, but Christ's identity from the past and into the future (note Heb 13:8) is part of this tapestry. You cannot diminish any part of Christ's portrait without affecting the total picture. To compromise any dimension of his nature is to deny him. The Savior we present to the world must be the Jesus not of our own making, but Jesus as presented in Scripture.
Confidence. It is to this Lord that we look and fix our gaze upon (Heb 12:2). He himself is our motivation to keep walking faithfully with our Savior and Lord. His unsurpassed greatness -- the supremacy of Christ in all things -- is our confidence and joy. We shouldn't boast about anything regarding ourselves, but we should boast in the greatness of Christ! (See Gal. 6:14 and 2 Cor. 10:17) As ambassadors of his Kingdom we fly the embassy flags openly.
Courage. This Person, this glorious Lord Jesus Christ... is the unique Son of God, the revelation, the Heir of all things, the upholder, creator, purifier..., which gives us the courage we need to keep on. He is reigning over creation and our world now, working all things after his glorious will. If he can uphold the universe, he can uphold you and me. If he is at the right hand of God, then I’m safe in him. If he atoned for my sins, then my sins are really forgiven. If he is above the angels then there’s nothing Satan can accomplish against me.
The greatness of Christ is what keeps us going.
The Nicene Creed (AD 325)
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.