May 15, 2022. Sermon Title: Jesus, Greater than Moses.

First Mennonite Church

May 15, 2022

Introductory Passage: Hebrews 1:1-4

Jesus, Greater than Moses

Let us, once again, remember the vivid comparison the writer to the Hebrews makes as he writes his “brief word of exhortation.” The writer sees a striking parallel between Israel’s wilderness journey and the Christian life, following Jesus. Therefore, in his great pastoral spirit, the author highlights the superiority of Jesus, as the new Moses leading God’s people. That is why Hebrews has the longest list of titles given to Jesus Christ.

Hear this list of references to Jesus:

  • Son of the Divine (4:14 and many others)
  • Son of Man (10).
  • Apostle (3:1)
  • Pioneer and Perfecter of faith (12:2)
  • The Great Shepherd (13:20)
  • Mediator (9:15, 12:24)
  • Helper (13:6)
  • Sacrifice (10:9, 10)
  • Our Big Brother (2:10-15)
  • Great High Priest (4:14)
  • Exact imprint of God very being, that is: Jesus has the Character of God (1:3)

The reason for attributing to Jesus all of these titles is very important to the writer of this Letter to the Hebrews. He needs to give his first readers a comforting word as they were going through the trials and tribulations the faced. The writer needs to warn his readers of the high stakes of wandering away, of losing confidence, or turning back. But also, through those titles given to Jesus, the writer wants to comfort, strengthen and encourage his readers. In this letter, Jesus is presented as superior to Moses or the high priests. Therefore, from the very start, the writer wastes no time in extolling Jesus, in the form of a crescendo, ending with having equality with Yahweh.   

Let us hear how the writer present Jesus.

Read Hebrews 1:1-4

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustainsall things by his powerful word. When he had made purification forsins, 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.

Jesus is the Son of God. He is heir of everything, and the creator of the worlds. Jesus is the mirror reflection of God’s glory. Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s very being. Literally put, Jesus is the very character of what makes God, God.

The writer has two main reasons why from the get-go gives Jesus divine equality. The first, is to call the attention of his fellow brothers and sisters. Listen to the one who is now leading us through the wilderness. Pay close attention to the one who is now speaking. Jesus has unequalled authority as God’s word spoken in the past or the present. Consequently, what Jesus says matters! He is the final authority. We will see some more about this later.

The second reason the writer highlights Jesus superior status is to show to his readers that despite Jesus having the very character of what makes God, God, he also shares or has shared human nature. This is what the Hebrews 2:9-18 says:

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again he says,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

This passage has more than we have time to untangle today. However, what is clear is that Jesus, the leader leading God’s house today, not only has the qualities and character of God, but he also knows how to sympathize with you and me. He was fully human in every way, thus understands what it is to be tempted. He knows how it feels like to be at the brink of giving up, when he prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). In Hebrews five, verses seven to nine we read: In the days of his flesh, Jesus[b] offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,

Jesus knows how strong a temptation is when there is an easy way out to a difficult task. Again, in Matthew we are told how he was tempted to gain the whole world with all its power and glory if he would only bow and worship the devil (4:8). Jesus knows how it really feel when you are drained—he could not help, but sleep while the boat cruised across the lake. Jesus knows the pain of losing a dear friend; thus, he wept beside the tomb of Lazarus.

Jesus did not only sympathize with his people; he also joins us in worship. In ancient Israel, there was a special tent called the “tent of the meeting” where only Moses or the priests could meet with God. Anyone entering the tent of meeting without the required preparation dies (Exodus 30:20). But today, Jesus stands in our midst. He is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

And again he says,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

If we were to see the context of these two Old Testament quotes, we will see that it was of difficult circumstances. The first quote comes from Psalm 22 and the chapter begins: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

And the second quote comes from Isaiah 8, and the verse preceding the verse quoted there reads: I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, but in him I will hope. 18 See, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion

It is the wilderness where we might sometimes feel as if God has abandoned us. It is in the wilderness where we might feel as if God is hiding his face from us. But it is in the wilderness where Jesus stands with his people. It is in the wilderness too that Jesus sing the praises of God in our midst. It is the wilderness where Jesus reveals the glory, compassion, and faithfulness of God to his people. Instead of calling us a stiff-neck people, or rebels, as Moses did the house of Israel, Jesus declares we are his brothers and sister. He declares we are the children of God.  

Jesus not only sympathizes with us in our weaknesses and understand how we feel in our trials, but he also is present when we worship. He is present among us this morning. He proclaims the Holy Name. He sings, whether in soprano, tenor, alto, or any of the other three voices, but he sings with us the praises of God. Jesus leads us and even leads us in worship. Thus, the author writes:

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (4:14-16).

Jesus is our big brother. We are simply brothers and sister. For that reason, among God’s people all worldly status hold no power.

But there is something even greater that Jesus has done for us. Verses 14 and 15 read: Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

There is quite an interesting incident found in Leviticus 10. When Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, died for failing to follow sacrificial rules, Aaron, the high priest, was forbidden to mourn for the death of his two sons. However, we read: Christ, “by the grace of God he tasted death for everyone” (2:9). Therefore, through Jesus’ resurrection, the power of death was broken and we were liberated from the fear of death. Jesus not only comforts us, but he also gives us full assurance of our own resurrection.

Therefore, my brothers and sister, our hope that we will make it through this wilderness is not because we can stay positive and the optimism going, nor because we are wise and know how to handle difficult circumstances. The reason we will survive the wilderness is not because we have resources or human strength. The reason we will make it through this wilderness is because of the one who is leading us—Jesus Christ. He is greater than Moses. He is the one who understands how it feels to be exhausted, but also the one who breathes in us the strength we need. He has vanquished death and its power over us. He leads us in worship and praises. He cleans us from all uncleanliness and make us holy onto our God. All glory be to him. Amen!

Pastor Romero