Jesus Christ is clearly identified as the True Son of God in Scripture, but not initially. Before Christ arrived here on earth the nation of Israel and David, God’s chosen king, but after Christ’s domain on earth, a shift was evidently made. Doctrine declares that the second person of the True Godhead has been Jesus Christ, existential as the Son. There was no time when He was not the Son of God since there has always been a Father and Son relationship made known in the Godhead. Sonship is not just a mere title that Christ took at some random point in history; it involves his true identity, the actual Son of God. Throughout this reading it will be made known of Christ’s superiority over angels of the heavenly realm, Moses, and the Aaronic priests using biblical scripture.
Christ’s superiority reigns true and strong over the factors of both Heaven’s gates and God’s characters on earth from the past. This is evident in discussion of the angels; these angels are leading figures under the Old Covenant that has now passed away. After the Exodus of God’s people from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea, God leads Israel through the wilderness to Mount Sinai and thus, the formation of the covenant. The arrival at Sinai testified to a noteworthy milestone in Israel’s existence. Israel had been delivered by God from Egyptian enslavement and bondage and experienced His care and provision. From there they were, at Sinai, brought into a national covenantal relationship with the Lord. Seemingly in the ancient Near East the relationship between a king and his people was often governed by a covenant. This covenant was the outgrowth and extension of the Lord’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants 600 years earlier. Evidently enough, the book of Hebrews begins with explanation of Christ’s superiority to the angels; Hebrews 1:5-14 is scriptural proof of this superiority. Firstly this is emphatic since to most Jews, angels were exalted beings. This is especially revered because they were involved in giving the law at Sinai and to the Jews the law was God’s supreme revelation: “For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” God distinguishes the superiority of his Son over angels in the Old Testament, “Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.” This statement, which in the Old Testament refers to the Lord God (Yahweh), is here applied to Christ, giving clear indication of His full deity; the very beings with whom Christ is being compared and commanded to proclaim his superiority by worshipping Him. Further comparison is pursued between angels and Christ, in another Old Testament reference, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” It is this passage that intimates the deity of the Messianic (and former, Davidic) King, further demonstrating the Son’s superiority over the angels. In Hebrews 2, the author writes of exhortation not to ignore the revelation of God in His Son and makes it quite evident in verse 5, “It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.” Christ, as bearer of the new revelation is superior to angels who had participated in bringing the revelation at Sinai. At the same time, Jesus was made in a way that was lower than the angels. Hebrews 2:6 makes reference to the Old Testament scripture stating, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” Awed by the marvelous order and immensity of God’s handiwork in the celestial universe, the psalmist marvelled at the high dignity God had bestowed on puny mortals by entrusting them with dominion over the other creatures. The verse is Psalm 8 is here applied to Jesus in particular. As forerunner of humanity’s restored dominion over the earth, he was made lower than the angels for a while but is now crowned with glory and honor at God’s right hand. By His perfect life, His death on the cross and His exaltation, He has made possible for redeemed humanity the ultimate fulfillment of Psalm 8 in the future kingdom. God’s purpose from the beginning was that humanity should be sovereign in the creaturely realm, subject only to God. Due to sin, that purpose of God has not yet been fully realized. Indeed, humans are themselves ‘in slavery’. From here, since Christ was in fact made like us, he was therefore enabled to save us: “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” It was through Christ’s suffering that God fully qualified him as the one sent to carry out his redemptive mission, specifically the priestly aspects of that mission. Christ became a human being to identify himself with humans and, by his substitutionary sacrifice on the cross, to restore their lost holiness evidently proclaimed in Hebrews 2, “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” At the same time, the Father’s children are given to the Son to be his brothers and sisters. Christ came to redeem Abraham’s descendants – those who have Abraham’s faith. In simplest terms, in order for Christ to turn aside the wrath of God against guilty sinners, he had to become one with them and die as a substitute for them: “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers 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. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Here lies the transition from Christ’s superiority over angels into Christ’s superiority over Moses. Hebrews 3:1-6 is the demonstration of Christ’s superiority. Christ is a faithful high priest who is worthy of our trust because he is greater than Moses. Jesus repeatedly spoke of himself as having been sent into the world by the Father. He is the supreme apostle, the one from whom all other apostleship flows. A comparison between Moses and Christ must be analyzed to completely dictate all authority of Christ’s superior rank: “He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.” A comparison of Christ and Moses, both of whom were sent by the Father to lead his people – the one to lead them from bondage under the pharaoh to the Promised Land, the other to lead them from bondage under the devil to the Sabbath-rest promised to those who believe. The analogy focuses on faithful stewardship. The author goes on further to state that Jesus is equated with God, making it beyond question that Christ is greater than Moses: “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” Further comparisons are then shown dictating Moses as ‘beneath’ Jesus, “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” The superiority of Christ over Moses is shown in two comparisons. Firstly, Moses was a servant, whereas Christ is a son. Secondly, Moses was in God’s house (i.e. a part of it), whereas Christ is over God’s house. Hebrews 3:7-11 makes reference to Psalm 95:7-11 stating, “…for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did. For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.'” Here an exposition lays stressing Christ’s superiority over Moses, and a warning against disobedience and unbelief. This summarizes the inglorious history of Israel under Moses’ leadership in the desert. Three time periods are alluded to: that of the exodus, that of the psalmist and that of the writing of Hebrews. The example of Israel under Moses was used by the psalmist to warn the Israelites of his day against unbelief and disobedience. Thus evokes the exhortation to enter salvation-rest. Similarly the author of Hebrews recalls the psalmist’s words to warn the readers of this letter. As people of Christ, our original conviction and the faith commitment we made on the basis of that conviction is to share in Christ: “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Pushing further on, just as entering into rest in Canaan demanded faith in God’s promise, so the ultimate salvation-rest is entered only by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4:10 says, “…for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” Believers cease their efforts to gain salvation by their own works and rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross. The believers’ final rest also rests in Revelation scripture, “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.'” This is an utterance of the second beatitude. “Blessed” means much more than “happy”. It describes the favorable circumstance granted by God to a person.
Here lies the transition from Christ’s superiority over Moses into Christ’s superiority over Aaronic priests. Firstly, it must be justified that Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest over all. Hebrews 4:14 is an exposition of Psalm 110:4, stressing Christ’s superiority over Aaron because his is a better priesthood, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind; ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'” David and his royal son, as chief representatives of the rule of God, performed many worship-focused activities, such as overseeing the Ark of the Covenant and overseeing the work of the priests and Levites and the temple liturgy. In all these duties they exercised authority over even the high priest. But they could not engage in those specifically priestly functions that had been assigned to the Aaronic priesthood. In this, the son of David is installed by God as king-priest in Zion after the manner of Melchizedek, the king-priest of God Most High at Jerusalem in the days of Abraham. As such a king-priest, he was appointed to a higher order of priesthood than that of Aaron and his sons. What this means for Christ’s priesthood is the main theme in Hebrews 7 – Christ’s superior priestly order. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” This is in light of the fact that as the Aaronic priest on the Day of Atonement passed from the sight of the people into the Most Holy Place, so Jesus passed from the sigh of his watching disciples, ascending through the heavens into the heavenly sanctuary, his work of atonement accomplished. Christ is superior to all, including us in every faction. Christ our high priest suffered temptation similarly to humans, and because he has experienced this human experience, he stands ready to give immediate and sympathetic help when we are tempted. For the high priest to properly operate their position, there are specified qualifications that must be witnessed and carried out: “Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” So here the two qualifications are identified: the high priest had to be (1) selected from among men, and (2) he had to be called by God. In no way, shape, or form did Christ take the position upon himself as high priest. God the Father rightfully appointed Him there to claim superiority over all: “So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.'” To the Father, Jesus did not shrink from physical suffering and death but from the indescribable agony of taking humankind’s sin on himself. Although he asked that the cup of suffering be taken from him, he did not waver in his determination to fulfill the Father’s will. As a result, His prayer was granted from by the Father, who saved him from death through resurrection. Throughout all of this, God claims rightful Sonship over Christ through, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” Before Christ, Melchizedek rightfully held the position of high priest of God Most High appointed by the Father, Himself. Melchizedek’s priesthood anticipates Christ’s eternal existence and his unending priesthood. The Law of Moses and the priesthood went together. All the people without exception were sinners, subject to the law’s condemnation, and thus were in need of a priestly system to mediate between them and God. It is implied (Hebrews 7:11) that the Aaronic (or Levitical) priesthood was imperfect but that Melchizedek’s was perfect. The announcement of a coming one who would be a priest forever (Psalm 110:4) was written midway in the history of the Levitical priesthood. This could be understood as a hint that the existing system was to give way to something greater. “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” Christ’s priesthood is superior because he has no personal sins for which sacrifice had to be made. Christ is sustainably, the mediator of a better and new covenant. Thus introduces the new covenant stated in Hebrews 8:8-12; it’s existential benefits are: (1) God’s laws will become inner principles that enable His people to delight in doing His will, (2) God and his people will have intimate fellowship, (3) sinful ignorance of God will be removed forever, and (4) forgiveness of sins will be an everlasting reality. The new covenant, with its new priesthood, new sanctuary, and new sacrifice, are all introduced by Christ: “This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings – external regulations applying until the time of the new order.” Hebrews 9:12 states, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” Christ’s sacrifice was perfect, because it was completely effective and did not need to be repeated. After he had obtained eternal redemption, Christ ascended into the true heavenly sanctuary. It was once necessary for the earthly sanctuary to be made clean with animal sacrifices, but now it was only necessary for the heavenly sanctuary to be made clean with the better sacrifice of Christ Himself. Having sacrificed himself in his body on the cross, Jesus our high priest entered the Most Holy Place and he made sinners ‘perfect’ in holiness so that they too may enter through the curtain – his sacrificed and resurrected body being for us the new and only way. There are five refrains from Jesus’ provision for our reconciliation to his Father: (1) “Let us draw near to God.”; (2) “Let us hold unswervingly to…hope”; (3) “Let us consider how we may spur one another on.”; (4) “Let us not give up meeting together.”; and (5) “Let us encourage one another.”
Though throughout biblical history, Israel and David have held positions as God’s ‘son’, Jesus Christ is held and placed in his own category as the unique Son of the Almighty God, “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…The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'” God the Father has provided Christ with a title that is incomparable to that of any man, animal, or heavenly being both here on earth and in heaven. The title has two meanings, (1) the divine Son of God, (2) the Messiah born in time. Hebrews 10:22 states, “…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Here four conditions are presented with instruction as to how to draw near to God: (1) undivided faithfulness in the inner being, (2) faith that knows no hesitation in trusting in and following Jesus Christ, (3) complete and total freedom from the weight of guilt, a freedom based on the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ, (4) very likely ‘bodies washed’ refers to Christian baptism and the cleansing from sin through the sacrificial death of Christ that signifies it. Therefore it can only be said that Jesus Christ is the true and superior high priest over angels, Moses and Aaronic priests, including Melchizedek. If we as Christians have been called to worship Christ as the superior, then we must partake in these four instructions, but above all, recognize Christ has the unique, utmost, and greatest Son of God.
Marshall, I.H. New Testament Theology. Downers Grove: IVP, 2004. Print.
Morris, Leon. New Testament Theology. Grand Rapids.: MI, Zondervan. 1986. Print.
Muck, Terry. The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995. Print.
Routledge, Robin. Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008. Print.
Stronstad, Roger. The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984. Print.
Wall, Robert W. Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011. Print.