Jesus is Better

Uncategorized // August 20, 2020 //

I have recently begun a study of the book of Hebrews with one of my discipleship partners. As I
was working, reading through this powerful and intriguing epistle, I was struck with how
pertinent the content of Hebrews is to our present situation. While we do not know for sure who
the human author of Hebrews was, we know that his audience was a group of believers who
were suffering under persecution and hardship. And because of these hardships, they were
tempted to turn away from their faith. While the parallels are not exact, they suffered because of
their faith, and we are suffering in our faith, I believe we can learn some important lessons from
the book of Hebrews.

As you read Hebrews, which many commentators believe is one sermon, you become aware of
one overarching theme, Jesus is better. In chapters 1 and 2, we are told that Jesus is better
than the angels. It seems some among the recipients of this letter had begun to venerate
heavenly beings even to the point of worship. The warning and admonition of the writer of
Hebrews could not be clearer, writing about Christ… “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.”
(Hebrews 1:3–4, ESV) Jesus is better than any heavenly being, He is better than any created
thing. Jesus is better.

As we continue reading in Hebrews, we discover that Jesus is better than Moses (3:1-4:13). It
seems that the recipients of this letter were Jewish background believers, who in the midst of
suffering, were tempted to return to the rituals of the Old Testament. Many of these were first
generation believers who were not far removed from Temple worship. Simply put, they were
tempted to turn away from faith in Christ and turn back to their old way of life. Oh how tempting
this is to us. We are constantly fed a secular worldview that calls us to walk away from our faith.
During these days when something as essential and fundamental as gathering to worship is
complicated, the temptation is to simply stop trying. We read in Hebrews 3:12-13, “Take care,
brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the
living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you
may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” During times of testing, we do well to remember
that Jesus is better than our old way of life. Jesus is better.

Third, the author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is better than all earthly priests. In this
portion of the text (4:14-10:18), we get to the heart of the gospel. That is, that Jesus’ work as
our High Priest is superior because of who he is and what he accomplished. Speaking of Jesus
as our priest, we read. ““…but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues
forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through
him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should
have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above
the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own
sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”
(Hebrews 7:24–27, ESV) He is a better priest because unlike earthly priests, He is sinless and
has offered the final and perfect sacrifice, Himself, on the cross. Jesus is better.

The book of Hebrews closes with an exhortation for us to persevere in our faith! We are given
the examples of the faith of Old Testament saints (11:1-40) to encourage and spur us on in our
faith. The preacher concludes his sermon with these words. “Now may the God of peace who
brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of
the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that
which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
(Hebrews 13:20–21, ESV)

John MacArthur summarizes Hebrews: “The epistle to the Hebrews is a study in contrast,
between the imperfect and incomplete provisions of the Old Covenant, given under Moses, and
the infinitely better provisions of the New Covenant offered by the perfect High-Priest, God’s
only Son and the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Included in the “better” provisions are: a better hope,
testament, promise, sacrifice, substance, country, and resurrection. Believers in Jesus Christ,
as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin, have the perfect High-Priest through whose ministry
everything is new and better than under the covenant of law” (John F. MacArthur Jr., The
MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson
Publishers, 2006).

When God’s people face trials, we are not called to remember our strength or our wisdom or our
abilities; we are called to remember our Savior. We are called to employ the ordinary means of
grace to strengthen and enliven our faith. This means include: the Word (read and preached),
prayer, and the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). All of these are centered in
corporate worship of the church. Our preacher understood this when he wrote, “And let us
consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as
is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing
near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25, ESV)

I urge you to endeavor with all your might to gather with the church, even in these extraordinary
days. For truly, Jesus is better.

mm

About Tim McGhee

Tim joined First Baptist Powell in 2006. He is married to Carla and they have two daughters Hannah and Micah.