Hebrews 3:1-6 Jesus Christ: Apostle and High Priest WC McCarter
Genesis 11:1-4 tells of how the descendants of Noah came together to build a great tower. We call this tower the Tower of Babel because of what God did to the people in response to their arrogance and ignorance of God. The passage reads, “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’” What was it that the people knew about building a great structure? They knew that they could really make a name for themselves. Architecture brings fame and honor to those who build. Today, we will read about another builder who has built a spiritual house.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Jesus Demands our Attention (1)
This letter is written to Christians. We know this because the phrase “holy brethren” is used and because it goes on to say that they are those “who share in the heavenly calling.” The letter is speaking to the saints. It is written to the holy brothers and sisters who are inheriting that great salvation which comes from the accomplishments of the Lord Jesus Christ. A great revelation came in the Old Covenant at Mt. Sinai as the angels mediated the Law to the children of Israel, but now a greater covenant has been revealed. Jesus Christ is greater than the angels, His message is greater than theirs, and He is the Pioneer of a great salvation. He offers for us to reign with Him in glory if we pay careful attention to not drift away or neglect salvation. All of what we have heard so far in the book of Hebrews puts all of the weight of faith and salvation squarely on the shoulders of Jesus. So, the author comes to 3:1 and says, “consider Christ Jesus.” That is the summary of the message thus far. As the NIV says, “Fix your thoughts on Jesus.”
Our confession, what we acknowledge, is that Jesus is our Apostle and High Priest. What do these two terms mean? As our Apostle, He has delivered to us the message of salvation. As our High Priest, He has fulfilled the means of salvation (Hagner, 59). To be an Apostle means to be one who is sent. Jesus was sent to earth by the Father on a mission. He was to deliver the heavenly message of salvation. What did He do from the very beginning of His ministry? He went about preaching that everyone should repent, and the kingdom of heaven was at hand. He preached the Gospel. At the end of chapter two, Jesus was referred to as our High Priest. Now we are told to consider Him, to consider carefully His example of faithfulness (Guthrie, 126). To be a High Priest is to be one who offers sacrifices for the sins of others. It is to go between God and humanity. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has done just that. He is our mediator. He is the propitiation for our sins and not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world.
This is a great message and work of Christ. It is a heavenly calling. The Scripture says in another place to live lives worthy of the calling we have found in Christ Jesus. This is a calling from on high. He has called us to repentance and a heavenly inheritance.
Jesus is the Exemplar of Faithfulness (2)
Verse one tells us that Jesus demands our attention. Now, in verse two, we are told why we must look to Christ Jesus. He is the great example of faithfulness. The author builds up his audience who would have highly revered Moses by comparing Christ’s faithfulness with that of Moses. The name “Moses” would grab any first century Jew’s attention. So, Hebrews says Christ was faithful just like Moses. You Jewish Christians revere Moses, you must revere Christ as well. What does it mean to be faithful to the one who appointed Him? Jesus was obedient to the will of God (Hagner, 59). The house of God is the will of God and the people of God. This is true of the Old Testament and the New. Moses was faithful to God in all His house. He operated within God’s purposes and plans among the chosen people.
Jesus is Greater than Moses because He Built the House (3-4)
Verse one says to fix your thoughts on Christ Jesus, verse two says to do so because of His faithfulness which is like the faithfulness of Moses, and the next two verses give us a reason that Christ is actually greater than Moses. The first of two reasons we are given for Christ’s superiority is that Moses was in God’s house while Christ built the house. We see the divinity of Christ put on display once again because we are told that Christ receives more honor as the builder of the house and in verse four we are told that God builds all things. So, God builds all things, and Christ is the One who built this house. Think about this practically. When someone sees a beautifully built house they know that it did not simply appear. Someone built that place with great toil, effort, thought, and time. When you see the brilliance of that place, you are forced to honor the one who built it. The builder gains more fame than the building itself. In fact, any helpful invention is praised, but the inventor receives more honor than the invention itself. Thus, Moses should be honored for his faithfulness in God’s house, but Christ should be honored that much more as the builder of that house.
Jesus is Greater than Moses because He is Son, Not Servant (5-6)
In verses five and six we get a second reason that Christ is greater than Moses. Moses was a servant in God’s house, but Christ is the Son over the house. A servant and a son can both show faithfulness, but they do not share the same position in a house. A Son is far greater than any servant. A son is a ruler over the house. A son inherits all the estate.
Moses, in his role as a servant in God’s house, was faithful in all that God gave him to do. He was working to further than plan of God in human history. He was testifying of things to come. He was in many ways paving the way to the New Covenant even as he was receiving the First Covenant. He was getting us to Christ. He was pointing us to the One who would be far greater than himself. He even told the people of Israel that a Prophet was coming after him to whom they must listen. Now, the author of Hebrews is telling us in these passages to pay attention to Christ Jesus. He is that greater Prophet. Look to Him and listen to Him!
Lastly, we are told that we are God’s house. We make up that spiritual house that Christ rules over as Son. Yet, this is conditional. We are God’s house if we hold fast to the end. What is it that we have to hang on to? We must hold firmly to our confidence and rejoicing of hope, and we have to hand on to it to the very end. Running the race of faith half-way and stopping off before the finish line is not enough. You must persevere in the faith. Hang on to what you believe. What is our confession? Christ Jesus is our Apostle and High Priest. Do not let that go.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Are you walking worthy of the calling you have received? This is a heavenly calling and is worth our full attention. Do not drag His name through the mud, but live a life that brings glory to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you do this to earn salvation? No, but you do it to reflect the glory of the One who has saved you, and maybe someone else will be saved as well.
(2) Not only is Christ greater than angels, but he is greater than Moses. He is the One to whom we must look and listen. Fix your thoughts on Him and be saved. When times get tough, fix your thoughts on Him. When things are crashing down around you, when you start to feel the pinch of the pressure of this world, when you cannot see light at the end of the tunnel, consider your Apostle and High Priest. He has gone before you. He was faithful over His house, and you can be faithful in God’s house. You must hang on and not give up. He will aid you in hard times.