At our church we began a sermon series on the book of Hebrews, entitled “Christ is Better.” Looking specifically at Hebrews 1, we saw that Christ is superior to all prophets, all angels, all other spiritual authorities. How is Christ superior? There are two basic ways:
1. That to which the prophets pointed faultily, Jesus embodied perfectly.
As the author of Hebrews says, in times past prophets and angels brought us words from God. Jesus, however, was the word of God. Not just the New Testament, but the entire Bible points to Him. Every story, every proverb, every psalm—everything!—provides us with sketches and pictures and shadows that Jesus would embody in fullness.
This dramatically changes how we view the Bible, especially the Old Testament. Many of us look at the Bible as a collection of hero stories that we should emulate: “Defeat your giants like David!” “Follow God like Abraham!” “Be a leader like Nehemiah!” And this is fine to an extent, but even the greatest heroes were tragically flawed. David committed adultery and murdered to cover it up; Abraham had a habit of lying in tough situations (at his wife’s expense); Nehemiah once got so mad he went Jack Bauer on everybody, tearing their clothes off and ripping their beards out.
God didn’t preserve their stories so we could have good people to emulate. He gave us the prophets to point to a Savior that we are to hope in and adore.
2. Jesus offers a totally different kind of salvation.
Most religious prophets come with instructions about what we must do to find peace with God. But Jesus offered Himself once for all as the perfect sacrifice for sins, and then he sat down, because there was nothing left to do. Jesus’ message was fundamentally different than every other prophet from every other religion. Where other religions command obedience first and promise acceptance second, Jesus offers acceptance first, knowing that genuine obedience would flow out of it.
This produces a totally unique disposition towards God. If God’s acceptance of you is contingent on your obedience, then you will always be locked into either fear and guilt (if you feel like you haven’t done enough) or self-righteousness and arrogance (if you feel like you have done enough). But if you are accepted freely by God’s grace, the result will be assurance, humility, and generosity.
The gospel of God’s free grace in Christ offers a transformation borne of gratitude, not obligation. Rest in this gospel. As you grow to understand the love of God for you, genuine love for God will grow in you.