Big Idea: Because Jesus is incomparable, looking at him — really looking at him — can change your life forever.
Think of the greatest people who ever lived:
- Isaac Newton
- Leonardo da Vinci
- William Shakespeare
- Albert Einstein
- Winston Churchill
We could go on and on. Human history is full of great figures who have changed the course of history. Even though they’re gone, their names live on. Their contributions to the world continue to shape us today.
“Who are these people, even the greatest saints, compared with Jesus Christ?” asks Mark Jones, a pastor in Vancouver.
They are like a grain of sand compared with Mount Everest.
What is Samson’s strength compared with that of Jesus, who was raised in power? What is Solomon’s wisdom compared with that of the one in whom all the treasures of wisdom are contained? What is Methuselah’s age compared with the age of the one who inhabits the places of eternity? What are Paul’s visions of heaven compared with the sight of the Lord of heaven? What are Elisha’s miracles compared with the incarnation and resurrection of the God-man?
There is nobody who ever lived like Jesus.
Perhaps the most important thing you will ever do in your life is to get to know Jesus.
If you’re investigating Christianity, you are so welcome here. We want this church to be a place where you can come and ask questions about who Jesus is. But it’s important that you ask the most important questions as you investigate Christianity, and the most important question you can ask is this: who is Jesus? Christianity rises and falls on that question. A lot of other questions are secondary or tertiary, but this one is central. Who is Jesus? Few questions matter more.
But this is also an important question for Christians to ask. According to the Puritan writer John Owen, beholding the glory of Christ is “one of the greatest privileges and advancements that believers are capable of in this world, or that which is to come.” In other words, it doesn’t get any better than that!
No matter who you are and where you are spiritually, it’s good for us to get to know Jesus. And today’s passage is going to help us.
Long ago, someone wrote a letter to a group of Christians who were struggling spiritually. They were tempted to drift away from Christianity. To deal with this problem, the author began with one of the most beautiful sentences in all of Scripture. This sentence is about one person: Jesus.
I want to be honest. We’re going to look at the portrait of Jesus in this passage, but we’re just going to be scraping the surface today. There is so much more that could be said from this one sentence in the passage. This is going to be a little like arriving at the Louvre in Paris and being told that you have five minutes to look around.
I encourage you to go deeper than this sermon. Go home and spend some time in this passage. Meditate in it. Chew on it. Savor it. Chew on it like a dog chews on a bone. Don’t let any morsel of spiritual nourishment behind.
This is going to give us what we need most. Whether you’re investigating Christianity or whether you’ve been a Christian for decades, there’s nothing more important than beholding the glory of Christ. There’s no more important question to answer than this one: who is Jesus? There’s no greater privilege, in this world or the next, than to gaze at the glory of Jesus.
Seven Things to Know About Jesus
So who is Jesus? This passage answers this question with seven things we need to know about Jesus.
One: Jesus is the pinnacle of God’s revelation.
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
We looked at this last week, so I won’t spend a lot of time here. God has revealed himself to us. We don’t have to wonder what he’s like. Over thousands of years, God has revealed himself to us in various ways. God wants us to know him.
But before Jesus came along, God’s revelation was “partial, fragmentary, preparatory and incomplete” (Raymond Brown). But then Jesus came along. “In Christ he spoke fully, decisively, finally and perfectly.”
Char and I sometimes talk to each other when we’re in different parts of the house. It really doesn’t work. I find myself saying, “What did you say?” But if it’s important, Char will get right in my face. She will look at me in the eyes and say whatever she wants to say clearly and perfectly so that I can’t misunderstand. Through Jesus, God speaks to us loudly and clearly.
That’s what God has done for us in Jesus. Jesus is God’s ultimate word to his people. Jesus is the clearest revelation of what God wants us to know.
Two: Jesus is God’s Son.
Verse 2 calls Jesus “God’s Son.”
We’re getting into deep waters here. Jesus is more than a great leader, a good man, a captivating teacher. He is God’s Son. In other words, Jesus is no ordinary man, but God himself. The writer’s about to unpack this more in some of the other things that he tells us.
This alone makes Jesus worth looking at. Jesus is unlike any other human who ever lived, because he is God. This is the doctrine of the Trinity.
God is one God, but He is One God who eternally exists as three distinct persons — the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Each person is fully God. But the Father is not the Son, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son, but they are the triune God who is perfectly one and distinct in three persons. (J.T. English and Jen Wilkin)
When you look at Jesus, you are not just looking at another person. You are looking at God who became one of us. Jesus is God himself.
There is more here in this single statement than we can ever understand. Spurgeon said:
If I were to try to explain it … I should but conduct you where I should soon be entirely out of my depth, and very likely I should drown all that I could tell you in floods of words. Deity is not to be explained, but to be adored; and the Sonship of Christ is to be accepted as a truth of revelation, to be apprehended by faith, though it cannot be comprehended by the understanding.
You and I can’t understand its complexities, but we can look at Jesus and recognize that he’s far more than any other person who’s ever lived. He is:
“God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.” He is co-equal with the Father; though how that is, we know not. He stands in the nearest possible relationship to the Father, —a relationship of intense love and delight, so that the Father says of him, “This is my beloved Son.” Yea, he is one with the Father, so that there is no separating them. (Spurgeon)
It’s amazing. But that’s not all.
Three: Jesus is God’s heir.
Verse 2 continues, “whom he appointed the heir of all things…” What this means is that Jesus will inherit not just this world but the entire universe. This text ties us right back to Psalm 2:8:
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
When he came to earth, he became poor for our sakes. “Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). He had nothing. Jesus once said that he didn’t even have somewhere to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). When he died, even his clothes were taken from him. He was buried in a grave that didn’t belong to him.
But then the Father made him heir of everything. This points us to the second coming of Christ, when God will subject everything to Jesus, and everything will become his. All of creation is moving to that moment. God has promised everything to Jesus. All of it will be his. It’s just a matter of time.
Everything will be his. And here’s the thing: he will share it with us. Romans 8:17 says that we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” Because we’re co-heirs, because we are in Jesus, Jesus shares his inheritance with us. God’s people get to share in everything that belongs to Jesus.
Jesus is the pinnacle of God’s revelation. He’s God’s Son and the heir of all things. But that’s not all.
Four: Jesus is creator.
Verse 2 says, “…through whom also he created the world…” This is taught over and over again in Scripture.
“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)
All of this — everything we see — is Jesus’ handiwork. They say that the universe has as many as two trillion galaxies. Each galaxy can have billions of stars. If you could travel at the speed of light, it would take an estimated 93 billion years to go from one end to the other. Jesus made it all.
Not only that:
Five: Jesus is God’s personified glory.
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (1:3).
Spurgeon put it best: whatever God is, Christ is. Jesus is the perfect, visible expression of God. In Jesus you see the love, mercy, justice, holiness, and goodness of God. Jesus gives us a trustworthy picture of the person of the Father. When you see what Jesus is like, you see what God is like.
Six: He’s sustainer.
“…and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (1:3). Colossians 1:17 says, “in him all things hold together.” God didn’t just wind up the world like a clock and let it run. The world doesn’t just run by laws of nature. “He keeps the planets in orbit by his authoritative and effective word of power” (Brown). “If he did not speak it into continued existence, it would go back into the nothingness from whence it sprang” (Spurgeon).
As G.K. Chesterton put it:
It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.
Jesus is the pinnacle of God’s revelation. He’s God’s Son, God’s heir, creator, God’s personified glory, and sustainer of the universe.
But there’s one more thing:
Seven: Having completed his work, Jesus is sitting at God’s right hand.
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. (1:3-4)
This last one is tricky because it contains two ideas.
The first idea is what he’s done for us. He made purification for our sins. At Calvary, Jesus died in the place of sinners. He gave his life as a once-for-all sacrifice to deal with our sins. All of our sins were laid on him as he went to the cross. Jesus made provision for the removal of the guilt of all of our sins. If you are in Jesus, you stand innocent before God. Jesus’ righteousness has become your righteousness. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
So perfect is his work that he’s sat down at the right hand of God. Nothing more needs to be done. He sat down. And where he sat down is significant: he sat down at the place of highest honor, the place of exaltation.
Think of all greatest people who ever lived. None of them compare to Jesus. Only Jesus is the pinnacle of God’s revelation. Only Jesus is God’s Son, God’s heir, creator, God’s personified glory, and sustainer of the universe. Only Jesus is exalted over everything after having made purification for our sins.
Why This Matters
I’m not used to preaching seven-point messages. When I learned how to preach, we were told that the hardest thing to preach is a list of things, which is just what I’ve given you today.
If I were to summarize everything I’ve said in one sentence, here’s what I’d say: Because Jesus is incomparable, looking at him — really looking at him — can change your life forever.
Here’s why this matters. We need to see Jesus in all of his glory. He’s incomparable. When we get a fuzzy picture of Jesus and what he's done, we begin to drift. When we get a clear picture of Jesus and his glory, it changes us.
Jared C. Wilson put me on to this. I used to think we’re changed by believing and behaving. Those are important, but I missed something important: beholding. Keep staring at Jesus until it changes you. “The direct route to God-honoring behavior is born not of good behavior but of good beholding,” he writes. “our ability to actively and persistently follow Jesus will be centrally driven by our comprehension of his glory. Beholding Christ’s glory is the number-one directive for following Jesus. And, in fact, it’s sometimes the only effort we lousy disciples can muster up.”
He talks about a sermon that wasn’t very good but that changed the course of Christian history. One day in January 1850, Charles Spurgeon woke up with a deep sense of his need for deliverance. Because of a snowstorm, his path to church was diverted down a side street. He ducked into a church for shelter where an unknown substitute lay preacher stepped into the pulpit and read his text—Isaiah 45:22—“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.”
He wasn’t much of a preacher. Spurgeon actually called him “feeble” and “stupid.” But the sermon changed his life. Here is that the preacher said:
Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, “Look.” Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look.
That morning, Spurgeon looked at Jesus, and it changed his life and the course of Christian history.
That’s what Hebrews wants us to do: look. Look at Jesus in all of his glory. Anyone can look. Look long enough at Jesus and it will change your life forever.
Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for who he is and what he has done. Thank you that he acted in love to save sinners by making purification for sins. He’s incomparable. There’s nobody like him.
I pray for anyone here who is investigating Christianity. I pray that you would give them a clear view of Jesus, the One who lies at the center not only of Christianity but history. Help them look to Jesus and live.
For those who have trusted Jesus, help us to behold him. Since beholding the glory of Christ is one of the greatest privileges and advancements that we’re capable of, help us to join the angels and saints who behold him. And may this beholding change us at our core. In Jesus’ name, Amen.