Calvary Road Baptist Church

“A GREAT CHURCH HAS A GREAT SAVIOR”

Hebrews

 

Near the end of World War Two, an extremely wealthy Middle Eastern king set out to improve the lot of those whose lives had been wrecked by the ravages of war. To accomplish his mission, he set out in a luxurious yacht with a chosen crew to search for those who would become the objects of his pity. As his agents searched out the backwaters of humanity in their efforts to locate those with the greatest needs, they would from time to time come across some poor fellow who was injured from the fighting of soldiers, what you would call collateral damage, and far too weak to help himself. It was the task of the crew to approach the discouraged and starving wretches to attempt to persuade those in terrible shape to be introduced to their benevolent king, so he could welcome them aboard his yacht, where they would then be taken care of on their journey to his capital located on his island. The problem, of course, was the mental state of the poor war-ravaged wretches, who not only did not trust anyone’s motives after having been so oftentimes tricked and misled during the war, but simply refused to believe that anyone was able to marshal the resources to help them in that way. The most heartbreaking occurrence, however, was the tendency of the wounded and afflicted to disapprove of the king’s crewmen. For some reason, wounded and shell-shocked victims tended to become hypercritical toward the king’s yacht crew, harshly judging their appearance and demeanor, and refusing the offer to help they extended on behalf of their king. Sadly, no matter how careful the crewmen on that great yacht were to square themselves away and present themselves in the best possible light, the victims they tried to persuade to meet their king and come on board his yacht where medical treatment and nourishment for them would be provided, ignored the greatness of the king and, instead, concentrated all their attention on the flaws and personal defects of the king’s crew. When it was needful for the king to move on with his yacht to another location, many of the wounded and sorely afflicted were, by their own choice, left behind to fend for themselves. Typically, a short while later they perished from exposure and malnutrition as much as from the wounds they suffered in the war.

Does this fictional account of a nonexistent king offering to help the helpless sound familiar? It should. It is a brief allegory about sinners who neglect the salvation extended to them by the Lord Jesus Christ through his servants. Tragically, while ignoring the greatness of our Savior, it is far more common for sinners to incur God’s wrath because they disapprove of something in the life and conduct of Christ’s servants. One of the most profound tragedies associated with the gospel ministry is the refusal of those who are dead in trespasses and sins to get past their own determination to insist that the gospel come to their attention on their terms, and focus on the greatness of the Savior instead of the plainness and shortcomings of His servants.

I have spent thirty-five years working to improve myself, by God’s grace, just as I am sure many of you have spend many a night praying and weeping about your own shortcomings as Christians. Since we know that there are no Christians who are without sin, and we will never be without the need for improvement in our lives, we must face the reality that those who are offended by us simply want to be offended. Those who are put off by us want to be put off. Those who are given an excuse are those who want an excuse. I am certainly no example of greatness. I am more aware of my many flaws and personal defects than my worst enemy. However, I well remember the series of events that led me to a confrontation with the Savior and my own conversion to Jesus Christ.

I was not raised in a Christian home; therefore, those who criticize the shortcomings of their Christian parents are simply making excuses. I was not evangelized by those Christians who knew me; therefore, those who criticize the shortcomings of their Christian friends and acquaintances are simply making excuses. The pastor whose sermons I was exposed to as a teenager was a known adulterer, therefore, those who are bitter toward their pastor for a personality defect or two (but who is faithful to his wife and diligent in his study) are simply making excuses. My point is that there are excuses galore to be grasped by anyone who does not want to be saved from his sins, who does not want to be rescued from perishing in the lake of fire, who does not want to avoid suffering the eternal torment of the damned, and who does not want to be reconciled to an angry God. Focus on this Christian’s quirk all you want. Disapprove of that believer’s disposition and shortcomings to your heart’s content. Look down your nose with a haughty superiority and knowledge of how you would do ministry better. Recognize, however, that those are all excuses for ignoring the obvious superiority of our great Savior.

You see, lost men and women typically have no sense of proportion whatsoever. Think about it for a moment and you will see what I mean. What is the most glaring shortcoming of any Christian in comparison to the superiority of Jesus Christ? Would you discount the beauty of the Hope diamond because of a bit of lint that landed on the black velvet it rests upon to display? Of course not. Neither should any sinner in his right mind discount the superiority of the Lord Jesus because of a shortcoming of His servants.

I have always recognized that the one thing wrong with Christianity is the individual Christian. However, Christianity is not the individual Christian. Christianity is Jesus Christ, and what is wrong with Him? My friend, there is nothing wrong with my Savior, as I hope to show you.

To be sure, the entire Bible is a rich mine of truth that shows the greatness and the glory of my Savior. However, there was one portion of God’s Word that was specifically written to showcase the Savior’s greatness, the letter to the Hebrews. Therefore, grasping the highlights of the powerful and convincing arguments of Hebrews, allow me to briefly highlight for you this morning the greatness of our Savior.

 

First, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS GREATER THAN THE ANGELS

 

People whose minds are not saturated with the Bible could hardly be expected to be impressed with the writer to the Hebrew’s showcase of Christ’s superiority to angels. However, that is only because we have been too much affect by the materialists of this world who deny the supernatural and the existence of angels. Angels, however, were created by God even before He created the time-space-matter continuum we know as the heavens and the earth, the universe and all that herein is. Job 38.7 indicates to us that they were both witness to and rejoiced over the fastening of the foundations of the earth and the laying of its foundations. These angels, being persons existing entirely without material substance of any kind, older than the universe, extraordinarily intelligent, possessing immense power, and able to accomplish feats no mere mortal such as we can imagine, are nevertheless greatly inferior to my Lord Jesus Christ. Or, to focus on the person of Jesus Christ, I should say that He is greater than the angels.

Being careful to avoid mistaking in our English translation any suggestion that the Lord Jesus Christ is a created being, notice how the writer to the Hebrews shows Jesus Christ to be superior to angels: First, the Lord Jesus Christ is designated God’s Son in a way that is not true of angels, Hebrews 1.2 and 5. Read verse 5 with me: “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” Second, it is directly stated that He is “better than the angels,” that He has “a better name than they,” verse 4, and God the Father has decreed that angels actually worship the Lord Jesus Christ, verse 6, “And let all the angels of God worship him.” Third, God the Father addresses Jesus as God, verse 8, and declares that His throne is eternal: “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” Obviously, if God addresses His Own Son as God, there can be no thought intended anywhere in Hebrews that Jesus is a created being. Fourth, has God ever directed a mere angel to sit at His right hand, where His Son is presently enthroned, verse 13, “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” Does it seem that Jesus was a little lower than the angels in His humanity? Notice what Hebrews 2.9 declares as the reason for it: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”

No angel has ever shared our nature with us. No angel was ever born of a virgin. No angel ever took our sins upon Himself and shed his blood for the remission of our sins. No angel ever tasted death and then experienced victory over death as Jesus has done. There is no doubt. The Lord Jesus Christ is greater than angels.

 

Next, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS GREATER THAN MOSES

 

It might not seem significant to you that the Lord Jesus Christ is greater than Moses, but that is only because you are not a Jewish person living in the first century. To get an idea what it was like to be a Jewish person of that era with respect to Moses, imagine living in Mecca (if you could gain access to that city) and the respect and reverence you would have for Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

Jewish people of Jesus’ day very consciously owned up to being Moses’ disciples, John 9.28. Moses was the man God called to from the burning bush.[1] Moses was the man sent by God to the court of Pharaoh to demand the release of His people.[2] Moses stretched out his hand and God parted the waters of the Red Sea.[3] It was Moses the LORD spoke to “face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend.”[4] However, the Lord Jesus Christ is still greater than Moses. From other places in God’s Word we find that the Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal I AM, that He is the eternal Son of the living God, that He was born of a virgin, that He is without sin (whereas Moses actually slew a man), and that He died and yet did not remain dead (though Moses is dead to this day).[5]

Notice, however, how the writer of Hebrews shows the superiority of Jesus Christ over the beloved Moses, in Hebrews chapter three: In Hebrews 3.2, we see that both Jesus Christ and Moses were faithful: “Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.” However, notice the nuance, that Moses was faithful in all his house, while Jesus Christ is said to be faithful to Him that appointed Him. Jesus Christ was faithful to God, while Moses was faithful in all his house. Thus, the stage is set for the claim that Jesus is counted worthy of more glory than Moses, verse 3: “For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses.” Remember the need for Moses to wear a veil over his face, because his face shined after standing before the LORD?[6] That is the allusion here. Jesus Christ, however, is worthy of more glory. Why so? Verse 3 concludes, “inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.” In other words, the Creator is worthy of more glory than any of His creatures. What of Christ’s glory? Is it greater than the glory of Moses? Moses’ face did shine. However, Matthew’s gospel tells us of that occasion when the Lord took James, John, and Peter up onto a mountain, “And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”[7] It was there that the Father spoke to them out of a cloud and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”[8]

Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ is greater than Moses for two important reasons: First, the Creator is always greater than the creature, Moses serving in the house built by Jesus and Jesus being Lord over His creation. And second, Christ’s glory is vastly greater than Moses’, being brighter than the noonday sun, while the glory of Moses could be covered up by a veil.

 

Third, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS GREATER THAN AARON

 

Moses was the friend of God, who spoke to God face to face. Aaron was the priest of God, who approached God with the blood of atonement on behalf of the people. Aaron was the first of his order, the Aaronic priesthood, with the office of high priest occupied by the eldest qualified son to succeed each high priest descending from Aaron. However, Jesus Christ is superior to Aaron’s priesthood. The priesthood is profoundly important to sinners, who cannot approach the thrice holy God apart from the intercession of a mediator. Job longed for such a mediator, in Job 9.33, someone who could lay his hand upon both God and the sinner in need of reconciliation. God provided Aaron’s order of priests as a temporary measure until our great high priest’s arrival.

Why is Jesus Christ a greater high priest than Aaron, or anyone of Aaron’s order? Aaron, nor anyone descended from him, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Jesus Christ, however, did just that, Hebrews 4.14: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” Aaron was a sinful priest, requiring that he first make a sacrifice for himself, before he could offer a sacrifice for anyone else. Jesus Christ, however, is familiar with our needs, in that He was tempted, though He has never committed any sins.[9] Hebrews 4.15: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Aaron and his descendants were men of infirmity, being mortal as well as sinful. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, is immortal and will forever be our great high priest. Hebrews 5.6: “As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

Is Jesus Christ greater than Israel’s first high priest, Aaron, and anyone of his order of priests? Without question, the answer is yes.

 

Fourth, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS GREATER THAN THE LAW

 

This matter of the Law speaks not only to the Law given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, but to any notion of works righteous, or the doing of any kind of good deed in order to merit salvation. For there is no law that is given by God but the Law given to Moses, and there is no law that is holy but the Law given to Moses. Thus, is Jesus Christ is greater than the Law of Moses; He is thereby greater than any law that could be conjured up by mere men.

The problem, of course, is that Jewish people living under the authority of the Law of Moses mistakenly rested in the Law for their soul’s salvation.[10] However, they completely misunderstood the purpose of the Law, thinking God gave it to Israel as a means of saving them. That was not the case at all. The Law was given to the Jewish people to show them their sinfulness, as Romans 3.20 clearly declares: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

What, then, was the purpose of the Law, ultimately? The Apostle Paul pointedly shows his readers in Galatians 3.24: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Thus, we see that Christ is greater than the Law, since the Law being a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ is an argument from lesser to greater, from that which can only show the need for salvation, to that One Who is the unique Savior of sinful men’s souls.

Notice the argument put forth in Hebrews chapters 8-10: First, the covenant Christ administers is superior to the Mosaic Covenant and the Mosaic Law. Hebrews 8.7 concludes an argument that time requires I let you read on your own: “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” The first covenant referring, of course, to the Mosaic. The second referring to the New Covenant, being born again, what Jesus was referring to when interviewed by Nicodemus. Second, the covenant Christ administers takes place in a superior Tabernacle. Remember that the holy of holies in the Tabernacle and the Temple could only be entered by the high priest, and then only once a year. Hebrews 9.8 speaks to the significance of this: “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” However, with Jesus Christ, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”[11] The child of God can now, because of our great Savior, come into the holy of holies at any time. Third, the covenant Christ administers is superior because of a superior sacrifice. You know, of course, that the blood of animal sacrifices of the Mosaic covenant can do nothing to wash away sins, but only provides a temporary covering of sins until the atonement is made again, Hebrews 10.4. Christ’s shed blood, on the other hand, brings about such a remedy for sins that the writer to the Hebrews tells us the glorious response of God to Christ’s superior offering: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”[12] The once for all time sacrifice of Jesus Christ is sufficient.

Jesus Christ is greater than the Law in that He is permanent and the Law was temporary, His sacrifice remits sins while the sacrifice called for by the Law only covers sins, His sacrifice is required only once while the sacrifice demanded by the Law had to be repeated again and again, and His sacrifice is so effectual that God says, “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”[13]

 

What could you want in a Savior that you cannot find in Jesus Christ? Is He really so insignificant a character that the defects of His lowly servants are enough to distract you from His majesty, to blind you to His great glory, to persuade you that He is unconcerned about your welfare? What is it you want?

Methinks that if you do not want this great Savior, you do not really want a Savior at all. How can you want a Savior and not embrace this wonderful Son of God? How can you want a Savior if you will allow some small consideration such as me, or anyone else in this room, to dissuade you from owning Him as your own?

The reality, of course, is that those who do not want this Savior do not want any Savior. Those who are put off by our facilities, or who are put off by any of our members, or who are put off by any consideration other than our glorious Lord, are sinners who love their sins too much to give them up. They are proud who are so easily offended. They are blind who are unable to see this One who shines brighter than the noonday sun.

We are not a great people, but we have a great Savior. His name is Jesus, and He is the Son of God. “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.”[14] Therefore, do not for a moment think that we are offering ourselves. Oh, no. Who we present by gospel proclamation is Jesus Christ, our great Savior.



[1] Exodus 3.4

[2] Exodus 4.21

[3] Exodus 14.21

[4] Exodus 33.11

[5] Exodus 3.14 (John 8.58); Psalm 2.7 (Hebrews 1.5; 5.5); Matthew 1.18-23; Hebrews 4.15; 9.28; Matthew 28.6-7

[6] Exodus 34.28-35

[7] Matthew 17.2

[8] Matthew 17.5

[9] Hebrews 5.3

[10] Romans 2.17

[11] Hebrews 4.16

[12] Hebrews 10.17-17

[13] Hebrews 10.17

[14] Hebrews 7.25



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org