“The Incomparable Christ” (Hebrews 1:1-4 sermon)

The name of John Hay is not very well known today, but in the 1800s he was one of the most influential men in America. He was Secretary of State under Theodore Roosevelt, but he began his career as a personal secretary for Abraham Lincoln. Hay said that one time, when he was Lincoln’s secretary, “a man appeared in the waiting room, claiming to be the Son of God, Hay assured him that the president would be delighted to see him—but first would the caller mind providing a letter of introduction from his father?” (John Taliaferro, All The Great Prizes, p. 46)

Hay showed some good humor there in the president’s reception office, but the fact is, that is exactly what we find here in Hebrews 1: a letter of introduction of Jesus Christ, giving us His “credentials,” if you would, as to why He should be so important to us. As we have been reading together this Book of Hebrews, we have seen that the theme of the whole book is how Jesus is “a better hope” as Hebrews 7:19 tells us; He’s better than Judaism; He’s better than the old priests and sacrifices; He’s better than the angels. The whole book is about the superiority of Christ. And this passage may be the best one in the book; it’s one of my personal favorites. It lays out the “credentials” of Jesus so clearly and powerfully; and shows us how He is “The Incomparable Christ.” 

I. He is God’s Final Revelation

Verse 1 begins: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son …”

Now, when He says God spoke to “the fathers,” he’s talking about the Patriarchs, the fathers of Israel, the people who had gone before them — basically he’s talking about God’s people in the Old Testament. And he says God spoke to them “in the prophets, in many portions and in many ways.” And that’s true: 

— God appeared to Abraham and spoke the promise to Him

— God came down on Mt. Sinai and spoke the word of the Law to His people

— His Spirit spoke through David as he wrote the Psalms

— He sent prophets like Jeremiah that we are reading in our daily Bible reading, and Jonah that we are studying in Sunday school right now.

So God spoke to His people in the Old Testament “in many portions and in many ways,” just like it says here.

But THEN it says; “But in these last days, God has spoken to us in His Son.” The Greek scholar A.T. Robertson says the aorist verb here means “a full and final revelation.” For a time God spoke here and there, but now He HAS SPOKEN, He has given us His final revelation through His Son.

And that sonship is really emphasized here:

— God spoke previously through various fathers and prophets, but now He has spoken through HIS SON. And he says two things about Jesus as His Son:

1) It says: “whom He appointed heir of all things.” He is God’s Son; God’s heir

2) And then it says: “through whom also He made the world”

So Jesus isn’t “just another prophet.” He is the Son of God Himself: He is heir to everything God has. And Jesus is the One through whom God made the world. John 1:3 says “All things came into being through Him, and without Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” but John and Hebrews here tell us that God did it THROUGH Jesus. 

—Then later on in :3 it says “He upholds all things by the word of His power.”  Why do all the particles and atoms and molecules stay together like they do? One scientist was asked, what keeps all the particles together? He said: “intramolecular forces” keep them together! What is that?! It’s just a case of putting a fancy name on something as a means of explaining what they don’t really know. I read where one scientist admitted: they don’t really know what holds all the  atoms and molecules together.  Well the Bible tells us here, doesn’t it: “HE upholds all things by the word of His power.” Jesus is the One who keeps everything together. Without a word from Him, this whole universe would instantly fly apart into chaos. “He upholds all things by the word of His power”!

So God makes it very clear here: Jesus is not just another prophet or preacher; He is the Son of God; God Himself, the heir of all things, the One who made the universe, the One who holds all things together. And God who previously spoke here and there through various prophets in various ways, has now spoken to us FINALLY in Him. Jesus is God’s last word to the world. 

Now since the time of Christ, a number of other so-called “prophets” have brought what they said are “revelations from God”:

— About 600 years after Christ, Mohammed said the angel Gabriel appeared to him, and dictated to him the book we know as the Koran.

— In the 1800’s, Joseph Smith said an angel appeared to him and he wrote the Book of Mormon, supposedly a new revelation from God.

— In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, a man named The Bab, said that he had a new revelation, which teaches that Jesus and Mohammed, and all the other religions came from the same place, and all were essentially one. 

What about these new religions, and new prophets? Should we pay attention to them? Hebrews says NO: God has already given us His final revelation in His Son. You’ve heard someone use the expression: “That’s my final word on the subject”? That’s what Hebrews 1 is telling us here:  Jesus is God’s final word on the subject!  He is God’s Final Revelation. To add something to the revelation God gave us in Jesus, is like trying to add something to the Mona Lisa. That classic painting doesn’t need your little artistic brush strokes added to it! It’s perfect as it is! And in the same way, YOU DON’T NEED TO ADD ANYTHING TO WHAT IS ALREADY “THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD”! It doesn’t need any additions! 

Listen: in the last days, even MORE false prophets and teachers will rise up, as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” MORE “revelations,” more false prophets and religions are coming, but they are all deceivers. Our job; our faith, is to hold fast to the final revelation that God has already given us. 

There is no need for any more revelation. God HAS SPOKEN in His Son. Jesus is God’s Final Revelation.

II. He is God’s Fairest Reflection

The first part of :3 emphasizes WHY Jesus is God’s Final Revelation. It says: “And He is the radiance of His glory, and the exact representation of His nature.” Jesus is God’s Final Revelation, because He is God’s Fairest Reflection. There is no better picture of God than what we have in Jesus. 

— It says first of all, “He is the radiance of His glory.”

The Greek word “radiance” here means “shining forth, flashing forth” — like the rays of the sun. 

In his 1734 message, Johnathan Edwards said: “The Son of God proceeds from the Father naturally and necessarily, as brightness naturally proceeds from the sun.  The sun necessarily shines. The essence of the sun is to shine so, so Christ is the shining forth of God’s glory. … Whenever there was a sun it shined … so always whenever there was a God, the Son of God proceeded (shined) from Him.”

Edwards was saying that Jesus is the visible brightness of God. God is Spirit; you can’t “see” a Spirit. But whenever we see the brightness of the shining of the glory of God — that is Jesus! Edwards said when Moses saw the glory of God from the cleft of the rock, that was Jesus! As we read in II Kings this week, when the glory of God passed by Elijah, that was Jesus! Jesus is the visible glory of God. If you want to see what God looks like, look at Jesus! He is “the radiance of His glory.”

— Then it says He is also “the exact representation of His nature.”

The Bible word for “exact representation” (charakter) was originally used of a tool used for engraving, and then it came to mean a stamp or impress used on a coin or seal. When you imprint something, the exact image of the original is imprinted on it.

The Bible says THAT is what Jesus is. Colossians 1:15 says He “is the image of the invisible God” — the perfect “imprint” of God. Again, we can’t “see” God; He’s invisible; but Jesus is the visible image we can see of God.

So Jesus is not just another prophet, like Mohammed or the Bab taught. Some people look into Islam and say, “Look, the Koran talks about Jesus!” YES, it “talks” about Jesus. But what does it say about Him? That’s what makes all the difference. Islam says that Jesus was “just a good prophet.” But listen: the Bible makes it very clear: Jesus is NOT just a good prophet or teacher; He is God Himself; He is the God we can SEE. The bottom line here is: if you are looking for God today, you don’t need to look any further than Jesus. Look to Jesus! He is “the radiance of His glory, and the exact representation of His nature.” If you look at Jesus, you will find God. He is God’s Fairest Reflection. 

III.  He is Gods Finished Redemption

The second part of :3 says, “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.”

How did Jesus make this “purification of sins”? In the Old Testament, when they wanted to make purification of sins, they sacrificed an animal. But this book of Hebrews (10:4) goes on to say, the blood of bulls and goats never did take away sins. Those animal sacrifices only gave us picture of what the final sacrifice for sins would be: the death of Jesus on the cross. John the Baptist pointed out Jesus to the crowds and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  He was saying, Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of those Old Testament sacrifices; HE would truly purify us from our sins. Then when Jesus was dying on the cross, He cried out “It is finished!” “Tetelestai.” That was a Greek business word, which means, “Paid in full.” What was paid in full? Our sins! I Peter 2:24 says “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.” The price for our sins was paid in full by the death of Jesus on the cross. 

And when He finished making purification of our sins, it says then “He SAT DOWN at the at the right hand of the majesty on high.” This picture of “sitting down” means that Jesus had finished what He came to do.

It’s like when a baseball player gets up to bat, and he hits a home run, and circles the bases — then he goes and sits down in the dugout. He did what he went up there to do!

Or like a pro quarterback, who went out on the field to lead that game-winning touchdown drive, then he goes and sits down on the bench, and puts a towel over his head. He accomplished what he went out there to do.

Or a Senator at the U.S. Capitol, who goes up to the podium to make an important speech before the whole Senate; he finishes a great speech that wins the day — and then he goes and sits down in his seat. He DID what he went up there to do.

THAT’S the picture Hebrews gives us of Jesus here. He came to earth for the specific purpose, more than anything else, of purifying our sins so that we could be saved. Jesus said He came “to give His life a ransom for many.” So after He died on the cross and paid for our sins, He then rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, and the Bible says He then “SAT DOWN” at the right hand God. He sat down because He had COMPLETED His work. He hit the “home run;” He scored the “touchdown.” He won the day. And when He was done, He SAT DOWN. He made God’s finished redemption!  

This week we read a little farther along in Hebrews 8:12 where God says: “For I will be merciful to their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more.” What an amazing blessing: that God remembers our sins no more! 

OTHER people DO remember our sins, don’t they? They’ll hold them over our heads, they’ll bring them up, they’ll wound us with their memory, and so on. But GOD DOES NOT! He says He remembers them no more! How is this possible? How can our sins be so forgiven that God remembers them no more? Because Jesus has made God’s finished redemption! 

IV. He Has God’s Finest Reputation

Verse 4 says: “Having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”

One of the issues the author of Hebrews had to address in this book, was that in those days, people were worshiping angels. Colossians 2:18 refers to this: “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels.” So angel worship was something that people had fallen into in those days.

As I mentioned, the predominant theme of Hebrews is the superiority of Christ to the Old Testament sacrifices, and the Old Testament priests — AND to the angels. So here in the rest of Hebrews 1, we find several references to how Christ is greater than the angels:

— :4 says, “Having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”

— :5 follows that up: “For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You?”

— :6 says; “And let all the angels of God worship HIM”!

— Look at in :13, “But to which of the angels has He ever said, ‘Sit at My right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’”

Over and over, Hebrews 1 talks about how Christ is greater than the angels. 

Now, that is not to demean angels. The Bible tells us that angels are glorious; angels are powerful. Hebrews 1:7 here quotes Psalm 103 when it says: “He makes His angels winds, His ministers flames of fire”! One angel could strike a whole crowd at Sodom blind; Isaiah 37:36 says one angel touched the Assyrian army and smote 185,000 dead in one night! The names of the angels “Michael” and “Gabriel” are great.   Today is our youngest son Michael’s birthday. When we were expecting him, we could’t come up with a name for him for the longest time. Then one day I was reading in Daniel 12:1, which says: “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise.” I thought, wow, what a picture of power and glory: Michael the the great prince … will arise”! The special angel who stands guard over the people of Israel! What a great angel; what a great name! So we named our last son, “Michael.” The names of Michael, and also Gabriel, the angels, are great in scripture. 

But Hebrews says none of the names of angels compares with the name of Jesus. He is “as much better than the angels was He has inherited a more excellent name than they.” There is NO name higher than the name of Jesus.

Philippians 2 says of the name of Jesus that “God highly exalted Him; and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name; so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”! Only Jesus has “the name which is above every name”! 

But it’s not just the name; it’s WHO that name represents, and what He can do.

— Only Jesus is the name that saves. As the apostles said in Acts 4:12, “There is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved.” 

— Ephesians 3:12 says “In (Jesus) we have boldness and confident access to God through faith in HIM.” Only JESUS is the name that gives you confident access to God.

Occasionally over the years, people in my church family have sent me to a doctor, or a dentist, or an auto shop, or somewhere that was hard to get in — but they said, “Mention my name, and they’ll get you in.” It can help, in certain difficult situations, to have “the right name to drop”; that name can you get in where you could’t get otherwise. 

But listen: There’s only one name you can “drop” to get into heaven: the name of Jesus. We often ask the question, “If you were to stand before God and He were to ask you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?’, what would you tell Him?” Listen: there’s only ONE good answer to that question; there’s only ONE name to drop: the name of Jesus. 

Why should God let you into heaven? “Drop” the name of Jesus!

— “Galatians 2:20 says: ‘Jesus loved me and gave Himself for me.’”

— “Jesus said, ‘It is finished;’ so my sins are paid in full!”

— “Jesus said, ‘Whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’” (John 3:16) 


Let your answer be Jesus; Jesus is the only name to drop! 

— Jesus is the only way to heaven. 

— Jesus the only way to God in prayer

— Jesus is the only name with power over the enemy

— Jesus the only name that can calm the storm

— Jesus is the only Good Shepherd who will walk you through the valley of the shadow of death.

He’s better than the angels.

He’s better than the priests.

He’s better than the sacrifices.

He’s better than the Law.

He’s better than Joseph Smith

He’s better than the Bab.

He’s better than Mohammed.

He’s better than Buddha.

He’s the name above all names; at the name of Jesus every knee will bow!

He’s God’s Final Revelation!

He’s God’s Fairest Reflection!

He’s God’s Finished Redemption!

And He has God’s Finest Reputation!

He is “The Incomparable Christ”! 


— Even as a Christian person, do you realize how much it is all about Jesus?  Don’t look for “something more” — if you have Jesus you have it all!   Don’t look for any “new revelations” — you don’t need it! Look to Jesus; recommit yourself to His word today.

— Is the devil tempting you to feel guilty over sins that have been forgiven? Tell him: Jesus made God’s finished redemption. (And be willing to forgive OTHERS who have been forgiven by His finished redemption too!)

— Or maybe you need to receive Jesus’ finished redemption for the very first time? If so, ask Him to save you, right now!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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