My parents’ home has a small front porch that is painted white. On the ceiling is a flush-mounted light fixture that accepts two 60-watt light bulbs. For Christmas, my dad would replace the two white bulbs with one red light bulb and one green light bulb. In 90 seconds, voilà! The Christmas lights were done. No need to fuss with hundreds of feet of ornery Christmas light strings. I always admired my dad, and in this simple gesture, I can still hear him laugh; my mom would roll her eyes, but the humor wasn’t lost on her.
Now without being a Scrooge, may I ask, how can we make Christmas more about Christ than the trappings? How can we focus on the surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ?
Interestingly, the author of Hebrews gives us a lavish description of Jesus as the par excellence revelation of God. Jesus Christ is the culmination of God’s revelation.
“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. So he became superior to the angels, just as the name he inherited is more excellent than theirs” (Heb. 1:1-4).
Hebrews paints a picture of the surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ well-suited for our consideration at Christmas. This gives us a glimpse into the grandeur, majesty, and brilliance of Jesus.
These first two verses underscore the main point of divine revelation. We need the reminder that God’s Word is unique and authoritative. The eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus spoke and, well, we need to pay attention. God’s word to the fathers and prophets was revelation. Simply, God revealed to them things they couldn’t have otherwise known. The author of Hebrews notes God spoke these things in the past at different times and in different ways.
If we review the creation account, prophetic messages, visions, dreams, signs, wonders, the giving of the Law, we see these different times and different ways. We might think of these revelations as an incomplete picture, but at the time of Hebrews’ writing, verse 2 emphasizes: God has spoken to us by His Son.
In verses 2-4, the author explains Jesus’ divine Sonship with seven descriptions. Think of these terms as coloring in or explaining further the surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ.
- Heir of all things: As the only begotten Son of God, Jesus is appointed as the designated heir. Everything, seen and unseen, belongs to the heir. These “possessions” include all believers in Christ.
- Made the universe through Him: Jesus is the Creator. As we envision the Father, in eternity past, in some ethereal realm, speaking creation into existence, careful attention to the Scripture is helpful.
- The radiance of His glory: The word radiance only occurs here in our New Testament. When we look at Jesus — as He is explained and described in Scripture by His words and works — we see the overwhelming nature of who God is. Jesus, the Son, radiates the glory of God.
- The exact expression of His nature: The two words "exact expression" are only one word in Greek, and the word we bring into our English language is "character". The word literally means a “mark” or a “stamped engraving.” This is helpful for the way we envision Jesus and the Father in our minds. Scripture not only gives us a glimpse of Jesus but also His Father.
- Sustainer: Jesus sustains or upholds all things by the power of His Word. Nothing exists apart from His Word.
- Purifier: Jesus is the superior offering for sin. He’s the only one who can remove your sins, the only way our sin condition can be remedied.
- Ruler: Jesus sat down because His work was accomplished once and for all. The right hand is a reminder that Jesus holds the ultimate place of honor.
The surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption. The purification He accomplished on our behalf is the gift of Christmas. God has spoken in His Son. His Son is the final word. He’s the greatest of all.
This article is adapted from HomeLife Magazine.