The Who, What, When, and How of Jesus, the Son of God (Hebrews 1:3-4)
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, ⁴having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. —Hebrews 1:3-4
Verses 3-4 continue the flow of thought from verses 1-2, but the focus shifts from God the Father to Jesus the Son. The author fills his audience in on who Jesus is, what Jesus does, what Jesus did, when Jesus did it, and how Jesus did it.
Who Jesus Is
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…
Jesus is not just the reflection of the glory of God, like a lake reflects the sunlight. He is the radiance of the glory of God, like a house with radiant heat. Houses with radiant heat “radiate” or “emanate” heat from a source and through hot pipes to provide heat throughout the house. Jesus is the radiant heat of God’s glory. Jesus emanates the glory of God throughout the universe because he is the source. Jesus is God.
Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature. The face of a quarter shows the likeness of George Washington. But the face of Jesus Christ shines the likeness of Almighty God. Jesus’ life was not just a two-dimensional outline resembling God. His life was and is a multi-dimensional display of the very character of God himself.
What Jesus Does
…and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
Sometimes we might think of Jesus upholding the universe like a Greek statue holds up the world: passive and immobile. But Jesus is not a passive, immobile statue holding up the dead weight of the world. The language here is active and continuous. Jesus is actively sustaining the universe by constantly supplying all it needs to exist and expand toward the purpose for which he created it. And he is doing this by his all-powerful word.
What Jesus Did
…he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Jesus took the favored position at the right hand of God the Father. He sat down to show that he had accomplished everything his Father had sent him to do. His purpose for taking on flesh and being sent into the world had been fulfilled.
When Jesus Did It
After making purification for sins…
Jesus couldn’t sit down until this work of purification was done because only he could do it. Unlike Old Testament priests, Jesus was a sinless high priest who also became the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12, 25-26). Jesus’ blood did something that the blood of bulls and goats could not do (Hebrews 9:14). His blood bought purification and forgiveness of sins once and for all. It is finished. After Jesus did what only he could do, he sat down.
How Jesus Did It
…having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Jesus became superior to angels by becoming obedient to the point of his death on the cross. He suffered humiliation to receive the Father’s exaltation. He died and rose again and ascended on high. God the Father has given his Son the name above every other name. Therefore, his placement is above even that of angels. In fact every being in heaven and on earth and under the earth marvels at him and must bow the knee (Philippians 2:9-10). This highly-exalted status gives Jesus the highly-favored position at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
May we marvel over and bow the knee to the exalted Christ today. May our worship soar with wonder and awe over who Jesus is, what he has done, and when and how he did it.
Ponder Jesus’ once-for-all purification for sins. Ponder how all your sins have been forgiven by his blood. Express your thankfulness to him.
Ponder Jesus’ high position at the right hand of the Father. How does the fact that “it is finished” give you rest in all you have to do today?
Ponder Jesus’ glorious power. If Jesus is God and he is constantly sustaining the universe, what difference does it make that this same Jesus said he would always be with you (Matthew 28:20)?