Why should we listen to Jesus? - Hebrews 1:1 - 2:4
An audio recording of this sermon is available.
In the children's book, The Blind Men and the Elephant, Lillian Quigley retells the ancient story of six blind men who visit the palace of the Rajah and encounter an elephant for the first time. As each touches the animal with his hands, he announces his discoveries.
The first blind man put out his hand and touched the side of the elephant. "How smooth! An elephant is like a wall." The second blind man put out his hand and touched the trunk of the elephant. "How round! An elephant is like a snake." The third blind man put out his hand and touched the tusk of the elephant. "How sharp! An elephant is like a spear." The fourth blind man put out his hand and touched the leg of the elephant. "How tall! An elephant is like a tree." The fifth blind man reached out his hand and touched the ear of the elephant. "How wide! An elephant is like a fan." The sixth blind man put out his hand and touched the tail of the elephant. "How thin! An elephant is like a rope."
An argument ensued, each blind man thinking his own perception of the elephant was the correct one. The Rajah, awakened by the commotion, called out from the balcony. "The elephant is a big animal," he said. "Each man touched only one part. You must put all the parts together to find out what an elephant is like.”
This story is often used by people to explain why the different world religions reach different conclusions about God. What is required, so it is said, is for all the different parts to be put together to explain the bigger picture. The implication is that different religious opinion should not simply be tolerated but celebrated for the contribution it can make.
How should we respond to this story? First of all, it is a very presumptuous thing to say that all the different world religions only have a little part of the bigger picture. Anyone who says this puts themselves in the position of the Rajah - someone who can see what the others cannot. How is this possible? And so how can we know that all are even touching the elephant and some are not touching something completely different?
What we need is for something the illustration doesn’t allow but which the bible claims. We need the elephant to speak. Impossible in the picture. But in reality the Bible claims that the God who made us is a speaking God.
This is both comforting and challenging.
Our text from Hebrews helpfully summarises how God has spoken in the past, how God speaks today and also highlights the implications for us in our daily lives.
How has God spoken?
Look at verse 1. Read verses 1-2.
What should we notice?
Notice a few contrasts.
In the past. These last days. What stands as the divider? Who stands as the divider? The coming of the Son of God into the world. Before Jesus there was a certain way of communicating. Things changed when Jesus arrived.
What was the difference?
What was communication like before the coming of Jesus? God spoke to his people through the prophets. Human voices carried a divine message.
Many different prophets spoke at different times. They spoke to the people in a variety of ways.
By contrast, what marks these last days. One person has spoken in one time period. This implies that the person must be extraordinary. In one period he can declare comprehensively what needs to be disclosed. We don’t need many different people to get the message across. This one person is not limited in what he can do.
What makes Jesus so special?
- Heir of all things (vs 2)
- Creator of the universe (vs 3)
Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his
- Inseparable from the Father and yet distinct from the Father
- Sustains all things with his powerful word
- He made purification for sin - didn’t just come to communicate
- Not a creature - so he is
superior to the angels
- Vs 6 - worship Jesus
- Vs 8 - claim to divinity
- Vs 10 - claim to divinity
And it was this divine one who was born and given the name Jesus. No wonder his arrival changed the communication age.
What devices do you think have changed communications? Telephone, internet, Smartphones.
It was Jesus who radically changed communication. Because of who he is.
If we lived in the OT days, we would expect other prophets to arrive with messages for the people. But not after Jesus, what more can be said after the Son of God has appeared?
It is not that his message is more authoritative. We must resist the implications of red letter bibles.
But the revelation of Jesus is the central focus. His identity demonstrates the content is of supreme importance.
What does this mean for us?
The original hearers were of Jewish background but were in danger of giving up on Jesus. Perhaps his message wasn’t necessary or binding as the Old Testament.
The Jews believed the angels had been involved in communicating the law of God. Jesus is superior. That’s why we’ve had so much detail about angels in chapter 1. It’s because of their role as faithful messengers - a role that the Jews understood.
They were in danger of drifting away. Not deciding away. It was slow and impermeable at first. Like a ship not secured to the sure.
Why should they stick with the message of Jesus? The reason given is because if the message spoken by angels was binding then the great message announced by Jesus will be too - given that Jesus is superior to the angels.
It’s not that Jesus’ message is more binding. It is certainly not less binding. But it is of supreme importance.
They were told don’t give up on the message of Jesus. Pay careful attention to it
What’s the application for us?
Are you in danger of drifting away? That is our constant danger. This was happening in the first decades of the early church.
It will happen to us. There will always be pressures.
What is the solution? Decide to pay careful attention to the scriptures.
Do you pay attention? Do you pay careful attention? Does the detail bore you? Precision will not dull your devotion but flame it!
If you play with this you play with your soul.
But if you commit to this it is good for us.
Are we in danger of drifting away from Jesus?
Do other religions have anything to offer? Do other passions have something more than him? Have we exhausted the riches of the revelation?
Remember who Jesus is.
Clearing out a church room in Cambridge. K, T, or N. Keep, throw or not sure. One battered old box was labelled T. Someone suggested it was looked at. It contained a silver plate worth £30,000.
Gaze again at his wonderful revelation. Able to be said because of his unique identity.
Understand it is a great salvation!
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