First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, January 29, 2023)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Jesus: Greater than the Angels!”
Psalm 103:19-22; Hebrews 1:4-14
We continue this morning our sermon series reflecting on the supremacy and the greatness of Christ in the letter to the Hebrews. The book of Hebrews was written to a particular group of Christians who had converted to the Christian faith. It seems that this group of devout Jews who have become followers of Jesus got confused about some fundamental and foundational Christian teaching. As I pointed out last week, some of the Hebrew Christians fell into the trap of considering Christianity another sect, another group, within Judaism.
The author of Hebrews, therefore, took upon himself the responsibility to correct this and to help the Hebrew community to grasp the foundations of the Christian faith by emphasizing on the supremacy of Christ. Christianity is not built on a set of beliefs, but on a person called Jesus Christ. The author, therefore, elaborated on the supremacy of His identity; the supremacy of His mission; the supremacy of His priesthood; the supremacy of the new covenant He established; the supremacy of His promises; and the supremacy of His salvation. All this should lead us “to hold fast to our confession” and to embrace and pursue more of Jesus.
The Scripture passage we are looking at this morning invites us to realize that Jesus is greater than the angels. I am sure that some of us are asking why the comparison between Jesus and angels? Many Christians in the first century were confused as to how they should relate to Jesus (man only or God only). Some, especially Christians from a Jewish background, may have been tempted to see Jesus as part of the angelic creation. After all, angels were often sent by God as messengers and did mighty deeds. That’s why the author of Hebrews firmly established the identity of Jesus as being greater than angels.
The author supports this claim with direct quotations from the Old Testament about the character and position of the Messiah in relationship to angels. In Hebrews 1:4-14, there are at least seven refrences that demonstrate the superiority of the Messiah in comparison to angels. None of the angels were given the title “God’s Son”, but Jesus did. The Son is worshipped, but the angels are servants of God. Jesus is eternal, angels are not. Jesus is fully divine, but angels are not. Jesus is the ruling Son while angels are messengers of God.
Who are Angels?
Before I draw a single, yet a profound application based on Christ’s supremacy over the angels, it might be a good idea just to refresh our minds of who angels are. Both the Hebrew and Greek words for angel mean “messenger”, messenger from God. The word refers to an order of spiritual/supernatural (not divine) created beings who act as God’s messengers to people, and agents who carry out God’s will in the world. Psalm 103:21 state, “Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.”
During the intertestamental period, the 400 years before Christ, a certain fascination with angels developed. Angels are increasingly fixated upon as expressions of God’s divine power and authority. God, of course, was all-powerful; angels didn’t replace God, but they were next in line. The best way for the author of Hebrews to make his case is to establish the deity of Jesus. Obviously, if the Son is divine, then the Son is superior to the angels. So throughout Hebrews chapter 1, the author affirms in the strongest way possible the deity of Jesus.
So now we can understand chapter 1 and how angels fit into the overall purpose of the letter and why the author begins with angels because angels were a big deal to these folks. But what does this have to do with us? How do we make sense and apply this? Let me offer one important application that I think we can draw from this. If Jesus is superior and if he is greater than the angels, hold fast to Jesus.
First: Hold Fast to Jesus
Hold fast to Jesus because He is greater. He offers us more than we’ve left behind. Not many of us today are tempted to abandon our faith in Christ to embrace Judaism, because we’ve come to Christ from a different starting place. Yet, the danger is still the same. Every day we are tempted to go back to our old life; to life a self-centered life rather than a Christ-centered life.
The point of Hebrews chapter 1 still stands: What we possess through faith in Jesus is better than anything that we’ve left behind in our old life. In Christ, there is something better. The very best of what you had in your old way of life cannot compare with the blessings that we have come to know through Jesus Christ. Though we don’t get to fully experience the best that Christ offers because of our lack of faith, we believe that the best is yet to come.
Jesus offers lasting hope, unmerited love, endless joy, clear purpose, eternal life, true dignity, and real meaning. The faithless life, our old life, offers us pleasure instead of purpose, distraction instead of hope, entertainment instead of joy, and ultimately, no matter whatever else it offers us, it offers us death instead of life. Whatever we fall back to is going to be lesser than the eternal life that is offered to us in Christ.
Friends, I don’t know what the “angels”, the things in your old way of life, that you are tempted to return to. I am sure we are tempted some way or another, but whatever they are, they cannot hold a candle to whatever God has promised us in Jesus Christ. Faith is choosing to believe that whatever you have in Jesus is better than anything that you have left behind. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s hold fast to Jesus because He offers us more than what we’ve left behind. Don’t go back. Don’t go back to something that’s lesser when Jesus offers you the greatness of God. Hold fast to Jesus. Jesus is worthy to be followed. He is worthy to give our allegiance to; he is worth leaving behind our past in order to embrace all that God has for us. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.