Day 7: Jesus Is a Better...
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me." - John 5:39
"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." - Luke 24:27
Text: Selections from the Letter to the Hebrews
Many Christians struggle with the Old Testament. Though that section comprises 75% of the Bible, it often seems disconnected from the New Testament, and our vision of how any passage connects to our Savior Jesus remains opaque at best. Yet, in the two passages above, Jesus tells us explicitly that the Old Testament Scriptures are first and foremost about Him (and implicitly in many other passages). So the question is, how are we to understand the Old Testament Scriptures Christologically? This is the same question The Letter to the Hebrews seeks to answer. The author again and again looks at someone or something in the Old Testament, and then he shows how Jesus is the better fulfillment. Today we will look at some of the broad strokes of his message that "Jesus is a better..."
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 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, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs." - Hebrews 1:1-4
The Book of Hebrews begins with the author reminding us how God communicated with His people throughout the History of Redemption. He spoke to the people through His prophets. Now He speaks through His Son. Prophets in the Old Testament represented God to His people; however, the messages provided to His people during the time of the prophets, though they were the perfect word of the Lord, though they were delivered to the people at precisely the right time in the right context, could not come close to the fullness of God's revelation through His Son Jesus. Christ is the perfect and complete representation of the Father, and in beholding Him, we can know the Father (John 1:18). Indeed, Jesus is the better messenger who is promised to us throughout the Old Testament and confirmed in the New Testament. (Isaiah 49:6, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 27:24-45, John 14:8-11)
"The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens." - Hebrews 7:23-26
The next major facet about Jesus' connection with and fulfillment of the Old Testament lies in His relationship with the priesthood. While Prophets in the Old Testament represented God to His People, Priests represented the People to God by interceding with God on their behalf and making sacrifices on their behalf for their reconciliation with God. However, the priesthood was flawed. Not only did the priests themselves die, and so were prevented from continuing in office, but they themselves were sinful and needed to make atonement for their own sins. Yet Christ, being eternal and sinless, fulfills the role of the priest better than any other could. This brings us to Christ as the better...
"And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." - Hebrews 10:11-14
The sacrifices made by the priests were not enough to actually atone for the sins of the people. We learn this in Hebrews 10:3-4. No indeed. The priest made their sacrifices continually throughout his priesthood, precisely because the sacrifice he was making on behalf of the people did not actually cleanse them of their sin. The author of the Book of Hebrews explains to us that was never really their purpose. All of these things from the Old Testament we've discussed (and many more) are merely shadowy copies of the heavenly things; their substance actually belongs to Christ and His work (Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 10:1, Colossians 2:17). This is true of the sacrifices as well. Christ is not only the new and better high priest for the people. He is also the new and better Sacrifice to make atonement for their sins; and His sacrifice was perfectly effectual for the cleansing of His people. Indeed, by a single offering He has perfected us for all time.