Jesus is Enough

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 ESV

There is probably no other New Testament book that contains so many Old Testament references, especially those related to the Tabernacle and the entire Levitical system associated with it. For anyone who has read the book of Leviticus, its detailed account of all the laws, rituals, sacrificial rites, and yearly festivals can be difficult to read and even harder to understand. The degree of specificity used when describing the mandatory sacrifices can leave modern readers perplexed and a bit put off by all the gory details involving blood, entrails, and burnt offerings.

“Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.” – Leviticus 1:5-9 ESV

To our modern sensibilities, it all sounds so barbaric and cult-like. But the author of Hebrews takes those very same unsettling descriptions and instills them with new meaning so that his more “modern” readers can grasp their significance in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. – Hebrews 9:11-14 ESV

While do not know who the author of the Letter to the Hebrews was, we can almost certainly conclude that his audience was made up primarily of Jewish believers. Throughout the letter, he makes references to facts regarding Judaism, apparently assuming his readers were well-versed in them. He takes little time to explain details regarding the sacrificial system, the office of the high priest, the history of Israel, or the identity of the individuals listed in chapter 11, who were primarily Hebrews.

The fact that the author was also addressing Jews whose faith in Christ might be in question is evidenced by his repeated warnings against drifting away, neglecting so great a salvation, having an unbelieving heart, and failing to enter into the rest God has promised. Even in the opening line of his letter, the author tells his readers that, “in these last days he [God] has spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:2 ESV). He appears convinced that his audience is very familiar with the words of Jesus and the message of the gospel. Interestingly enough, he does not mention the name of Jesus anywhere in this first chapter but simply refers to Him as God’s Son. That Jesus was inferred and understood by his readers as the one being talked about is quite clear. The original recipients of this letter would have known exactly who was being discussed.

That the writer would delay the mention of Jesus’ name until the ninth verse in chapter two is intriguing. But it would seem that he felt no need to use the name of Jesus, but simply referred to His unique designation as the Son of God. That term would have been very familiar with his Jewish audience and would have brought to mind the very reason for which the Jews had rejected Jesus, to begin with. It was Jesus’ claim to be divine, the very Son of God, that led the Jewish leadership to accuse Him of blasphemy and to seek His death.

At one time Jesus said, “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27 NLT). These kinds of statements did not endear Jesus to the Jewish religious authorities of His day. In fact, when He was arrested and brought before them on the night He was betrayed, Caiaphas, the high priest, questioned Jesus asking, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:63 NLT). Jesus answered, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64 NLT). And Caiaphas, in shock and horror, responded, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” (Matthew 26:65-66 NLT). And his fellow religious leaders shouted out, “Guilty! He deserves to die!” (Matthew 26:66 NLT).

It was Jesus’ claim of divine Sonship that got Him in trouble – not the miracles, signs, and wonders He performed. It was not His teaching that drove the high priest and his cohorts mad with rage, but it was His insistence that He was divine. And the writer of Hebrews eagerly supports Jesus’ bold claim by stating that God had “spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2 ESV).

He attributes to Jesus the divine role of creator of the universe. According to the author of Hebrews, Jesus was and still is God. In fact, he boldly claims, “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command” (Hebrews 1:3 NLT).

This man from Nazareth, who was murdered at the hands of the Romans at the insistence of the Jews, was the Son of God. And it was this very fact that made His sacrifice on the cross acceptable to His Heavenly Father. As the Son of God, He was completely sinless, making Him the perfect sacrifice and the only acceptable payment for the sins of mankind. And, the writer of Hebrews reminds his readers, “When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3 NLT).

Jesus returned to where He had come from, the very throne room of God. The apostle Paul writes about this very reality in his letter to the Philippians.

When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:7-11 NLT

Over the next chapters, we will see the author go out of his way to insist on the superiority of Christ. He is superior to angels, Moses, and any earthly high priest or institution. His sacrifice was greater and more effective than anything man could ever hope to accomplish through the sacrifice of bulls and goats. Jesus was and is incomparable. There was nothing in Judaism that could compare. There was no reason for those who had placed their faith in Jesus as their Savior and Messiah, to return to the old covenant of laws and ritualistic rule-keeping. Christ was sufficient. The good news was good enough. There was nothing missing and no man-made requirements necessary to complete or complement what Christ had done on the cross.

Peter reminds us, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT).

In Christ, we have all we need for salvation, sanctification, and our ultimate glorification. Nothing is missing. Nothing needs to be added. As the old hymn, Rock of Ages, so aptly puts it, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” Jesus is enough.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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