Thursday, March 29, 2012

An Angel…or Jesus?

I don’t think I ever watched a full episode of the nine-year CBS television series Touched by an Angel.

I haven’t missed it. But I do remember seeing snippets of the show. It seems the good angels always show up at just the right time, and do just the right thing.

If someone were to ask me who is better, Jesus or an angel, the question would be an obvious moot point. But for those who accept a vague spirituality, or who just have an exaggerated view of angels, that question is a challenging one that they must get right.

This is why the section in Hebrews 1.4-14 was written. In the first century, those who were God-fearing Jews had a very high view of angelic beings. Some of them also had not yet committed to being followers of Jesus, and were essentially riding the fence on that decision. It was into this context that the writer says emphatically: Jesus is superior to angels. But why, specifically?

The writer of Hebrews simply makes basic points about the claims of Jesus. And he wisely uses texts from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) to prove a few points. Take a look at Hebrews 1.4-14, and note these important distinctions.

Jesus Christ is better than angels because He is the Son of God. (vv. 4-5)

In verses 4-5, when he quotes from the Psalms and 2 Samuel, he is saying that Jesus automatically has a higher rank simply because He is the Son of God. It’s a very basic, but important argument. Look at how God the Father is blessed by and pleased with His Son:

…and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven:
“You are My beloved Son.
I take delight in You!”
(Luke 3.22, HCSB)

Jesus Christ is better than angels because He is the object of worship. (v. 6)

Next the writer again quotes older Scriptures and points out that even the celestial beings are to worship Jesus, showing that He is better and more important than they are. Paul writes that one day every single creature will worship Jesus:

For this reason God highly exalted Him
and gave Him the name
that is above every name,
(10) so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
(11) and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2.9-11, HCSB)

Jesus Christ is better than angels because He is the Ruler of creation. (vv. 7-12)

Then the writer describes the distinction between Jesus and the angels as vast due to His remarkable power over all creation. He rules it with a “scepter of justice.” He has been anointed as the one who established the earth and heavens. Again, note how Paul reiterates this:

For everything was created by Him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
(17) He is before all things,
and by Him all things hold together.
(Colossians 1.16-17, HCSB)

Jesus Christ is better than angels because He is the King of glory. (vv. 13-14)

Simply put, verses 13-14 declare that Jesus is better because He deserves the glory, since the angels work to point people to Jesus and His saving gospel. He is the King of Glory:

Lift up your heads, you gates!
Rise up, ancient doors!
Then the King of glory will come in.
(10) Who is He, this King of glory?
The Lord of Hosts,
He is the King of glory.
(Psalm 24.9-10, HCSB)

I know Someone who showed up at just the right time and did just the right thing, once and for all.

Jesus. And He’s better than all the angels.