Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Greatest of All, Part 1

At times, you just have to wonder what our obsession is with being the greatest. The greatest at anything, really. As a child of the 1970s, I remember famed boxer Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) being referred to as The Greatest. He is quoted as saying: “I knew I had him in the first round. Almighty God was with me. I want everyone to bear witness, I am the greatest! I'm the greatest thing that ever lived.” He later acknowledged he wasn’t the greatest thing, “just the greatest boxer.”

Still, we like to dream about being really good at something, and perhaps becoming the greatest. If we can’t be the greatest, maybe we can know the greatest. So we tend to worship the stars in Hollywood. Or the very best athletes. Or top government leaders.

In the Scriptures there are many ways that God is set apart as truly the greatest of all. And when it comes to people who have walked the face of the earth, one Man stands out above all else. He has first place in everything. He is Jesus. Look at how the Apostle Paul describes Him in the letter known as Colossians.

…He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have
first place in everything.
(19) For God was pleased to have
all His fullness dwell in Him,
(20) and through Him to reconcile
everything to Himself
by making peace
through the blood of His cross—
whether things on earth or things in heaven.
(Colossians 1.18-20, HCSB)

That idea is all over the Bible, and it certainly is on display in the letter to the Hebrews. This book of the Bible is rich in helping readers to see the connection between the Hebrew Scriptures, otherwise known as the Old Testament of the Bible, and the New Testament. Originally addressed primarily to Jews who had joined the Christian faith community, the letter offers gracious warnings regarding falling away from faith in Jesus alone, by pointing out how much better Jesus is than anyone or anything.

In short, Jesus is better. He’s the best. He’s the greatest of all.

It all begins with an amazing intro that essentially summarizes the book.

Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. (2) In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. (3) The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1.1-3, HCSB)

The writer of Hebrews says that although God spoke to humanity, and to His people, at different times and in various ways, in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son.

Did you catch that? God spoke to us in a Son. His unique, amazing Son.

In the next post we’ll look briefly at how and why Jesus is supreme over all. He really is the Greatest.