Friday, June 1, 2012

Jesus—Better Than Moses

The Bible affirms Moses in so many ways, and it is obvious that to Jews throughout history, he is not merely a forefather, but a hero. Moses is one of the most prominent, respected leaders in Jewish heritage. So when the writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews first mentions Moses, it is with a clear level of respect.

In fact, in Hebrews 3.1-6, the letter commends Moses in several ways. But it is even clearer that although Moses is good, Jesus is better. Jesus is the greatest, and He is certainly far superior to Moses.

Simply put, the writer says that they should “consider Jesus.”

In this text, there are a couple of immediately noticeable comparisons between Jesus and Moses. The writer says that both of them were faithful to God the Father who appointed them in their roles. Another implied comparison is that both are worthy of glory and honor. But that is where the distinctions become clear.

First, he refers to Jesus as the apostle and high priest of their confession as Jewish believers. Then Jesus is described as having more glory or honor than Moses (v. 3). He is saying that Jesus is greater than Moses. But how, specifically?

There are two metaphors used. The first is that although Moses was instrumental in the household of faith, Jesus built the house. As the builder, Jesus is greater and worthy of more glory. The second metaphor is that although Moses was like an amazing servant in the house, Jesus is a Son over the household. And a son is greater than a servant.

There is a glowing example of this comparison of glory in what Paul says to the Corinthian church about the ministry of Moses and the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to look directly at Moses’ face because of the glory from his face—a fading glory—how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness overflows with even more glory. In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious now by comparison because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was fading away was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious. (2 Corinthians 3.7-11, HCSB)

Moses’ glory eventually faded. Jesus’ glory has not. The Bible is clear in several instances that Moses’ law is good and has its place, but that the work of Jesus fulfilled the law. The writer of Hebrews will make that abundantly clear, later in his letter.

Listen to this amazing indictment by Jesus:

For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. (John 5.46, HCSB)

All of the Scriptures point to Jesus. Including the Book of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy—the Pentateuch). Moses was looking ahead, to Jesus.

A trust in one’s religious heritage or heroes, rather than Jesus, is a dangerous thing. Jesus is greater.