In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Who is Jesus? All around the world, Christians and non-Christians alike revisit this question every spring when the first full moon arrives. In our quest to discover exactly who he is, we’re examining Hebrews 1:1-3.
The writer of Hebrews defers using Jesus’ given name in this opening description. In fact, the name “Jesus” won’t make an appearance at all until well into chapter 2 when the author begins to shift away from Jesus’ divinity to focus on his humanity. But for now, we get to see Jesus both as he has always been: God’s “Son,” and the one through whom God created the world, and as he has become: the “heir of all things.”
Because of his eternal position as Son, Jesus is the natural heir to the Father. He also holds the power to rule over the “universe” and “all things” (material and immaterial, visible and invisible, animate and inanimate) because he made them! But Hebrews has even more to say. Jesus has also earned his inheritance by adding a new dimension to his sonship–that of Messiah. (Psalm 2:7-8) In other words, Jesus earned his inheritance by the work he did on earth, by “provid[ing] purification of sins” as the following verse explains. That “work” is subject for another blog. Today, we need simply to note that as God’s Son, Jesus was active alongside his Father at creation.
Jesus’ work on earth included performing all kinds of miracles to demonstrate his identity and power as God’s son and heir. His disciples frequently saw him heal diseases and drive out demons. But when they saw him silence a “furious squall” that broke out over the Sea of Galilee and threatened their very lives, their confusion about his identity returned. (Mark 4:35-41) They, who moments before had been in a flurry of fear and activity, were themselves silenced with a new kind of fear. “Who is this?” they asked. Like any good Israelite, each knew that God alone held the power over the sea. He had established its boundaries at creation and overrode them at the Red Sea. Their own Psalter spoke of a God who could “stir up a tempest” and then “still it with a whisper.” (Psalm 107: 23-31). If this man Jesus wielded God’s power, what did that suggest about his identity?
Now the disciples may have been confused that day, but the winds and waves were not. They recognized the voice of their maker and hastened to obey it. And their obedience was testimony to Jesus’ divine identity.