No messing around with greetings . . . no words wasted on customary introductions . . . the writer to Hebrews just gets at it. There is an anticipation every time I enter this book . . . a looking forward to the writer’s masterful arguments concerning the supremacy of Christ and the life of faith it evokes in those with ears to hear and eyes to see. What grabs me this morning, as I read these opening verses, is how one of the attributes of the Son, in a sense, stands out in stark contrast to the rest. Amidst that which describes Him in all His deity, is that what which reminds me of His humanity . . . against the backdrop of that which speaks of His mighty strength, is that which speaks of His meekness . . . in these opening verses are the highs and the lowly.
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)
Chew on those words and be lifted up to the consider the high and lofty. God has, in these latter days, spoken to us by His Son. The Son who is appointed heir of all, not just some, but all things . . . the same Son through whom God created everything about us . . . the Son who radiates God’s glory . . . the Son who embodies the very nature of God Almighty . . . the Son who, through the very power of His word, bears all the workings of the universe–yes, the universe. He is the Son who is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high . . . the Son, who being God, very God, is superior to angels . . . having been given the Name above all names.
Talk about grandeur . . . talk about greatness and power . . . talk about nothing coming close to comparing . . . those are the mountain springs the writer wants us to drink deeply of . . . the highs of the Son we are to consider.
But amidst them is this phrase, “after making purification of sins.” The Son made purification of sins. If you didn’t know the rest of the story, you might think that He might have commanded it into reality . . . that, perhaps, He had planned it and had others make it happen. If you didn’t know the rest of the story you’d never guess that the mighty, majestic, Son of God, as the NKJV translates it, “had by Himself purged our sins.”
By Himself He made purification for sins.
Wrapped up in that simple phrase is the miracle of the incarnation, God become flesh, the Son relinquishing His eternal glory to enter this world in the form of a man . . . His kingly authority exchanged, for a time, for the very nature of servant. In making purification for sins by Himself, the Son of God willingly became the Lamb of God . . . the once for all sacrifice for the sins of mankind. In order to declare men righteousness, He who knew no sin, became sin for us (2Cor. 5:21).
He left heaven’s splendor in order to bear a Roman cross up a hostile road to a hill called Calvary. He who had been exalted by angels, willingly allowed Himself to be nailed upon that cross and lifted up for men to deride and mock. He who, in the beginning, spoke the created world into being would, in the apparent last hours of His life, cried to heaven, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He who was with the Father from eternity past would know a separation beyond what we could comprehend . . . “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). The high and holy Son of God became the meek and lowly Jesus that He, by Himself, might make purification for sins.
O’ what a Savior! Blessed be His Name . . . His high and holy Name!