The Manger: A King Size Bed (3)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Hebrews 1:3c (Holman) …and He sustains all things by His powerful
As heir (v. 2b), Jesus is the Goal of all things. As Creator (v. 2c), He is the beginning of all things. In His role as Sustainer, we learn this world can no more exist on its own than be created from nothing on its own.
All things would immediately degenerate to chaos, were they not sustained by Christ’s power. Jesus is the principle of cohesion in our universe. He is the firmness that allows things to stand firm, and keeps the world from dissolving and reverting to nothing. Due its ongoing nature, Chrysostom deemed this sustaining of things a greater miracle than creation.
Laws are at work in nature, but these are not impersonal forces. They express Jesus’ will. The world has not been deserted to wind itself down.
Jesus is not Atlas sustaining dead weight. He carries the world, plus guides its movements and happenings. He controls all progress of the eons. Christ maintains the world’s symmetry and proper balance. For instance, our globe tilts 23 degrees. If it were straight up and down, polar ice caps would be monstrous continents of ice covering most of Earth’s surface.
If the moon drew any closer to Earth, ocean tides would totally cover all landmasses twice daily. How does our world maintain these and other delicate balances essential for life? Jesus monitors all its movements.
The whole Universe hangs on the breath of Jesus. The world was created by God’s utterance, and is sustained in the same way. Neither is hard for God. Both are done effortlessly, with stress-free ease.
The fact of Christ’s sustaining power reveals the folly of people who oppose God. His power upholds the ground on which they stand to speak against Him. Their very lives, which are incarnate blasphemy, are a product of God’s own activity. Such a life leads to death. Just as the world without Jesus would disintegrate, even so a life lived without Jesus tends to chaos.
Don’t put holes in the ship keeping us afloat, or strike at the pillar upholding our house. Instead, love and adore Him who supports our essence.
Hebrews 1:3d After making purification for sins,…
Since Jesus is the Creator of the world, the Sustainer of all things, and the Goal of creation, He had to deal with what went wrong in the creation.
Something went haywire. There suddenly appeared an uncleanness that needed to be cleansed, and a worldwide epidemic that needed to be cured. Poor Jesus! He found Himself heir to a world not worth having in and of itself. As Creator, He was forced to look on a creation running amok.
Sin disordered the world. Evil disoriented God’s creation. The whole corrupt mass deserved to be destroyed, but God the Son chose to fix the problem. The world’s Creator entered it to re-create it. Our Creator became our Deliverer, and rested in a manger. His presence made it a king size bed. He, the Light of God, had to make His journey to Earth through a dark smog. A dense mass of poisonous vapors surrounded Him who was God’s express image. Humanity’s Sustainer found the race He created falling apart.
Jesus put His hand to a task no one else could or would touch. He put His shoulder under a burden no one else could or would bear. When no other eye pitied us and no other hand relieved us, Our Creator and Sustainer came.
How did we say thanks? We shamed the heir of all things, crucified our Creator, soiled the Light, marred the Image, and struck our Sustainer. Jesus still did not forsake us. He sacrificed Himself that our sin might not be imputed to us any more. He satisfied the Father with regard to sin. By His words, Jesus created and sustains, but words were not enough to redeem us. It took more for God to save us than to create and sustain us.
The Father willed our redemption; the Holy Spirit bears witness to our redemption; but Jesus had to accomplish it. He who was God’s Glory became not only flesh, but also sin incarnate on a cross, to save us. He was, as the song says, “the Darling of Heaven crucified” (Darlene Zschech).
This is why there has to be a Hell. God would dishonor His Son if people could make light of Calvary without punishment. Mankind has been provided an all-sufficient Savior. There can be only one adequate response to Him. We must humbly come to trust Him totally as Savior and Lord.
Hebrews 1:3e … He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
This statement contains at least four wonderful implications for Jesus. One, Jesus has gone to the right hand of God to rest. The Lord is secure now.
Never again will Jesus’ body be the receptacle of sin. His enemies can no longer reach Him. He abides in a place where enemies cannot come, and thus can no longer reach Him. Jesus enjoys rest from suffering and sacrifice.
In the Temple, there were no chairs. Priests were not allowed to sit down. This reminded them their work was never done. The sacrifices they offered were incomplete, and had to be repeated again and again. “But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). Regarding payment for the sin-debt of the world, Jesus alone can say, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Two, Jesus has gone to the right hand of God to intercede for us (RM 8:34). It comforts us to know our Friend is in Heaven, seated by the Father. Jesus influences royal decrees; the Father does all with and through Him. In ways we don’t understand, Jesus pleads that blessings may descend on all who know Him. We have at best only a surface comprehension of things that transpire within the Godhead, but we do know all of Heaven’s benefits are given to us through and because of Jesus. For sure, His wounds ceaselessly cry in our behalf. The Father never forgets those wounds are for us. The presence of Jesus in and of itself is an intercession in our behalf.
Three, Jesus has gone to the right hand of God to rule. At the cross, Jesus won absolute, total, and final victory over sin and all created things. “He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him” (1 P 3:22). The early believers were fact-denying optimists. Though persecuted and hunted, they believed they were on the winning side. Do we?
Four, Jesus has gone to the right hand of God to be honored. In our text, the words “on high” translate one compound word that means “on the highest height.” Jesus has the seat of honor. He went from cross to crown, Golgotha to Glory, from the manger, a king size bed, to the highest kingly throne in the Empire. Jesus has the most elevated seat we can conceive.
Having done all that God the Father wanted Him to do, Jesus took the place that belonged to Him. Christ, the hero of the Universe, earned every right to sit in the place of honor. His excellent dignity is the crown of Glory.
What a moment it must have been, when Jesus returned to Heaven and heard the Father say, “Come, sit here beside Me, at my right hand.” Surely all in Heaven lifted their voices in one grand chorus of consent, “Amen! Yes! So be it!” Thousands above cry out in a loud voice, “The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12).
Amen! It truly is fitting and proper. He who in Gethsemane knelt in agony, who stood a criminal before Pilate, hung in blood on a cross, and laid a corpse in a tomb, is now at God’s right hand hearing uninterrupted praise.
Christ sits in Heaven now. Someday, all who know Him will join Him there. He came to us that we might come to Him. He became like us to make us like Him. He accepted our plight that we might accept His Light. He died our death that we might live His life. He took our strife to give us life.