“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later,but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” (Hebrews 3:1–6 ESV)
Billy Graham passed away last February at the age of 99. At the funeral, Graham was honored and described over and over again by others as a faithful servant of God until the end. He was a faithful servant of Christ who was sent all over the world to proclaim the name and the Gospel of Jesus. But we know, and Billy Graham knew, that while he was faithful, he didn’t deserve any of the glory for what he did. And he never pointed to himself. Instead, Graham always pointed to Christ as greater, and to the cross of Christ for his hope in this life and in eternity. True, Billy Graham was a great and faithful man sent by God, but Jesus is so much greater.
This is the message of Hebrews chapter 3. That when compared with the most faithful of God’s servants, Jesus is always, and has always been, superior. This week we get to see how Jesus is the better prophet, better than THE superstar of the Jewish faith, Moses! So, let us open our bible together and read from the letter to the Hebrews. We are going to read from chapter 3, verses 1-6. If you are using the white bible, you can find this text on page 775.
We are about to see why the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus, not Moses, is the better prophet— meaning he who proclaims the words of God to mankind. But first let’s look at how he begins his argument. Who is he talking to here? He is talking to a people who are family that has been set aside….that is what it means to be holy…set aside with a heavenly vocation…being a part of God’s plan of salvation and given eternal life with God. These are believers.
They have a shared confession of faith—our confession. And in this confession Jesus is to be considered their Apostle (a title meaning the one who is sent) and their High Priest (the One who represents men before God and offers a sacrifice for their sins). They are being told to consider THIS FACT, to fixate their minds, not on Moses anymore, but on JESUS as the Apostle and High Priest of their confession.
In these two titles, Apostle and High Priest, we see a summation of what we have learned in the first two chapters of this letter. That Jesus is superior in his celestial relationship with the angels, and he superior in his earthly relationship with men. That Jesus was Sent as God’s son (1,1-3) to be the better helper (1,4-14), offering HIMSELF as a perfect sacrifice for mankind’s sins so that God’s people might be made HOLY (1,3; 2,10-11). And that through God’s grand salvation, and the help of our better big brother, we can become members of God’s family (2,1-4, 15-18).
So, likewise brothers and sisters in the faith, we share in this confession. So, God is also speaking to us in this passage. And we are being called right now, tonight, to consider Jesus, to fixate our minds on Jesus, as the perfect Apostle, our High Priest, the better prophet, worthy of more glory than Moses. Jesus is the better prophet…
1. Because He is the Apostle par excellence
Moses was indeed a faithful servant of God (v 2, 5). He was sent by God to lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt. He was God’s faithful servant, sent to stand up against Pharaoh. He was sent to lead God’s people towards the promised land. He was sent to give them the Law, the instructions for building God’s dwelling place and establishing a sacrificial system that would allow the people of God to find temporary atonement for their sins. Moses was sent to lead a nation of people that constantly complained and criticized him. And he did so faithfully. There was not a man more faithful than Moses.
In Numbers chapter 12 God said that Moses was faithful in all His house (Num. 12,7). Therefore, Moses is worthy of honor for his faithfulness as a great prophet and as a faithful servant sent by God. But what the author of Hebrews is saying here is that Jesus is worthy of even more glory (v 3).
Jesus is the Apostle par excellence. We never have, and we never will be able to enjoy the help of a mediator more capable than faithful son, Jesus. Why would we want to look at someone else when we can consider Jesus?… Fixing our eyes and minds on Jesus as the faithful son of God sent by the Father.
You see, where Moses was the faithful servant sent by God, Jesus was the faithful Son sent by God. Where Moses was sent as God’s servant to lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt and into the promised land, Jesus was sent as God’s Son to lead God’s people out of slavery to sin and into the presence of God Himself.
Where Moses was a sinful man who represented mankind to God, Jesus was the sinless God-man who represented God to mankind.
Whereas Moses was a great mediator between God and Man, who spoke to God face to face on behalf of the people, Jesus is God in the flesh and he speaks to us.
While Moses is the greatest of the prophets in the Old Testament, he is still inferior to Christ, because Jesus is the faithful sent Son. This would not have been a surprise to Moses! In fact, in Deuteronomy 18:15, we read about the time when Moses prophesied that God would raise up a prophet like him from among God’s people. Which leads us to our second point. Jesus is the greater prophet because…
It was Jesus who sent Moses. Brothers and sisters, it is Jesus, the Apostle par excellence who also sent us, Breccia di Rome, into this city to be His testimony in Rome. That brings us to our second point. Jesus is the best Prophet because…
2. He plays the leading role (all others point to Him) (v 5)
This Bible here in my hand was written over a period of 1500 years by different men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It tells a unified story that points to one man, Jesus Christ. It is not where we look to finding God’s favor at work, financial success and freedom, or how to have our best life now. It is about Jesus. And all of the stories point to Him. All of the prophets pointed to Him. If we are to consider Jesus as the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, as the better prophet, we need to stay focused on His word.
Verse 5 tells us that Moses was called as a servant “to testify to the things that were to be spoken later”. The same is true for the prophets that came after Moses, they testified of the things that were to come…the faithful Son, Jesus. Luke 24:27 recounts a conversation between Jesus and His disciples. Listen to what He said, “And, beginning with Moses and throughout all of the prophets, He explained to them how all of the Scripture was spoke of Him.” Jesus plays the leading role in Scripture, therefore He is greater than Moses, and all the other prophets.
Whereas the prophets declared, Thus Sayeth the Lord, Jesus declared, But I tell you…! Whereas the other prophets proclaimed the truth of God as mere men, Jesus proclaimed the truth of God AS THE TRUTH (Gv 14,6). Do you know what this means? You should listen to him.
It also means that if anyone tries to point us away from his words, we should refuse to listen to them, maintaining firm in the confession of our faith (v 6). It means that if anyone places Jesus as equal among many prophets, they don’t speak for God.
There are many voices to listen to in this city. To what voices are you listening? Are they echoes of the greatest prophet and his message? Or do they stand opposed to it? We need to be aware of what voices we are listening to.
If there is a voice of “truth”, a person or an institution, new or historic, that would claim Christ as their own but ultimately change the very message of the Gospel he came to proclaim, it is a false prophetic voice. And our response is not to ignore it…but to reject it, refute it, and expose it so that people would not be led astray in the name of Jesus.
Brothers and Sisters, Just as the prophets, our ancient brothers and sisters in the faith pointed to Jesus, we are to do the same. We are members of the household of God in this city where we point the lost to Jesus, that he might redeem them and make them colleagues in our heavenly vocation. You have been sovereignly sent into your family to point your spouse and your children to Jesus. You have been sent into your place of work, your classroom, your community center, your gym, your supermarket….to point others to the one who is greater.
Jesus is the better prophet because all of the prophets pointed to Him, He plays the leading role. He is better than Moses because Jesus is the Apostle par excellence, the faithful servant sent. And the final reason that Jesus is the better prophet is that while Moses was a faithful servant in the House of God, Jesus is Head of the Church.
3. Jesus is Over the Church (v 6)
John Calvin wrote,
“Moses so ruled the Church, that he was still a part and member of it; but Christ being the builder, is superior to the whole building, — Moses while ruling others, was ruled also himself, as he was a servant; but Christ being a Son possesses supreme power.”
In verse 4, the author reminds us again that God is the Creator of all things. God has been building His house, His covenant people, the Church, the family of God. Moses was a faithful leader in God’s house (v 2). But over is better than in and Jesus, the greater prophet, is over that house and therefore worthy of far more glory that Moses. Without Jesus, there would be no Moses! There would be no me. There would be no you. There would be no house!
When you walk around this city you see ancient walls, beautiful and glorious monuments, fountains, basilicas, ecc. And if you are paying attention, you will see the name of the emperor or the pope that commissioned the building project. Why is that? Why would they want to put their name on it? Because they knew that the builder gets more glory than the building.
Brothers and sisters, God is building you and shaping you (Ef 2,22; 1P 2,5). His name is written on you to declare his Glory for saving you, transforming your heart from a heart of stone to one that can experience true love, joy, peace. When people look at you, do they see and glorify Him? Is there a stamp on your life that says “built by Jesus”? “Soli Deo Gloria”?! To God be all the glory?! Or is there another name?
Friends, are you trying to build your own house, or trying to live in a house built by someone else? It is a house with a weak foundation that will not last. Today I would ask you consider the ruler and the builder of God’s house. His foundation lasts for eternity and you may find security within it. Maybe today is your day to lay down your tools, set aside the blueprint to your own house. Repent of your sins and believe in the faithful Son, Jesus, for your forgiveness. He is able to take away your sinful rags and clothe you in his righteousness. He is the only one that can lead you into God’s house because He is over the house, the Church. There is no better house to be a part of.
In concluding, brothers and sisters, the author tells us in verse 6 that if we are God’s house if we HOLD FIRM our confession until the end, boasting about our hope in Jesus. Now, we don’t believe this means we can lose our salvation. The Bible teaches us otherwise, and our confession of faith explains that clearly. But this should remind us that we are called to be faithful to the very end and that our only hope is in Jesus.
So, where is your hope? And about who or what do you boast about? Someone or something besides Christ? Your job? Your economic source? A steady job? Those are not evil things, but they are not prerequisites to being able to put our hope and trust in Jesus and seeking his will for our lives. They don’t offer us hope. Only the better prophet can do that, He is the one leading us out of our bondage to sin and into the house of God. We boast in Him.
By God’s grace we have been saved through faith, and it is by God’s grace that we are enabled to hold firm to this confession. And when we fail, we can remember God’s grace on display in the faithful son who was sent BECAUSE we have all failed, and we still fail at times. But let his amazing grace motivate you, and us as a church, to hold firm to this hope and to boast about it in this city!
This week we have a great way to boast about our hope in the Jesus as we participate in the My Hope project. Pray for this event. Invite your friends to see a film that proclaims the gospel message, and that gives importance to the Apostle par excellence, to the main actor who plays the leading role, to the one who is Over God’s House, the church…without Jesus we would not have salvation.
Another opportunity we have to stand firm in our faith and boast about or hope in Jesus is the reformation walk. Last year we celebrated the 500the anniversary of the Reformation. We celebrated Martin Luther and the legacy that he left behind and how God used him to launch the Protestant Reformation. And we will get to do it again this year! Praise God!
Last year we shared the Gospel with over 500 students and teachers from our city through the presentation of the 5 Solas. The reformation walk is a time to celebrate our heroes like Martin Luther, Vermigli, Zwingli, Calvin, and Spurgeon. But the message we want to proclaim isn’t, “Look at Martin Luther!” “Look at Calvin!”. It isn’t a time to give glory to Luther or any of our favorite Reformers. Rather, it is “look at Christ! Look at the Son of God and what HE has done and give God all of the glory.” This was the message the reformers clung to, that they held firm to the end. May we do the same.
Consider Jesus the greater prophet because he was Apostle par excellence. Consider Jesus the greater prophet because He plays the leading role, and all the others pointed to Him—may our lives do the same. Consider Jesus the greater prophet because He is over God’s house—may we faithfully live as his children who submit to his loving rule, holding fast to our hope in him, and boasting in him in this dark and corrupt city.