Jesus, Better than Moses
Hebrews 3:1-6 says,
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.
Just like the start of chapter 2, the author calls us to consider Jesus. There is a rhythm in this book. First, he tells us about Jesus, then calls us to consider him, and warns us of what will happen if we refuse him. He wants us to avoid sluggishness in our pursuit of Christ. Jesus is better than everything else. He deserves to be first in our lives. If we listen, we will find that we are inheritors of great blessing.
Let’s consider him together now.
What do we see about Jesus in these first 6 verses?
Jesus is an apostle, High Priest, faithful, appointed, worthy of more glory, worthy of honor, builder of the house of God, builder of all things, Son, and our hope.
Now, notice verse 1. The author gives us two descriptions of Jesus: apostle and high priest. What do these descriptions mean?
Apostle – one who speaks for God
High Priest – one who mediates for God
John Piper says, “Jesus is a word from God and a way to God.” These two descriptions sum up the presentation of Jesus in 1:1 – 2:18. He is the ultimate word from God, and through his death and resurrection has become the way to God. By becoming the true Psalm 8 man, Jesus has led us out of sin and death in a new, better exodus.
The author now continues his method of comparison. He wants to prove that Jesus is better. So in verses 2-6 he compares Jesus to Moses. But once again, we see that Jesus is better. What’s the difference between the two?
- Worthy of glory
- Worthy of honor
- Servant of God's house
- Faithful in God’s house
- Worthy of more glory
- Worthy of more honor
- Builder of God's house
- Faithful over God’s house
The interpretive key to these 6 verses is faithfulness. William Lane says, “Faithfulness on the part of a servant is required; faithfulness in a son is an expression of pure love.” The faithfulness of Christ in service to God as the son over God’s house (the church) is another building block in the author’s argument that Jesus can be trusted. They already trusted Moses. Will they now trust Jesus?
Jesus has been faithful. The love that Jesus has for the Father is the engine for his faithfulness to him, which means that the love of the Son for the Father is the key to understanding how he has saved us. In love, Jesus saves – both in obedience to the Father who desires to save and in response to our need to be saved.
This faithfulness on the part of Jesus fulfills the Old Testament promise of a faithful high priest. “And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.” (1 Samuel 2:35)
The author connects us to this image of the house in verse 6, “We are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” In doing so, the author is asking an insightful question. Jesus has been faithful. Moses was faithful. Will you be faithful? Or will you harden your heart?
What do we do with that word “if” in verse 6? “If we hold our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” The author is pushing us to consider our faith. The author is not pushing toward becoming something as much as he is pushing us toward being something. John Piper helps us see that in his wonderful sermon entitled “Do Not Harden Your Heart in the Day of Trouble.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/do-not-harden-your-heart-in-the-day-of-trouble)
It might sound as if the author is questioning the security of our salvation. But he’s not! Instead, he’s using this language to prove that our salvation is secure, and giving us a way to know that it’s secure. Your present faith is the best indicator of your future faith – not as much because you are faithful, but because Jesus is faithful. After all, he’s the faithful Son who built the house. He’s the founder and perfecter of your faith (Heb. 12:2). Do you believe right now that Jesus is your savior? Then you are secure!
Verse 6 becomes the evidence of your faith rather than an enemy to your faith. It grants more assurance, not less. As Piper says, “Everything in chapter 3 is written to encourage and empower you to be earnest and vigilant and focused in the fight to maintain strong assurance in Christ.”