“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” (Hebrews 1:1-3, ESV).
The opening chapter of Hebrews repeats a truth every Christian knows but few actually grasp: “Jesus is greater.” The writer is so focused on this theme that he does not take time to offer a greeting. And he gives his readers no instructions, as we see in some epistles; instead, he has one thing on his mind: “Jesus is greater!” He is enamored, thrilled and overcome with Christ.
“Jesus is greater than what?” you may ask. In Hebrews 1 we find the answer: He’s greater than all the prophets, priests, kings and angels. You name it, and He’s greater than that. This isn’t news to us who know Christ as our living Savior; yes, He was present at the creation, and He is ruling eternally as King. Yes, He is greater than all that we can imagine.
Yet many Christians stumble over a simple truth when it comes to knowing that “Jesus is greater.” The problem is this: Jesus is greater than the works of the law—but we live as if our works mean more than Christ’s saving grace. We claim we’re saved by His grace, but whenever we fail, we fall back on works in order to be restored. This is an Old Covenant mentality, one that leads to slavery—yet few of us realize we fall into it.
Reading further in Hebrews, we see the “greater covenant” that God made with us in mind: “Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. . . . ‘Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant’” (Hebrews 8:6, 8).