This week, our very own Walter Shaw brings us the encouraging BIG IDEA of Hebrews 3:1-6: Consider the faithfulness of Jesus.


Sermon Transcript

Have you ever noticed that the more you look at something, like a piece of artwork, the more that there is to notice? The place where we focus our attention becomes more and more compelling to us, the longer we place our focus there. My wife Patsy is an artist and so I’ve become accustomed to walking around art shows and museums with her. When we first started dating, we’d go to these shows together and I’d look at a landscape for about three seconds and go, “Ok, this is a nice field with happy little trees and some clouds, I’ve seen Bob Ross do something like this before.” Then I, totally unaffected, would want to move on to the next piece and quickly realize that Patsy wasn’t quite done considering the piece of art in front of her. But as I’ve grown in my eyes to see what’s beautiful in a masterpiece work of art, I’ve seen that there really is more to appreciate and this beautiful art has more and more had its intended effect on me, drawing me in and stirring some kind of emotion in me.

Well, this morning as I preach God’s Word for us, I’d like to present Jesus as Hebrews 3:1-6 portrays him to be for us to carefully consider together. Whether this morning you are walking in as someone who has been a follower of Christ as long as you can remember, or whether you have never given him a second thought, let’s take a few moments to consider Jesus together and let the Word have its intended effect on us, today and for the rest of our lives.

The big idea of this passage comes right from verse 2, consider the faithfulness of Jesus. Consider the faithfulness of Jesus. But in order for us to consider the faithfulness of Jesus, we need to know a little something about who Jesus is and how he has been faithful. Thankfully, the author of Hebrews does not give us a command and leave us to figure out the rest, the author lays out three ways for us to consider Jesus: his faithfulness as high priest, his faithfulness as builder, and His faithfulness as the son. High priest, builder, son, Jesus is all of these things.

But our consideration is not an end in and of itself. The author of Hebrews actually tells us why we should consider the faithfulness of Jesus in v.6b, the intended effect of all of this consideration is that we would – “… hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” We consider Jesus in his identity as the faithful high priest, builder, and son so that we would not drift away or lose confidence, but instead hold fast to the end. Let’s begin our consideration together with Jesus the high priest.

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession (3:1)

The author of Hebrews begins chapter three by harkening back to Hebrews chapter two. Last week we learned about a theme that show up again here. The author describes his readers as holy brothers. This is a callback to Hebrews 2:11-12, where the author writes. “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” So we are brothers not to one another, but the Lord Jesus himself is not ashamed to call us brothers, those who share in a heavenly calling. The people of God are more than independent individuals who just happen to share a similar interest, life stage or personality. Rather, Hebrews 3:1 presents the people of God as a brotherhood gathered around a shared confession. God has called us, not just individually but corporately to be a holy people, sanctified or set apart to sing the Lord’s praises here on earth and eternally.

The body of Christ is not a social club that we can freely opt in and out of at our discretion, we all together are a body of people that stretch through time and space united by the God that we worship and our calling to holiness. That is our heavenly calling, it’s who we are together in Christ, and it’s to holy brothers that the author gives us our big idea: Consider the faithfulness of Jesus.

Notice how the author of Hebrews describes Jesus as a messenger, the apostle and high priest of our confession. Generally in the New Testament, the word “apostle” means “sent one,” and while this is the only time in the New Testament that this word is applied to Jesus, it is in line with the way that Jesus describes himself in the gospels as being sent by the Father. As he lived his earthly life, Jesus was truly a man sent on a mission. As just one example, Jesus says in John 4 that his food is to do the will of him who sent Jesus, and to accomplish his work.

What is his work? Hebrews 3 again gives us the answer – Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. We learned a little bit last week about what it means for Jesus to be our High Priest, and the author of Hebrews will go into greater detail in Hebrews 4 & 5, but for now it is sufficient to note that a high priest is the one who would go and represent a sinful people in the face of a holy God, and offer sacrifices to atone for sin. In other words, Jesus was sent in the service of God to make propitiation, a word that is simply defined by J.I. Packer as “averting God’s anger by the means of an offering.” The typical high priest would wash himself, perform an animal sacrifice, and sprinkle some blood on the altar in order to atone for the sins of Israel, a symbol that pointed to the only blood that could truly atone for our sin, the blood of Christ. Jesus uniquely is the high priest who requires no sacrifice for his own sin, and in his death is himself the offering that averts God’s right anger toward our sin. This is Jesus the faithful one, the High Priest who not only prepares a sacrifice for our sin but is the sacrifice for our sin.

It’s kind of like if you know you’ve wronged someone in a significant way, not a trivial way but in a way that you look back and it stings to think about because you can’t even bear to face them, you might send a friend over to them and go, “Hey man, I’ve been talking to Walter and he’s really sorry about what he did. Here’s something for you as a token of his apology.” Now imagine the person you’ve wronged comes and says, “Walter, I know what you did was wrong, but the damage that you caused is paid for, I went ahead and took care of it.” Jesus is the high priest who takes the initiative to pay the penalty for our sin. The offended party has been sent down to make an atonement on our behalf. It’s that, but on a much larger scale. Our disobeying and ignoring God in the world that He created has accrued a debt that is worthy of a capital offense. It requires an atonement that only a faithful high priest would be able to pay. And thanks be to God that Jesus is that faithful high priest.

So when we gather together each week as brothers and sisters who have been made holy in our heavenly calling, we confess together that the Lord Jesus was sent by God to offer himself on the cross in our place for our sin, that’s what we mean.

Take a minute and consider that. And if you’re like me and you tend to get so wrapped up in the day-to-day of trying to live in a way that’s pleasing to God in this world when the light seems so small and the darkness seems so great that you grow hardened to the news that God sent His one and only son to die so that we would not perish but have eternal life, then we all might just need to turn from considering the evilness of the world, true as that may be, and spend more of our time and energy considering Jesus who calls us, makes us holy, and has died for us. He was faithful to the point of saying, “Not my will, but yours be done” to the Father as his death drew near. Consider Jesus, our faithful high priest.

This Jesus that we are being called to consider is greater and more glorious than any alternative. To demonstrate that from Hebrews 3, let’s look at Jesus as faithful builder in vv.2-4.

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.) (Hebrews 3:2-4)

Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses and anyone or anything else we can come up with. Why?

Simply stated, Jesus is the faithful builder, and the builder of the house has more honor than the house itself. Jesus was faithful to him who appointed him, even to the bitter end. Here, the author uses an analogy to compare the relative faithfulness of Jesus and Moses. If you’re not familiar, Moses was a man in the Old Testament who God raised up to lead the Israelites, God’s Old Testament people, out of slavery and Egypt, where they had been for 400 years. That would be cool enough, but it gets even better. God chooses Moses to be the one to go up to Mt. Sinai and receive the law, this is the scene in the Bible where Ten Commandments carved in stone finds its origin. So when the author of Hebrews says that Moses was faithful in all God’s house, he’s talking about that kind of thing. In Numbers 12, God says that while he speaks to other prophets in vision and dreams, but He speaks to Moses face to face. God even says back in numbers that “He is faithful in all my house,” the phrase from our passage this morning. Even among prophets, Moses had a special relationship with the Lord. Other prophets heard in dreams and visions, but Moses was given the privilege of speaking with God face to face. He was a faithful steward with what was entrusted to him. God used Moses to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt – could there be a higher honor than that? This guy sounds amazing! And yet, the stewardship, faithfulness, and glory of Jesus is far greater. It’s on a whole other level altogether. It isn’t just that Jesus is a prophet like Moses but just a little bit better, it’s a categorical difference.

While Moses was faithful in all God’s house, Jesus is worthy of more glory as the faithful builder of the house. This is similar to earlier in Hebrews where the author sets up a comparison between angels and Jesus, declaring the superiority of Christ over the angels. You might remember from previous weeks we learned how it’s likely that the original audience lacked assurance of salvation in Christ by faith, and so they were tempted to look back to their former religious ways to achieve that assurance. They were people who were unsure of their standing in this life and the life to come, and so they felt a pulley onward putting their faith in something that they could control. We may not be tempted to look back to Moses, but we all are each tempted to drift, fall away, and fail to hold fast.
How are you tempted to lose confidence? For many of us, we are tempted to lose confidence when we find ourselves in situations where obedience to God looks weird and sin (disobeying or ignoring God in the world that he created) looks normal. That’s how some have defined worldliness, and it is pervasive and powerful.

If you get the sense that you’re the only Christian in your class, workplace, or neighborhood, you might be pulled in the direction of losing your confidence and your boasting in your hope. As Philadelphia becomes an increasingly secular city, and as we place down deep roots and lasting fruit in this region for decades to come, that’s something we’re going to have to face more and more so we’d do well to consider even if that’s not you this morning. But if it is, I have good news for you and it comes in the answer of the question, “What is this house, anyway?”

In order to answer the question, we’re going to temporarily skip ahead to v.6b “And we are his house. That’s right, we (the people of God), are the house that Jesus is building and that Moses served. Moses served the people of God through everything we talked about earlier and by testifying to the things that were to be spoken later (IE that there would be one even greater than Moses). On the other hand, Jesus is the one who is building us. He is the one by whom all things were made in heaven and on earth, and he is the one who even now is drawing a people to himself from every tribe, nation and tongue, building us up spiritually and numerically as well.

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus told Peter: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) No gate of hell will stand against the greatest developer and architect the world has ever known. That’s a promise worth laying your entire life down for. He is our builder, hold fast to him! Don’t turn back, don’t drift away, don’t avert your gaze. Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus and hold fast to your confidence in him. He is a master builder who knows the name of every single member of his household individually, and anyone who comes to him, he will never cast out. Be built up as his household today so that you can hold fast to your confidence in your boasting in your hope!

As a brief aside, note all of the second person plural subjects in this passage. The letter to the Hebrews was written to a church, and it is to that church, that collections of Christians together, that the words “consider” and “hold fast” are written. It’s the church, the collection of individuals that together make up the body of Christ, we are the house that Jesus is building. Jesus is building his church, in the easy seasons when it feels like everything is running on all cylinders and there is an abundance of visible fruit, and people are coming to know the Lord, and everything is great. He’s also building his church in seasons of disappointment, when we feel discouraged, when we can’t see what the Lord is doing and we’re in the desert. To mix metaphors here, even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us and He is still the builder of his church.

Now won’t you consider that and hold fast to your confidence in Christ, the one who is greater than any alternative and the only one worth giving your entire self to?

Jesus as the builder also gives us confidence to hold fast to our boasting in our hope. We can speak the gospel – the good news about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for our sin, because our hope is secure. Jesus will build his house, he will build his church, it’s a promise so we can boast in our hope and trust God with the results. If, when you’re telling others about Jesus, you feel pressure to use the right words or play the perfect role of convincer, let Jesus’ identity as the faithful builder empower you to hold fast to your boasting in your hope.

So far, we’ve looked at Jesus the High Priest and Jesus the builder, but there’s one other way that Jesus is described, and that’s as the Son.

Let’s look at the last two verses together:

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 3:5-6)

Here, the comparison between Jesus and Moses continues. Moses was faithful in all God’s house, as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later. If you remember from a few moments ago, in Numbers 12 the Lord calls Moses “my servant.” To be a servant of the Lord is a great privilege to be sure. We ought not skip over how dignifying it is to be called “servant of the Lord,” let us appreciate that for what it is worth. He had the honor to witness and look forward to something that had yet to come, a prophet like Moses, a Servant of the Lord that would suffer for His people and through whom eternal salvation would come. Moses testified to one who would rescue God’s people from an even greater Exodus, not only from physical slavery but from eternal slavery to sin. As we read about Moses, let’s read him as one who testifies to someone who is greater that will come

And yet, as great as it is, to be a servant pales in comparison to being a son. Moses the servant’s role was to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, where Jesus’ role is to be the fulfillment and faithful over God’s house as a son.

As the son, Jesus is the inheritor of the house, the one who functions as its Lord. Ultimately, the son is the one whom the house belongs to, a son exercises an extreme degree of ownership where a servant does what he’s told.

Note that Here in v.6, the author of Hebrews also uses another title to refer to Jesus: Christ, the one who was anointed by God, the Messiah who was going to come and rule not only over God’s people Israel but over the entire world. Jesus is the rightful inheritor of everything that has ever existed, and he is faithfully exercising his role of Messiah. Hear this from Psalm 2: I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:7-9)

The first time the Son of God came, he came as the suffering servant, to die on the cross in our place for our sin even though the nations are his heritage and the ends of the earth are his possession. When Christ returns, he will return as the conquering king to put an end to sin and death once and for all.

So as we close, let’s decide right now what we are going to do with all of this considering we’ve done this morning. First, we don’t consider as an end to itself. Considering the majesty of what the Bible teaches about Jesus does absolutely no good for us if the end result is closing the book, ending the sermon, and walking out going “wow, that was interesting,” and continuing on moving your lawn, going grocery shopping, or watching football today continuing in unbelief or drifting away from the one who calls us. Instead, like the author of Hebrews exhorts us to, we consider that Christ is faithful over God’s house and determine again to hold fast to our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

And if this morning you’re thinking, “wow, hold fast to the very end, for the rest of my life. That seems like a very long time and I’m not sure that I can make it.” Well, the only way that you can hold fast to the very end of your life is if you hold fast today. Faith in Christ is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment conscious walking with him. So walk with him today, and trust him for the faith that you will need to consider him again and hold fast tomorrow. You can’t have sixty years worth of holding fast today, in the same way that the Israelites in the wilderness couldn’t store up manna for the future. Instead, we need to have a daily reliance on the one who has been faithful, who is being faithful now, and who will be faithful to us to the end.

Brothers and sisters, we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. So our consideration has a purpose, to strengthen our confidence in Christ. We consider, and then we come out of the other side even more sure that Jesus is who he says he is, he really died on the cross, he really was raised, and he really did all that for me.

If that’s true of you, that means that you are a part of the house that Jesus is building. Jesus is faithful to his Father and his people, so he’s going to build his house, which is you and me, and we can trust that he’s not going to miss a single brick.