Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 3:1-3

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was in all God’s household. For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Which is better: a house or its designer? There are some pretty spectacular houses out there. I’ve watched enough home tour shows on various channels to know that. There are some places that make your jaw drop and stay on the floor until you leave. But they don’t build themselves. The builder is better. As we move forward in Hebrews, we are ready for the next main section of the argument: Jesus is greater than Moses or the Law. That sounds like an odd point to make to us, but it mattered to them a lot. Let’s talk about why.

When we lived in Denver, we would occasionally take drives around the city just to explore its different parts. (This was when gas was cheap!) On one of our various adventures, we discovered a neighborhood that made you feel like you had been transported back to the 1970s. All the houses were built with that very distinctive style. As we did a little more research on it, we found out that one of the houses had actually been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. We probably went back to see that same house two or three more times while we were there, not because the house itself was so amazing (although it was pretty look looking), but because it was designed by such a famous architect. The house was cool, but the architect got the glory.

Nothing builds itself. Now, that’s a statement a segment of the science-minded population might quibble with a bit. After all, look at some of the amazing complexities of nature. The natural world is filled with some of the most intricate beauty you’ve ever seen. There are things that will take your breath away and go beyond what you could even imagine. And it all just happened. No one built that. It’s just there.

Of course, it will come as exactly no surprise that I don’t agree with quite all of that mostly correct assessment. Incredible design requires an incredible designer. I’m rather convinced of the notion that our incredible world does indeed have an incredible designer.

Well, for its time, the system of law given by Moses to the people of Israel was absolutely incredible. It was the most just, equitable, moral, forward-looking system of laws the world had ever seen. Moses created (yes, God created, but for the purposes of this argument, Moses created) a system that was perfectly designed for seeing a people who were hopelessly broken and sinful enabled to live in an ongoing right relationship with God. There was a plan for just nearly every contingency anyone then could imagine. If you simply kept the Law, a right relationship with God could be yours. But even if you broke the Law, there was a plan in place for that too.

Because of this, Moses was the hero of ancient Israel. No one else came close to his stature in the minds and hearts of the Jewish people. They didn’t ever cross the line to worshiping him (they had learned that lesson pretty well in the exile), but they came as close as they could without crossing the line. This new guy some of their brethren had begun to laud so highly couldn’t possibly be as significant as Moses.

Except He was.

How? Because while Moses may have been a part of God’s house – an integral part, but just a part – Jesus was the designer and builder. He was the one for whom and through whom the whole thing existed.

The trouble was that, over time, the people living in the house hadn’t taken care of it very well. They’d even tried to do some remodeling on their own. It had reached the point that God’s original design had fairly well been lost. Oh, they dressed it up well and disguised the differences to make them look like they were always meant to be like that, but for anyone who bothered to look closely, they could tell.

In Jesus, the designer and builder had returned to show everyone how the house had always been intended to look. The challenge He faced was that the folks who had been living in the house had gotten used to the idea that it really belonged to them. They were very much accustomed to the customizations they had added over the years. They were not at all interested in making the substantive changes Jesus was calling for even if they were supposedly more in line with the original design. Who was He to say He knew the original design anyway? So they pushed back. Hard.

But then people began to see what Jesus had in mind and how good it was. Then He died and rose again to prove His point. Then His word began to spread, and more and more people began signing on for this new old way of living. The resistance became even fiercer. But the more Jesus’ followers kept sticking to His path of love, the more the message spread. The more glorious His house became. The more obvious it became that His claims of being the builder were true.

Still, though, for someone who had spent their whole life being told one thing was true, getting their mind and heart around the idea that something else was true took some convincing. It took time for them to come to fully understand just how much better Jesus really was. So, the Spirit inspired guys like the author of Hebrews to help them see.

Where this connects with us is here: Whatever system you might think is in place governing right and wrong and general human interaction, Jesus is better. Those systems are never anything more than rooms in the house He built. That doesn’t mean all those rooms are equally valid ways of understanding right and wrong. They’re not. Some have been so plastered over with redesigns that the original design and intent have been lost. None of them are the truth by themselves. But they do all contain at least a grain of it. They are all reflections – some much poorer reflections than others – of the one great truth. And if someone stays convinced of the truthfulness of one of these reflections, that reflection won’t get them to salvation. Only the truth will. Our job is to join with the author of Hebrews in making a case for the real thing. We start with where they are and move them forward from there. The work isn’t easy, but it is right and good and true. Let’s get to it.

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