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Summary: Accept no substitute. Jesus Christ has no equal

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In the last few weeks, people searched for the perfect Christmas gift, hunted for bargains, decorated their homes, burned candles, over-ate, wrapped some packages and tore others open; and by tomorrow morning stores will fill again, as the gift return season begins. Sad, isn’t it? It is so easy to lose Christ in the hustle and bustle of Christmas!

Don’t get me wrong…I love the celebration as much as anyone…I’m a child at heart (and in other ways, some would suggest). Nonetheless, as we reflect on the holiday we consider the words of that celebrated theologian Dr. Seuss, in this excerpt from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”:

The Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so? Christmas came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!" He puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

Perhaps, indeed. In fact, to understand Christmas we must first understand Jesus. At this time of year, it is particularly important that we, as disciples of Christ, understand who he is and the significance of his arrival; more importantly, that we accept no substitute for Jesus, as the world around us continues to seek a better alternative.

I. INTRODUCTION

1. We are surrounded by false religions; Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism and New Age movements abound in 2016. Each claims a form of deity: Allah, Joe Smith, Buddha, to ones’ inner self as deity.

2. These so-called religions (cults) all share a common delusion: followers place their hope in someone or something other than Jesus.

A. Jesus called his followers to lives of self-denial, righteousness and evangelism. Many refuse the live for anyone but themselves, opt for cults that allow them to live as they wish, with no regard for biblical mandate.

B. Others desire Christ, but refuse to place their trust in him completely. These people accept Christ as Savior, but seek other means of protection or providence, implying that Jesus alone is not enough.

C. Examples are legalism (lifestyle as substitute), benevolence (works as…) or religion (ritual as…); some place their trust in angels, assuming they posses some power beyond what Christ has.

D. Such was the case among many Jewish converts in first century. They, too, place their trust in things other than Christ: [1] OT Law, [2] their relationship to Moses, [3] the priests, [4] their sacrifices, and even [5] angels.

3. The writer of Hebrews writes to dispel any misgivings they have concerning Jesus as the Messiah. OYBT Hebrews 1, as we contemplate the question “Who is this Jesus?” and discover seven characteristics of Jesus Christ that make him incomparably superior to anyone or anything in which you might place your trust.

II. CHRIST’S INCOMPARABLE NATURE (vv. 1-4)

1. God appointed him heir of all things. In the Hebrew culture, to be a son is to be an heir. Therefore, the Son of God, by virtue of his sonship, is appointed the one who will finally possess everything.

2. God made the universe through Christ. The Son is God’s agent in the creation of the universe – in short, of all that exists. He is of central significance at the beginning in creation, and at the end in inheritance.

3. Christ is the radiance of God’s glory. Not merely a reflection, but an inseparable part of God, as rays of sunlight cannot separate from the sun. Jesus is the very God-man; fully God and fully human simultaneously.

4. Christ is the exact representation of God. The son is a perfect representation of God’s being “just as the mark is the exact impression of the seal (Barclay). Jesus himself said “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9). This statement and its counterpart (above), describe the uniqueness of Christ and the extraordinary connection between the Father and the Son.

5. Christ sustains all things. He who creates also inherits; and between these events, sustains all things (in heaven and earth). At his word, seas roar or become quiet; the wind blows and grows still, the seasons change and the flower blooms. This is not the work of a “higher power”; it is the work of the highest power.

6. Christ provided purification for sins. This sounds strange to the ears of Jewish converts, who assumed the sacrifices made by the high priest atoned for their sins. In this statement, the biblical writer assures his readers that God’s grace brought atonement, and Christ’s sacrifice, made once for all, was the means of purification under the new covenant.

7. Christ now sits at the right hand of God. It is impossible to have greater access to God than the Son has. Peter wrote, “[Christ] has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him” (1 Pet. 3:22). This phrase establishes the finality of Christ’s work – all is complete, therefore the Son may take his position on the throne next to the Father.

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