Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

The writer of Hebrews employed a cold opening long before anyone had any idea what that was! Whoever wrote Hebrews wanted to get right to his message, so he does so without identifying himself or giving any kind of greeting. Perhaps this reflects the urgency he felt about what he had to say.

What is it he wants to talk about? 

Well, in a word it’s Jesus. He launches into a Christ-centric opening. He is:

  • the One God has spoken through (v. 2),
  • the “heir of all things” (v. 2), 
  • the One through whom God created the universe (v. 2),
  • the reflection of God (v. 3), 
  • the sustainer of all things (v. 3),
  • the One who provided “purification for sins” (v. 4),
  • superior to the angels (v. 4).

            And with that Hebrews is off and running! He’ll pick up the thread about Jesus being superior to the angels and develop that some more, but we’ve seen what we need to see. What we’ve seen is a first century leader writing to a community of Jewish disciples (10:36-39, 12:1-13). They were taking some heat from their friends, family, and peers about their faith in Jesus and considering a return to strictly Jewish ways (10:19-31). 

            What do you say to such a group? 

You start off by pointing them to Jesus. From a logical/persuasive point of view, this makes sense. After all, everything in Judaism pointed toward Jesus. Therefore, if they wanted to honor their heritage, they would continue to follow Him. 

            For disciples today though, Hebrews can be strange territory since very few of us came to Christ from a Jewish background. That being so, there’s absolutely no temptation to return to what most of us never knew to begin with. Still, it would be a mistake to write Hebrews off. After all, even if the Jewish aspect of it is foreign to us, the writer’s presentation of Jesus is powerful and important. Furthermore, this presentation of Jesus is given to disciples who:

  • were “dull of hearing” (5:11 ESV),
  • were headed toward sluggishness (6:10 ESV), 
  • were struggling to stay in the race (12:1ff).

They needed a bit of a jumpstart—something we can all relate to. So, while it’s true his presentation of Jesus is certainly saturated in Jewish thought, it’s hardly the only dimension to the letter.  If we go back to the presentation of Jesus in v. 1-4, we’ll all find some aspect of Christ that speaks to where we are right now.

            For some, this might mean being reminded that Jesus is the voice we need to hear today. After all, there are many, many voices competing for our attention. There are the voices of family, friends, peers, culture—the list is endless. All these voices can be confusing, even overwhelming when they often point us in different directions. To recognize that Jesus is the voice of God brings immediate clarity and a basis for understanding and evaluating all other voices. Everything starts with hearing Him. 

            Others may have a pressing need to be reminded about how Jesus is our high priest—the One through whom God made “purification for sins” (v. 3). We all need to know that of course, but there are some who are especially sensitive in this area and need regular reminders of the atonement God accomplished in Christ. The good news is Hebrews majors in its presentation of Christ as our high priest. All this brings us “confidence” (a word used 7 times in the letter) regarding our relationship with God.

            For others, the challenge might be developing intimacy with God. He seems remote and far off to them. The Hebrew writer’s presentation of Jesus as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” help us to understand that God has not only come close to us in Jesus—He became one of us. We can “draw near” to Him (7:19,10:1,22). 

            Still, there are others who struggle with anxiety. We seem to have reached a point in our culture where we are now anxious about being anxious. Newsfeeds and headlines push more and more bad news. A steady diet of this is difficult for anyone. Hebrews lets us know the One who conquered death is also the very One who sustains “all things by His powerful word” (1:3).   

            I remember seeing something many years ago that said, “Jesus is the answer—what is your question?” I think that speaks to Hebrews’ value for us. We may not be first century Jewish disciples, but it makes no difference. The writer’s presentation of Jesus will benefit anyone. The letter invites us to deepen our education concerning Christ.

When was the last time you took a good, long look at Jesus?



Published by A Taste of Grace with Bruce Green

I grew up the among the cotton fields, red clay and aerospace industry of north Alabama. My wife and I are blessed with three adult children and five grandchildren.

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