More than a Teacher

  • Text: Hebrews 3:1-6
  • Series: Christ in the New Covenant, Pt. 7
  • Date: Sunday, June 10, 2018 – AM
  • Venue: Trinity Baptist Church – Seminole, Oklahoma
  • Speaker: Jared Byrns
  • Audio: mp3

Go ahead and take out your Bibles, and turn with me to Hebrews chapter 3. We’re going to look at verses 1 through 6 today as we continue with our series in the book of Hebrews looking at the role that Jesus plays in the new covenant.

After thousands of years of relating to man through rules and rituals that really only pointed to something greater that was to come, God finally made a new covenant to provide salvation as a free gift by grace through faith without works. But this new covenant doesn’t work without Jesus. As we read through the book of Hebrews and we see Jesus on every page of this discussion of the new covenant, it should bring us to the realization that there is no way for us to connect to God apart from Jesus Christ.

In our world, we encounter religious teachers of all sorts who seem to promise that we can connect to God, that we can have peace with God, or that we can have a relationship with God if we’ll just follow them. The problem is that so many of them are teaching such different things that it leaves a lot of people confused about how to have a relationship with God. As a result, some people are always left searching. When they fail to find that relationship through one man’s teachings, they move on to the next in a hopeless cycle. Others give up altogether and conclude that it must be impossible to have a relationship with God. Still, others insist that all of the teachers are right—which is always puzzling to me because two contradictory statements can’t both be correct. When my son says he had a toy first, and my daughter says she had the toy first, guess what: somebody’s wrong!

So how are we to know which religious teacher can bring us a relationship with God? Maybe this is a question you’ve struggled with in the past. Someone in this room may even be struggling with it today. The good news is that the writer of Hebrews addressed this question in chapter 3. As I’ve mentioned in previous weeks, he was writing to a group of people who were familiar with Jesus Christ but were still struggling with knowing whom to follow if they wanted a relationship with God. These people came from a Jewish background. Some of them had walked right up to the edge of being intellectually convinced about Jesus Christ but had not been spiritually converted. Some of his audience had even professed faith in Jesus Christ but now found their faith wavering as they considered going back to the old covenant and following Moses.

Looking back at this old covenant, they were beginning to question which way would lead them to a relationship with God. So the writer of Hebrews sought to persuade them that Jesus is not just another religious teacher. He used Moses, who was the greatest of all teachers in Judaism, as his example. He said that Jesus is superior to Moses—and by implication superior to any human religious teacher. Building on everything the writer had previously written in Hebrews about Jesus being God in human flesh, chapter 3 explains that there’s no need to look to any mere teacher for a relationship with God, when we can turn instead to God’s only begotten Son. Hebrews 3:1-6 says this:

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Keep in mind that none of this is an attack on Moses or religious teachers in general. God gave Moses a position of honor, as we’ll see later on, so nothing here suggests that he was a false teacher. The point is that, while he’s a teacher, Jesus is so much more. The passage also doesn’t suggest that there’s no need for people to teach God’s Word; we just need to be clear that Christ is superior to any teacher, and that he alone holds the key to our relationship with God.

In this passage, the writer wasted no time in drawing attention to what Jesus had done for God’s people. He started out in verse 1 with the word “wherefore.” That word is meant to bring our attention back to the previous chapter and everything it says about what Jesus offers us in salvation: namely, adoption and sanctification, in addition to forgiveness. We’re adopted into the family of God because of Jesus, and we are declared holy, set apart from the world and to God, because of Jesus. Then he went on in verse 1 to say the same thing again by calling us his “holy brethren.” He was pointing out our sanctification and our adoption into the family. But then he also called us “partakers of the heavenly calling.” If you’ve trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are a partaker in God’s heavenly calling. God has called us to share in the grace that He offers. He has called us to a heavenly citizenship and to a heavenly inheritance. We’re called to a heavenly home, a heavenly household, and a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

And all of this is because of Jesus. In the second part of verse 1, the writer of Hebrews said, “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” By calling Jesus the Apostle of our profession, he was identifying Jesus as the Messenger Who revealed the nature and plans of God in a more complete way than they had ever been known before, and Who announced God’s new covenant of salvation with man. And by calling Jesus the High Priest of our profession, he meant that Jesus was the One Who made provision for this new covenant. Going back to this question of how we find our relationship with God, the writer of Hebrews spelled it out here: if you want a relationship with God, Jesus told us how, and Jesus made it possible.

And the writer challenged his audience to make a thorough examination of all that Jesus had done in those roles. Because when we take it upon ourselves to consider Jesus, to discover Who He is, and to learn what He’s done, it becomes apparent that there has never been anyone else like Him. So to those who might’ve passed on Jesus because they were inclined to follow someone else, the writer of Hebrews called them to give Jesus a closer look. And when we look at Jesus and compare Him even to the greatest of human teachers, some things set him apart.

Let’s look at verse 2. It says that Jesus “was faithful to him that appointed him.” The One Who appointed Him was the Father. The book of Hebrews has already shown us that Jesus is just as much God as the father—yet each one takes on a different role in their redemptive plans. The Father appointed the Son to assume the role of Mediator in this new covenant. Jesus was appointed to bring peace and reconciliation between God and man. And when the father sent Him here for that purpose, Jesus was faithful to do everything He was asked.

And this is where the comparison between Jesus and Moses really starts. Because the writer also said in verse 2, “as also Moses was faithful in all his house.” Remember, he was writing to a group of people who recognized Moses as the greatest of all the Israelites and considered him the pinnacle of faithfulness to God. So the writer put this in terms that they would understand: Jesus and Moses were both faithful to God.

And he wrote that Moses was faithful in all his house. We’re going to see several mentions of this word house throughout the passage. It doesn’t always mean a literal house, like a physical building. The word is οἶκοςin Greek, and it can be used in a figurative sense indicating someone’s family, household, or circle of influence. That’s how it’s being used here; the οἶκος, or household, of God in the old covenant was the nation of Israel. So Moses’ faithfulness stood out among all of Israel and put him in a category all by himself. And in the new covenant, Jesus’ faithfulness is comparable to Moses’, putting Jesus in that same category.

In this one verse, the writer of Hebrews held up Moses and Jesus as the shining examples of faithfulness to God and elevated them to a unique category above everybody else. But then he went further and elevated Jesus even higher than Moses.

Look at verse 3. It says, “For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses.” Don’t get hung up on the verse calling Jesus a man. The word man is not even found in the Greek; you’ll probably see it in italics in your Bible, because there’s not always a one-to-one translation available between languages, and words sometimes have to be inserted to clarify things that are implied in the Greek. That’s why you see things in italics or brackets. But even if it called Jesus a man, we’ve already seen in Hebrews that Jesus has always been God, but became a man as well. Nothing here contradicts His godhood. The point of this verse is not to say anything about His humanity—it’s pointing out that He is worthy of more glory than Moses or any mere man could ever be.

And the phrase “counted worthy” means He’s entitled to it. Jesus deserves even more glory than Moses. The writer said this to a group of people who thought Moses was as close to God as a human being could get. They saw Moses as God’s right-hand man. They thought if anybody could bring closer to God, it would be Moses. If anybody deserved glory among God’s people, they thought it was Moses.

And they weren’t wrong for their admiration of Moses. Numbers chapter 12 shows us how God felt about Moses. Some of Moses’ family members were criticizing him, and God put a stop to it. He told them in Numbers 12:6-8: “If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth.” God said He spoke to all the other prophets through visions, but He talked to Moses in person. Moses had a relationship with God that was unparalleled among mankind, yet Hebrews says that Jesus is even more glorious.

Verse 3 tells us why. It says, “Inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.” This verse means that the builder should receive more glory than the building itself. We get this backward sometimes. If we were to see the Great Pyramid at Giza or the Taj Mahal, we’d marvel at how impressive the buildings themselves are, even though they’d be nothing more than piles of materials without the efforts of the builder. As impressed as we are with the building, we should be more impressed with the builder who made it possible. What this is saying about the comparison between Jesus and Moses is that Moses was part of the household of God. He was even a servant or steward in the house, but he was still part of the house. In contrast, Jesus built the house.

Verse 4 says, “For every house is builded by some man.” In other words, every house has a builder. Then the same verse says, “but he that built all things is God.” We already know from way back in chapter 1 that the One Who built all things is Jesus Christ. This verse is telling us that just as a human builder is needed to build a house, so God is needed to build the household of God. That’s precisely what Jesus did. And while Jesus was busy building the household of God, Moses was a mere servant in that household.

Verse 5 tells us that “Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant.” He was a part of the household of God, and as a servant in that household, he was faithful in all that God gave him to do. We should all aspire to be as faithful to God as Moses was. But the point here is that Jesus is greater than Moses.

Verse 5 continues, saying that all of Moses’ faithful service was “for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.” Here’s another mark of the superiority of Jesus Christ: everything God called Moses to do—everything Moses was so faithful in—was ultimately meant to point people to Jesus Christ.

The Law that Moses brought was designed to point people to Jesus. Galatians 3:24 says “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” Its entire function was to set a bar so high that we couldn’t possibly reach it so that we would understand our sinful condition before a holy God. As Romans 3:20 says, “By the law is the knowledge of sin.”

The sacrifices that Moses instituted were designed to point people to Jesus. Hebrews 10:4 says that “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Hebrews 10:3 says that the sacrifices were to help man remember the gravity of his sin until we could be, in the words of Hebrews 10:10, “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The Tabernacle that Moses built was designed to point people to Jesus. It was made to be a place where God’s people could commune with Him, but Hebrews 9:11 calls Jesus “a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands.”

The festivals that Moses observed were designed to point people to Jesus. Colossians 2:17 calls all of these feasts and observances “a shadow of things to come.” The Sabbath was a picture of the Savior Who offered to be our Sabbath rest when He said in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The Passover was also a picture of Jesus. I Corinthians 5:7 says, “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” He is the Lamb Who was slain and Whose blood marks and secures us so that eternal death passes over us.

Moses’ entire ministry was about Jesus. He wasn’t setting up a religious system that would bring people into a lasting relationship with God through the observance of rules. The old covenant that Moses taught was a temporary arrangement that served as a giant “ONE WAY” sign pointing directly at Jesus Christ.

And in verse 6, we see that while Moses was a servant in the house, Jesus is the Son Who rules over the house. We see this in the phrase, “Christ as a son over his own house.” The Son Who rules the house is going to rank higher than the servant who works there.

But then the writer of Hebrews included us in this discussion when he wrote, “whose house are we.” When you take that in context of the phrases around it, that’s a statement saying that you and I are the household of God. We are the οἶκος of the new covenant.

Ephesians chapter 2 describes how Jesus broke down the wall of separation and reconciled us to God, and verse 19 says He brought us into God’s household. It says, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”

This tells us that Jesus brought together Jews and Gentiles, purchased our forgiveness at the cross, reconciled us both to the Father through His blood, gave us access to the Father through the same Holy Spirit, and built us all together as a whole new οἶκοςof God. You and I are as much part of this household, this family of God in the new covenant as the people of Israel were part of the household of the old covenant.

Then the final part of Hebrews 3:6 says we’re part of the household, “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Our being part of the household is tied to our enduring to the end. The writer of Hebrews was not warning us about falling away from the new covenant—he was doing the opposite. If we’re part of Jesus’ new covenant, He will empower us to endure to the end. This is one of the signs, or part of the evidence, of our belonging to the household of God. After all, throughout our study of Hebrews, we’ve seen repeatedly how Jesus enabled our adoption into the family of God, and how God sanctifies us—makes us holy. God doesn’t adopt us into His household, into His family, just to put us out when we make a mistake. He adopts us, covers our sins with the blood of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, and transforms us to make us more like Jesus. And with God doing the heavy lifting of saving and keeping us, we can never be lost from His household.

Now all throughout this passage we see the superiority of Jesus to Moses, and by implication the superiority of Jesus over every other religious leader or teacher. Again, this is not an attack on Moses or teachers in general. Moses was a faithful man who served God throughout his whole life. And God calls and equips some of us to teach his word so that we can point people to Jesus and train them to serve Him better. But a couple of facts remain: some teachers are false teachers; and even godly teachers are at best servants in the household of God. Don’t miss that point: even godly teachers are at best servants in the household of God.

As one who’s been called to teach, I can point people to Jesus Christ, I can proclaim God’s word and help you discover how to apply it, I can even encourage you to be more faithful servants of Jesus Christ—but understand this, it is a mistake to think that your adherence to any teacher, myself included, could ever put you in a right relationship with God. Moses couldn’t give people a relationship with God, no other religious teacher can provide people with a relationship with God, and I know that I can’t. If you want a relationship with the Father, you don’t go through the servant but through the Son.

Unlike Moses, Jesus actually could bring people into a relationship with God. Throughout this passage, it says Moses is just a servant in the house while Jesus is the One Who built the house. And when you understand what it means that you and I are the house, that we are the household of God, then for Jesus to build the house means that He—and He alone—brought us into a relationship with God one by one.

So, going back to the question from the beginning of the message: how are we to know which religious teacher can bring us a relationship with God? The answer is none of them. If you want a relationship with the Father, you don’t go through the servants but through the Son.

After all, Moses was the greatest of all teachers in the old covenant, and he couldn’t come close to Jesus Christ. In this passage, we see that in contrast to Moses, who merely gave us a set of earthly rules, Jesus gives us a heavenly calling.

In contrast to Moses, who was a mere servant in the household, Jesus is the Son who rules over all that belongs to the Father.

In contrast to Moses, who was part of the household himself, Jesus is the Master Builder who built a whole new household of God out of people from every nation, tribe, and tongue, and is still adding to that household today.

In contrast to Moses, whose Law served to show us how our sin kept us out of the family of God to begin with, Jesus brought us into the family of God, into the household, and provided for our adoption as sons and daughters of God and joint with Jesus Christ.

In contrast to Moses, who explained the system where we would either be temporarily punished or eternally condemned for any act of disobedience, Jesus holds and keeps us secure, so that we can never be lost and will persevere in the household of God.

This morning, there may be some in this room who’ve been wondering which way is the right way. Maybe you’ve been wondering which teacher or set of teachings might finally bring you into a real relationship with the Father. But the Bible is clear that, however else they might benefit you, no mere human teacher can bring you to a relationship with God. If you want a relationship with the Father this morning, you don’t go through a servant; you go through the Son.

Every sin, every disobedient word, thought, or action has separated you from a holy God and excluded you from entering into a relationship with Him. But His Son came and lived a sinless life. He took responsibility for your sins. He paid the penalty you owed and received the punishment you deserved. When He shed His blood and died on the cross, His blood was to cleanse you from sin and clothe you with His righteousness. You can’t get rid of your sin by good works or religious rituals. You can’t stand complete before a holy God because you followed a particular religious teacher. Only through the sacrifice of Christ, which cleanses us from sin and imparts His righteousness, can we have a relationship with God.

Jesus died for you and rose again so that He could forgive your sins, bring you into the household of God, and give you a relationship with the Father and eternal life in Heaven. To receive these gifts, you must admit that you’ve sinned and need a savior, believe that Jesus alone paid for your sins in full, and ask Him to forgive you and be your Savior. Mere servants can’t give you a relationship with the Father; only the Son can save you and bring you into the household of God.

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The above text is a rush transcript of the message and may contain errors.

© 2018, Jared Byrns. All rights reserved.