Coming tonight to the third chapter of Hebrews, we shall consider verses 1 through 6 in our study. Hebrews chapter 3, verses 1 through 6.
Now, while you’re turning to that, I would like you to be able to turn and listen for a moment, because I want to give you a brief review so that you can put yourself back into the perspective of the book of Hebrews. So we said to you in our introductory messages, we do not know who is the author of the book of Hebrews. Some say it to be the apostle Paul. Our personal conviction is that it does not indicate Pauline authorship, that only God knows who the author is. But behind that author, whoever he may be, we know is the Holy Spirit. And so we simply will refer, as we study the book of Hebrews, to the author of this book being the Holy Spirit.
Now, the book of Hebrews was written to a community of Jews who had been evangelized by the first apostles and prophets. And as a result of this community being evangelized somewhere outside of the Jerusalem area, as a result of them being evangelized by the apostles and prophets, some of them had believed, and a little congregation of believing Jews had arisen in that community.
Now, there were not only those who were converted who really gave themselves to Jesus Christ of those Jews, but there were some who with intellectually convinced but who had never made the step of faith. They believed but they never committed themselves to that faith. There was in addition to those two groups, another group who had not been convinced, who had heard the Gospel but made absolutely no response at all. It is then to these three groups that the letter of Hebrews is written.
Now, we’ve said again and again that if you don’t understand this, then you have a terrible time interpreting the book, for the various passages are directed to those various readers. There are certain passages then, first of all, directed to Hebrew believers, true Christians who have received Christ. They have come out of Judaism, at least in the sense of faith. They have been born again. They have become followers of Jesus Christ. And as a result of that, they have been unsynagogued, ostracized, thrown out of the Jewish culture, and persecuted relentlessly. Because of this persecution, their faith was very weak and they tended to hold on to the rituals of Judaism. So they were true believers but hanging on to so of the ritual, some of the trappings of Judaism.
And this is indicated to us in many passengers in this particular letter. We won’t even take the time to go over them. We’ll expedite it a little bit. But there are many in chapter 10 and other places as well, where they had moved into faith in Christ but were hanging on to ritual from the old covenant. And Paul must have had something like that in mind when he wrote to the Galatians and said, “Stand fast in the liberty where with Christ has made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage,” which was the law of the Judaistic old covenant.
And so in the new covenant, there was freedom to be in Christ and to experience all that he had. But they had not begun to experience that. They were still trapped by their legalism. They were in the classic sense of Romans 14, a whole lot of weaker brothers. So the Holy Spirit writes the letter then to strengthen their faith and to show them they can drop the rituals they can drop the forms of Judaism, and they can take totally Christ as absolutely sufficient. They need nothing from the old; they have the new.
Then secondly, the group of Hebrew non-Christians who are intellectually convinced. Several passages in the book deal with them. And they are warned that since they know so much, they better act upon it, lest they fall away and never be renewed again to repentance. Those who know the truth and willfully reject the truth are severely warned, particularly in chapter 10, that they shall have much sorer punishment who willfully trodden underfoot the Son of God. Count it as blood, an unworthy thing or an unholy thing.
Then the third group, are the Hebrew non-Christians. They are unconvinced, period. They don’t believe it at all. And to them the Gospel is presented several times in the book of Hebrews. So then there are three in view. And in each context, you must know to whom he writes or you will find yourself terribly confused about the character of Christianity.
In every text in the book of Hebrews, no matter who is addressed, the theme is always the absolute supremacy of Christ. If he’s talking to believers who are still hanging on to Judaism, he says, “You don’t need it. Christ is sufficient.” If he’s talking to unbelievers who are convinced, he is saying, “Come on, put your faith in him. Rest in Christ. He’s sufficient.” If he’s talking to unconvinced, unbelieving Jews, he is saying the same thing, “Christ is superior. He is supreme. He is sufficient.” And so message of Christ is the same, though the form may be the distinction in determining to whom he speaks.
So the theme we could say in a nutshell of the book of Hebrews is the perfect Christ, supreme, superior, sufficient. We need nothing in addition to Jesus Christ. This then becomes the pattern of the book and what the letter of Hebrews is designed to do.
Now, if in fact the Holy Spirit is to show that Christ is better than anybody else, and if He is to show that the new covenant provided by Christ is better than the old economy, the Old Testament Judaistic patterns, if the new is better than the old, then the Holy Spirit must prove that the character of the new, that is, Jesus Christ, the key character, is better than all of those connected with the old, must He not? If this is a better covenant, it must have a better mediator.
And so he begins to do that. In the first part of chapter 1, He says that Jesus Christ is better than everybody and everything. In chapter 2 then, He says that Jesus Christ is better than angels. In chapter 3, He says Jesus is better than Moses. In chapter 4, Jesus is better than Joshua. And then Jesus is better than Aaron. Then Jesus is better than the old covenant. Then Jesus is better than the Old Testament sacrifices, et cetera, et cetera. The whole point is to show that Jesus is superior, supreme, and sufficient. You need nothing else. That’s the key.
And the theme is so beautifully stated right here in the first verse of chapter 3, which we’re going to look at, because it says right in the middle of the verse, “Consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Jesus.” The best manuscripts leave out the word “Christ.” Consider Jesus. That’s the theme of Hebrews in two words: Consider Jesus. That’s what it’s all about. It is strategic for all man in all ages to consider Jesus. And particularly consider Jesus here in chapter 3 as he compares to Moses. As he compares to Moses.
Now, we have already seen that Jesus is better than the prophets, chapter 1. We already have seen that Jesus is better than the angels, chapter 2. And now we shall see that Jesus is better than the one who brought the first covenant, Moses, the greatest of all.
Now, we’re going to look at the first six verses because they are the doctrine on which the exhortation of verse 7 then following is built. And we have to understand the premise, or we won’t understand the exhortation. Now, in order to understand this passage, we’ve got to back up a little bit and find out what the Jews thought about Moses. If Jesus is better than Moses, we must know a little bit about what Moses was.
Why is it so important to prove Jesus better than Moses? The answer is, because the Jews so highly esteemed Moses. He was esteemed above any other Jew who ever lived. He had a place that was utterly and absolutely unique in the mind of a Jew. He was the man to whom God spoke mouth to mouth. He was a man who saw the glory of God. You remember back in Exodus 33 and 34. He was the man who had the glory of God transferred directly to his face. He came down out of that mountain. The Bible says he knew not the skin of his face shown. He was the one who led Israel out of Egypt. He was God’s man.
But beyond that, the greatest thing in the mind of a Jew was the law. And Moses was the one who gave the law. And Moses and the law were synonymous. And you see, the Jew and the law were the two things that went together. Paul says in Romans 2 that the Jew makes his boast in the law, see? The Old Testament commandments and rituals were the Jews’ priority. And Moses had brought not only the Ten Commandments, but he had penned the entire Pentateuch, which lays out all the Levitical laws and all the laws that governed everything they did. And so Moses was the great law-giver. And let’s face it, the law was number one on the Jewish hit prayed every week of every year. That was the most important thing in their life.
And some Jews even believed that Moses was greater than angels. And it’s true that the prophets God spoke in visions, but to Moses He spoke mouth to mouth. He spoke to him in a burning bush. He spoke to him out of heaven. He spoke to him on Sinai and wrote the commandments with the finger of fire. God spoke directly to Moses and transferred His glory to him, and Moses stood far above any other man who ever lived, in the mind of the Jewish people.
And certainly, his history was remarkable. The hand of God are preserved him as a baby, and hand of God dug his grave at the finish. And between these two points of his life, there is nothing but miracle after miracle after miracle. And during the most memorable times of Israel’s history, it was Moses through whom God worked. It was Moses who led the children of Israel out of Egypt. It was Moses who led them through the wilderness. It was Moses who instructed them from the mouth of God. It was Moses, Moses, Moses. The whole Levitical system, the whole Levitical economy was initiated through Moses. It was Moses who gave the plans for the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, and everything that went with it. And so to the Jew, Moses is the great Mosheh. There is none like him.
And as great as Moses was, my friends, the Holy Spirit in this section calls on us to gaze on Jesus, who is far greater than Moses. And that’s the consideration right here for your Jewish readers. If you think Moses is great, consider Jesus.
Now, in order for the Holy Spirit to present evidence to support the superiority, the supremacy, and the sufficiency of Christ, he selects a three-fold presentation. And this will be our outline. He says that Jesus is superior in His office, superior in His work, and superior in His person. Superior in His office, He is the apostle and high priest. Superior in His work, He is the builder of the house. Superior in His person, He is the Son. And we’ll see how these unfold.
First of all, the Holy Spirit says Jesus is superior to Moses in His office. Verse 1, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession or confession: Jesus. Consider Jesus.” And that’s what I would like you to do tonight. Whether you’re a Christian or not, I would like you to consider Jesus. And certainly this is the meaning of all of our preaching and all of our teaching.
All right, let’s look at verse 1, and then I’ll break it down. The first word, “Wherefore.” What does this mean? It takes us with direction? Back. Wherefore means in this verse he’s building on something that has come to pass before this. “Wherefore, on the basis of what I have just said.” It points back. “On the basis of what I have just said, consider Jesus.” What have you just said? You’ve just said that we see Jesus, verse 9, made lower than the angels. You’ve said that He’s the salvation captain. You’ve said that He’s a sanctifier. You’ve said that He calls us brother. You’ve said that He destroyed Satan and death. You’ve said that he could deliver us out of bondage. You’ve said this, you’ve said this, you’ve said. On the basis of what you’ve said about Him, you ought to consider Him, right? “Because of what I have said about Jesus, wherefore, holy brethren, consider Him.” Consider Him.
He has just told them what kind of an apostle He is. He has just told them what kind of a high priest He is. He’s a faithful high priest, in verse 17. He’s a faithful apostle or sent one, as He comes from God to accomplish salvation. Now, you’ve seen what kind of an apostle He is, a sent one from God. You’ve seen what kind of a high priest He is. Consider Jesus. What an apostle. What a high priest, powerful, sympathetic, merciful, faithful, saving, reconciling, helping, all of that. It’s in verses 14 to 18.
On the basis of who He is, consider Him. Consider Him. He’s a perfect high priest. There is nothing missing at all. And you see, here He’s urging the Hebrews to focus on the absolute sufficiency of Jesus. “Drop the rest of the stuff. You don’t need it. You’ve got a new high priest and a new sent one from God. Drop all the trappings. Focus on Jesus. He’s all you need.” Oh, what an important message it says. And here He is speaking directly to the believing Christian Jews, who were looking at Jesus out of one eye but glancing back all the time. And He is saying, “Consider Jesus. You don’t need to look anywhere else.”
Now, most of us haven’t come out of Judaism. How many of you here tonight have come out of Judaism? Put your hand up. How many of you are Jewish believers? How many hands? Several. Maybe five, six, seven. I don’t know. God bless you, twice blessed.
But most of us can’t relate to coming out of Judaism. And we don’t understand the temptation to hang on to the old things. I was sharing with one of our staff members about this yesterday. And he said, “You know, John, I have a real problem.” He said, “I have a guy who’s a new Christian, but he’s a Jewish believer and he won’t get going to the synagogue. And he doesn’t seek the fellowship of believers here. He seek it is synagogue for fellowship.” This still happens today. It’s very difficult to make that break.
But although we don’t relate to Judaism, I think we do find ourselves very often lured into believing that our works and our religious trappings are what it’s all about, that God expects more than just our faith and our love; He expects us to do certain little things to pleases Him. And while we accept God’s free grace complete in Christ, we kind of hang on to an artificial kind of legalism rather than live the positive Christ-controlled, spirit-energized life. So the statements of Christ sufficiency certainly shatter all legalistic efforts, whether Judaistic or any other kind.
All right. “Wherefore, holy brethren” – and that’s the next thing we want to look at: Holy brethren. A fantastic statement. Holy brethren. Now, we studied the word “brethren” this morning and how that as believers we are brothers with Christ, because we’re identified with Him. But I want you to pick out a thought here. Many people in studying the book of Hebrews have said that He has to be writing to Christians all the time because He uses the word “brethren.” Just because He uses the word “brethren” doesn’t mean he’s talking to Christians at all. In Acts 2:29, in Acts 13:38, the Jews are referred to brethren. They are referred to as brethren. But when He says, “Holy brethren,” then we know whom He’s speaking about.
And here He’s speaking to believers. This is not a reference to Jews in total, but to believers, believers in the sense of those who are true brothers in chapter 2 verse 11, who are sanctified in Christ, for which cause He’s not ashamed to call them brothers. So then this passage is written to Christians, to holy Jews, holy brothers in Christ. Now, they’re holy not because of their practice, but because of their position. They are the real thing. They are soul brothers, sanctified, set apart, and made holy in Christ.
Let me illustrate that from Hebrews 10 verse 10. “By which will we are sanctified” – that means made holy – “we are made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.” When you received Christ, you were made holy. Verse 14, “For by one offering, He hath perfected forever them that are made holy.” Verse 17, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” Why? Because there’s no more sin, positionally. So we’re holy, we’re set apart, pure positionally. All Christians are holy in the sense of position before God. Now, we’ve covered that in many, many messages.
All right. So this section then is written to holy brothers who know and love Jesus Christ, the true church believers. Just to add emphasis to that, He calls them also partakers of the heavenly calling. Now, we know this must be believers there, don’t we? Partakers of the heavenly calling. If you read carefully through the book of Hebrews, you find out that just about everything about this is heavenly. We have a heavenly home, we have a heavenly Jerusalem, we have a heavenly calling, and so forth and so on. We are living in the heavenlies, as Paul says in Ephesians.
And you see, here He is. Oh, this is a terrific statement. He is making a distinction between the superiority of Christianity to Judaism. Judaism, my friends, was an earthly calling with an earthly inheritance, wasn’t it? Circumcision the eighth day, and you’ll inherit the land if you’re good. Christianity is a spiritual and heavenly calling with a spiritual and heavenly inheritance. Superior. And Paul says in Philippians chapter 3, really two verses there – I think verse 14, first of all – “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, for our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also look for the savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our home is in heaven. Our place is in heaven. And we live right now in the heavenlies spiritually. Ephesians 1, “God has blessed us with all spiritual blessing,” – where? – “In the heavenlies, in Christ Jesus.
And so we see then that as true believers, we are brothers of Jesus by position, we are holy by position, we are partakers of a heavenly kind of existence. We’re only strangers and pilgrims here, right? We dangle our feet in the world, but we don’t really belong here.
Now, it’s an interesting thing that this is a powerful point to say to these Jews, “Why don’t you drop the earthly end of it, man? You’re citizens in the heavenlies. Now, why don’t you let go of the earthly things?” I mean, why would anybody want to hang on to the earthly rich, when they have the heavenly reality? And we talked about this several weeks ago, and we said, “That’s why we don’t believe there should be any ritual in the church.” That’s why we don’t have people walking around simulating things up here and going through all kinds of “holy mogus,” and lighting candles, and doing strange things, and walking around and waving things, and going through all kinds of forms. We don’t need the ritual because the reality is here. Do you see? If we want to worship Jesus Christ, Jesus said, “You worship the Father in spirit” – and in what? – “in truth, not in ritual.” There is no place in Christianity for ritual, because the reality is here. That’s the whole point. And so He is saying, “You who are partakers of a heavenly calling, what are you doing hanging on to the earthly trappings, you see? You don’t need those.” It’s pointless.
So believers then are sharers in the righteous nature of Christ, in his heavenly calling. Because they live in a heavenly kind of existence, they ought to address themselves to that heavenly existence, not to an earthly. And so He says to these Christians, “Consider Jesus.” Now, the word “consider” is fantastic. The word does not mean it’s flighty. The word does not mean take a glance. The word means set yourself to gaze intently on Jesus. You say, “Well, what’s He saying this to Christians for? We already know Christ.” Listen, no one needs that message any more than I do, do you know that? God can say to me right now, “MacArthur, consider Jesus,” because I’m a long way from really discovering all of his glorious, all of his beauties, all that He is.
So He says to these believers, “Just gaze on Jesus. Will you just keep gazing on Him and don’t keep looking around at all these rituals, and all these problems, and all these persecutions. Just consider Jesus. You don’t need anything else. He’s sufficient for everything.” Now, there may have been a greater Christian than Paul, but if there is, I never met him. He didn’t live in my lifetime and run across my path. And Paul said this: “My great prayer” – I love it – “is, oh, that I may know Him.” Did he say that? You say, “Paul, you know Him.” Paul would say, “No, I haven’t plumbed the depth of His person.” That’s what he means.
Listen, Christian, I say to you what the Spirit says: Consider Jesus. I mean, when the stuff gets rough and the problems come, and everything goes bad, and you start thinking about certain things that are tempting you and so forth and so on, put your gaze on Jesus and keep it there intently until all that He is begins to be unfolded before your eyes. And that’s just the reason that so many Christians are weak and worried, is they don’t really know the depths or the riches of Jesus Christ. Do you know that? They don’t know it.
Jesus made a classic statement. He said, “Learn of me.” He didn’t say, “Learn about me.” He said what? “Learn of me.” Let me ask you this. Do you really enjoy your Christian life? Do you just eat it up? Do you get up every morning and say, “Lord, I just can’t wait to get out of this place and see what you’re going to do?” I mean, do you just love your Christian life? I mean, is it so exciting you can hardly stand it? It ought to be. Do you enjoy Jesus Christ? Do you just go through the day, “Lord, your fellowship and your presence is thrilling”? Do you just sometimes want to stand up and shout? You ought to enjoy Him like that.
Many Christians don’t enjoy Jesus. Not at all. They’re miserable, unhappy. Don’t know anything about joy. The only thing the Lord’s good for is to cry on. And the reason is, they don’t know Him experientially, they don’t know Him richly. They need to learn Jesus, you see.
It’s like, you know, now, when I was in college, I used to sneak down and pay 50 cent and go into the back door of the Philharmonic in Los Angeles, crawl up in the balcony, take two or three books with me, and sit up there and listen to a whole concert all by myself while I did some homework. And I listened to Bartok, and I listened to Mussorgsky. And I have pictures in an exhibition, and I – weird stuff, and all that kind of classical thing. And I loved it. I liked the guy that beat the timpani most of all. But I liked all of it. And I would sit in the back, and I enjoyed it. And I began to gain an appreciation for the masters.
And you can take a guy to hear some of that music, and the typical person today would say, “Oh, are you kidding? That stuff is a drag.” Or you could take somebody to an art gallery and show them the masters, and they would say, “Well, I don’t like that. I don’t enjoy that stuff.” And I would say to him, “Then, my friend, you stay there and you listen until you do enjoy it, because that’s the masters performing for you.” You need to learn to love the masters. You need to learn to love good music. You need to learn to love good art. You need to recognize beauty, and recognize real genius, and recognize real virtue, not the cheap stuff that’s all over the place so handy.
And so I say to you the same thing. If you don’t enjoy Jesus, then you better stay with him until you learn to, until your Christian life is one thrill after another, until every waking moment of every day is joy upon joy upon joy. Consider Him. Fix your attention on Him.
Timothy was having problems. He was young. He was getting an ulcer. Paul said, “Take a little wine for your stomach’s sake.” And he was getting bounced around by the Ephesian errorists. People were criticizing him, and he got discouraged. And he was really hurting. And in 2 Timothy chapter 2, he said, “Well” – Paul said to him, “Timothy, you’ve got to get it on. You’ve got to get it on. You’ve got to be like a good soldier, hardworking farmer, well-trained athlete.” But most of all, 2 Timothy 2:8, “Remember Jesus Christ. Remember Jesus Christ, born of the seed of David, risen from the dead.” When you’ve really got problems, he doesn’t say, “Do this, do this, do this.” He just says do what? Remember Jesus Christ. Gaze on Him. Learn of Him.
In Hebrews 12 — and we’ll get to this a long time from now — it says in verse 1, “Wherefore seeing we also are encompassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Looking unto Jesus. Did you get that? If you’re going to run the Christian race, where are you going to look? Jesus.
I used to run the 100-yard dash at 2:20 in college. And one day we learned very soon that they don’t know it was – you can’t run when you watch your feet. Have you ever tried to do that? You can’t do it. I mean, you’ll run into a wall. You can’t do it. When you’ve got to stay in a lane, it’s amazing how your body works. You set your sight — just like when you drive — on something way down there, and you run right at that target. And when we used to run the sprints, we used to set our eyes on the tape. And we kept the eyes on the finish. That was not only motivation, but that’s what kept your sense of direction.
And when you’re running in the race as a believer, get your eyes off your feet. Get your eyes off yourself. You’re going to run into wall after wall after wall. You’ll be like the bruised and bleeding Pharisees that we talked about, who got that name because they thought it was a sin to look at a woman. They kept closing their eyes when they saw them, and they ran into all the buildings. There’s no sense in that.
You set your eyes on the tape. You look unto Jesus, the author and – the what? – the finisher of our faith. And you look at him and then you run. So many Christians run with their head down. It’s no wonder they run into everything.
And so what is the Holy Spirit saying? Consider Jesus. I mean, He’s all you need, right? Just look at Him. Let everything else drop. Just focus on Him. He’s everything – like the little chorus said, He is all you need.
All right. Then he gives him his two titles. And this is where we’re going to see his office. He calls him the apostle and high priest of our profession. First of all, he calls him the apostle. Now, may I add at this point that this is the first way that Jesus is better than Moses, for Jesus was both apostle and high priest; Moses was not. At best Moses was an apostle. Who was the high priest? Aaron. So in this sense, Jesus is superior in his office, for he is both; Moses was only one. He is the sent one, sent from God. Apostolos means sent from God. In the Greek, it would refer to an ambassador. And Jesus is the supreme ambassador of God, sent to earth.
And what are the characteristics of an apostolos or an ambassador? Well, number one, he has all the right and all the power and all the authority of the king in the country who sends him, and so did Jesus. He came clothed with the power of God. He came with all of God’s grace, all of God’s love, all of God’s mercy, all of God’s justice, and all of God’s power.
Secondly, an ambassador has to speak with the voice of the one who sent him. And so Jesus came and said, “I speak not that which I decide to speak. I speak only what I hear the Father say.” So Jesus was the perfect sent one from God. He came with all of God’s power, and with God’s voice He spoke. But beyond that, He was always the high priest of our profession.
Now, we’re not going to spend time on the high-priest concept, because that unfolds in the whole later section of Hebrews. Suffice it to say that the word “priest” in the Latin is the word pontifex, which broken into two words, means bridge-builder. And Jesus was the one who built the bridge from God the man. He was the one who connected God and man. And so Jesus is not only the sent one from God, with all God’s power and speaking with God’s voice, but He is the one who takes man and God and brings them together. He’s the bridge-builder. And He’s also the bridge.
Then it says that He is the apostle and high priest of our profession. That is, He’s the one we confess. And don’t you see the point of the verse? Listen to this. “If you profess Christ, if you confess that He is your Lord, then you certainly ought to gaze on Him, right? That’s what He’s saying. “You Jews, you have received Christ, you’ve confessed Him as apostle and your new high priest, you’ve received all that He has. Now gaze on Him intently.” What sense, having confessed Him as Lord, not to gaze on Him as such?
Boy, that’s practical stuff. How many of us as Christians have confessed Jesus Christ as savior and Lord and still run through our whole lives without looking at Him and looking at ourselves? And so in His office, He’s greater than Moses. You don’t need any of the other things. Let them drop.
Secondly, He’s superior in His works. Verses 2 to 4, and here is a simple comparison of the work of Jesus with that of Moses, show who is superior.
Now, I want you to keep in mind that it’s hard for us who are gentiles to understand the affection with which the Jews regard Moses, the man of God. And he was a great man. He was a dear man of God, a man who stood head and shoulders above all other men. And everything connected with God, in the Jew’s mind, is connected with Moses. And so this subject is dealt with very delicately by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn’t fire out in verse 2, “Jesus is greater than Moses.” He doesn’t just say that. More delicately does He handle it. And the spiritual wisdom is marvelous.
Before taking up Jesus’ superiority to Moses, He points up the resemblance between the two. Before He talks about the difference, He talks about the similarities, see? And that’s very, very tactful. Notice in verse 2, Jesus – the end of verse 1. Jesus, who was faithful to Him that appointed him. Did you know that Jesus was faithful to God? Did you know that? Did you know that Jesus did just that which the Father appointed Him to do? Oh my, yes.
In John 6:38, what does it say? “For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will who has sent me: That of all that He hath given me, I should lose nothing but should raise it up at the last day.” In other words, “I just do what the Father’ will is, and I don’t ever violate it, nor do I lose it.” John 7:18, “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his glory, but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” In other words, “You can tell I’m a true Messiah because I don’t seek my own glory; I seek the glory of the one that sent me.” Always about His father’s business.
In John chapter 8 verse 29, the same thing. “And He that sent me is with me. The father hath not left me alone, for I do always those things that please Him.” John 17:4, “I have finished the work which thou” – what? – “gaveth me to do. Now glorify me with the glory that I had with thee before the world began.”
Jesus always did the father’s will. He was faithful. Oh, faithful is such a wonderful word. The chief qualification is faithful. Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him that sent me.” That’s faithfulness. How faithful are you? That’s faithful? Jesus was faithful to Him that appointed Him. God said, “You’re going to go, and here’s your work.” And Jesus did it.
And then oh so tactfully does the Holy Spirit say, verse 2, “As also Moses was faithful in all his house.” You see, there’s no distinction. There’s a comparison. The Holy Spirit very delicately compares them together and says they’re both faithful. And that’s an indirect quote from Numbers 12:7. In Numbers 12:7 it says, “My servant Moses is faithful in all mine house.”
Moses was faithful. He carried faithfully God’s plan. He came out of in Egypt, into the wilderness. God refined him. It took 40 years for Moses to make something out of himself; 40 years for God to wreck him, and then 40 years God could use him. But 40 years in the wilderness, God broke him, made him the man he wanted him to be. Then he took the children of Israel out of the land. He was faithful. He believed God. He got to the Red Sea. And I’ve often thought to myself, “If I got to the Red Sea and somebody said, ‘Wave a stick and it’ll part, ‘ I would have said, ‘Catch that again?’“ But he did. I mean, he believed God. He was faithful. He led the children of Israel through. And then he was faithful to the time in the wilderness.
Though there were times when he was unfaithful. There were several times, even in Egypt when he slew the Egyptian, even in the wilderness when he smote the rock instead of speaking to the rock. But Moses for the most part was faithful. And so here the Holy Spirit emphasizes similarity, so as not to isolate the Jewish person.
Now, you’ll notice that it says he was faithful in all his house. What house are you talking about? Well, this means household, oikos. And Moses is seen as a faithful steward in God’s household. You say, “Well, what is God’s household?” Well, you go to the Old Testament and you about the house of David and the house of Israel. Who then is God’s household? Believers. The Old Testament believers, Israel, and any proselytes who may have been involved. Old Testament believers. Moses was faithful in God’s household.
He was a steward. Now, it says in 1 Corinthians, “Moreover, brethren, it is required in stewards that a man be found” – what? – “faithful.” Now, a steward is somebody who doesn’t own the house; he manages it for the owner. God owns the house of Israel; Moses was in charge of management. He was in charge of dispensing the facts and the things that God committed to his trust, to the people of Israel. And Moses was faithful.
Oh, as I say, there were times when his slowness in responding to God’s call and his disbelief at the point of God’s using him restricted him. There were times when he was unwilling to be obedient. And yet for the most part, he was faithful in discharging his calling and care for God’s household.
But it says in verse 2 that Christ also was faithful to His house. Who is Christ’s household? I’ll read it to you. It’s in Ephesians chapter 2, verse 19. “Now therefore you are no more strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.” The household of God. Who is this? It’s the church. We’re if new household. And Jesus is the one who cares for us. In 1 Peter 1 – pardon me, 2:4, it says “To whom coming is unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men but chosen of God and precious, ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house.”
So as the believers of the Old Testament are called “The house of Moses,” the believers of the New Testament are called “The house of Christ.” And as Moses was faithful to an earthly household, Jesus was faithful to a heavenly household. As Moses was faithful to the house God gave him, Jesus was also faithful to the house that God gave Him. And Jesus could say at the end of His life, “Father, I have finished the work which you gave me to do. I’ve told the house all that you instructed me to tell them.” He was faithful. And so the Holy Spirit delicately then begins by comparing Moses with Jesus on the basis of their faithfulness to a God-given task.
Now, at this point I can’t resist a spiritual application, because I think the Spirit of God would have us to do that. We are all stewards in God’s house, in a lesser sense than Jesus, in the fact that we have all, for example, spiritual gifts, do we not? And we have these as a sacred trust. They’re not yours. Your spiritual gifts aren’t yours; they’re God’s. He’s given them to you to pass out. And if you’re unfaithful in ministering your spiritual gift, you’re an unfaithful steward.
Some of you have been responsibility to witness. All of you, in fact. But some of you specifically to the people in your community that God has placed right around you, and you’ve been an unfaithful steward of the trust that God’s committed you. Others of you have been given a position of teaching or instructing, and you’ve been unfaithful to study diligently and faithfully and sacrificially, and consequent, you’re an unfaithful steward.
My friends, the Christian life is a sacred trust given to you by God, and it demands your faithfulness. I’ll tell you something, wouldn’t it just be a thrill? I thought about this in my own life. I would think the greatest thrill that could ever happen in my life would be to have my life come to an end and then at the end of my life, have somebody say, “As Jesus was faithful to the Father, so was John MacArthur.” That sounds ridiculous. That sounds idiotic. You say, “MacArthur, you may be a nice guy, but you’re not in that class.” And yet did you hear it of Moses in that verse? “As Jesus was faithful, so was Moses.”
My friends, I don’t think we’ve begun to discover what it is that God can do through us if we’re willing to be faithful. Did you get that? So Moses and Jesus were faithful. But here comes the difference in verse 3. “For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses” – why, why Jesus more glory – “in as much as he who hath built the house hath more honor than the house.” Isn’t that good? Moses was faithful, but he’s a piece of the house. Jesus made the house. That’s the difference. Jesus created Israel. All things were made by him, Hebrews 1 – or John 1. And without him was not anything made that was made.
Moses is only a member of the whole spiritual household which Jesus himself built. Jesus created Israel; Jesus created the church. You say, “Boy, in order to do that, you have to be God.” That’s verse 4. “For every house is built by some man, but He that built all things is” – what? – “is God.” And who built all things? Jesus did. So who is Jesus? He’s God. He’s God. Every house is built by some man. I mean, somebody – a human instrument is used.
For example, you’re here today. You’re a part of God’s house. Somebody shared Christ with you, did they not? Somebody did that. Somebody introduced you to Jesus. Somebody introduced maybe several of you to Jesus Christ. And they’re responsible in a human sense for part of the house. But who really created the house? God did. It was God through them, wasn’t it? And so the distinction is just that clear. Moses is just part of the house; Jesus made the house. So you see, to hang on to the forms of Judaism doesn’t make any sense, because the greater than Moses is here.
All right. Then we see, first of all, His office is superior and His work is superior. Thirdly, the superiority of His person. His person is superior, verses 5 and 6. And here’s the climax. And before we look at it, let me just give you the distinction. In this passage you’re going to see that Moses is by person a servant; Jesus is by person a son. Did you get that? And there’s a lot of difference, friends, between a servant and a son, is there not? And it reminds me of John 8, because in John 8 – I think it’s in John 8:25, yes. “And the servant abideth not in the house forever, but the son abideth forever.” In other words, there’s a certain ranking for the son. Servants come and go; sons are sons for life. And so there’s a difference.
Look at verse 5. “And Moses verily was faithful in all his house” – what? As what? – “as a servant.” As a servant. He conducted himself as a servant. And this is kind of a dignified word. Thereupon, it also is used of angels. In the Septuagint, it’s used of prophets. This is a ranking word. He was a faithful, obedient, ministering, caring servant, and he was a good steward of God. In Exodus 40, eight times – in Exodus chapter 40, eight times it refers to Moses’ obedience to all that God commanded him. That’s pretty good. In Exodus 35 to 40, 22 times it refers to Moses’ faithfulness to obey all that God commanded him. Can you say that about your life? Can God say of you, “Twenty-two times he obeyed all that I commanded him”? Moses was – he was up there. As exalted as he was, Jesus was more exalted.
And do you notice that he never compares Jesus with the failures of Moses? Isn’t that good? Jesus doesn’t need to be compared with anybody’s failures. He can be compared with anybody’s successes and still come out infinitely greater. So he’s always compared with the best of men to show his greatness. Were he to be compared with the worst of men, that would prove nothing.
But Moses was faithful. Why? Oh, this is good. Verse 5, here’s the reason for, a testimony of those things which are to be spoken after. See, Moses wasn’t the end of the line. That’s what Judaism doesn’t understand. Moses was only faithful as a testimony to those things which were yet to be said. And don’t you see that Judaism without Christ, Judaism without the New Testament, is not the whole story? That’s the point. It’s the shadow without the substance.
And so Moses was a servant, but only as a shadow for what was coming. Hebrews 10:1, “For the law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make those who come to it perfect.” The law can’t do it. It was a shadow of the perfect that was to come. If you reject the perfect, the shadow doesn’t mean anything. And so the whole old economy, the whole old covenant was just a shadow. That’s all it was, just a shadow.
And I can illustrate that to you just quickly. Don’t turn to it, but let me just show you John 5:46. “Far had ye believed Moses,” Jesus said, “You would have believed me, for he wrote of me.” Jesus said, “Moses wrote all about me.” So you see, to accept Moses and not Jesus isn’t really to accept Moses.
Then also recorded for us in Luke 24:27, and beginning – this is Jesus on the road to Emmaus. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures, the things concerning Himself.” He took Moses and said, “Now, watch what Moses says about me.” In Acts chapter 3 verse 22, “For Moses truly said unto the Father, a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatever he shall say unto you.” And Peter went on to say, “And Jesus Christ is that prophet.” He is that prophet.
So you see, Moses pointed to Jesus. In fact, in Acts 28:23, yes, “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets from morning until evening.” That means there was a whole lot of stuff there about Jesus in Moses’ writings.
And so it is that the Word of God tells us in Hebrews 3:5 that Moses was only a servant who pointed to something which would come after that. He was a steward of another’s house. But verse 6, “But Christ” – not a servant, but what? – “a son.” Over another’s house? Over what? His own house. “Whose house are we?” Do you like that? You know who Christ’s house is? You say, “This is the Lord’s house.” No. We’ve been through that many times. This building is not the Lord’s house. Whose house are what? We. We are the Lord’s house. We are built together, Ephesians 2:22, for an habitation of the Spirit. We are the Lord’s house.
Now, Moses was servant in somebody else’s house. Jesus is a son over His own house. Now, do you see that in His person, He is greater than Moses? A servant compared to a son. A servant is in somebody else’s house. A son lives in his own house. And so, with that we leave Moses. But it’s an honorable burial for Moses, isn’t it? And the epitaph has been written by God. “Moses, a faithful servant of the Lord in all my house.”
And Moses is gone in verse 5, and our gaze is left on Jesus. Jesus, the creator of the house and the son whose house it is. And then He says, “Whose house are we?” See, are we human beings really the house of God? That’s right. That’s exactly what it says. For example, in 1 Timothy 3 verse 15, “Be if I tarry long that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” We are the house. It’s that clear. Not the building, but the believers.
Now, this is a thrilling compensation for their loss of standing among the house of Israel, to know they’re a part of God’s eternal spiritual house. Now, the Lord knows that we need a guarantee about that. So he closes out this verse with a guarantee that we’re the spiritual house. How do we know this? How can we be sure that we’re really his house? Verse 6, “If we hold fast to confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Now, some people have had such problems with that. They say, “You’re saved if you hang on all the way to the end.” And you can live your whole Christian like, “Oh, oh, oh.” And when death comes, “Oh, I made it.” “You’re really saved if you can hang on.”
My friends, that’s not what it’s talking about. You couldn’t save yourself. You couldn’t keep yourself saved. What is it saying? It’s saying this: “Whose house are you if you hold fast to confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end?” You know what that means? That means continuance is the proof of reality. How many times are we seeing this? How many times?
You can always tell who are really the house of God, because they stay there, do you hear? The one who falls out, never belonged in the first place. Now, this is repeated in Hebrews, because this was the problem. Some were convinced and were on the edge of commitment and kept falling away, see? And he’s saying, “For those who have come right up to the door and never put their faith in Christ and they fall away, they give evidence that they never did really receive Christ.” That’s the whole problem. True saints persevere.
Listen, they came in John chapter 8, and Jesus looked at them and he said, “Oh, isn’t it wonderful. Many of you believe.” And he said to them this: “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples” – alēthōs – “for real.” For real disciples stay. People always say to me, “John, what happens to the guy I used to know who was a Christian, who did this, and now he repudiates God and he’s out?” Simple. Simple as it can be. “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciple for real. If you don’t continue in my word, then you’re not disciple for real at all.” You see, it’s a profession and not a possession.
Now, he’s saying to them, “Be for real.” If you really commit yourself to Christ and that’s evidential by the pattern of your life which remains in fellowship with Christ, that’s the point. But if under the pressure of persecution, you get right up to the edge and you never make that commitment, and it’s a superficial confidence and it’s a superficial rejoicing, then it proves you never were His house to begin with.
And you say, “Well, are you sure you can substantiate that view scripturally?” Yes, in John 6:39. “This is the Father’s will who has sent me, that of all that He hath given me, I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day.” Jesus never lost anybody yet. And he’s not going to mess up his record on you. John 15:1 and 2, “I am true vine, and my father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away. Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Verse 4, “Abide in me, and I in you.” And he says, “A branch is not bear fruit of itself except that it abide in the vine. No more can ye except ye abide in me.” And what he’s saying in that passage as we studied, is, “Be for real. Be a real branch. Those that are true branches are the ones that stay, the ones that abide.”
James chapter 1 verse 22 simply says this: “Be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he’s like a man beholding his natural face in a mirror. He beholds himself, goes his way and forgets what manner of man he was. But who so looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth in it, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” You see, whosoever looks into the law of liberty and continues in it. That’s the proof of the true Christian.
And the same thing is indicated in Colossians. It’s all over. I’m just giving you a few that come to my mind. Colossians 1:22, “Until the body of his flesh through death, he presents you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight, if you continue in the faith.” That’s the proof that it’s real. And then that great text in 2 John verse 9, “Who so transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the father and is son.” You see somebody attach themselves to Christ but they don’t abide, they don’t remain, they never were real. They never did have the Son of God. It was profession and not possession.
And in 1 John 2:19, it says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us.” Listen to this. “For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us, but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not of us.” When somebody departs the faith they proclaim, be assured beyond doubt it’s proof that they never knew Christ to begin with.
In Hebrews chapter 10 verse 38, “Now the just shall live by faith. But if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” You see, the one who draws back never is saved. The true believer remains. Remains.
And so he is simply saying this, in Hebrews, he is simply saying, you’re his house if by continuance you prove you were real to begin with. Listen to this word. “Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith.” Did you hear that? Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Know ye not yourselves how Jesus Christ is in you unless you are discredited.” In other words, if you follow away, He never was in you. That’s the point.
So the Holy Spirit then presents to us the fact that Christ is a son and Moses is only a servant, and that we are a part of his own house if we’re true believers is evidenced by our continuance in the faith. And we’ve just reviewed what has taken weeks to cover in the middle of John on that point.
We close. What’s he saying to us? He’s saying two things. Number one, be for real. Examine yourselves. Are you really in the faith? How about some of you tonight? You’re here. You’ve got all the trappings. You look like you’re part of the whole scene. Is it really true? Are you for real?
“Many shall say unto me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not cast out demons, done many wonderful works in thine name?’ And I will say unto them, ‘Depart from me’ – what? – ‘I never knew you.’“ Be for real, my friend. Be one of those who continues with confidence and his rejoicing continues firm to the end, his hope never wanes.
And secondly, I say to you who are Christians already, consider Jesus. Christian, learn to live your whole life with your sights on Him. He is all you need. Paul said it well when he said this – listen to it. “Ye are complete in Him.” Did you get that? You need nothing else.
Let’s pray. Father, we’re so thankful for what we’ve learned tonight. We just pray that the Spirit would tie these things to our hearts, seal them. Father, may nobody go out of this place who hasn’t committed themselves to Christ who isn’t a disciple for real. Father, may no Christian go out here who hasn’t put on his gaze and fixed it on Christ. That we might not look to ourselves but to the blessed Christ whose riches are deep enough to suffice for every need.
Thank you for what we’ve learned. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for all these precious lives gathered here in this place. Meet us right now, Lord, at the point of decision.
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