by Pastor David Groendyk
The message of Hebrews is, “Jesus is greater, so don’t turn back to the old ways.” We’ve seen already in two chapters that Jesus is the greatest revelation (Heb. 1:1–4) and greater than the angels (Heb. 1:5–14), as well as a stern warning not to drift away from Christ (Heb. 2:1–4). Chapter 3 contains both a ‘greater’ section and a warning section.
First, the author compares Jesus to Moses (vv. 1–6). The main exhortation is to “consider Jesus” (v. 1), which means to think carefully about who Jesus is and what he’s done. Contemplate Jesus. Reflect upon his ministry. He is a merciful and faithful high priest, made like his brothers in every respect, and has made propitiation for our sins (Heb. 2:14–18); therefore, constantly call that reality to mind, marinate in it, and let that influence all that you do. The contrast, then, between Moses and Jesus is to say that while Moses was great and faithful and worthy of honor, Jesus has a special, privileged place among God’s people. In verses 5–6, there are at least three contrasts: Moses was; Jesus is. Moses was in God’s house; Jesus is over God’s house. Moses was a servant; Jesus is a son. To continue to worship Moses, to go back to the old Jewish ways, and to disregard Jesus is as foolish as glorying in a house rather than the architect and builder. Quit glorying in that which does not deserve glory, and fill your mind with the glory of Christ.
Second, comes the warning: listen to him when he speaks (vv. 7–19). There are so many sobering elements here that ought to make us examine our own hearts. Notice the danger of sin in verse 13. What the author is saying is that your own indwelling sin will lie to you and trick you. It’ll pull the wool over your eyes and make you think there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing. It’s like the proverbial frog in a pot of water that slowly warms up on the stove, and the frog has no idea that the water is killing him. Or it’s like sitting outside on a summer night in Michigan; one minute the sun is out, and the next minute it’s pitch black and you didn’t even notice it getting darker. Your own sin lies to you, and one day you may just find yourself completely hardened to the voice of God and biblical truth without even realizing how you got there. Notice also the author’s Old Testament example in verses 16–19. Lest you think, “That could never happen to me!” the author reminds us that the very Israelites who saw the Ten Plagues and watched the Red Sea part in two in front of their own faces were the very same people who fell away from the Lord, lost their faith in him, and were barred from the Promised Land.
Therefore, exhort one another (v. 13). Each individual in the church has the responsibility of caring for one another’s soul. When you become a Christian and join the church, you do not get to just worry about you and your family. If you are not actively acting as the iron that sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17) and warning and instructing and encouraging other Christians, then you are disobeying Scripture, and you are putting your brothers and sisters at risk. Each one of us must be diligent in keeping our own hearts soft and receptive to God’s Word, and each one of us must take responsibility for one another making it to heaven. Only people like murderous, unbelieving Cain from Genesis 4:9 do not consider themselves their brother’s keeper. It is a heavy and serious warning in Hebrews 3 for us, but eternity and the Christian life are a heavy and serious business. Be diligent, along with your brothers and sisters in the church, to make it to the Promised Land.