The Superiority of Jesus Christ
The true christian should never take the story of Christ’s birth for granted. Even when reread from the human perspective, the narrative of Christ’s entrance into this world ought to remain for-ever fresh, fascinating, and awe-inspiring. There’s the amazing appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary to announce that she would bear God’s Son. There’s the intriguing interaction between Mary and Elizabeth (with a Spirit-inspired response from the unborn John the Baptist) as Mary sought confirmation of Gabriel’s news. Then there is the unprecedented account of the angels’ nighttime appearance to the shepherds right after Jesus was born. And finally, there are the varied and profound human responses to the significance of Christ’s birth, from the divinely directed mission of the wise men to Simeon’s Spirit-filled pronouncement at the temple.
All those events, as uplifting as we’ve found them in our study of the Incarnation, come only from the human perspective. But there is another absolutely essential viewpoint of Christ’s birth that we must not omit—God’s perspective. And you find that perspective in the New Testament Epistles. When the inspired writers of those letters look back to the birth of Jesus Christ, all they discuss is the person of Christ, which is very fitting because in the Gospel narratives there is no in-depth description or explanation of the Child Himself. There is not even a description of His physical appearance that would distinguish Him as divine rather than human. But the Epistles continually look back at the birth and life of Christ from God’s perspective. They go beyond the human perspective of a baby in the manger to the divine perspective of His person and work.
For instance, Romans 1 asserts that Jesus was both the Son of David and the Son of God. Galatians 4:4 says that in the fullness of time God brought forth His Son, born of a woman and subject to the Law. Ephesians 3 introduces the concept of the mystery of Christ, that God has now revealed the truth of His Son in human flesh to the Jews and the Gentiles (cf. 1 Tim. 3). Philippians 2 teaches us that Christ during His Incarnation laid aside the form of deity and took on the form of humanity to die on the cross. Colossians 2 makes the sweeping and profound statement that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in Jesus Christ. But there is one other crowning passage among those that provides divine insight into the person of Jesus Christ—Hebrews 1. I believe that it is particularly important to understand this passage if we would have a complete grasp of the significance of Christ’s birth.
A Brief Introduction to Hebrews
The letter to the Hebrews, written about a.d. 67–69 by an unidentified author, was obviously written to Jews, mostly true believers in Jesus. Its purpose was to show them that Jesus Christ is in fact the fulfillment of all the Old Testament Messianic promises and that He is superior to all the pictures, types, representations, and shadows that preceded Him. The Epistle was written to assure believing Jews that their faith was rightly placed and to encourage unbelieving Jews that embracing Jesus was the right commitment to make. Many in the community were intellectually convinced Jesus was the Messiah and God, but they had not yet personally believed and publicly confessed Him as Lord. They didn’t want to be alienated like their believing friends had been. Some had been put out of the synagogue, some had been ostracized by their families, and others had lost their jobs.
In view of those fears and uncertainties, the writer of Hebrews wanted to encourage the Jews that in the long run they were not losing anything by embracing Jesus and confessing Him as Lord. The things they might have to give up in this life were worth it compared to what they would gain in full atonement for their sins and complete access to the very presence of God forever. So the writer affirms that the Babe born in Bethlehem is the Messiah and that He is indeed the Lord of a New Covenant, which is far superior to the Old Covenant of Moses.
Hebrews 1:1–3 launches right into the purpose of the Epistle: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Here again in a few short verses is an insightful, divine description of who the baby born in Bethlehem really is. It is probably the most concise and comprehensive New Testament summary statement of the superiority of Christ. And the writer includes three key features in composing his classic statement: the preparation for Christ, the presentation of Christ, and the preeminence of Christ.
The Preparation for Christ
Hebrews 1:1 refers to the Old Testament as it focuses on the preparation for Christ: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets.” The Old Testament was simply God speaking to the Jewish people (“the fathers”) through the prophets in many different ways and at a number of different times.
The prophets were men who spoke for God, and they did so “at various times,” which actually means “portions” (nasb) or “segments.” In other words, God’s Spirit spoke through the Old Testament writers in thirty-nine different books. And these books come to us in various literary forms: Much of the literature is narrative prose and history, much is prophecy, some is poetry, and a little appears as the Law.
Furthermore, God’s servants received His words “in various ways,” or by different methods. Sometimes He spoke to them directly in audible words. At other times He spoke to them indirectly and prompted their minds with the thoughts He wanted conveyed. Then there were other methods by which God communicated His truth—parables, types, symbols, ceremonies, and even stone tablets (the Ten Commandments). But all of it was inspired, inerrant, and truly what God wanted written, the way He wanted it written.
The Old Testament is basically progressive revelation; it moves from a lesser degree of completeness to a fuller degree of completeness. It begins with what the apostle Paul later called the basic elements (Gal. 4:3, 9; Col. 2:8, 20), the early rules and regulations under the Law. Then it spells things out in greater detail through types and ceremonies. Finally, the prophetic books develop a more complete understanding of God’s redemptive program (1 Pet. 1:10–12).
The writer of Hebrews and other New Testament writers recognized that all those features of the Old Testament affirmed its divine character. When Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16), he was referring to the Old Testament. And when Peter said, “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation … but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20–21), he too was talking about the Old Testament.
And by affirming its features and character, the writer of Hebrews shows that the Old Testament is the preparation for Christ, because he also knew that its theme was Jesus Christ. From Genesis 3:15 (the first allusion to Christ and the gospel) to Malachi 4:1–3 (a reference to Christ’s returning in judgment against the ungodly), the Lord Jesus is the subject all the way through the Old Testament. He’s the One pictured in the sacrifices and ceremonies detailed in the five books of Moses. He’s the great Prophet and King who’s promised time and again (Num. 24:17; Deut. 18:15, 18; Ps. 2:6; 24:7–10; 45:6; 89:27; Isa. 9:7; 32:1; 42:1–2; 52:7; 61:1; Jer. 23:5; Dan. 7:14; Mic. 5:2; Zech. 9:9).
However, the Old Testament preparation for Christ is incomplete and fragmentary. Not one of its books or writers presents the entire picture of the Savior. We get only a partial view here and a partial insight there—and the inspired writers present those over a fifteen-hundred-year period. As the apostle Peter says, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1 Pet. 1:10–11). The prophets couldn’t sort everything out; they wondered exactly whom they were writing about and precisely when everything would occur.
The Old Testament’s progressive revelation prepared its readers for the coming of Christ. But no one saw a complete picture of the Messiah until He actually came in the New Testament.
The Presentation of Christ
The writer of Hebrews affirms that Christ is the full revelation of God when he says that God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (1:2). When Jesus came, God presented the entire picture. Christ revealed God fully by being fully God. “For in Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).
We can see in Christ everything we need to know about God. That includes the full array of God’s attributes—such characteristics as omniscience, miracle-working power, the ability to heal the sick and raise the dead, compassion for sinners, and the desire for justice and holiness.
And all of that was evident “in these last days,” a familiar phrase the Jews would have understood as meaning the Messianic age. Thus, in the time of Messiah, God ceased speaking in fragments and instead presented His complete revelation in the person of His Son. That, of course, established Jesus as superior to previous revelation. The incomplete Old Testament issued from the prophets, who were sinful men. In contrast, the complete and final New Testament came forth in the person of the sinless Son of God. Jesus Christ, as the full expression of His Father, could say, “‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father’” (John 14:9).
The Preeminence of Christ
Once the writer of Hebrews presents Jesus as God’s Son, he immediately gives us a sevenfold summary of the preeminence of Jesus Christ: “whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:2–3). That is the grand summation and definitive listing of the characteristics that really identify the Child who entered the world at Bethlehem. Anyone who truly confesses Jesus as Lord and Savior affirms the truth of each of those elements. That’s why it’s important to take a brief look at each one.
Christ is the Heir of All Things
The first aspect of Jesus Christ’s preeminence concerns His inheritance: “whom He has appointed heir of all things.” That is an unqualified statement asserting that God has planned for Jesus ultimately to inherit absolutely everything. It adheres to Jewish inheritance laws that said the firstborn child received the wealth of the family’s estate.
Because Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, He is logically the firstborn Son as well. Therefore, Christ is the heir of all that God has. The psalmist predicted this very reality, “I [God] will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession” (Ps. 2:8). Everything in the created order, whether the material or spiritual world—everything God has ever created—belongs to Jesus Christ.
It’s amazing to think that a Galilean carpenter, crucified on a cross outside Jerusalem, is actually the heir to the universe. Admittedly, when Jesus was on earth He owned little or nothing. One thing He did own was His cloak, and the Roman soldiers gambled for ownership of that while He was on the cross. He was even buried in a borrowed grave. But some day, all that exists will belong to Christ, and everyone—people, angels, and all powers in the universe—will bow before Him. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Phil. 2:10).
It’s also incredible to realize that believers will be joint heirs with Christ: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17). If you know Christ, you are a part of His bride, the church, and He, the Bridegroom, allows you to share His inheritance. And someday you will see Him return as King of kings and Lord of lords to make final claim of His inheritance and exercise sovereign, everlasting rule over all that exists. Therefore, once you say Jesus is Lord, you also say He is the heir of all things.
Christ is the Agent of Creation
The second preeminence of Christ listed in Hebrews 1 is His power in creation: “through whom also He made the worlds” (v. 2). That statement is perfectly consistent with John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (Col. 1:16; Heb. 11:3). Jesus created everything, both the material and nonmaterial parts of the universe. And His creatorship is a characteristic of our Lord—second only to His sinlessness—that really sets Him apart from us.
The Greek word rendered “worlds” in Hebrews 1:2 does not mean the material world but “the ages,” as it is usually translated elsewhere. Christ created not only the physical earth, but also time, space, energy, and every variety of matter. He effortlessly created the entire universe and finished it as something good. For that reason the creation, which was marred by humanity’s sin, longs to be restored to what it was originally (Rom. 8:22)—and one day Christ will create a new and perfect heaven and earth.
Christ Possesses the Brightness of God’s Glory
The writer of Hebrews further establishes the preeminence of Christ by citing that He is “the brightness of His [God’s] glory.” “Brightness,” which may also be translated “radiance” (nasb) and literally means “to send forth light,” indicates that Jesus is the manifestation of God to us. Just as the sun’s rays illuminate and warm the earth, Christ is God’s glorious light that shines into the hearts of people. And as the sun cannot be separated from its brightness, so God cannot be separated from the glory of Christ. Yet the brightness of the sun is not the sun, and in the same sense, neither is the brightness of Christ God. That does not mean that Christ is not fully and absolutely God. It simply means the Son of God is a distinct person within the Godhead.
Jesus Christ is the radiance of who God is, and He affirmed that fact during His earthly ministry: “‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12). Christ can transmit that light into our lives so that we can radiate the glory of God to others. God sent His glorious light, in the person of Jesus Christ, into a morally dark world to call sinners to Himself. No one would ever be able to see or enjoy God’s true radiance if it weren’t for His Son and those who know Him.
It is truly a blessing to know that Jesus Christ can come into your life and give you the spiritual light to see and believe God. Jesus’ brightness points you to salvation, which in turn results in purpose, peace, joy, and genuine fellowship for all eternity.
Christ is the Essence of God
Hebrews 1:3 goes on to declare a fourth element of the preeminence of Christ, namely, “the express image of His person.” Jesus possesses the essential nature or being of God the Father. That is, He has all the attributes that are indispensable to who and what God is, such as immutability (unchangeableness), omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. He is the exact stamp or replication of God. In the words of the Nicene Creed, Jesus Christ is “very God of very God.”
The apostle Paul teaches us basically the same truth in Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God.” Here, unlike Hebrews 1:3, the Greek word translated “image” is eikon, from which we get the English term icon, meaning a precise copy or reproduction. But both verses communicate the same truth. Christ possesses the essential nature of God and manifests the communicable attributes of God. In His being, Jesus is what God is, and in His person He displays that essence to everyone who sees Him.
Whenever people talk about the baby in the manger, they are talking about none other than God.
Christ Has Ultimate Authority
Fifth in the list of Christ’s preeminent qualities is that He has always been “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). As we have already seen, He is the Creator of the entire universe, material and nonmaterial. But Christ’s authority does not stop there. He upholds and sustains all that He has created.
Christ follows the principle of cohesion; He makes the universe a cosmos instead of chaos. He infallibly ensures that the universe runs as an ordered, reliable unit instead of as an erratic, unpredictable muddle. That’s because our Lord has devised and implemented the myriad natural laws, both complex and straightforward, that are all perfectly reliable, consistent, and precisely suited to their particular purposes. Time and again they wonderfully demonstrate the mind and power of Jesus Christ working through the universe.
No scientist, mathematician, astronomer, or nuclear physicist could do anything or discover anything apart from the sustaining power and authority of Christ. The whole universe hangs on His powerful arm, His infinite wisdom, and His ability to control every element and orchestrate the movements of every molecule, atom, and subatomic particle.
For example, if the size of the earth’s orbit around the sun increased or decreased even the slightest amount, we would soon fatally freeze or fry. If the earth’s angle of tilt went beyond its present range even slightly, that would drastically disrupt the familiar four-season cycle and threaten to end life on the planet. Similarly, if the moon’s orbit around the earth diminished, the ocean tides would greatly increase and cause unimaginable havoc. And if our atmosphere thinned just a little, many of the thousands of meteors that now enter it and harmlessly incinerate before striking the ground would crash to the surface with potentially catastrophic results.
Jesus Christ prevents such disasters by perfectly maintaining the universe’s intricate balance. The most astronomical distances and largest objects are not beyond His control. The most delicate and microscopic processes do not escape His attention. He is the preeminent power and authority who nevertheless came to earth in human form, assuming a servant’s role.
Christ Removes Our Sins
The sixth aspect of Christ’s preeminence deals directly with our salvation. Hebrews 1:3 expresses it this way, “He had by Himself purged our sins.” Jesus, by His atoning death, brought about the purging or cleansing of our sins. That is what we needed most, and only the Lord Jesus could meet the need.
The Old Testament priests offered animal sacrifices over and over, but none of those could ultimately remove the people’s sins. Those repeated sacrifices instead merely pointed to the desperate need for a once-for-all sacrifice that could finally take away sins. And God provided such a sacrifice in the person of Jesus. As the writer of Hebrews later wrote, “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” (9:28); “for by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (10:14).
In keeping with the Old Testament Law that the sacrificial lamb had to be spotless, the final New Covenant sacrifice had to be a perfect, sinless substitute. To pay the price of sin for others, he had to be perfect or he would have had to pay the price for his own sin. And since no one in the world is without sin, the substitute had to be someone from outside the world. Yet he still needed to be a man to die in the place of men and women.
Of course, the only person who could meet those requirements was Jesus Christ. He was the sinless man who could be the perfect substitute for sinners. By offering Himself to die on the cross, He took the full wrath of God for sinners like you and me. That wrath, which was originally directed toward us, was then satisfied. Thus God can forgive you because Christ paid the penalty for your sin.
So one of the preeminent glories of Christ is that, as the God-Man, He came to die for sinners. And He died on the cross to accomplish redemption. Immediately prior to His death, Jesus uttered these profound words, “‘It is finished!’” (John 19:30); once and for all He paid the price for sins for everyone who would ever believe in Him.
Christ is Exalted in Heaven
The author concludes his marvelous outline of the preeminence of Christ by affirming His exaltation: “[He] sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:3).
Christ’s ministry on earth ended forty days after His resurrection when He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9–11). And when He returned there, God seated Him at His right hand (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 1:13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2), which always symbolized the side of power, authority, prominence, and preeminence (Rom. 8:34; 1 Pet. 3:22). Paul says that at that point God gave Him a name above all names—“Lord,” which is the New Testament synonym for Old Testament descriptions of God as sovereign ruler (Phil. 2:9–11).
When Jesus went into heaven, He did what no Old Testament priest ever did—He sat down. They never sat down while ministering because their work was never done. But Christ’s work was done; He had accomplished the work of redemption on the Cross, and therefore it was appropriate for Him to sit down. He remains on the right hand of the throne of God as the believer’s great High Priest and Intercessor (Heb. 7:25; 9:24).
Jesus Christ is Superior to the Angels
The writer of Hebrews hardly needed to tell his Jewish readers any more concerning the magnificent preeminence of Christ. But just to underscore the truth of Jesus’ supremacy, the writer sets forth another persuasive point—this one more expansive than the others—beginning in 1:4–5, “Having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You’?”
At Bethlehem the night of Jesus’ birth, the heavenly host that appeared above the shepherds’ field might have been more impressive than a humble Child wrapped in cloths and lying in a feed trough. Such a baby was not recognizable as God, but He was God nonetheless and therefore superior to any array of angels. And that’s what the writer sought to convince the Jews of as he contrasted Christ to the angels.
Jewish Beliefs Concerning Angels
The Jews in biblical times greatly esteemed angels. Every devout Jew knew about the angels’ important role in God’s unfolding purpose among humanity. The Jews believed angels surrounded God’s throne and worshiped Him (Isaiah 6). They also believed angels were messengers who did God’s work and occasionally came to earth to mediate between God and mankind, as occurred with Abraham and Lot (Gen. 18:1–19:29) and Daniel (Dan. 8:15–27).
But most important, the Jews believed angels were the divinely sent agents who delivered the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law. They knew the Law was a holy and righteous reflection of God’s will, and they tried to live by it (which meant, unfortunately, that many of them saw the Law as their means of salvation).
So the Jews had great reverence for angels. In fact, they had so much respect that they revered no one but God more.
With that in mind, the writer of Hebrews argues that Jesus has a much better and more excellent name than the angels. “For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You’?” (1:5). The answer to that rhetorical question is quite obviously, “None.” So if Jesus had that kind of advantage over all the angels, the Jews had to infer His superiority; and they knew that if anyone is superior to the angels, he has to be God.
How is Christ Superior to the Angels?
Because serious-minded Jews had such great reverence and respect for the position of angels and the place of the Old Testament, the writer worked extra diligently to nail down his argument concerning Christ’s superiority. It was essential for his Jewish readers to see that Messiah is better than the bearers and mediators of the Old Testament. The author establishes that point by concluding chapter 1 with an effective use of seven Old Testament passages.
If he had tried to prove his case from Christian writings, his audience could easily have said, “We don’t accept those documents as coming from God; therefore, we reject your argument.” So he wisely and skillfully demonstrated directly from key Old Testament verses five ways that Christ is superior to the angels.
First of all, Jesus is superior by virtue of His name. We’ve already had a glimpse of this truth in 1:4, “Having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Jesus has a better name because He has inherited it from God the Father. He can make a legitimate claim to that better name because of His essential nature, as verse 5 says, “For to which of the angels did He ever say: “‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You’?” Generally, angels and people are sons of God simply because God created them. But He never told a single one of the angels that he was a son who proceeded from Him. He reserved that designation for Christ alone.
By saying, “You are My Son,” God revealed that Jesus shared the same essence as the Father. And the Jews would understand that to mean that Jesus possessed precisely the same characteristics as God the Father.
In spite of the Jews’ unbelief and doubts—in the Book of Hebrews and prior—Jesus was and is the Son of God. God gave Him the name “Son,” which expresses Christ’s eternal generation from the Father. There never was a moment in all of eternity when the Son did not exist. In a way we can’t fully grasp, the Father-Son relationship expresses a shared divine nature and an equal inheritance to all that exists in the universe. Angels are merely called messengers of God, but Jesus is called the Son of God: “And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son’” (Heb. 1:5).
Second, Jesus is superior to the angels because of His rank: “But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’” (Heb. 1:6).
The Greek word for “firstborn” is not a word of chronology or birth sequence; it’s a word of preeminence. More clearly rendered, it would read “the preeminent one, the prominent one, the highest one.” Because there is only one Son of God, it was not necessary for the writer to distinguish the firstborn Son from the second or third Son.
“Firstborn” also does not mean Jesus is the preeminent member of the Trinity or that He is the highest ranking in some procession of deities from God’s throne. Rather, it means He is the supreme One over all creation (Col. 1:15). The writer of Hebrews supports this truth by quoting the Greek Old Testament translation of Deuteronomy 32:43, which itself relates to Psalm 89:6. That’s where the psalmist says the angels must recognize God’s lordship. The angels are created beings, and Christ as Creator is superior to them. And so they are commanded, as a primary function of their position, to worship and serve Him, the superior One (Ps. 89:27; 97:7).
Jesus is also superior to the angels because of His essential nature. The author of Hebrews, again drawing from the Old Testament (first Psalm 104:4; then Psalm 45:6–7; then Isaiah 61:1, 3), compares Christ’s nature to the angels’: “And of the angels He says: ‘Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.’ But to the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions’” (Heb. 1:7–9).
The angels are created spirit beings, described metaphorically in these verses as a collective flame of fire. But in contrast, Christ the Son is eternal God. That is the basic distinction—the angels are created; Christ is eternal.
The writer indicates the difference first by mentioning God the Son’s eternal throne and then describing how He rules. Righteousness, depicted as “a scepter of righteousness,” is the chief characteristic of His reign. That means the Lord Jesus loves righteousness and hates lawlessness, which are simply two primary aspects of the same divine holiness.
But as created beings, not all the angels chose to love righteousness and hate lawlessness. Initially angels were not impeccable, which means they had the capacity to sin and did so when a third of them followed Lucifer’s rebellion against God. God expelled them and Lucifer (now Satan) from heaven, and today they are demons serving the dark purposes of the devil’s kingdom.
However, the eternal Son of God has forever loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. It was impossible for Him to fall into sin. And that’s the fundamental difference in His nature that sets Him far above even the holy angels and believing humanity. The conclusion of Hebrews 1:9 wonderfully portrays Christ’s superior nature: “therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”
The writer continues to quote the Old Testament as he proclaims a fourth way Jesus is equal with God and exalted above the angels. Christ possesses eternality—He was and is God forever—a truth verified by reference to Psalm 102:25–27, “‘You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and your years will not fail’” (Hebrews 1:10–12).
The writer of Hebrews views Jesus as present at the creation because He was the Creator (John 1:3). Therefore His eternality stretches not only into the infinite past, but also into the infinite future. But that is not true concerning the universe. Someday Christ will “uncreate” an aging creation. He will fold up the heavens and the earth and replace them with something new. However, the Son of God never changes. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
Finally, Christ is God and superior to the angels by virtue of His destiny. The writer again turns to the Psalms (110:1) and asks his Jewish audience, “But to which of the angels has He ever said: ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’?” (Hebrews 1:13). God never promised any of the angels that kind of ultimate, eternal sovereignty. But it is the destiny of Jesus Christ to rule over all, especially over those who know Him. The apostle John later wrote, “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come’” (Rev. 19:6–7).
Hebrews 1:14 makes this final distinction between Christ and the angels completely clear: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” Unlike Jesus, the angels aren’t sovereign rulers; they’re ministering servants, subject to His commands.
We don’t see them, but God dispatches His angels for the protection and care of believers on earth (Matt. 18:10). And beyond that, the future tense (“will inherit”) looks ahead to the full inheritance of our salvation and what the angels will continue to do for us. In the glories of heaven the Son will reign over us and we will worship Him as our King (Rom. 8:16–17; Eph. 1:11; Col. 1:12; 3:24). But amazingly, the angels will continue to serve us. Thus God created the angels to serve Christ’s church in both time and eternity. And that underscores once again the angels’ subordination to the Son of God.
When you read and study Hebrews 1, the wonderful truth of Jesus Christ’s preeminence and superiority shines forth from every verse. You can’t miss it, whether it’s in His inheritance of all things, His agency in creation, His essential nature as God, His atoning death for sinners, or the various ways in which He is superior to the angels. The entire chapter effectively proclaims the Messiah’s true identity and rightful position.
I believe an analysis of Hebrews 1:1–14 is a fitting capstone to a book on the birth of Christ. It ensures that when you consider the baby in the Bethlehem shelter, you don’t merely see an adorable child who grew up to be a good teacher and compassionate healer. The passage points you beyond that and to an accurate understanding of the person and work of Christ. The writer, through careful, Spirit-inspired argumentation, declares irrefutably that the Child born to Mary was indeed God in the manger. He truly was the Son of God, miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit yet born naturally to a woman in Israel. And without doubt He was the Lord and Savior who lived a perfect life and died as a perfect sacrifice so that all who believe in Him might have eternal life.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). God in the manger: the miraculous birth of Christ (pp. 139–155). Nashville, TN: W Pub. Group.