Our hope and confidence is the heavenly calling that we share because Jesus shared in our humanity to bring us to glory with Him as the captain of our salvation. Our boasting is in love and might of our great Savior and that He is our merciful and faithful high priest who is able to help us whenever we are tempted.
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
Hebrews 3:1-6 ESV
In our study of Exodus, we have noted repeatedly that the events of that book are the most important in all of the Old Testament. Genesis is a theological prologue, written by Moses so that Israel always remembers that Yahweh is the one, true God and the great promises that He made to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From Leviticus onward, the Old Testament is all about God’s faithfulness to Israel despite their repeated failures to be the kingdom of priests that He established them to be. The entire Old Testament is the story of God redeeming a nation out of slavery in order to be His own treasure possession.
And Moses was the mediator of that deliverance and that covenant. The LORD worked through Moses to rescue His people from their slavery and then similarly worked through Him to give His laws and commandments to His people. Even though (or perhaps, because) Moses was very meek, God exalted Moses in Egypt, making him like God to Pharaoh with Aaron serving as his prophet (Exodus 4:16). And before the tenth plague, we were told: “Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people” (Exodus 11:3).
Even though the Israelites repeatedly grumbled against Moses, they also revered him. At his death, God Himself buried Moses’ body, likely to prevent the idolatrous Israelites from worshiping Moses’ bones, and we are then told:
And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Indeed, Moses seemed to understand something of his uniqueness in the history of redemption, for one of the chief prophesies given to him about the coming Messiah is found in Deuteronomy 18:18: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” Only the Christ would be a prophet like Moses, who governed God’s people like a king, gave them God’s word like a prophet, and mediated between God and His people like a priest. Abraham, David, and Elijah are similarly towering figures of faith; however, even they do not bear the gravitas of Moses.
Since Moses is a prophet without an equal in the Old Testament, it makes sense that the author of Hebrews would establish Jesus’ superiority to him next. If the original recipients of this sermon-letter where indeed Jewish Christians being tempted to revert back to Judaism, the author is warning them here against returning back to Moses whenever we now know the One of whom Moses spoke and foreshadowed.
Consider Jesus—Verse 1
Because Hebrews contains some the sharpest warnings of the whole New Testament, it can be tempting to let those warnings dominate how we view this marvelous first century sermon. Yes, the warnings found in Hebrews are particularly startling; however, the authors words of encouragement are equally as comforting. And we are greeted with some of those comforting words at the beginning of our passage: Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus…
The command, of course, is to consider Jesus, but we should not lightly pass by what the author calls his readers. There are three items to note here.
First, just as Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers, so does the author call his readers brothers. This indicates that, despite all the warnings that the author will give, he believes his readers to be fellow Christians, members of the household of God alongside him, and part of his eternal family.
Second, he calls them holy. As we have noted before, holiness is properly understood as an attribute of God. He alone is holy, for there is none like Him. Our holiness is secondhand because it means that we belong exclusively to God. Having been redeemed by Christ, we are made holy in Him because we are adopted into God’s people.
Third, he says that they share in a heavenly calling. This calling is God’s ultimate design for redeemed humanity to inherit salvation and reign in dominion over creation under Christ our King. It is heavenly but not in the sense of being ethereal or abstract, as we might use that word today. Rather, throughout Hebrews, the author repeatedly points to the heavenly realities as being more real than those of earth. This life is the vapor; the life to come is substance. Thus, to share this heavenly calling is to partake in that which is most true.
This threefold description applies to all who are in Christ today as well. You may not feel holy. You may not feel worthy to be called a brother or sister in God’s family. You may think that you are unfit to share in that heavenly calling. And if so, you are right. In one of my favorite scenes in the Narnia books, Aslan asks the young Prince Caspian:
“Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?”
“I-I don’t think I do, Sir,” said Caspian. “I’m only a kid.”
“Good,” said Aslan. “If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been a proof that you were not.”
Something similar should be present whenever we speak of our salvation. Just like claiming to be wise is one of the surest indications of being a fool, thinking ourselves worthy of such marvelous truths is strong indication that we do not yet understand the gospel. Instead, as Dennis Johnson notes: “they ‘share’ in this glorious calling because the Son came to ‘share’ their fragile flesh and blood (2:14), and thus they are ‘companions’ of the Anointed One (1:8-9; cf. 3:14).” It is only by Jesus’ sharing in our suffering under the curse of sin that we are able to share in the honor and glory with which He has been crowned. Even on the last day when we judge angels in our glorified and sinless bodies, we will forever give Jesus all the glory for working our redemption and glorification. Thus, our hearts should not swell with pride to hear such things said about us; instead, such beautiful truths should set our eyes with renewed wonder at Jesus, which is precisely what the author intends for us to do.
Looking at verse 1 in its entirety, we read: Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession… The command to consider Jesus is at the heart of this verse, and I would argue that it is at the heart of the entirety of Hebrews. This really is the great purpose and aim of the letter. Yes, the author repeatedly emphasizes that Jesus is greater than every aspect of the old covenant; however, all of those comparisons are subservient to this supreme command: consider Jesus. But what does the author mean by consider? Robert Paul Martin explains: