Jesus Christ, Our Superior Prophet, Priest, and King

A few weeks ago we went to Wisconsin, along the shore of Lake Superior, for a beautiful week of vacation. The local residents love their lake, and they clearly enjoy the adjectival advantages of living next to North America’s largest lake, which is “superior in magnitude to any of the lakes on that vast continent.”[1] While there we enjoyed “superior” coffee and “superior” dining, visited “superior” orchards, and took in “superior” views. The breakfast we had our final morning there was amazing, and definitely worth going back for—Eggs Benedict over smoked trout, be still my heart! But, while these were all nice, and some of them even great, none of them were truly superior to all others in their respective categories, either in essence or substance. They were superior only by association with and in proximity to the great lake.

The first chapter of the book of Hebrews plunges straight into the superiority of our Lord Jesus Christ in his essence and being, his person and his work. Christ’s superiority over all things in heaven and earth is not by association or proximity, but is inherent to his Eternal, Immutable, Divine, and Sovereign being.

Just here in chapter one we find that Jesus is the final and superior Word of God, the Son who reveals most perfectly the Father. The final purification Jesus made for sins is superior to the sacrifices of the legions of priests who labored unceasingly in the tabernacle and the temple throughout the Old Covenant. Jesus as the firstborn Son, and the name he inherited, are far superior to the mighty angels who serve and worship him. Jesus’s eternal, sovereign, and righteous reign is superior to all the kings of the earth, and resulted in his singular anointing by God. As Creator of the earth and the heavens Jesus is supremely powerful, and he will endure immutably forever. And seated at the right hand of the Father, Jesus reigns even now and will continue to do so after the Father has vanquished all his enemies.

Written to Jewish believers who were being hard-pressed to renounce Christianity and return to the Old Covenant religion in which they’d been raised, the book of Hebrews exhorts them to hold fast to the confession of their hope without wavering (10:23). The author reaches into the vast and rich well of the Old Testament scriptures to anchor his readers’ hope in the supreme excellence of God’s Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This word of encouragement “ranges across the Old Testament and shows us how Christ fulfilled it all. He is the crescendo of God’s work on earth.”[2]

Indeed, by drawing from the Old Testament, the author of Hebrews is teaching us how to read the scriptures, especially the Psalms, “through a Christ-colored lens.”[3] Beginning with the first verse he establishes the enduring authority and relevance of the word spoken by God “Long ago, at many times and in many ways . . . by the prophets” (1:1). God’s word spoken through the prophets was absolute truth, inerrant, infallible, and the same message of salvation then as it is now. But it was “fragmentary and incomplete.”[4] The words spoken by the prophets looked forward to One who would come to complete the story. The Old Testament is “a single coherent story that ends on a cliffhanger.”[5]

The inspired infallible word of the Father was not complete until the coming of the Son. And so, the author continues, God “has spoken to us in these last days through his Son” (1:2). Jesus, as the Word of God (John 1:1), is the final and perfect Prophet and gives us a superior revelation of the Father in all his glory. Because rather than speaking through intermediaries, Jesus Christ himself is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (1:3). As Jesus himself said—and no Old Testament prophet could claim— “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

“We do not see God in Christ through drawings that purport to represent his features, much less through an actor who tries to represent the way Jesus must have been. We see God in Christ through the Bible’s teaching of his person and work, of his holy zeal and compassionate love, of his heavenly words and mighty, saving works.”[6]

As the final and perfect Priest, Jesus made the superior purification for our sins and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (1:3). Of all the furnishings of the tabernacle which God instructed Moses to make there wasn’t a single chair. Neither Aaron, nor any of the generations of priests who followed him ever sat down in the Tabernacle or Temple after offering the sacrifices for themselves and for the people of Israel. They couldn’t sit, because the sacrifices had to be offered, day in and day out. The unrelenting ritual continued because it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb. 10:4). But when Jesus, as both Lamb and Priest, offered himself as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, he sat down—because his work was finished. “There was no more sacrifice to be made, God’s Son having offered his infinitely holy and precious blood once for all.”[7]

Sitting on a throne is an image of royalty, and deliberately signifies that Jesus is the final and perfect King, whose reign is superior to all the kings who came before him. This first chapter is filled with kingly images. Jesus, as the firstborn Son of the Father (1:5–6) is “the heir of all things,” and it is he “through whom also [God] created the world” (1:2); “and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (1:3). God says to the Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom” (1:8), and “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (1:13). Not only is our Lord Jesus Christ King, but these references from the Psalms—attributed to God speaking to his Son—tell us that Jesus is co-equal with God, Eternal, Omnipotent, the Creator of the world, whose perfect, Sovereign and righteous reign will have no end.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect and final Prophet, Priest, and King whom God’s faithful people had longed for throughout the Old Testament. He is the perfect and all-sufficient answer to their longings and ours, and far superior to all they or we could have imagined. For he wasn’t merely an outstandingly righteous man, Jesus was the only begotten Son of God.

“The significance of this for the original readers [and for us!] is obvious: If you have a Savior like this, you never let him go. If you have to lose your Job, your family, your possessions—even your life—then so be it. Jesus said, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:24–25). . . .

Let us lay hold of the cross, forsaking all claim to any merit of our own. . . . let us commit ourselves to Jesus Christ alone, who is able to save us to the uttermost, to the glory of God the Father.”[8]


[1] 15 Amazing Facts About Lake Superior | Ultimate List (listerious.com)

[2] Michael Kruger, Hebrews For You, (The Good Book Company, 2021), p. 9.

[3] Richard D. Phillips, Hebrews: Reformed Expository Commentary, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2006), p. 33.

[4] Phillips, p. 12

[5] Kruger, p. 12

[6] Phillips, p. 20

[7] Phillips, p. 22

[8] Phillips, p. 24–25