St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Christ Is Greater Than Moses

Sermon on Hebrews 3:1-6

Text: Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

My first car was a 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger. I must admit that I loved that car. I was sad when I had to get rid of it. Ever since then, I have thought about that car. When I see one some place, I stop and look at it. I have even looked on eBay and found some for sale. I have been reminded that my car is better in my memory than it really was. Obviously, there was no air-conditioning. If you wanted fresh air in the car, there were two little doors under the dashboard that you could open up. The lock for the trunk had fallen out, so if you wanted to open the trunk, you had to use a screwdriver. As much fondness as I have for that old car, I realize that my present car is so much better. People like to look at the past and think it was so much better. They quickly change their minds when they realize that what they have now is so much better. The writer to the Hebrews does the same thing throughout his letter. In our section for this morning, he brings up a beloved person from their past and reminds them that what they have now is so much better. We see that CHRIST IS GREATER THAN MOSES. 1. Moses Faithfully Proclaimed God’s Law. 2. Jesus Faithfully Proclaimed God’s Promises.

When the writer to the Hebrews talks about Moses, he still holds him in high regard. He says in verses 2 and 5 that “Moses was faithful.” He did what God wanted him to do. What was it that God called him to do? First of all, he was called to lead the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. He stood before Pharaoh and demanded that Pharaoh let God’s people go. When Pharaoh refused, God sent a series of 10 plagues upon the land. Finally, Pharaoh let the people go. Moses, then, led that nation of approximately a million people through the wilderness. At God’s direction, he led them to the places where there was water. When no water was available, God gave Moses the power to bring forth water from a rock. Moses led the people of Israel for 40 years right up to the border of the land of Israel. Moses was a faithful leader of God’s people. You can see why a Jewish person would hold him in high regard.

However, that was not the only way that God used Moses. Moses often served as a mediator between God and the people. Many were the times when the people of Israel would sin greatly. God would be angry with them and say that he was going to get rid of the nation and start all over again with Moses and his family. Moses would pray to God on behalf of the people and God forgave the people. Moses was faithful to the people as he interceded for them.

The greatest way that God used Moses was in the giving of the law. On Mount Sinai, God gave the law to Moses and he was to present it to the people. This law included everything about the way that they were to worship God, which sacrifices they were to give and when. The law included things about their daily lives. It gave them rules about their government and their planting of their crops. Moses faithfully repeated this to the people.

God also gave Moses the 10 Commandments. In those 10 Commandments, God very clearly told the people what they were to do and what they were not to do. Moses faithfully told the people what God demanded of them. This is not to say that Moses kept them perfectly. However, Moses faithfully proclaimed the law to the people. Moses was a servant of God, of God’s Word, and of his people.

The reason that the writer to the Hebrews makes mention of this fact is that there were some people who thought that they should go back to the old way of doing things. They would be safe from any persecution that was going on at the time. They would be faithful to their heritage, they thought. Besides, there is something that appeals in the law. I do this for my salvation. I get the credit for what I do.

That same thought is still out there today. There are many religions that teach that you must do this or that, if you want to be saved. You must do more good than bad in this life, if you want to get to the hereafter. If you do something bad in your life, you have to make it up to God by doing something good in return. You have to make the right decision in your life, if you want to be saved. The law is held up as a way to be saved.

It is so easy for us to get caught up in that type of thinking. We reason with ourselves that there must be some part of what we do that gets us right with God. We are willing to admit that we are not perfect, but we know that we are surely better than many people that we can think of. We think that we are a little better or a little less resistant than others. Those who follow this type of thinking ultimately find themselves in one of two places. On the one hand, we think that we are not that bad, which means that we downplay or overlook some of God’s commands. We decide which are the important ones and those that are less important. As long as we keep the “big” ones, we are OK with God. Following that type of thinking flies right in the face of the clear word of God, which says that any breaking of God’s laws, whether big or little in our sight, is enough to condemn us to hell for all eternity.

The other place where this leads is to see our sins for what they are and realize that there is no way to do what God commands. The harder we try, the worse that we see we have done. We try to make up for what we have done, only to realize that there is no way that we can pay for our sins. This type of thinking will only lead us to despair. We know that we have sinned and there is no way that we can ever be saved on our own.

My dear friends, the law serves its purpose, but is not to save us. We must get rid of any thought of trying to save ourselves or contribute to our salvation. The law can only condemn us. While the law is good and comes from God, it is not the end of revelation from God. If it were, we would have no reason for hope in this life or in the life to come.

The writer to the Hebrews, instead, encourages “Fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” (Verse 1) Here is something better. The law cannot save you. Here is the one who can. Jesus is called a “high priest.” Part of the high priest’s duties was to offer sacrifices. The animal that was to be sacrificed had to be a perfect animal. It could not have any blemishes on it, whatsoever. The animal that was to be sacrificed was a picture of what Jesus would do. He was perfect throughout his life. Jesus never sinned. Every one of his words and actions and thoughts were all perfect. He was perfect where we could not be. Where you and I have been greedy for this or that, Jesus was perfectly content with whatever his Father gave him. Where you and I have become angry or nursed grudges against people, Jesus was always perfectly loving to those around him, even when they were wrongfully mistreating him. We know that he was perfect, for his Father said of him, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 17:5) Since God is holy, the only thing that pleases him, that he is loves, is perfect. Jesus was perfect.

The high priest would then take that perfect animal and sacrifice it on an altar. Jesus took on the role of high priest as he sacrificed himself on the altar of the cross. While on that cross, he paid for every single one of our sins. He felt the full force of God’s anger against sin in our place. He suffered the torments of hell for us. Jesus, our great High Priest, offered a perfect sacrifice for us. Because of his sacrifice, our sins have been forgiven. Because of his resurrection, we know that we will be with God for all of eternity in heaven.

This is why the writer to the Hebrews says in verse 3, “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses.” Moses was a faithful witness to the law of God. However, Jesus gives us something better. Where the law was powerless to save us, Jesus did everything so that we would be saved. He did it all. There is nothing that we add to it. This knowledge gives us a peace that the law never could. The law can only condemn. The law makes us wonder if we did enough. Jesus saves. He has done everything for our salvation. While Moses and the message that he brought from God are worthy of honor, Jesus is worthy of greater honor. Because of him, we have been saved. Because of him, instead of the hell that we deserved, we have heaven to look forward to. May we always keep in mind what Christ has done for it truly is the only way to salvation. Since Jesus is superior to Moses, we cannot let anyone, including ourselves, persuade us to look to Moses in place of or in addition to Christ. Moses faithfully carried out the task that God had given to him. Jesus faithfully carried out the greater task that God had given to him. His work has saved the world. Jesus faithfully proclaims the promises of God. Those promises are so beautifully summarized in the words of John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He tells us that God loves us. He tells us how much God has loved us in giving his Son. He tells us that those who believe have eternal life. This is the reason that Christ is greater than Moses.

There are times when we hold on to things that we should let go of. There is the tool that has had the handle taped up. There is the pot where the handle is so loose that the pot flips and flops all over the place. There are better replacements for them available. This morning, we have seen that the law had its purpose. It was there to tell us what God wants and doesn’t want. It was there to show us that we cannot save ourselves. How thankful we are that God has given us something better. He gave us his Son. He has done everything to rescue us. It is given to us free of cost. This is why we say that Christ is better than Moses. May we keep what has been given to us in mind and may we praise our God for giving us this greatest of all gifts. Amen.