Saturday, August 17, 2013

You're Better Off Following Jesus

I once spoke to a man on a plane about Jesus, and he said, "My life is already good. Why would I want to add Jesus to it?"  I feel sorry for that man, because he was so enamoured with the world and his earthly possessions that he didn't realize he'd be better off following Jesus. 

Today I want to show you why you're better off following Jesus, so you don't make the same mistake as that man on the plane.

Superior Name
The apostle writing to the Hebrews said that Jesus is superior to those who came before Him.

He said, “The Son has become greater than the angels since he has been given a name that is superior to theirs.” (Heb 1:4).  The name of Jesus is superior to that of any angel.

The apostle Paul said, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Php 2:9-11)

The apostle Peter said, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Act 4:12)

Superior Ministry
Not only is His Name superior, but also his ministry.  “Jesus has been given a priestly work that is superior to the Levitical priests' work. He also brings a better promise from God that is based on better guarantees. “ (Heb 8:6, GW)

That Greek word in Hebrews used to mean "superior" is the word "diaphoros," which in this context means “excellent, surpassing.” -- Thayer

“Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, ‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.’" (Heb 7:11-17)

Jesus clearly has a superior name and a superior priesthood.  So what difference does that make for us?

Since Jesus is superior, the apostle says in Hebrews “…God had provided something better for us...” (Heb 11:40).  Let’s see all that God has provided for us that is better.

Better Tabernacle
First of all, we have a better tabernacle.  “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;”  (Heb 9:11).  As beautiful as the earthly tabernacle was, and although it was made after the pattern of the heavenly one, it cannot compare to the greater and more perfect tabernacle.

“For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;”  (Heb 9:24)

Better Mediator
Jesus is also a better mediator.  “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.” (Heb 1:3-4).

Before Christ came, the Word was spoken through angels (Heb 2:2).  But the Lord Jesus is better than the angels, and now the gospel has been spoken by Him (Heb 2:3).

In Hebrews, the word better comes from the Greek word, kreitton.  It means, “1) more useful, more serviceable, more advantageous; 2) more excellent.” – Thayer.  It means “stronger, that is, (figuratively) better, that is, nobler: - best, better.” – Strongs

Unlike the angels, Jesus is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His nature. He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3).  He is God's own Son, who sits at the right hand of the majesty in the heavens and His throne is forever (Heb 1:8).  He is God (Jn 1:1; Col 1:15).  All things were created by Him (Col 1:16).  All the angels worship Him (Heb 1:6), and He's a better mediator.

Better Blood
His blood is also better than the blood of Abel, who was a righteous man that was murdered.

“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.” (Heb 11:4 NASB).

Abel’s blood still speaks, but Jesus’ blood speaks better.

"And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel." (Heb 12:24)

While Abel's blood cries out for justice, the blood of Jesus cries out for mercy. His blood is not only the that of a righteous man, but of God's only begotten Son, who was completely innocent of sin.

His blood is also better than the blood of animals.  “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:13-14)

Better Sacrifice
The sacrifice of Christ is better than all the sacrifices offered under the Law.  “Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” (Heb 9:23)

Those gifts and sacrifices could not make the worshiper perfect in conscience. “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.” (Heb 9:8-10)

Jesus has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. “nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  (Heb 9:25-26)

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." (Heb 10:1-4)

"Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET." (Heb 10:11-13)

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3-4)

Better Hope
Jesus offers a better hope. “(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (Heb 7:19)

“nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” (Gal 2:16)

“Therefore be it known to you, men, brothers, that through this One the forgiveness of sins is announced to you. And by Him all who believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses.” (Act 13:38-39)

Better Covenant
The New Covenant is better than the old.  “… Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.”  (Heb 7:22)

“For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: ‘The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, “Know the Lord,” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’ By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” (Heb 8:7-13)

“For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.” (Rom 4:13)

Better Promises
Not only is the new covenant in Jesus' blood a better covenant, but it is based on better guarantees -- on promises of better things. “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.”  (Heb 8:6)

“For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,” (Rom 4:16)

Better Possession
Through Jesus, we inherit a better possession than anything this world has to offer! And this possession lasts forever. “For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.” (Heb 10:34)

Better Country
The apostle writing to the Hebrews said of those who walked by faith before Christ, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Heb 11:16).  Even they desired a better country than the earthly and natural promised land of Canaan. 

The country the Lord has provided those who put their faith in Christ is better than any country on earth.  It’s even better than the country of Israel, better than the holy land on earth.

Better Resurrection
For those who follow Jesus, there will be a better resurrection. The writer to the Hebrews said, “Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection;” (Heb 11:35)

Some people have received back their dead by resurrection, which must be an absolutely awesome experience!  On the other, other people who have been given the chance to avoid persecution by denying Christ have refused to deny him.  In some cases, their loved one may be in the hands of persecutors, who offer them their loved ones back if they deny Christ. They fear God and know that if they deny Christ, they may get their loved one back temporarily, but at the resurrection they will arise to everlasting condemnation.  And instead they choose not accept their release, so that at the resurrection of the dead, they might arise to everlasting life.

Putting it All Together
So we can see that Jesus Christ has a superior Name and a superior ministry.  His priesthood is superior to the Levitical one.

This is good news for us, because it means God has provided many better things for us through Christ.  These include a better tabernacle, a better Mediator, better blood, better sacrifices, a better hope, a better covenant, better promises, a better possession, a better country, and a better resurrection.  If the man I spoke to on the plane had understood all this, he would have realized that the brief and comfortable life he was living was far inferior to the abundant and eternal life we have in Christ.

If you know the Lord, then be encouraged by these things.  You're better off following Jesus.  Don't trade it for anything.

I once lived for myself without Christ, and I personally "...spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry."  I can testify that I'm better off now following Jesus.  If you don’t know the Lord, then I invite you to put your trust in Him today.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note I invite you to also read these related articles of mine: Is Jesus God?, Supremacy of Christ, The New Wine, and Supernatural Power for All Disciples. You can also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Image credit: The "All Hail King Jesus" painting © 2012 by Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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