More, Better, Higher
Reflections on the superiority of Jesus
By Ekkehardt Mueller
More, better, higher, faster—that’s the motto of our times. More money, more vacation, more luxury. Have you seen how in some front yards the Christmas decorations grow more elaborate from year to year? We need more gifts, better gifts, faster tools.
“More, better, faster” may sometimes be necessary to keep us goal-oriented. On the other hand, however, it can amount to a rat race. And there’s another danger: At one point or another—if we’re successful—we may feel superior to others, becoming arrogant and proud. It reminds me of the clever salesman who would close his sales pitch with this line: “Let me show you something several of your neighbors said you couldn’t afford.”
Just Like Us
I heard the story about two ducks and a frog living happily together in a farm pond. The best of friends, the three would amuse themselves and play together in their waterhole. When the hot summer days came, however, the pond began to dry up, and soon it was evident they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, but the frog was stuck. To help him, they came up with an ingenious scheme. They would grab hold of the two ends of a stick with their bills, and the frog could hang on in the middle by the mouth as they flew away to another pond. The plan worked; but as they flew along, a farmer looked up in admiration and mused, “Well, isn’t that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?”
The frog opened his mouth and said, “I did….” And the tragic result followed.
Jesus is unique, and we as His followers must proclaim that uniqueness, not keeping it hidden for the sake of political correctness.
We’re all into ego trips and selfish exaltation, but there’s only One who is superior. And that’s the issue addressed by the book of Hebrews, the issue of superiority. Here we find that the good has been surpassed by the better. And the better has a name: Jesus our Lord.
The Superiority of Jesus
In Hebrews 1 Jesus is portrayed as far superior to the angels. Hebrews 3 presents Jesus as superior to Moses, one of the greatest leaders and administrators of all times, and one of the most important prophets, who enjoyed privileges no other human has ever known—face-to-face encounters with God. In Hebrews 4 Jesus surpasses Joshua. And in chapter 5 He stands above Aaron.
In Hebrews 7 Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High (and a symbol of Jesus), is shown to be greater than Abraham. Which puts the priesthood according to his order, Christ’s priesthood, above the Levitical. Jesus is the true high priest—“holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (7:26, NASB).*
Jesus—more exalted, better, higher.
According to Hebrews 9:23, the heavenly sanctuary requires for its purification “better sacrifices” than the blood of calves and goats. It called for the Son’s unique, once-for-all sacrifice (9:25-28). His “sprinkled blood … speaks more eloquently than that of Abel” (12:24), His sacrifice, the only efficacious offering, surpasses all others. He is the Author of our salvation.
Why He Is Superior
The author of Hebrews presents Jesus as superior for three basic reasons:
1. Because of His status. Jesus is better, higher, more exalted, because He is the Son, the Creator, the Sustainer, the only legitimate Priest-King.
2. Because of His ministry in the past. In other words, He is superior because He humbled Himself, became human, lived among us, suffered and died for us—and all without sin.
Hebrews spends almost an entire chapter on His incarnation, on His humiliation. It’s a truth we need to keep in mind at all times, allowing our Lord to deepen our love for Him.
3. Because of what He is doing for us today and will be doing in the future. He redeemed us, and through Him we have access to God’s throne with full confidence.
Nobody else and nothing else can save us. Only Jesus Christ can. He is unique, and we as His followers must proclaim that uniqueness, not keeping it hidden for the sake of political correctness. There is no question, of course, that we should be courteous, polite, and loving to adherents of other world religions. But with Paul, “we [must] preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:23, NASB).
Jesus is greater and worthy of more glory because He became one with us, sympathizes with us, helps us, intervenes for us, and because of His promise to bring about the end of the age with His kingdom of glory.
Results of Jesus’ Superior Ministry
In the words of Hebrews, the results of Jesus’ superior ministry for us include a better covenant (7:22; 8:6); a better hope (7:19); better promises (8:6); a better cleansing (9:13, 14); a better possession (10:34); a better homeland (11:16); and finally a better resurrection (11:35). He has prepared “something better for us” (11:40, NASB).
It’s interesting to notice that most of the results of Jesus’ superiority seem to be oriented toward the future. Our life here is the prelude to the life to come. Yet, this prelude is important, for it provides the opportunity to gain eternal life through Jesus Christ. But His “better promises” and “better covenant” affect us already here and now. It’s in this life that we may have the assurance of salvation. It’s now that the Lord puts His law into our minds. It’s now that He gives us the desire to keep it, and to obey and love Him. Jesus gives meaning to our life today, and He provides a bright future for us.
Christ’s Superiority and Us
How are we affected by Jesus’ superiority?
1. It calls upon us to honor Jesus as the One to whom supreme glory and honor belongs, not just during the Christmas season but throughout the entire year. Daily we meditate upon and read about Him, opening our hearts in prayer to Him, relying on Him. We obey His commandments and by His grace live by the principles that governed His life here on earth. We join the heavenly host, worshipping Him and bowing down before Him.
2. It calls us to give up all pride and self-reliance. In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin correctly declared: “There is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride…. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive…. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”
Pride was not found in Jesus. Neither should it be in His followers. After all, whatever we are and have is God’s gift and nothing to be proud of. If we want to boast, then let us boast in our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. It calls us to renew our decision for this wonderful Lord and expect everything from Him. The heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 all tell us to choose Christ, and to never give up on Him.
More, better, higher? Yes, as found in Jesus Christ. And yes, as found in those who, after having been saved, follow Him more closely, serve Him and others better and better, and who are drawn higher and higher, forgetting themselves and focusing on their most excellent Lord—during all times and seasons.
*Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Ekkehardt Mueller is an associate director of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference in Silver Spring, Maryland (U.S.A.).