Jesus Christ is infinitely superior to angels

Dr. John Piper, in a sermon from Hebrews 1, “Jesus Christ: Infinitely Superior to Angels”

He returns to where he started in verse 3—Christ sat down at the right hand of Majesty as King of the universe and as Son of God in power and as Heir of all things and as God—remember verse 8, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” This seat beside God is the seat of God. So he comes back (in verse 13) to this triumphant place of the Son: “Sit at my right hand until I make all your enemies a footstool for your feet.” And he says, God never said that to an angel.

But look what he says of angels to show the contrast. Verse 14: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” What’s the contrast here? Several things:

  • Jesus is sitting as King, they are sent as servants.
  • There is only one King, there are many servant angels.
  • They are servants of Christians—those who by faith are inheriting salvation (6:12).
  • Christ is the King over the church; angels do his bidding for the church.
  • So he is far above these serving angels.

But how do they serve us? The connection between verse 13 and 14 gives us a clue. Verse 13 says that while Christ is seated on the throne, something is happening to bring his enemies under his feet like a footstool. What is that? What is happening? One of the things is that angels are being “sent” to serve those who are to inherit salvation. In other words, there are enemies of our salvation—enemies that want to bring the work of Christ to nothing and make it fail, enemies that want to keep Christians from inheriting salvation (demons, false ideas, sinful impulses, evil persons, etc.). So God accomplishes two things through his angels. 1) He “sends” them to serve us so that we persevere in faith and inherit our salvation. 2) And in the angels’ serving us, the enemies of God are made a footstool for Christ’s feet.

Summing Up What We’ve Seen 

stain glassNow let’s step back and sum up what we’ve seen and close with a very faith-building observation. There was some wrong thinking about angels in these churches, especially as they related to Jesus. It may have been a lot like the Jehovah’s Witnesses error of making a great angel out of Jesus Christ. The answer of this writer is

  • Jesus is the Son of God in a way that no angel ever was or is (v. 5).
  • Jesus is not an angel; he is worshiped by angels (v. 6).
  • Jesus is not an angel; he is God (v. 8).
  • Jesus is not an angel; he is the eternal Creator of all things (vv. 10-12).
  • He is seated on the throne as king and angels are dispatched to do the king’s bidding.

Now notice something very encouraging for our faith in future grace—God’s ministry to us today and tomorrow and the rest of our lives. From verse 5 to verse 14 we have been talking about Jesus’ superiority to angels. One is tempted to ask, Why then does God bother with creating angels? What’s the point?

That God’s People Might Be Satisfied

The answer of this section is really remarkable. Once you see angels in their proper place their role is a magnificent one. They have a role toward Christ and they have a role toward the people of Christ. Toward Christ, verse 6 says their role is to worship. Toward the people of Christ, verse 14 says their role is to serve and help us reach salvation. Which means—if you’re willing to let me use the familiar language—that God created angels that his Son might be glorified and his people might be satisfied.

I want you to leave this morning with this truth ringing in your heart: Jesus Christ is infinitely superior to angels. They were created not to compete with Christ, but to worship Christ and honor him. And the chief way that they do that on the earth is by serving us so that we hold fast to Christ and trust him and love him and treasure him and finally reach him in the fullness of our salvation. So angels were created for Christ’s everlasting glory and for our everlasting joy—which, as you well know, are not contradictory aims. Because Christ is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

The universe is filled with helpers. Christ wants you to be encouraged and hopeful. That’s why this chapter ends with this amazing promise. The heavenly worshipers are all—all of them—sent to serve you and bring you safely home.