Who is Yeshua?
The nature of the Messiah (or the question of “Who is Yeshua”) has been a topic under debate for the past 2000 years, even into our present day. When we read the writings of the early Yeshua-following communities, the question of “Who is Yeshua” resulted in many theories: Was He a created being? Was He an angel? Was He a human who became divine? Or was He God in the flesh?
One of the clearest explanations about the high/supreme status of Yeshua is found in the book of Hebrews. However, the author of Hebrews does not just explain who Yeshua is theologically, but he also warns us of the importance of living a life that reflects who Yeshua is practically.
You see, the question “Who is Yeshua” also calls for a different type of answer. When Yeshua was surrounded by His disciples, and He asked them the important question: “Who do you say I am?”, he was not asking, “Do you have all of your theological categories in order?” but rather, “What place or role do I have in your life?” And this question is just as important for us to consider. Is Yeshua someone who lived 2000 years ago, died for my sins, and who I think about once a week? Or is He on the throne of my life, where I am living my calling to strive after Him daily?
According to the author of Hebrews, both the theological (His nature) and practical (His status in our lives) sides of His identity is of utmost importance. As believers, it is dangerous to forget about this balance, because on the one hand, we could believe all the correct things about Yeshua, but if we have no relationship with Him, how will we live out our calling to follow Him? On the other hand, we could strive after Yeshua daily, but if He is not the Yeshua represented in Scripture, then we have created a messiah in our own image, which is the definition of idolatry. As A. W. Tozer once said, “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.” So, what we think about God must go hand in hand with how we act in our lives.
We’re going to see how the book of Hebrews brings these two parts together. As we go through the verses, it is going to become apparent that the author is writing to a struggling community. However, it is not that these people are living in sin (what we read in the book of Corinthians) or are committing idolatry (as in the book of Colossians), but the author is addressing a community who has stopped growing spiritually; they are no longer pursuing the Lord.
The main point of the author is that, if Yeshua really is superior to everything else (which He is), and if He is the final revelation of God (which He is), are we listening to His voice and actively pursuing His presence? Because if we are not actively listening, we are in danger of drifting away.
So Are We Listening?
In Hebrews 1:1–2, the author makes several contrasts between how God has revealed Himself in the past, and how He has revealed Himself today. One distinction is that, in the past, He spoke “to the fathers,” but now “He spoke to us.” When we read the Bible, it is so easy for us to look back into Israel’s history and think, “Oh, why didn’t the kings listen to the prophet Jeremiah, or Elijah? God spoke so clearly to them through the Torah, through His miracles, etc. Why did they go after other gods?”
But the author of Hebrews is posing the same question to us: “You have received the full divine information about God — you have the presence of God living in you — but are you listening to the Messiah’s revelation as intently as you should be?”
Even though we live almost 2500 apart from Israel’s kings, we still struggle with the same heart issue they had. While they worshiped the false god Baal because he represented the promise of agriculture and security, we also chase false gods such as money with the hope of a false sense of security. While our gods today may look different, the heart condition is unchanged: many things in our lives constantly seek to dethrone God. It is too easy for us to take our eyes off of the Messiah and pursue other things. The author is warning us: Don’t!