He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.
Hebrews 1:3a (ESV)
Jesus is greater! He is not only greater because of His superior position as heir and creator of the whole universe, but also because of His preeminent nature.
Jesus Christ is the radiance of the glory of God! Radiance has to do with the sun. The Father is compared to the glory of the sun and Jesus to the radiance or light of the sun. There was never a time when the sun existed, but its light did not. Just as we cannot separate the sun from its radiance, so we cannot separate Christ from the Father. The radiance is co-eternal with the glory, the Son is co-eternal with the Father. There is also no essential difference between the nature of the glory and its radiance. John Piper wonderfully puts it this way: “The radiance is the glory radiating out.”1 The Son is the radiating glory of the Father and is as glorious as He is.
There is good news for us in this! Though the sun is unapproachable because of it’s heat and brightness, the sunbeams warm us. Though God dwells in unapproachable light, we can freely come to Jesus, the radiance of God’s glory. He warms our hearts with His love and with His Word!
Jesus Christ is the exact imprint of God’s nature. The light of the sun shows us what the sun looks like. However the radiance is not just a photo of the sun, but its exact representation. “It is the sun streaming forth in its radiance” (John Piper). Whoever has seen me has seen the Father, says Jesus (John 14:9). There is no difference between Father and Son with regard to their nature or abilities. Jesus is just as holy, powerful, just and faithful as the Father!
We can therefore know that Jesus is reliable! Are His words true? Some of them upset people, like John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Because Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature, His words are God’s words and completely true. We can depend on each one of them!
How great is our Lord! How worthy to be praised!
1 John Piper in his sermon “He Sat Down at the Right Hand of Majesty “, April 7, 1996. Some of the thoughts I share on these verses from Hebrews 1 can be found in more detail in this and two other sermons from March 31 and April 4, 1996. They are worthwhile to read!