Bearing All Things: Hebrews 1:1-4 (part 11)
also bearing all things in the word of his power;
What does it mean that Jesus bears all things? The Greek word that is used here is the word fe/rw (phero), which is a fairly broad verb, but it typically carries with it the idea of carrying something from point “A” to point “B.” Now, indeed, the writer of Hebrews is not trying to depict Jesus as carrying the universe around in a basket from location to location, but in the context of the passage, the writer is presenting Jesus as the one who carries all creation from time to time. Earlier in this passage, the writer of Hebrews describes Jesus as being the means by which God created, but he does not leave the imagery there, instead, Jesus is also portrayed as being the one who is preserving the universe in an ongoing way, holding it and binding it together (Colossians 1:17), and literally bearing up the universe through time from beginning to end.
There is an illustration that seems to be floating around Christian circles today for the purpose of illustrating God’s creative activity. This is called the “Watchmaker” analogy, and it is a very old illustration that has come back into usage. Essentially it poses the question of our innate expectations—when we see something that has a clear and orderly design, we expect that there is a maker. When we see a sandcastle, per say, we do not wonder whether it was formed by the wind and tides, we know that there is design and hence a designer. When we see a watch, we realize the same thing. While this is a good reminder, in principle, of God’s creative activity, it has dangerous ramifications in our understanding of the nature of God’s providential care of his creation. When a watchmaker makes a watch, he lets it alone after it is wound so that it will go on working as it was designed until it needs to be rewound. This idea of a “hands-off” God is not Biblical and leads to Deism, not genuine Christianity.
The writer of Hebrews is saying that not only did Jesus form the clock, the clock is formed in such a way that it cannot run on its own and that it is Jesus’ hand that allows it to move on. The second that Jesus withdraws his hand will be the second that the universe stops and dies. The word of Jesus’ power of so integral to the creation’s very being, that the creation cannot be said to have existence without it. It would be like being a human being trying to live and act without air or blood, it would be like an automobile trying to drive without fuel to run it or oil to lubricate its parts, and it would be like trying to turn on a light-bulb when there is not yet any power run to the house. Nothing can be said to be or to be able to continue without the word of God’s power—without the work of Jesus Christ.
Loved ones, think of the ramifications of this principle. Even the unbeliever needs Jesus, whether he likes it or not. Without Jesus, the unbeliever and the believer alike could not walk, breath, have life, or even exist—we would be nothing and nothing would be. That makes nonsense out of even the most ardent atheist’s rejection of God, for they could not reject were not Christ causing all things to be and were not Christ allowing them the setting and ability to reject. What a wonderful reminder of how we ought to be bold in our evangelism, for we know and have a relationship with the one who holds the cosmos in its place and who will bring it into its logical judgment! Oh, beloved, how our God did not create a clock to be wound and sit on the table, but instead, he created a machine that can do nothing on its own, but requires one to be ever moving and bringing it life—and the great promise is that Christ will not fail to uphold this universe, but will do so by the word of his power to its appointed time when it will be brought into judgment and remade free from the effects of the fall.