When reading the book of Hebrews I find it especially helpful to remember the broader context of what the original readers were experiencing. The author is writing to believers from a Jewish background. They had heard the gospel and they had embraced the truth that Jesus was the promised Messiah and Savior.
However, in time, their faith in Christ had led to hardship and persecution. They had become targets for hostile neighbors, Jewish opponents, local authorities, and others who saw the gospel as a threat to their way of life. They experienced social shaming, the plundering of their property, and even imprisonment. This new way of life was not easy. The pain was real. The cost was high.
The result was that the old way of life in Judaism began to look more and more appealing. Back then, people left them alone; they didn’t have a target on their backs; they weren’t being constantly attacked. The idea of leaving Jesus behind and going back to Judaism became a significant temptation.
The book of Hebrews (including chapter 3) is an appeal from the author to hold on to Jesus. He is laboring to show his readers that Jesus is far better than the old systems and the old ways. Specifically, here in chapter 3, he is seeking to show them that Jesus is better than Moses.
He does this by highlighting both the similarities and differences between Jesus and Moses (3:1-6). They are similar in that they were both appointed to serve God’s people and they were both faithful in their service (v. 2). They are different in that Jesus is worthy of far more glory and honor than Moses (v. 3).
The reason Jesus is worthy of far more glory is that he is not just a servant in God’s house, he is the Son. The analogy here is drawn from the typical middle eastern household. In this context, servants would do the masters bidding, were given room and board, and often paid a wage by the master. In this there were limits to the privileges and the honor shared with the master. Not so with the son. While he obeyed and served the father he also shared in all that the father possessed and enjoyed. Jesus is the ultimate Son sharing all that the Father is and all that he possesses.
This is why Jesus worthy of far more glory and honor than Moses. This is why going back to Moses and Judaism is a fool’s errand. This is why holding fast to Jesus is so important.
As modern readers, we need to recognize that abandoning Jesus for a seemingly easier path is a temptation for us as well. In our day, it might look like some alternative religious philosophy or it might take the form of joining the world’s pursuits. We too need the reminder that Jesus is better. We too need the exhortation to keep holding onto Jesus.