You can’t sing the words of this chorus without first thinking of one of my favorite books in the Bible –the book of Hebrews. The chief aim of this author is to convince his Jewish audience of this most imperative truth: Jesus is better. Jesus is better than the angels or the prophets, because He’s more than a mere messenger; He is the Word Made Flesh Himself (Heb 1; Jn 1:1-3, 14).
When He was on the earth, Jesus was the very communication and message of God walking around in the flesh. Everything Jesus did and said, and even the things He didn’t do or say, revealed God’s heart – His will, His personality, His beauty, His glory, and His worth. Jesus is also better than Moses (Heb 2:3-6). Because as mediator of the old covenant, Moses was just the house, but Jesus is the Architect and Builder of the house. Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of a better salvation. Jesus’ priesthood is better than Aaron’s because Jesus entered beyond the veil and into the very presence of the Trinity as God Himself, forever interceding on our behalf (Heb 7:23-25). His sinless and perfect blood is better than the blood of bulls or goats because the blood of Christ has atoned for sin once and for all (Heb 9:11-14). And the new covenant of Jesus Christ is better than the old because now the covenant is written upon the hearts of humanity rather than upon stone tablets (Heb 8:6-13).
The author of Hebrews composed a beautiful letter to convince Jewish readers that though they had been blessed as the apple of God’s eye through the ministry of prophets, priests, and kings in the past, the fulfillment of all of their hope and the substance of their faith could now be found in the person of Jesus Christ. Why would they still stumble around in the shadows when the Light of the World had come and was shining in the darkness for all to see?
Yet, if we are being honest, this is still our propensity today. We are still grasping at shadows and clinging to all the lesser things as though they are actually better than Jesus. All the way back in the Garden, the lie that Adam and Eve believed was that there was something out there, something in the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that was better than all God had already given them. They had everything, and they gave it all up for “just a bite.” Looking back at their story, it is easy to blame them and ridicule the absurdity of that choice to trade everlasting life and perfect communion with God for death and destruction. However, we are making the same reckless choice day after day after day, every time we choose the lesser things and temporary pleasures of this age over Jesus and His will for our lives.
Jesus is better. He showed us the way in the Garden of Gethsemane. Where Adam and Eve had life everlasting and chose death and destruction, God in the flesh chose the way of the Cross in a very different Garden 4000 years later, so that we would once again have access to eternal life and be able to eat from the tree of life in the New Jerusalem in that Day (Gen 3:1-6; Gen 3:22-24; Lk 22:40-44; Rev 21:1-22:5). He gave us the words that should ever be upon our lips, the confession of the better way – His way: “Not my will, but Yours, Lord.” Jesus is the better Adam (1 Cor 15:45-49) and His way leads straight into the gates of the Eternal City and unhindered communion with the living God. His wisdom is better (1 Cor 1:18-2:16; Jas 3:17; Prov 3:5-6), His way is better (Jn 14:1-6), and even His yoke is better (Matt 11:28-30).
Jesus is always better. He is the better bread and the better wine. After being filled with miraculously manifested loaves of bread and fish (cooked and all!) by the Sea of Galilee, the crowds searched Jesus out the next day because of their hunger for more food. Jesus, seeing right through them, reminded them that what they needed was the imperishable Bread that comes down from heaven (Jn 6:1-68). They wanted their measly crumbs, here today and gone tomorrow, but God was standing right in front of them in the flesh. He was the better bread; the bread of life – for anyone who comes to Jesus and believes in Him will never hunger nor thirst again (Jn 6:35).
Paul said it like this:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him. (Phil 3:7-9a ESV)
There is nothing worth more than Jesus. Nothing. It is all rubbish and vanity compared with His beauty and worth. All the things that beckon us to just “take a bite and be happy” are merely fleeting shadows, many of which are actually destructive idols in our lives, but Jesus is the true Light of the World, burning brighter than the sun (Acts 26:13; Matt 17:2; Jn 1:5; Jn 8:12; Rev 1:16; Rev 22:5). We are chasing the wind where-so-ever it may blow when the Maker of the Wind (Ps 107:25, 29; Ps 135:6-7; Jer 10:12-13; Mk 4:35-41) Himself is standing right in front of us, offering His own hand as an anchor of hope instead (Heb 6:19-20). We are blindly crawling around on the floor for the crumbs of this age and drinking from empty wells when the Bread of Life (Jn 6:35-40) and the Fountain of Living Water (Jn 4:13-14; Jn 7:37-39; Ps 36:9; Ps 68:26; Jer 2:13) are within our grasp (Isa 55:1-2).
Jesus is better. Say it with me, “Jesus is better.” Sing it until you believe it. Bathe your heart in the truth of His goodness and worth through the study of His Word, worship, and prayer, so that you are able to resist the lesser things when the Tempter beckons you to “take one bite” and buy into that same tired lie from the Garden that there is something better out there than God Himself. In order to fight our unbelief and the doubt that dulls our hearts, we must keep coming back to Jesus by His Spirit and through His Word to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ. He is standing before us with His arms open wide and His heart laid bare for all to see. We only need to set our hearts toward the one thing needed (Lk 10:38-42; Phil 3:12-14; Ps 27:4), and press on, just as Paul did, counting everything else as loss and rubbish, that we might gain Christ and be found in Him. Because Jesus was and is and will always be better, and nothing compares to the surpassing worth of knowing Him.