Easily Overlooked

Hebrews 1:1-3
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high . . . .
N. T. Wright, Hebrews for Everyone
God had for a long time been sending advance sketches of himself to his people, but now [the writer of Hebrews begins] he’s given us his exact portrait.

With this idea, written as a grand and rather formal opening to the letter, the writer invites us to look at the whole sweep of biblical history and see it coming to a climax in Jesus. . . . Again and again we start with a passage from the Old Testament, and the writer shows us how it points forward to something yet to come. Again and again the “something” it points forwards to turns out to be Jesus—Jesus, as in this passage, as God’s unique son, the one who has dealt with sins fully and finally, the one who now rules at God’s right hand, the one to whom even angels bow in submission (3-4).
Aaron Orendorff
There is an odd, understated, and (at first glance) easily overlooked subtlety to the short, atonement-laden clause nestled unobtrusively in the middle of v. 3: “After making purification for sins . . . .” It appears almost as an afterthought: a simple, chronological transition of no real weight serving only to connect the massive theological structure of Christ’s incarnation (vv. 1-3a) to his exaltation (vv. 3c-4). Were it not for the rest of the book, particularly chapters four through ten, it might be tempting to passover this phrase altogether and to regard it as a sort of perfunctory nod by the author to one group of constituents who (because of their Jewish background) have not yet out grown their taste for what would otherwise be a gospel of glory divorced from the bloody cross. Yet here (as the rest of the book makes plain) is the very center of the gospel; here is not merely a chronological transition connecting the incarnation and the exaltation, here is the very reason, the very logic, the very heart of both.