These words stand out bold and clear as a statement of the Spirit of God which allows no kind of qualification. They bind together the humanity and the deity of our Lord. They present, in blessed union, His lowly name as Man and His divine title as God.
Their setting is exquisite. We read in Hebrews 4:14, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, which is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.”
The enormous difficulty of maintaining the Christian profession, in power, is only too well known by the true believer. He has a profound sense of his own spiritual weakness and tendency to yield to the foe, so that he values, all the more, the care and support, the sympathy and succour of our Great High Priest, who has left us in an adverse world, has passed through the heavens, where, none the less, He sustains us in the path of faith, and who comforts us in all the tribulation of our heavenward journey. He is possessed of all power. We are to make a constant use of the throne of grace, in order to receive, thence, the grace and mercy needed for each and every exigency and trial. We may connect the mercy with the name of Jesus and the power with the Son of God.
A wonderful combination of words are these: “Jesus the Son of God”! It is not “Jesus the Saviour of sinners,” nor “Jesus the Christ,” nor “Jesus the Head of His body the church,” but “Jesus the Son of God.” He comes before us in Deity.
But this dignity had already been noted of Him in the first chapter of this epistle. There we read that God has spoken to us by the Son (in Son); that He is the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person; that He upholds all things; that He made expiation by Himself, and then sat down on high; that He receives the worship of angels; that He is saluted as God; that He created all things, and will, by and by, cause them to pass away, while He remains the same. He is God the Son as well as Son of God, Creator and Sustainer of all things. This prepares us for our Spirit-given phrase: “Jesus the Son of God.”
How glorious His priesthood! How able is He to carry His people through, and how full of encouragement to them to hold fast their profession. He met their sins by expiation; He meets their infirmities by priesthood; but, whether in the work of expiation or in the execution of priesthood, it is in each case “Jesus the Son of God.” For God He always was and God and Man He ever remains.
I need hardly say, however, that this Epistle to the Hebrews is not the only scripture which, in definite terms, declares His deity. If, in an ordinary biography, the writer happened to state, but once, that his subject was a scion of nobility, the reader would unquestionably accord him that distinction; but if the writer repeated the same statement and gave, at the same time, varied and incidental proofs of it, all uncertainty would be removed from the mind of the reader.
Further, if other and separate biographers, who, on account of the distance of time could not possibly have written their different books together, stated the same fact, then, surely, there could be no room for disbelief. “At the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
First, in the very earliest chapter of Genesis we have an intimation of the plurality of the Persons, in the Godhead. “Let us,” we read, “make man in our image, after our likeness.” The statement is significant even though we are not given anything beyond the fact of plurality. But, here and there in the Old Testament, which rather teaches the unity of the Godhead than its trinity, we discover the existence of those three divine Persons who are explicitly and purposely and fully revealed to us in the New Testament.
If we turn to Psalm 110, spoken “by the Holy Ghost” (Mark 12:36), we find the words, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand”; in Micah 5:2, “A Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting”; in Zechariah 13:7, “My Shepherd . . . My fellow, says the Lord of hosts.”
In the pages of the New Testament the declaration is full. To acknowledge it is highest bliss; to deny it is fearful sin; only how necessary it is to apprehend the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, as indeed His manhood in its essential sinlessness, in a spirit of becoming reverence and lowly grace. Controversy thereon should be eschewed, and the simple and yet majestic truth accepted. Reason is beggared here. Revelation is worthy of the highest exercise of reason, and that is faith in what God has declared. For nothing is so rational as faith in God. “Jesus the Son of God” must be allowed to stand before the bowed and adoring heart, in all the dignity, glory, majesty, and deity, and His Person as “God manifest in flesh.”
In the close of the Gospel by Matthew we have the formula of Christian baptism. It is to be in the name of “the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” the Godhead in Trinity, and each Person is to receive equal honour in this initial rite. The dignity of Each is the same, as is the honour to be accorded. It will be remembered that, in the synoptic Gospels, the accounts of the baptism of Jesus are practically similar. “My beloved Son” is the salutation of the Father in each. In the Son the Father had found His pleasure. So in the Transfiguration, He was again spoken of as the beloved Son, and was to be heard as such. it is still “Jesus the Son of God.”
The fourth Gospel introduces Him in deity—“The Word was God”! But the same Word “became flesh”—a brief, decisive statement of what we call the “Incarnation”—and, as such, He dwelt among us “full,” thank God, “of grace and truth”; and, as “the only-begotten Son, which is (mark the word—it signifies subsisting there ever, and that as Son) in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” How complete! Who but the Son of that bosom could adequately declare or express the Father? None but He! And so, in chapter 10, He affirmed that He and the Father were one. In chapter 8. He pronounced the eternity of His existence in saying: “Before Abraham was I am.” Later on, Thomas confessed Him as both Lord and God.
Passing on to Paul, once the inveterate hater of the name of Jesus, the very first thing he did after conversion was to preach in the synagogues: “Jesus, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20, R.V.), and this initial text was only developed and emphasized during the course of his Christian ministry; for the Christ he ministered as Saviour, Lord, and Head of the church was also “the Son of God who loved him and gave Himself for him”—“God manifest in flesh “over all, God blessed for ever.” His highest theme was the deity of Jesus.
Then Peter in his second epistle tells how he had been an eye-witness of the magnificence (is the word) of the Lord Jesus as seen on the holy mount, when he actually heard the voice of God the Father saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Hence, to him, after such a vision, the glory of Christ, and His coming kingdom, was no “cunningly devised fable.” It was a mighty and all-controlling fact.
Finally, John, in closing his general epistle, says, “We know that the Son of God is come . . . and we are in Him that is true. This is the true God and eternal life.”
Thus the deity of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is abundantly confirmed throughout the length and breadth of the Word of God. Such is the Great High Priest of our profession.