"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Hebrews 2:9.
The Word, by whom all things were made, became flesh and dwelt among us. But He who is divine is also Son of man — God was manifested in the flesh. God sent forth His Son made of a woman. Jesus Christ has come in flesh. He, who being in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, was found here in fashion as a man, and took a servant's form. He ate and drank, suffered hunger, thirst, and weariness. He slept, He walked, He prayed, He preached and taught. He resisted and overcame Satan in temptation. He groaned and was troubled, He wept, He was grieved for the hardness of men's hearts, and looked round about on them with anger. He so lovingly entered into the sufferings of those around, cast out devils, and healed all manner of sickness with His word, that it was said by the prophet, "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." He was then verily man, born of a woman, though without sin, and in every respect perfect, spotless, holy, harmless, and undefiled.
THE SON, however, did not become incarnate in order to make Himself one with sinners, but that He might die for our sins, and, rising again, make us one with Himself. It is of all importance to see this clearly for how could the Holy One unite Himself with fallen and sinful men, who justly merited the wrath of God? THE SON, therefore, had a solitary path through this world. By reason of His essential holiness and perfect purity, He could not be otherwise than "separate from sinners," however much He went about doing good. There could not possibly, therefore, be union between us and Himself, until sin had been judged, and we were cleansed. This the Lord most clearly taught. Referring to Himself, He said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24.) For this we know the Father sent the Son. He came to die, for He came to save. In no other way could the righteous demands of God, or the necessities of our case, be met for man had sinned, and the penalty of death had come in by sin. He, therefore, took part in the children's flesh and blood, "that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage." He took riot hold of angels, but He took hold of the seed of Abraham, for Messiah was the promised seed of Abraham, and also of David, "of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God, blessed for ever." (Rom. 9:5.) Thus. Christ is both God and Man.
His life, here, however, was one of suffering. He was truly "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." He came for the suffering of death. He suffered having been tempted, which must have been deep distress to His infinitely holy soul. He suffered that, as the Captain or Leader of our salvation, He might be made perfect through sufferings. He not only knew every step of the way and every circumstance connected with us, as Omniscient, but He passed through everything that was needed to perfect Him for the office of Leader of our salvation. Though He were a Son, and thus could command all to obey Him, yet He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. His perfectness was in obeying in every respect in circumstances most adverse and painful. His love, subjection, obedience, and faith all were perfect. And having been perfected, and glorified as man at God's right hand, He is the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him. (Chap. 5:8, 9.) Ah! who can tell the variety and depth of the sufferings of our precious Lord!
He suffered from man for righteousness' sake was hated without a cause, despised, and rejected. He suffered from Satan in temptation and bruising — "Thou shalt bruise His heel." He suffered (alas, how deeply!) by reason of His wondrous love for His own nation, from God's governmental dealings with them because of their sin, for "in all their afflictions He was afflicted;" and He suffered from God atoningly for sins, the just for the unjust (how unfathomable to us 1), when He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" God only knows the love and sorrow that met there. What a death was "the death of the cross!"
But His was a victorious death; and, as it has been said, "He death by dying slew." He saw no corruption. His soul was not left in hades. He rose from the dead, for it was not possible that He should be holden of death. He went through death, and annulled death, and "him that had the power of death — that is, the devil." Thus He triumphed over death, and Satan, and the grave. The Son of man is therefore a risen, victorious Saviour.
When John was so overcome by a sight of the glorified Son of man that he fell at His feet as dead, the Lord graciously comforted His servant by assuring him that, though He was dead, He is now for evermore a living Person, and holding in triumph the keys of death and hades. "He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell [hades] and of death." (Rev. 1:17, 18.) Thus the Son of man has triumphed. Death could not detain Him. He rose from among the dead. His was certainly a victorious death.
"By man came death," we know, and here we see, "by man came also the resurrection of the dead." (1 Cor. 15:21.) Hence we find that after Jesus rose from the dead, He showed Himself alive again by many infallible proofs, being seen of His disciples, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. He appeared in their midst, showed them His hands and His side, gave commandments, breathed on them, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost;" and expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. When some who saw Him were terrified and affrighted, and supposed they had seen a spirit, He fully demonstrated to them the reality of His own actual and bodily resurrection from among the dead. He said unto them, "Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet." (Luke 24:37-40.) Moreover, He led them out as far as to Bethany, and while He blessed them, was parted from them, and carried up into heaven; and they watched Him ascending higher and higher, until a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they stedfastly looked toward heaven, hoping to catch another glimpse of their precious Saviour, heavenly messengers stood by them, and said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11.) Nothing can more fully prove the reality of the resurrection of the man Christ Jesus from among the dead. This was victory indeed.
And, as we have just seen, He has ascended. We now "see Jesus . . . crowned with glory and honour." (v. 9.) We remember that He was in death, but we see Him glorified at the right hand of God. A man in glory: what a precious Object for our hearts! He that descended first into the lower parts of the earth is ascended above all heavens; "far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." (Eph. 4:2, 10; and 1:21.) There He is highly exalted — a glorified Man. There Stephen, when he "looked up stedfastly into heaven," "saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55, 56.) There we now have to do with Him. There, too, we know Him in new relationships. "He is not ashamed to call them brethren; saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." "And again, Behold, I and the children which God hath given me." (vv. 11-13.) We know, too, that it was after His triumphant resurrection, He said to Mary, "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." The One, therefore, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, is crowned with glory and honour.
Now He is before the face of God as our High Priest. "Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto [His] brethren, that He might be a Merciful and faithful High Priest in things relating to God." (v. 17.) After having made atonement for the sins of the people by the sacrifice of Himself, He sat down on the right hand of God. There the glorified Son of man in heaven carries on His never-failing office of High Priest for us, after the Aaronic functions, but according to the Melchisedec order. He is not one that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but is merciful and faithful, able to succour us in temptation, to help in every time of need, and to bring us right through our pilgrimage to the end, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for us. He, who is of the seed of David according to the flesh, and Son of God, has passed through the heavens, and is our faithful, unchanging, and sympathizing High Priest; and when He comes the second time, and takes His Messiah throne, He will be, according to the prophetic word, "a priest upon His throne" — both king and priest on earth. (Zech. 6:13.)
He is, however, soon coming to reign, "for the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto THE SON that all should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him. . . . He hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man." (John 5:22-27.) Again, we read that God "will judge the world, in righteousness, by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all, in that He hath raised Him from [among] the dead." (Acts 17:31.) The Son being now at the right hand of God, is "expecting till His enemies be made His footstool." Man is yet to be set over the works of God's hands. Man (not angels) is yet to subdue all things unto Himself. "For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the (habitable) world to come;" but quoting from Psalm 8, and applying it to Jesus, the Son of man, he says, "But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the Son of man, that thou visitest Him? Thou madest Him a little lower than the angels [applied to Jesus in v. 9] thou crownedst Him with glory and honour, and didst set Him over the works of thy hands.. Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet." (vv. 5-8.) Thus we see that the Son, who made the worlds, who became incarnate, who was tempted, who suffered and died, was victorious over: death and Satan; that He ascended into the heavens, sat down on the right hand of God, entered upon His priestly functions, and is yet to come forth and take His rightful place over all things, execute all judgment, and subdue all things unto Himself. "And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all."
No doubt one chief reason why the glory and perfections of the person of THE SON are thus so fully brought out in the first and second chapters of the Hebrews is to set forth the infinite value of the one sacrifice, and the perfectness of His priestly office; for there must necessarily be an everlasting efficacy connected with all that He did. Hence, as to the offering, we read, "By one offering He hath perfected for ever [or in perpetuity] them that are sanctified;" and, as concerning priesthood, we are told, there were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue 'by reason of death; and "every priest standeth daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices which can never take away sins; but this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever [or in perpetuity] sat down on the right hand of God." (Heb. 7:23; 10:11, 12.) Thus, through the infinite efficacy of the one offering, the worshippers, instead of having to do with many sacrifices which could not take away sins, are once purged, and have no more conscience of sins, so that the Holy Ghost can indwell them, and unite them to Christ in the heavens; such have also liberty to draw near to God — to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, where our High Priest is, and where His blood ever speaks. Instead, therefore, of there being now "a remembrance of sins," we remember Him, who has by His one offering for ever put away sin. Hence, though sin is in us, we have no sin on us; for we are cleansed, sanctified, and perfected for ever by the will of God, through one offering; and God has said, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Christ being now in heaven is the clearest proof that our sins have been borne, suffered for, and are gone for ever. We have, therefore, "no more conscience of sins." How rich and abundant is the grace of God to us in Christ
If, then, in virtue of the accomplished work of THE SON, the conscience is purged, the veil is rent, and He is gone into heaven itself by His own blood, we, as purged worshippers, have therefore access to God with confidence; our hearts are attracted to where He now is, so that we run the race set before us according to His word and we also take that position here which is suited to His mind. Hence the believer is looked at in the closing chapters of this epistle as a happy worshipper, an earnest runner, and a faithful bearer of the reproach of Christ. He is a worshipper inside the veil, where Jesus is, a runner of a race looking stedfastly unto Jesus, and outside the camp with a rejected Jesus bearing His reproach.
The liberty of access for the worshipper is here contrasted with the way of approach, while the first tabernacle was standing, according to the only ritual divinely instituted, but now done away in Christ. It was characterised by distance from God, for the veil excluded them. It was not rent — the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest; so that they never knew what it was to be in the presence of God, as purged worshippers. The priesthood, too, was of an earthly and successional order, confined to an earthly line of things (not heavenly) as between the people and God. It was a changeable priesthood, and often interrupted by death. There was also "a worldly sanctuary" — a place of worship on earth, a material building, which was the only one ever recognised as the house of God. Such was the Jewish order of things. Whereas Christianity tells us of distance having been removed by the veil being rent from the top to the bottom, when Jesus died upon the cross, so that the worshipper comes now with boldness into the holiest of all. The order of priesthood is heavenly and eternal, all believers being made priests, and Jesus the Son of God being the unchangeable High Priest. Worship, therefore, is not now connected with any particular building on earth, but with the holiest of all above, "the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." Because the Lord's people are His house, there is now no building on earth, which can be truthfully designated a house of God. (See Heb. 3:6.) It was, therefore, said by our adorable Lord, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. 18:20.)
To attach the idea of a sanctuary now to any building on earth is then so far to abandon Christian ground, and to go back to the Jews' religion; which is not only dishonouring to the Lord, but far more damaging to souls than many imagine; because it throws them at a distance from God, and necessitates their requiring a humanly-ordered priesthood to come between themselves and God. This the natural man likes, because it gives importance to men; while he rebels at the thoughts of divine grace, and refuses the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. But, blessed be God, we have remission of sins, and we have -boldness to enter where He is. Hence we are welcomed with "Come boldly to the throne of grace." Do we know what it is to be inside the veil, in the sweet consciousness of God's "perfect love," and in the enjoyment of "perfect peace," while our hearts at the same time are going out to the Father in worship and thanksgiving? It need scarcely be said that this is not the sinner drawing near in order to be cleansed, but the worshipper entering in with boldness, because he is cleansed, and has "no more conscience of sins." Hence it is written, "Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Chap. 10:22.) Our Lord referred to this remarkable change in the character of worship. He said to the woman of Samaria, "Believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . . But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:21-24.) Worship, then, must be "in spirit" — suited to the nature of God — and "in truth," or according to God's own revelation of His mind. Happy indeed are those who thus worship the Father
At the same time the believer is deeply conscious he is in a world where Jesus was, but is not, and is running on to where He is. The spiritual worshipper is also then a devoted runner; and in so doing, he is exhorted to drop every weight which impedes his course, to lay aside unbelief in all its delusive forms that easily besetting sin — and to run the race set before him. (Heb. 12:1-3.) He is encouraged to run, not to loiter, nor to seek a resting-place, where the faithful Forerunner had none; but to follow on in the race with patient, persevering faith. Not with spasmodic or desultory efforts, but with patience; not looking to men, however well they may have been reported for their faith; but to keep the eye steadily on Him, who has run the race perfectly, who knows every step of the way, every impediment and temptation, and is now sitting on the throne of God. We are, then, to run the race set before us, looking unto Jesus (or looking stedfastly on Jesus) where He now is. Thus, turning from every other object, and fixing the eye of our heart on Him, the Leader and Completer (not of our faith, but) of faith, we must look stedfastly and dependently on Him, who has trodden the path of faith perfectly from the beginning to the end; for all our resources are in Him. We are enjoined also to "consider him," whose path was beset so painfully with opposition and trial; for when we well consider Him, who endured so great contradiction from sinners against Himself, we become cheered and strengthened, so that we do not grow weary and faint in our minds. The blessed Lord had joy in prospect, and so we have the bright hope of being with Him, and like Him for ever. We are told that He "for the joy which was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." The Forerunner is for us entered within the veil, and we are to run the race with patience, looking unto Him.
We are also to bear the reproach of Christ. We cannot now be associated with a worldly system of religion on earth, for the veil is rent. He suffered without the gate, and we are exhorted to go forth unto Him without the camp. Our place then here is to suffer with Christ in His rejection. God hath highly exalted Him, and has made Him the central object of His counsels; Christ must therefore be the true and only centre for the faithful here. False religiousness is as displeasing to the Lord as irreligiousness itself. Yet there is a way for faith in the darkest times. The Lord has interests still on earth of deepest moment to Him. He cannot bear what is evil. It is only the more hateful to Him, when His holy name is used to accredit it; though ecclesiastical evil is often the last thing which arouses the conscience. Still the word to the faithful is, "Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity," and "go forth unto Him without the camp." This brings its "reproach," but it is the path of blessing. To turn away from what is not according to His truth, "and, to go forth unto Him without the camp," is clearly His will concerning us, It may entail painful severances; but to be out to the Lord, and "with them who call on His name out of a pure heart," is the divinely-ordered path; and that is enough for a true heart. "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." (Heb. 13:11-13.) It has been rightly said that a worldly religion, which forms a system in which the world can walk, and in which the religious element is adapted to man on earth, is the denial of Christianity.
May we know increasingly the blessedness of being inside the veil as purged worshippers, outside the camp with Christ in faithfulness to His name, and patient runners of the race which ere long will bring us into His presence for ever: "for yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." (Heb. 10:37.) When the Lord presents Himself as the "root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning Star," it is immediately said, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come!" so we may be assured it is the apprehension of His blessed person that will keep fresh in our souls the hope of His coming the earnest desire of seeing His face.
"Thy love we own, Lord Jesus;
Thy way is traced before Thee;
Thou wilt descend and we ascend,
To meet in heavenly glory.
Soon shall the blissful morning
Call forth Thy saints to meet Thee;
Our only Lord, alone adored,
With gladness then we'll greet Thee."