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    A Merciful and Faithful High Priest

    I have an idea that comparatively few church members’ think seriously of Christ as a real person who is doing a real work for us in a real place. It strikes me that our religion is apt to be too much a matter of feeling rather than of fellow ship (1 John 1:3), of sentiment rather than of spirit (Galatians 5:25), and that we need to cultivate a stronger sense of reality in our relation to God. Perhaps some study of the office and work of Christ as our high priest may contribute something toward this experience.SOTW 87.1

    From the time of Moses to the first advent of our Lord, interrupted by the period of the captivity in Babylon and by the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, the people of God were familiar with the services of the sanctuary. The continual ministry of the priests by courses, the many sacrifices offered, both by the priest in his representative capacity and by the people individually, the variety of gifts presented, and the three great annual convocations for the celebration of the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the day of Atonement, constituted a divine object lesson concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. Along with these services, whose constant repetition testified that they were not final, but were the shadows of better things to come (Hebrews 10:1, 2), was the intimation, brief but significant, that Jehovah Himself, the promised Messiah, as the Godman, would sit upon the throne of grace as the true priest after the rank of Melchizedek. Psalm 110:4. In the epistle to the Hebrews, the one book of the New Testament in which the seven foundation facts of the gospel are combined in a single presentation of the work of Christ, 3His deity (Hebrews 1:8); incarnation (2:14); death (2:14); resurrection (13:20); ascension (1:3); priesthood (2:17); advent (9:28). we find the divine interpretation of the ancient typical services when reality took the place of shadows, and the merciful and faithful High Priest was made known in His relation to our Christian experience. This interpretation deserves our earnest attention.SOTW 87.2

    The fact of sin is assumed in this epistle. There was no need of proving its existence.” The cross had demonstrated its terrible reality. The history of the human family had revealed its destructive ravages. The great question is, What provision, if any, has been made for our salvation from sin? It is the purpose of our epistle to furnish a clear and satisfying answer.SOTW 88.1

    It is significant that, although the mediatorial priesthood of Christ is the leading theme, the word “priest” does not occur until the end of the second chapter, Hebrews 2:17. The first chapter emphasizes the deity and the exalted office of the Son of God, while the second chapter bears equally plain testimony to His humanity and His sacrifice for sin. This is preliminary to, and a preparation for, the unfolding of His priesthood. This way of handling the subject suggests what is afterward made quite clear, that the priesthood of Christ, was not a matter of arbitrary appointment, not an inherited office independent of character. His priesthood was inherent in His Sonship. Hebrews 5:5, 6. It was because He was the eternal Son of God who assumed humanity as the Son of man, that He could be “a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17. His person made possible His efficacious priesthood. In the very nature of His being as Son He was the only and the exclusive mediator of the mind and the operation of the Father. Matthew 11:27. We must then consider first those characteristics of His person which declare His fitness for His position as priest and mediator.SOTW 88.2

    The names applied to Him in the first chapter testify to His absolute deity, lie is not only called the Son of God (Hebrews 1:2), but lie is also addressed as God (Hebrews 1:8) and Lord (Hebrews 1:10), and an eternity of being is ascribed to Him in the simple statement, “Thou continuest” (Hebrews 1:11), which is later developed in plain words; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yea and forever.” Hebrews 13:8. He is not simply a reflector of the glory of God, but is Him self the forthshining of that glory, an embodiment of the very essence of God. Hebrews 1:3.SOTW 89.1

    The reference to the relation of the Son to the original creation is not an empty rhetorical flourish for emphasis, but is designed to establish confidence in the efficiency of the same person as priest and mediator for sin. The eternal Son was the Mediator in the creation of the universe, for we read: “Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands” (Hebrews 1:10); “Through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:2); and, “All things were made through Him.” John 1:3. The Bible is not a textbook in physical science, and these statements are not made merely to throw light upon the method of the original creation. The science of all sciences is the science of salvation, and when the work of God in the material universe is rightly interpreted to us, our darkened minds are better able to understand the science of salvation. “For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity.” Romans 1:20. The visible illustrates the invisible.SOTW 89.2

    I have now to show the relation between these facts concerning the original creation and the real subject of our epistle, the mediatorial priesthood of Christ. This relation is an important one. Three phases of mediation are in evidence in this first chapter; mediation in the creation of the visible universe (Hebrews 1:2), mediation in the administration of the same visible universe (Hebrews 1:3), and mediation for sins (Hebrews 1:3). The great truth which is taught is that the same person, the Son of God, is the one mediator. What our eyes are constantly beholding about us, the astonishing revelations made to us through the aid of the microscope and the telescope, and the mighty power displayed in maintaining order throughout the universe, testify convincingly to the efficiency of our Mediator.SOTW 90.1

    “Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these, that bringeth out their host by number; He calleth them all by name; by the greatness of His might, and for that He is strong in power, not one is lacking. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from Jehovah, and the justice due to me is passed away from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard? The everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary; there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to him that hath no might He increaseth strength.” Isaiah 40:26, 29.SOTW 90.2

    The Mediator in creation is the Mediator in redemption, the new creation. The power which is mediated in upholding all things, is mediated to uphold those who accept Jesus as their Mediator. An impersonal power cannot mediate itself. Here is the weakness of the theory of evolution. Power mediated by any other than one who loves us and seeks our good, is a constant menace. The gospel of our salvation is the good news that the power of a loving God mediated by the Son of His love in creating all things and in upholding all things, the power which was revealed in the works of Christ when He stilled the tempest, healed the sick, and raised the dead, is available and is being mediated in the work of redemption. This is the gospel of the grace of God, the gospel of the covenant of grace.SOTW 90.3

    The second chapter of our epistle opens up to us some of the deep things of God. The humiliation and the sufferings of the eternal Son, and the purpose of such humiliation and sufferings, are here set forth. The name Jesus, given to Him by the angel before He was born of the virgin Mary, is the only one employed in this connection. We behold Him “made a little lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:9), and tasting “death for every man.” Hebrews 2:9. Though he is the author of our salvation, yet He is made “perfect through sufferings.” Hebrews 2:10. He takes His place as one among the members of the human family, identifying Himself with them so fully that “He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Hebrews 2:11. He accepts the life of trust in another (Hebrews 2:13), not only in order to set us an example, but to make such a life possible and successful for us.SOTW 91.1

    The mystery which was “kept in silence through times eternal” (Romans 16:25) is now presented in its relation to the mediatorial priesthood. Those who are to be rescued through suffering were “brought forth in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5), and are “by nature children of wrath.” Ephesians 2:3. Sin had been a ruling power in flesh and blood for long centuries, and had successfully resisted all human effort to de throne it. Sin was inbred in flesh and blood. The flesh and blood of the whole human family had become tainted, sinful, the home of sin. The remedy for sin must be applied to those who are sharers in sinful flesh and blood, enabling them to Blank Page live a life of righteousness even in the same sinful flesh and blood. This requirement was fully met. Jesus was “born of a woman.” Galatians 4:4.SOTW 91.2

    “It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocency in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam, He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us an example of a sinless life.”SOTW 93.1

    He partook of the same flesh and blood which we have, coming to us just where we are, that He might supply our need. The ladder which Jacob saw at Bethel was “set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven.” Genesis 28:12. “If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome. Made ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh’ (Romans 3:3), He lived a sinless life.” Because He came to give help to the seed of Abraham, “it behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17. What a wondrous revelation of divine wisdom and divine love! Such an amazing way of saving us was certainly devised in the councils of heaven.SOTW 93.2

    We must not overlook the important revelation here made, that the death of Jesus was the prominent feature of His vocation, He partook of the same flesh and blood which we have, “that through death He might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14, 15. Satan overreached himself when he induced an apostate mob to demand the crucifixion of Jesus. Through the cross Jesus was the conqueror, and the prince of this world was cast out. John 12:31. At the cross there was signed in blood the emancipation proclamation for a race in the bondage of sin. By His victory over death Jesus “abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:10. This is the good news which is proclaimed from Calvary. The cross was an indispensable step to the mediatorial priesthood. The true Priest must also be the victim. The divine Mediator must mediate His own life. This is the test of the genuine gospel.SOTW 93.3

    It is worth while to emphasize the qualifications of our “merciful and faithful High Priest.” He is the eternal Son of God and He is God. John 1:1. He acted as the mediatorial agent in the creation of all things, and continues to act in upholding all things. He took the same flesh and blood in which we share. By His death He conquered the devil, and brought deliverance to those who were his captives. He is both victim and priest. No merely human being can claim to possess these qualifications, and therefore no merely human being can really be our “merciful and faithful high priest.” Jesus is also the exclusive mediator. “For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, Himself man, Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5. Jesus so completely identified Himself with our common humanity that there is no place for a human mediator to bring us to Him, and He is so completely identified with God that there is no need of a supposedly semidivine person to emphasize and make efficacious His plea in our behalf. Jesus, the God-man, is the only and the all-sufficient priest and mediator. We are safe in committing our cases to Him. “We should be willing to trust everything to the hand that was nailed to the cross for us.” “For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18.SOTW 94.1

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