Agonizomai: Heb 4:14-16 Christ - Our Fully Human Brother

Friday, December 04, 2009

Heb 4:14-16 Christ - Our Fully Human Brother

Heb 4:14-16 Christ - Our Fully Human Brother

Heb 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

By inference, then, the old and imperfect system of ceremony and law, which was a type of the perfect which was to come, had now been made obsolete by the perfect Son of God. Merely (fallen) human high priests are no longer needed because the Great High Priest whom they foreshadowed had now come. To go back to such a system would be like rejecting a sizzling steak, of which the aroma was only the promise and, instead, relying on the odor alone for sustenance.

The perfect, eternal consummation of all that went before had now come. Note how the writer is very specific when he says that Jesus, the Son of God, "passed through the heavens". This was bidirectional. He came and He returned. That is the point. He came from heaven where He was already of one essence with God, being the eternal Son - and He returned there, having completed perfectly all that He came to do.

In this is the reminder of the writer to the Hebrews now brought to the fore. Jesus is unique in every way. He is of heaven and all the other high priests were of the earth. This was contained in the original confession of all believers - that Jesus was more than a son of Adam - that He was eternal Son of God; that He gave Himself as the only sacrifice that could appease the wrath of God upon sin, by paying the price on behalf of sinners, and by fashioning a human righteousness on behalf of all those He came to save. No ceremony and no act of fallen humanity could do this.

But the writer goes further. The experience of the Son of God (acting in perfect harmony with the will of the Father) was more than God condescending to save; it was God condescending to identify with humanity. And more than that - it was God condescending to sympathize with human weakness in the face of temptation. It was God living a fully human life and, in the Son, becoming the chief member of humanity forever. It was Him doing on our behalf what we could not and would not do for ourselves, and doing it as a man - living by faith the life of perfect obedience.

God always knew better than we ourselves can ever know the darkness of our sin, and the intensity of the suffering which necessarily resulted from it. But in the incarnation of the eternal Son we see God, for our sake, going beyond perfect understanding to perfect experiential identification with the sufferers. This is God with us - Emmanuel - in a way that wandering Israel could not have imagined. Once more, the historical reality of His presence in the Sinai (and throughout their history) is made a whole new order of reality by the intimacy of His assumption of human form. It is not simply God with us in the physical/temporal sense, but also God in us and we in Him in the eternal sense, starting at conversion. (I hasten to add that was true of all believers, even in ancient Israel, but in a way largely veiled to the understanding. Christ promised has become Christ manifest. God’s salvation looked forward to in faith has now become God’s salvation manifest most clearly in history, and now looked back upon with the same faith.)

The implication of this total identification of God the Son with the redeemed of humanity is that we may have both confidence in God’s unalterable commitment to us, and assurance that He is able to provide to us the grace needed in any temptation or tribulation, because He Himself has experienced it as a man, and has persevered through faith. He knows, therefore, exactly how to supply what the circumstance requires in order that we may endure. We must do this by faith in exactly the same way that He did. He trusted the Father and we trust the Father through the Son, Who has pioneered the Way - indeed, Who is the Way.

Note then, what we receive when we come boldly to the throne of grace. Firstly we receive mercy and then we find grace. Grace is rooted in mercy, but goes above and beyond. We can come with confidence to be absolved of that which we do deserve (and obtain mercy) and to receive that which we do not deserve (and find grace). And we see that both mercy and grace, both the forgiveness and the enabling power, are gifts provided in Jesus Christ to God’s saints.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This addresses so clearly the objection of how a loving God could possibly sacrifice His own Son. Instead of God being cruel, He is awesomely loving. I wish more people could read this.

8:15 am  

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