When Jesus emptied Himself He became man, and God was revealed in the Man. When Jesus emptied Himself, on the one side man appeared, and on the other side God appeared. Thus in Him God and man meet in peace and become one: "for He is our peace, who hath made both [God and man] one,...having abolished in His flesh the enmity,...to make in Himself of twain [God and man] one new man, so making peace." (Eph. 2:14, 15).
He who was in the form of God took the form of man.
He who was equal with God became equal with man.
He who was Creator and Lord became creature and servant.
He who was in the likeness of God was made in the likeness of men.
He who was God and Spirit was made man and flesh. John 1:1, 14.
Nor is this true only as to form; it is true as to substance. For Christ was like God in the sense of being of the nature, in very substance, of God. He was made in the likeness of men in the sense of being like men in the nature and very substance of men.
Christ was God. He became man. And when He became man, He was man as really as He was God.
He became man in order that He might redeem man.
He came to man where man is to bring man to Him where He was and is.
And in order to redeem man from what man is, He was made what man is:--
Man is flesh. Gen. 6:3; John 3:6. "And the Word was made flesh." John 1:14; Heb. 2:14.
Man is under the law. Rom. 3:19. Christ was "made under the law." Gal. 4:4.
Man is under the curse. Gal. 3:10; Zech. 5:1-4, "Christ was made a curse." Gal. 3:13.
Man is sold under sin (Rom. 7:14) and laden with iniquity. Isa. 1:4. And "the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Isa. 53:6.
Man is "a body of sin." Rom. 6:6. And God "hath made Him to be sin." 2 Cor. 5:21.
Thus, literally, "in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren."
Yet it must never be forgotten, it must be borne in mind and heart constantly and forever, that in none of this as to man, the flesh, sin, and the curse was Christ ever of Himself or of His own original nature or fault. All this He "was made." "He took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men."
And in all this Christ was "made" what, before, He was not in order that the man might be made now and forever what he is not.
Christ was the Son of God. He became the Son of man that the sons of men might become the sons of God. Gal. 4:4; 1 John 3:1.
Christ was Spirit. 1 Cor. 15:45. He became flesh in order that man, who is flesh, might become spirit. John 3:6; Rom. 8:8-10.
Christ, who was altogether of the divine nature, was made partaker of human nature in order that we who are altogether of the human nature "might be partakers of the divine nature." 2 Peter 1:4.
Christ, who knew no sin, was made to be sin, even the sinfulness of man, in order that we, who knew no righteousness, might be made righteousness, even the righteousness of God.
And as the righteousness of God, which, in Christ, the man is made, is real righteousness, so the sin of men, which Christ was made in the flesh, was real sin.
As certainly as our sins, when upon us, are real sins to us, so certainly, when these sins were laid upon Him, they became real sins to Him. As certainly as guilt attaches to these sins and to us because of them, when they are upon us so certainly this guilt attached to these same sins of ours and to Him because of them, when they were laid upon Him.
As the sense of condemnation and discouragement of our sins was real to us when these sins of ours were upon us, so certainly this same sense of condemnation and discouragement because of the guilt of these sins was realised by Him when these sins of ours were laid upon Him.
Thus the guilt, the condemnation, the discouragement of the knowledge of sin were His--were a fact in His conscious experience--as really as they were ever such in the life of any sinner that was ever on earth. And this awful truth brings to every sinful soul in the world the glorious truth that "the righteousness of God," and the rest, the peace, and the joy, of that righteousness, are a fact in the conscious experience of the believer in Jesus in this world, as really as they are in the life of any saint who was ever in heaven.
He who knew the height of the righteousness of God, acquired also the knowledge of the depth of the sins of men. He knows the awfulness of the depths of the sins of men, as well as He knows the glory of the heights of the righteousness of God. And by this "His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many." Isa. 53:11. By this His knowledge He is able to deliver every sinner from the lowest depths of sin and lift him to the highest height of righteousness, even the very righteousness of God.
Made "in all things" like unto us, He was in all points like as we are. So fully was this so that He could say, even as we must say the same truth, "I can of Mine own self do nothing." John 5:30.
Of Him this was so entirely true that, in the weakness and infirmity of the flesh,--ours which He took--He was as is the man who is without God and without Christ. For it is only without Him that men can do nothing. With Him and through Him, it is written: "I can do all things." But of those who are without Him it is written: "Without Me ye can do nothing." John 15:5.
Therefore, when of Himself He said, "I can of Mine own self do nothing," this makes it certain forever that in the flesh,--because of our infirmities which He took; because of our sinfulness, hereditary and actual, which was laid upon Him and imparted to Him--He was of Himself in that flesh exactly as is the man who, in the infirmity of the flesh, is laden with sins, actual and hereditary, and who is without God. And standing thus weak, laden with sins and helpless as we are, in divine faith He exclaimed, "I will put My trust in Him." Heb. 2:13.
He came to "seek and to save that which was lost." And in saving the lost, He came to the lost where we are. He put Himself among the lost. "He was numbered with the transgressors." He was "made to be sin." And from the standpoint of the weakness and infirmity of the lost, He trusted in God, that He would deliver Him and save Him. Laden with the sins of the world; and tempted in all points like as we are, He hoped in God and trusted in God to save Him from all those sins and to keep Him from sinning. Ps. 69:1-21; 71:1-20; 22:1-22; 31:1-5.
And this is the faith of Jesus: this is the point where the faith of Jesus reaches lost, sinful man to help him. For thus it has been demonstrated to the very fullness of perfection, that there is no man in the wide world for whom there is not hope in God, no one so lost that he can not be saved by trusting God in this faith of Jesus. And this faith of Jesus, by which in the place of the lost, He hoped in God and trusted God for salvation from sin and power to keep from sinning--this victory of His it is that has brought to every man in the world divine faith by which every man can hope in God and trust in God and can find the power of God to deliver him from sin and to keep him from sinning. That faith which He exercised and by which He obtained the victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil--that faith is His free gift to every lost man in the world. And thus "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith;" and this is the faith of which He is the Author and Finisher.
This is the faith of Jesus that is given to men. This is the faith of Jesus that must be received by men in order for them to be saved. This is the faith of Jesus which, now in this time of the Third Angel's Message, must be received and kept by those who will be saved from the worship of the "beast and his image," and enabled to keep the commandments of God. This is the faith of Jesus referred to in the closing words of the Third Angel's Message: "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
And now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: "We have such an High Priest." All that we have thus found in the first and second chapters of Hebrews is the essential foundation and preliminary of His high priesthood. For "in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that [so that, in order that] He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted." Heb. 2:17, 18.
Further Qualifications of Our High Priest
Such is the thought of the first two chapters of Hebrews. And upon this the third chapter opens, or rather the one great thought continues with the beautiful exhortation: "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him." Having presented Christ in the flesh, as He was made "in all things" like the children of men and our nearest of kin, we are now asked to consider Him in His faithfulness in that position.
The first Adam was not faithful. This last Adam "was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all His [God's] house. For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man, but He that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all His [God's] house as a servant for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ [was faithful] as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."
Next is cited Israel, who came out of Egypt, who were not faithful; who failed of entering into God's rest because they believed not in Him. Then upon this is the exhortation to us to "fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest," in believing in Him who gave Himself for our sins.
We enter into rest in the forgiveness of all our sins, through believing in Him who was faithful in every obligation and under every temptation of life. We also enter into rest and there abide, by being partaker of His faithfulness, in which and by which we also shall be faithful to Him who has appointed us. For in considering Him "the High Priest of our profession" in His faithfulness, we are ever to consider that "we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Heb. 4:15.
When we "have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," we have an High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. And the way in which He can and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities is that He "was in all points tempted like as we are." There is not a point in which any soul can be tempted but that He has been exactly so tempted, and has felt the temptation as truly as any human soul can feel it. But, though He was in all points tempted like as we are and felt the power of it as truly as any one can, yet in it all He was faithful and through it all He passed "without sin." And by faith in Him--in this His faithfulness--every soul can meet all temptation and pass through it without sinning.
This is our salvation, for He was made flesh as man and in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren and to be tempted in all points like as we are "that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God." And this not only "to make reconciliation for the sins of the people," but also to "succour"--to run under, to run to the aid of, to assist and deliver from suffering--"them that are tempted." He is our merciful and faithful High Priest to succour--run under--us when we are tempted, to keep us from falling under the temptation and so to keep us from falling under sin. He "runs under" us is our temptation so we shall not fall under the temptation but shall conquer it and rise in victory over it, sinning not.
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession." Heb. 4:14. And also seeing that we have such an High Priest, "let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Further, in presenting for our consideration our High Priest in His faithfulness, it is written that "every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, who can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way, for that He Himself also is compassed with infirmity." Heb. 5:1,2.
And this is why it is that in order that He should be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God and that He should bring many unto glory, it became Him, as the Captain of their salvation, to be "compassed with infirmity," to be tried by temptation, to be "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" thus "in all things" to be made acquainted with human experience, so that He truly "can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are not [sic. "out"] of the way." In a word, in order that He might be "a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God," it became Him to be made "perfect through sufferings."
"And no man taketh this honour [of high priesthood] unto himself but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, to-day have I begotten Thee. As He saith also in another place, Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect [being tested to perfection in all points], He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchizedek." Heb. 5:4-10.
"And inasmuch as not without an oath He was made Priest; for those priests [of the Levitical priesthood] were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek: by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament." Thus, above all others, by the oath of God, Jesus was made a Priest. Therefore, and "by so much" "we have such an High Priest."
And further, "They [of the order of Aaron] truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood." Heb. 7:23, 24. By the oath of God He is made a Priest forever. He is also made a Priest "after the power of an endless life." Heb. 7:16. Therefore "He continueth ever." And because He continueth ever, He hath an "unchangeable priesthood." And because of all this, "He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." Heb. 7:25. And "we have such an High Priest."
And "such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's; for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son [High Priest], who is consecrated forevermore." Heb. 7:26, 27.