THE first chapter of Hebrews reveals that Christ's likeness to God is not simply in form or representation, but also in very substance; and the second chapter as clearly reveals that His likeness to men is not simply in form or in representation, but also in very substance. It is likeness to men as they are in all things, exactly as they are. Wherefore, it is written: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." John 1:1-14
And that this is likeness to man as he is in his fallen, sinful nature, and not as he was in his original, sinless nature, is made certain by the word: "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death." Therefore, as man is since he became subject to death, this is what we see Jesus to be, in His place as man.
Therefore, just as certainly as we see Jesus lower than the angels, unto the suffering of death, so certainly it is by this demonstrated that, as man, Jesus took the nature of man as he is since death entered; and not the nature of man as he was before he became subject to death.
But death entered only because of sin: had not sin entered, death never could have entered. And we see Jesus made lower than the angels for the suffering of death. Therefore we see Jesus made in the nature of man, as man is since man sinned; and not as man was before sin entered. For this He did that He might "taste death for every man." In becoming man that he might reach man, He must come to man where man is. Man is subject to death. Therefore Jesus must become man, as man is since he is subject to death.
"For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Hebrews 2:10. Thus, in becoming man, it became Him to become such as man is. Man is subject to sufferings. Therefore it became Him to come to the man where he is—in his sufferings.
Before man sinned, he was not in any sense subject to sufferings. And for Jesus to have come in the nature of man as he was before sin entered, would have been only to come in a way and in a nature in which it would be impossible for Him to know the sufferings of man, and therefore impossible to reach him to save him. But since it became Him, in bringing men unto glory, to be made perfect through sufferings; it is certain that Jesus, in becoming man, partook of the nature of man as he is since he became subject to suffering, even the suffering of death, which is the wages of sin.
And so it is written: "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same." Verse 14. He, in His human nature, took the same flesh and blood that men have. All the words that could be used to make this plain and positive are here put together in a single sentence.
The children of men are partakers of flesh and blood; and because of this, He took part of the same.
But this is not all: He also took part of the same flesh and blood as that of which the children are partakers.
Nor is this all: He also Himself took part of the same flesh and blood as that of which the children of men are partakers.
Nor yet is this all: He also Himself likewise took part of the same flesh and blood as that of which men are partakers.
Thus the Spirit of inspiration so much desires that this truth shall be made so plain and emphatic as to be understood by all, that He is not content to use any fewer than all the words that could be used in the telling of it. And, therefore, it is declared that just as, and just as certainly as, "the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same" flesh and blood.
And this He did in order "that through death He might . . . deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." He took part of the same flesh and blood as we have in the bondage of sin and the fear of death, in order that He might deliver us from the bondage of sin and the fear of death.
And so, "Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren."
This great truth of the blood relationship, this blood brotherhood, of Christ with men, is taught in the gospel in Genesis. For when God made His everlasting covenant with Abraham, the sacrifices were cut in two and He, with Abraham, passed between the pieces. Genesis 15:8-18; Jeremiah 34:18, 19; Hebrews 7:5, 9. By this act the Lord entered into "the most solemn covenant known to the Oriental" or to mankind, —the blood covenant, —and thus became blood-brother to Abraham, "a relation which outranks every other relation in life."
This great truth of Christ's blood relationship to man is further taught in the gospel in Leviticus. In the gospel in Leviticus there is written the law of redemption of men and their inheritances. When any one of the children of Israel had lost his inheritance or himself had been brought into bondage, there was redemption provided. If he was able of himself to redeem himself or his inheritance, he could do it. But if he was not able of himself to redeem, then the right of redemption fell to his nearest of kin in blood relationship. It fell not merely to one who was near of kin among his brethren; but to the one who was nearest of kin, who was able. Leviticus 25:24-28; 47-49; Ruth 2:20; 3:9, 12, 13; 4:1-14, with the marginal readings.
Thus in Genesis and Leviticus there has been taught through all these ages the very truth which we find here taught in the second chapter of Hebrews—the truth that man has lost his inheritance and is himself also in bondage. And as he himself cannot redeem himself nor his inheritance, the right of redemption falls to the nearest of kin who is able. And Jesus Christ is the only one in all the universe who is able.
But to be the Redeemer He must be not only able, He must be a blood-relative. And He must also be not only near of kin, but the nearest of kin; and the nearest of kin by blood relationship. Therefore, "as the children" of man—as the children of the one who lost our inheritance—"are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same"—took part of flesh and blood in very substance like ours, and so became our nearest of kin. And therefore it is written that He and we "are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call us brethren."
But the Scripture does not stop even yet with the statement of this all-important truth. It says, further: "For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren," whose blood brother He became in the confirming of that everlasting covenant.
And this He did, in order that wherein "He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." For He was "touched with the feeling of our infirmities;" being "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15. Being made in His human nature, in all things like as we are, He could be, and He was, tempted in all points like as we are. The only way in which He could possibly be tempted "like as we are" was to become "in all things" "like as we are."
As in His human nature He is one of us, and as "Himself took our infirmities" (Matthew 8:17), He could be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." Being in all things made like us, He, when tempted, felt just as we feel when we are tempted, and knows all about it: and so can help and save to the uttermost all who will receive Him. As in His flesh, and [as] Himself in the flesh, He was as weak as we are, and of Himself could "do nothing" (John 5:30); so when He bore "our griefs, and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4), and was tempted as we are, feeling as we feel, by His divine faith He conquered all by the power of God which that faith brought Him, and which in our flesh He has brought to us.
Therefore, His name is called Immanuel, which is "God with us." Not God with Him only, but God with us. God was with Him in eternity, and could have been with Him even though He had not given Himself for us. But man through sin became without God, and God wanted to be again with us. Therefore Jesus became "us," that God with Him might be "God with us." And that is His name, because that is what He is. Blessed be His name.
And this is "the faith of Jesus" and the power of it. This is our Saviour: one of God, and one of man; and therefore able to save to the uttermost every soul who will come to God by Him.