Monday, April 15, 2019

Our Great High Priest: A Study Of The Book Of Hebrews. Day 6, Perfected By Suffering

The author of Hebrews has been talking about the humanity of Christ. Today he expounds on this theme by showing us how necessary it was for Christ to become human. If He had not, He could not have become what is going to be the main theme of the book of Hebrews----our great high priest. He could not be the mediator between man and God if He did not understand the human condition. He would not have the level of compassion He has for us if He had not walked the dusty roads of this world Himself, suffering in His body, enduring temptation, and dealing with opposition and betrayal. There's nothing we can go through in this world that Christ doesn't understand. There's nothing that comes against us that doesn't cause Him to feel sympathy for us. He had to come into this world as a man in order to be to us everything He wanted to be.

Yesterday the author quoted from one of David's psalms. David stated that God has made man on a lower order than the angels, and he wondered why God chose to put unworthy man in charge of this world. This is where we begin today, with the writer of Hebrews saying, "In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone." (Hebrews 2:8-9)

We humans don't seem to be in control of very much on earth these days, do we? We've made a mess of things. God created this world in a perfect state, but through man sin entered the world, polluting the world. Because of man's sin, sickness and death entered into the world. Hard work, worry, and troubles entered into the world. This all began because one man, Adam, fell from grace, taking the entire human race with him. Since Adam we've all felt the struggle between our earthly natures and our spiritual natures. In order to undo what the first man had done, the firstborn of God had to come into the world as a man and live a perfect, spotless life. As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:22, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."

"In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what He suffered. Both the One who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters." (Hebrews 2:10-11) The author is not saying that Jesus wasn't already perfect. As God, He couldn't be anything but perfect. But in order to identify Himself with us, and so He could understand the struggles and the fears and the temptations of being human, and so He could give Himself for us, Christ had to become a man and suffer as a man. This is why the author will later say, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are---yet He did not sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

The empathy Christ feels for us enables him to be our high priest---the mediator between us and God---in a way He couldn't have if He hadn't become a man. Because He knows what it's like to be us, He can intercede for us like no one else can. I'll tell you something the Lord showed me several years ago: He's the only one who can get down into our troubles with us, feeling the same things we feel. No one else on earth can get inside our minds and our hearts to feel our sorrow or our anxiety. When we're suffering, Christ feels it. He understands it in a way even our spouses or best friends can't. Sometimes death comes into our family and several of us are struggling with grief at the same time, but no one can truly feel someone else's grief. In a sense, each of us is alone with our feelings. Except we're not alone, for Christ is with us. He's felt grief. He's cried at the graveside. He's mourned with the mourners. He's experienced all the types of suffering we experience: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. He's been let down by those closest to Him. He's been betrayed. He's been mocked. He's been slandered and accused of things He didn't do. There's nothing you and I are going through that He hasn't experienced Himself. This qualifies Him to be our great high priest. He's more qualified than any high priest who has ever lived, and He's in a position to intercede for us with the Father like no one else can.

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