Wherefore in all things it behooved him to he made like unto His brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. Heb. 2:17
It behooved Him! . . . .
AH emphasis this thought has in this part of the Word of God.
It was necessary, it was entirely proper, it was quite inevitable, that the Christ, the Messiah, exactly in order to be the Christ, and to function in that capacity, should be made like unto His brethren.
The text is, first of all, addressed to believers from the Jews, to Christians from Israel, Who had made the transition from the old dispensation, with its shadows and ceremonies, its visible and tangible temple, service and sacrifices, with its expectations and traditions, into the new, with its invisible and spiritual service of the living God; to Jewish Christians, too, who had not entirely forgotten the visible glory and attraction of the old, nor been able to rid themselves wholly of the traditions of the fathers; to Christians, moreover, who, under the stress of persecution and suffering for Christ’s sake, revealed a tendency to succumb and to return to the old.
And to the Jews a lowly Christ, a Christ that was in all things like unto His brethren, was an offense.
Must not the Messiah be glorious?
Was it not proper for the Christ, Who was to sit on the throne of David, and Who would raise mount Zion to the top of the mountains, Whom all the ends of the earth would honor, and Who would finally overcome all His enemies and the enemies of Israel, that He should appear from heaven with the glory of an archangel? . . . .
How, then, could this Jesus of Nazareth, mark you well, of Nazareth that was notorious for never producing any good thing; this Jesus, whose father and mother everyone knew, who appeared without form or comeliness, without beauty to make Him desirable; this Jesus, whose face was marred more than any man’s and whom they had finally nailed to the tree of shame and of the curse,—how could this Jesus possibly be the Messiah?
A lowly Christ was a contradiction in terms!
Yes, indeed, to the Jews an offense . . . .
But also: to the Greeks, the wise men of all ages, who seek after human wisdom and power, after a human solution for the ills of the world, to the proud mind of the natural man, this lowly Christ, whose end to all appearances is the cross, is foolishness.
Yes, but the divine Wisdom stands in direct opposition to the wisdom of the world. For He will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. How otherwise could it be revealed that He is GOD, the LORD, who quickeneth the dead, and calls the things that are not as if they were? His foolishness is wiser than men; His weakness is stronger than men. He chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, the weak things of the world to confound the mighty things, things that are base, and despised, and which are not, to confound the things that are . . .
That no flesh should glory in His presence!
This in general.
In this general scheme of things that pertain to God, the tradition of a humanly glorious Christ, or of a mighty philosopher, does not fit. The divine logic pertains to a different scheme, belongs to a different world, than that of the offended Jew, or of the contemptuous Greek, to the world in which man is nothing and God is the LORD!
Hence, the conflict: man decrees that the Messiah must appear in power and glory from the start, that men may glory in Him; divine Wisdom, on the contrary, declares from heaven: It behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren in all things! . . . .
The foolishness of preaching!
O, God! who hath believed our report? . . . .
Yes, but even if no man believes, the logic of the divine wisdom is inexorable:
It behooved Him!
It was proper!
Such is the divine MUST, the eternal necessity of the divine logic of the living God.
For the deepest motive of the divine logic is that God will be glorified as God; and that He may be glorified He will reveal Himself as the LORD; and that He may become revealed, not as a Lord among others, not even as the supreme Lord above all others, but as the LORD, beside whom there is no other, the creature, even man, must become NOTHING, and must be brought into a position in which he will cry out of the depths unto Him . . . .
All flesh is grass, and the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth . . . .
But the Word of our God shall stand forever!
And in that general scheme of divine logic also the Messiah, the Christ of God, the Servant of Jehovah, yea, above all He, must descend into the depths, and must cry out of those depths unto the living God. Then, and then only, thus and thus only, can He become perfect as the captain of the salvation of many sons of God.
Once before in this chapter, the Word of God employed that same word: it behooved, or it became, it was proper, then with application to God Himself: “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 suffering.” Vs. 10. Are not all things unto Him and through Him? And must, then, not all things reveal, and that, too, in the highest possible sense that He is God, the LORD? And is it not proper, then, proper, now, to God Himself, that He choose the deep way to glory, the deepest way to the highest glory, in order that, where man has confessed that the situation is become impossible, and where all glorying of man ceases, He may reveal Himself as the One that calls the light out of darkness, that brings righteousness out of unrighteousness, that quickeneth the dead? And is it not plain, then, that He, in leading many sons unto glory, MUST, with divine logic, decree upon the deep way, the deepest?
And do you not see, then, that it is also proper to Him, in leading many sons unto glory in that deepest way, that He should make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering?
O, and if this captain of their salvation was to be made perfect through suffering, and if, in this process of becoming the perfect Captain of their salvation, He was to be the blameless Servant of the Lord, it was, above all and first of all, necessary that He should be a faithful and merciful high priest in things pertaining to God. He must be high priest, the only high priest over the whole house of God. And as such He must build the house of God, the everlasting tabernacle of God with men, in the which the sons of God, His brethren, given Him of God, may attain to the glory God designed for them.
And as high priest He must be faithful.
A faithful high priest He must be. For as high priest He stands in a definite relation to God: He is the Servant of Jehovah. He is under a charge. And in that relation He must be true to Him that sent Him. He must will His will, and do His work. In that relation He must remain constant and steadfast to the very last, no matter what it may require of Him, regardless of the question whither the way will lead. And faithful, a faithful high priest, He must be, also in relation to His brethren, the sons whom the Father will lead to glory.
The things “pertaining to God” He is called to accomplish!
They are the things that pertain to the salvation of the sons of God, His brethren, the realization of God’s eternal covenant. They “pertain to God,” they are “toward God,” they have respect unto God, they concern the glory of His name, the revelation of all His infinite perfections, His love and grace and mercy, His righteousness and justice and holiness, His wisdom and knowledge and exceeding great power, the revelation that He is God,, the LORD.
In the accomplishment of these things He must be faithful even unto death.
The death of the cross!
For He must make reconciliation for the sins of the people, He, the high priest.
Propitiation He must make, a covering for sin. And a covering for sin can only be made by :an act of perfect obedience that completely counterbalances, or more than counterbalances the act of rebellion and wanton disobedience that is the sin of the people. And this required that the high priest, the Captain of our salvation, willingly, in perfect obedience of the love of God, should descend into deepest death and hell, there to be still faithful in the love of God . . . .
Such were the things “pertaining to God”.
But, how evident it is, that in this divine economy of things it was necessary that He should become like: unto His brethren in all things!
How could He have assumed His place as High Priest, and how could He have made reconciliation for the sins of the people, had He appeared in the glory of Gabriel or Michael?
Their glory would have been of no avail for the things pertaining to God.
The lowly Christ He must be.
In all things like unto His brethren.
Thus it behooved Him!
Glorious divine necessity!
For, and this is the moist specific point in the divine program of the things pertaining to Gad on which this Word would center our attention, now He must be merciful!
And to be merciful it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren in all things!
That this is, indeed, the chief thought is evident, first of all, from the text itself, which should be rendered: “that he might be merciful, and thus be a faithful high priest in things pertaining to God”. In other words, mercy was required, was indispensable on His part, in order to be a faithful high priest. Had He not been merciful, never could He have been faithful as high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. And, besides, that this is the truth that must have the emphasis, is clear, too, from what, follows immediately: “For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”
Adorable divine necessity!
It behooved Him!
To be the captain of the salvation of God’s sons, He must make reconciliation for the sins of the people, and be made perfect through suffering.
To make reconciliation He must be faithful as high priest to the bitter end, to the depth of hell.
To be faithful He must be merciful.
And to be merciful He must be made like unto His brethren in all things, the lowly Christ!
Merciful, O, how merciful He must be! Mercy is an aspect of love, and Christ loved His brethren. Mercy is that manifestation of love according to which one, longs to render the object of his love as blessed as possible; and Christ desired to lead His brethren into the highest, heavenly bliss of God’s eternal covenant. Mercy, for that very reason, shines in ah its virtue and power, most gloriously, where it finds the object of love in deepest misery and now delivers it out of that misery to lead it to supreme blessedness; and Christ found His brethren in the depth of the misery of sin, and wrath, and damnation, and rebellion, and death, and He raises them to the highest glory of the tabernacle of God’s friendship, eternal righteousness and life in heavenly places
Such was the mind of Christ!
And who was ever merciful as our merciful Christ? Merciful He was to us, while we were yet enemies! And do not hastily pass over these tremendous words! For that we were His enemies means that we made Him feel our hatred; and that He was merciful implies that He felt our enmity against Him as our misery, and He pitied us, and sought our deliverance! We struck Him, spit upon Him, scourged Him, mocked Him, contradicted Him, poured contempt upon Him,—and in it all He experienced the misery of our sin, and pitied all, our woe! The more utterly we despised Him, the more deeply He pitied our lot; the more, pain we inflicted upon Him, the more fully He felt the misery of our wretchedness; the harder we struck Him, the deeper became His longing and determination to deliver us from that wretchedness that made us strike Him. More merciful He became as we became more hateful, until as we nailed the cruel spikes through His hands and feet, he cried out in prayer: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”
Adorable mercy of Christ, our Lord!
Unfathomable mercy of the God of our salvation, revealed in the mercy of Christ!
Depth of wisdom and knowledge of the divine program, that leads us to worship such boundless mercy from such hopeless depth of sin and shame!
It behooved Him! . . .
O yes; now we see a little of the divine logic, of the propriety of the lowly Christ, of the necessity that He should become like unto His brethren in all things.
For what does it mean that He became like unto His brethren, the sons God would lead to glory, in all glory? O, yes, it means that the eternal Son of God became weak and mortal man, that He assumed our flesh and blood, and that, too, the likeness of sinful flesh. But, and this is the point here:, it signifies that He lived our life, that He thought our thoughts, that He felt our desires, our emotions; that He entered into our world, under the curse of God; that He was mortal as we are mortal, corruptible as we are corruptible; that He suffered all our sorrow, that He felt, as we could never feel, the misery of our sin and death: all without sin!
He felt our misery before the face of God!
And thus He could be merciful, our sympathizing high priest!
And, being merciful, He could endure our enmity and the wrath of God!
Faithful unto the end!
O, my God!