In our previous article we were discussing the question, whether the term “flesh” in the phrase “through the veil, that is, His flesh” could be read as though the text said “His body”.
We then remarked that, in our opinion, the two terms are not identical in meaning; that they are not used interchangeably without a distinctive meaning in each. It is, therefore, our conviction that for the proper understanding of the term “flesh” in our text it can aid us a great deal to inquire into the respective usage and meaning of the terms “flesh” and “body” in Holy Writ, that is, as these terms are used to designate the flesh of Jesus in distinction from His body.
It was noted in the concluding paragraph of our previous writing, that these two terms are not identical. That they are not identical in scope and meaning should be evident merely from the consideration, that when we presently enter into heaven’s glory after the resurrection, we shall then not have flesh and blood, although we shall have our own body! We shall then have our own body raised from the dead; but this body will then not be “flesh and blood”. The latter cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. (). From this it is evident that “flesh” and “body” are not identical when speaking of the redeemed saints.
Body and flesh are not the same!
This fact is very evident also from what we read in, where we read: “Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able to subject all things unto Himself.” Mow surely here we could not possibly substitute the terms “flesh” for the terms “body” and read: Who shall fashion anew the flesh of our humiliation, that it be conformed according to the flesh of His glory! Jesus’ body as to the flesh was buried; but after three days He arose in the body that is heavenly. It is a body that is not at all flesh. It is the glorious body fitting in with the new heaven and the new earth, where “flesh and blood” cannot enter, not even the flesh and blood of Jesus!
Well may we take notice of this fact to our comfort and to the glory of God for such matchless wisdom!
Inwe read of Jesus passing through the veil of His flesh and we with Him. It is full of rich comfort. It is comforting to know that the Son of God came in our flesh. Yes, He also came a body; a body was prepared for Him from God. To that we would too presently call attention. But now we would concentrate on the implications of Jesus’ coming in our “flesh”. Let us attend to it.
The term “flesh’ ‘in distinction from “body” evidently indicates very strongly the commonness of nature between Jesus and all the human race out of which He according to eternal election gathers unto Himself a Church by His Word and Spirit. He is like unto us in all things, sin excepted. This is repeatedly emphasized by this term in various parts of the book of Hebrews as well as in other parts of Scripture.
Thus we read inas follows: “For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and through Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth (Christ) and they that are sanctified (we as the elect believers) are all of one (Adam). For which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren saying, I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, In the midst of the congregation will I sing Thy praise. And again: I will put my trust in Him. And again: Behold I and the children whom God hath given me. Since then the children are sharers of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) also in like manner Himself partook of the same, that through death He might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil . . . Wherefore it behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.”
In the above quotation what is between brackets is of us; also the underscoring is of the undersigned.
In this quotation itself our chief interest is to show that the term “flesh” underscores the singular fact that it is exactly in the Son’s becoming “flesh” that He is made like unto us in all things. The person of the Son comes to be united with our human nature, that is, in our flesh. The millions of human individuals all have their own individual bodies; each body is stamped with individuality! But all have the tie of flesh and blood in common. All are out of one blood, Adam, be it then in the way of the commingling of many bloods, either within one nation or by the commingling of the bloods of nations. In any case the term “flesh” indicates the notion of the commonness of a human nature. It is, no doubt, for this reason that we read of the whole human race as “all flesh”.
For this very reason Jesus did not assume the nature of angels, nor is He a newly created being, but He is made like unto us in all things; He is born from a woman and made under the law, in order that He might give unto us the adoption of sons, that we might pass through His meritorious labors unto the Father in the full assurance of faith.
This fact, of Jesus being in the flesh, is also underscored in, where we read, “Who in the days of His flesh, having offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and having been heard for His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet learned obedience from the things which He suffered; and having been made perfect, He became unto all that obey Him the author of eternal salvation.”
It should be noticed that Jesus was the author of eternal salvation in our flesh, in the days of His flesh He thus cried to God in Gethsemane! He could only save us by thus bringing about our salvation, that is, by being the way for us to God the Father in His flesh. Here in the flesh He was so much like us, even though He is the Son, that He learns, learns, learns obedience from that which He suffers. And when He has learned the full implication of obedience, even in the depths of the agony of hell, then He can say: It is finished. He is then perfected. And we can through the rent veil of His flesh draw nigh unto God in the full assurance of faith.
O, wondrous God! Thou who hast so willed to be and who art thus indeed in Thy unsearchable being, that it behooved Thee thus to bring many sons to glory! We can only worship here at Thy footstool in silent adoration as well as in audible praise. O, mystery of godliness that is great; Thy depths we cannot fathom. Could we fathom Thee Thou shouldest not be true. Here in the fathomless depths of wisdom in the cross do we find rest and solace, In the midst of the temptations and storms of life we here rest assured in the secret place of Thy throne and abide under the shadow of Thee the Almighty!
What a comfort that it is through the “veil of Jesus’ flesh” that we may boldly draw near unto the holiest, the throne of grace. Indeed, behold! then that the veil in the temple is rent in twain from top to bottom at the very moment that Jesus said: It is finished. At that moment God said to the better than Abraham: It is enough. Now I know that thou indeed fearest Me my Son; Thou hast believed in me before all the hosts of hell and before the cherubims and seraphims. It is enough, thy obedience is perfected in the “flesh”. Abraham brought a sacrifice in faith; God saw the heart and accepted it; but here is the sacrifice Abraham might only behold, he might see this moment from afar and be glad in the full assurance of faith. O blessed pleerophorias. Faith is carried through to the very end in Abraham. It could rise no higher, the assurance could not be stronger in the father of believers than it was at that moment on Mount Moriah. But in the days of Jesus’ flesh at Gethsemane as well as on Calvary’s brow all Abraham’s faith could not span the length and breadth, nor could it sound the depths of the love which energized the faith of Jesus in His mediatorial sufferings! Here is faith perfected in obedience in the Son in our flesh!
Let us draw near in faith.
Here stands a minister of the gospel. He preaches the ministry of reconciliation. He does not make much pulpit ado. He simply preaches the gospel of our salvation in Jesus. He preaches Jesus the great high priest in the temple of God. Not sacrifice delights the Lord. Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not. That did not befit God. Herein the greatness of God is not manifested. It is still man bringing something to God. Nay, but when God comes and reconciles us unto Himself in the Son in our flesh, that is God-glorifying. All God’s virtues are thus made great. This Jesus sees. Hence he says: Behold, I come to do Thy will, O God. Behold, in the volume of the book it is written of me. Now is God glorified in the Son, and God shall straightway glorify Him!
For Jesus stands here in our flesh, but He stands here too, in His own body. He has an eye to see. The Son of God, the person of the Son sees through human eyes, the eyes of a man under the curse of the aw. He hears the law of God through the ears of a man, and that man is the Son of God in our flesh, like unto us in all things.
Yes, God has prepared for Him the body. It is the body of flesh and blood in the “days of his flesh”. But now it is no more a body of flesh. It is the body glorious, the body of the Lord of Glory, the Last Adam, whose image we bear by faith.
The preacher still preaches. For it is through the preaching that God saves those who believe (credentes). This must not be made the Arminian: if ye believe. And so the preacher preaches, teaches, admonishes and says: let us draw near in the full assurance of faith, let us not let this great salvation slip through our fingers. We have it, let us hold what we have that no one take our crown.
Ah, no, do not say: we do not need these admonitions. Let us not be wiser than God and separate what God had put together. Even the Lord Jesus in the high priestly prayer says: Keep them in Thy Word; the Son of God gathers, defends and preserves His Church by His Spirit through the preaching. Being kept by this preaching let us draw near and abide under His wings!