MacLaren Expositions Of Holy Scripture
For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;Hebrews
RIGHTEOUSNESS FIRST, PEACE SECOND
THAT mysterious, shadowy figure of the priest-king Melchizedec has been singularly illuminated and solidi-fled by recent discovery. You can see now in Berlin and London, letters written fourteen centuries before Christ, by a king of Jerusalem who describes himself almost in the very words which the Old and the New Testaments apply to Melchizedec. He says that he is a royal priest or a priestly king. He says that he derived his royalty neither from father nor mother, nor by genealogical descent; and he says that he owes it to ‘the great King’ - possibly an equivalent to the ‘Most High God’; of whom Melchizedec is in Scripture said to have been a worshipper. The name of the letter-writer is not Melehizedec, but the fact that his royalty was not hereditary, like a Pharaoh’s, may explain how each monarch bore his own personal appellation, and not one common to successive members of a dynasty.
And are not the names of King and city significant - ‘King of righteousness... King of peace’? It sounds like a yearning, springing up untimely in those dim ages of oppression and strife, for a royalty founded on something better than the sword, and wielded for something higher than personal ambition. Such an ideal at such a date is like a summer day that has wandered into a cold March.
But the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews imposes a meaning not only on the titles, but on their sequence, of course therein he is letting a sanctified imagination play round a fact, and giving to it a meaning which is not in it. None the less in that emphatic expression ‘first King of righteousness, and after that also King of peace,’ he penetrated very deeply into the heart of Christ’s reign and work, and echoed a sentiment that runs all through Scripture. Hearken to one psalmist: ‘The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.’ Hearken to another: ‘Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ Hearken to a prophet: ‘The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.’ Hearken to the most Hebraistic of New Testament writers: ‘The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace.’ Hearken to the central teaching of the most Evangelical, if I may so say, of New Testament writers: ‘Being justified’ - made righteous ‘by faith, we have peace with God.’ So the ‘first’ and the ‘after that’ reveal to us the very depth of Christ’s work, and carry in them not only important teaching as to that, but equally important directions and guides for Christian conduct; and it is to this aspect of my text, and this only, that I ask your attention now.
The order which we have here, ‘first of all King of righteousness, and after that King of peace,’ is the order which I shall try to illustrate in two ways. First, in reference to Christ’s work on the individual soul; second, in reference to Christ’s work on society and communities.
First, then, here we have laid down the sequence in which
I. Christ comes with His operations and His gifts to the soul that clings to Him.
First ‘righteousness... after... peace.’ Now I need not do more than in a sentence remind you of the basis upon which the thoughts in the text, and all right understanding of Christ’s work on an individual, repose, and that is that without righteousness no man can either be at peace with God or with himself. Not with God - for however shallow experience may talk effusively and gushingly about a God who is all mercy, and who loves and takes to His heart the sinner and the saint alike; such a God drapes the universe in darkness, and if there are no moral distinctions which determine whether a man is in amity or hostility with God, then ‘the pillared firmament itself is rottenness, and earth’s base built on stubble.’ No, no, brethren; it sounds very tender and kindly; at bottom it is the cruellest thing that you can say, to say that without righteousness a man can please God. The sun is in the heavens, and whether there be mist and fog down here, or the bluest of summer skies, the sun is above. But its rays coming through the ethereal blue are warmth and blessedness, and its rays cut off by mists are dim, and itself turned into a lurid ball of fire. It cannot be - and thank God that it cannot - that it is all the same to Him whether a man is saint
I do not need to remind you that in like manner righteousness must underlie peace with oneself. For it is true to-day, as it was long generations ago, according to the prophet, that ‘the wicked is like the troubled sea which cannot rest, whose waters throw up mire and dirt,’ and, on the other hand, the promise is true still and for ever; ‘O that thou hadst hearkened unto me, then had thy peace been like a river,’ because ‘thy righteousness’ will be ‘like the waves of the sea.’ For ever and ever it stands true that for peace with God, and for a quiet heart, and a nature at harmony with itself, there must be righteousness.
Well, then, Jesus Christ comes to bring to a man the righteousness without which there can he no peace in his life. And that is the meaning of the great word which, having been taken for a shibboleth and ‘test of a falling or a standing Church,’ has been far too much ossified into a mere theological dogma, and has been weakened and misunderstood in the process. Justification by faith; that is the battle-cry of Protestant communities. And what does it mean? That I shall be treated as righteous, not being sop That I shall be forgiven and acquitted? Yes, thank God! But is that all that it means, or is that the main thing that it means? No, thank God! for the very heart of the Christian doctrine of righteousness is this, that if, and as soon as, a man puts his trembling trust in Jesus Christ as his Saviour, then he receives not merely pardon, which is the uninterrupted flow of the divine love in spite of his sin, nor an accrediting him with a righteousness which does not belong to him, but an imparting to him of that new life, a spark from the central fire of Christ’s life, ‘the new man which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.’ Do not suppose that the great message of the gospel is merely forgiveness. Do not suppose that its blessed gift is only that a man is acquitted because Christ has died. All that is true. But there is something more than that which is the basis of that other, and that is that by faith in Jesus Christ, I am so knit to Him - ‘He that is joined to the Lord’ being ‘one spirit’ - as that there passes into me, by His gift, a life which is created after His life, and is in fact cognate and kindred with it.
No doubt it is a mere germ, no doubt it needs cultivating, development, carefully guarding against gnawing insects and blighting frosts. But the seed which is implanted, though it be less than the least of all seeds, has in itself the promise and the potency of triumphant growth, when it will tower above all the poisonous shrubs and undergrowth of the forest, and have the light of heaven resting on its aspiring top. Here is the great blessing and distinctive characteristic of Christian morality, that it does not say to a man: ‘First aim after good deeds and so grow up into goodness,’ but it starts with a gift, and says,’ Work from that, and by the power of that. "I make the tree good,"‘ says Jesus to us, ‘do you see to it that the fruit is good.’ No doubt the vegetable metaphor is inadequate, because the leaf is wooed from out the bud, and ‘grows green and broad, and takes no care,’ but that effortless growth is not how righteousness increases in men. The germ is given them, and they have to cultivate it. First, there must be the impartation of righteousness, and then there comes to the man’s heart the sweet assurance of peace with God, and he has within him ‘a conscience like a sea at rest, imaginations calm and fair.’ ‘First, King of righteousness; after that, King of peace.’
Now if we keep firm hold of this sequence, a great many of the popular objections to the gospel, as if it were merely a means of forgiveness and escape, and a system of reconciliation by some kind of forensic expedient, fall away of themselves, and a great many of the popular blunders that Christian people make fall away too. For there are good folks to whom the great truth that ‘God is in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing to them their trespasses,’ and welcoming them to all the fulness of an overflowing love, has obscured the other truth that there is no peace for a Christian man continuous through his life, unless equally continuous through his life are his efforts to work out in acts the new nature which he has received.
Thus my text, by the order in which it places righteousness and peace, not only illuminates the work of Christ upon each individual soul, but comes with a very weighty and clear direction to Christian people as to their course of conduct. Are you looking for comfort? Is what you want to get out of your religion mainly the assurance that you will not go to hell? Is the great blessing that Christ brings to you only the blessing of pardon, which you degrade to mean immunity from punishment? You are wrong. ‘First of all, King of righteousness’ - let that which is first of all in His gifts be first of all in your efforts too; and do not seek so much for comfort as for grace to know and to do your duty, and strength to ‘cast off the unfruitful works of darkness,’ and to ‘put on the armour of light.’ The order which is laid down in my text was laid down with a different application, by our Lord Himself, and ought to be in both forms the motto for all Christian people.
‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things’ - comfort, sense of reconciliation, assurance of forgiveness, joyful hope, and the like, as well as needful material good - ‘shall be added unto you.’
And now, secondly, my text gives the order of.
II. Christ’s work in the world, and of His servant’s work after Him.
Of course, our Lord’s work in the world is simply the aggregate of HIS work on individual souls. But for the sake of clearness we may consider these two aspects of it somewhat apart. In regard to this second part of my subject, I would begin, as I began in the former section, by reminding you that the only basis on which harmonious relations between men in communities, great or small, can be built, is righteousness, in the narrowest sense of the word, meaning thereby justice, equal dealing as between man and man, without partiality or class favouritism. Wherever you get an unjustly treated section or order of men, there you get the beginnings of war and strife. A social order built upon injustice, just in the measure in which it is so built, is based upon a quicksand which will suck it down, or on a volcano which will blow it to pieces. Injustice is the grit in the machine; you may oil it as much as you like with philanthropy and benevolence, but until you get the grit out, it will not work smoothly.
There is no harmony amongst men unless their association is based and bottomed upon righteousness.
Jesus Christ comes into the world to bring peace at the far end, but righteousness at the near end, and therefore strife. The herald angels sang peace upon earth. They were looking to the deepest and ultimate issues of His mission, but when He contemplated its immediate results He had to say, ‘Suppose ye that I bring peace on earth? I tell you nay, but rather division.’ He rode into Jerusalem ‘the King, meek, and having salvation,’ throned upon the beast of burden which symbolised peace. But He will come forth in the last fight, as He has been coming forth through all the ages, mounted on the white horse, with the sword girt upon His thigh in behalf of meekness and righteousness and truth. Christ, and Christianity when it keeps close to Christ, is a ferment, not an emollient. The full and honest application of Christ’s teaching and principles to any society on the face of the earth at this day is bound to result in agitation and strife. There is no help for it. When a pure jet of water is discharged into a foul ditch, there will be much uprising of mud. Effervescence will always follow when Christ’s principles are applied to existing institutions. And so it comes to pass that Christian men, in the measure in which they are true to their Master, turn the world upside down. There will follow, of course, the tranquillity that does follow on righteousness; but that is far ahead, and there is many a weary mile to be trod, and many a sore struggle to be undertaken, before the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and strife ends for ever.
Now, if this be so, then in this necessary characteristic of Christ’s operation on the world, viz., disturbance arising from the endeavour to enthrone righteousness where its opposite has ruled ‘there results very plainly important teaching as to the duties of Christ’s servants to take their full share in the fight, to be the knights of the Holy Ghost, the champions of righteousness. The Church ought to lead in the van of all assaults on hoary wrongs or modern forms of unrighteousness in municipal, political, national life. And it is the disgrace of the Church that so largely it leaves that contest to be waged by men who make no pretence to be Christians. There is, unfortunately, a type of Christian thinking and life, of which in many respects one would speak with all sympathy and admiration, which warns the Christian Church against casting itself into this contest, in the alleged interest of a superior spirituality and a loftier conception of Evangelical truth. I believe, as heartily as any man can - and I venture to appeal to those who hear me Sunday by Sunday, and from year to year, whether it is not so - that the preaching of Jesus Christ is the cure for all the world’s miseries, and the banishment of all the world’s unrighteousness; but am I to be told that the endeavour to apply the person and the principles of Jesus Christ, in His life and death, to existing institutions and evils, is not preaching Christ? I believe that it is, and that the one thing that the Church wants to-day is not less of holding up the Cross and the Sacrifice, but more of pointing to the Cross and the Sacrifice as the cure of all the world’s evils, and the pattern for all righteousness.
It is difficult to do, it is made difficult by our own desire to be what the prophet did not think a very reputable position, ‘at ease in Zion.’ It is also made difficult by the way in which, as is most natural, the world, meaning thereby godless, organised society, regards an active Church that desires to bring its practices to the test of Christ’s word- Muzzled watchdogs that can neither bark nor bite are much admired by burglars. And a Church that confines itself to theory, to what it calls religion, and leaves the world to go to the devil as it likes, suits both the world and the devil. There was once a Prime Minister of England who came out of church one Sunday morning in a state of towering indignation because the clergyman had spoken about conduct. And that is exactly how the world feels about an intrusive Church that will push its finger into all social arrangements, and say about each of them, ‘This must be as Christ commanded.’
Brethren! would God that all Christian men deserved the name of ‘troublers of Israel.’ There was once a prophet to whom the men of his day indignantly said, ‘O sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? Put up thyself in thy scabbard, rest and be still.’ And the answer was the only possible one, ‘How can it be quiet, seeing that the Lord hath appointed it?’ If you and I are Christ’s servants, we shall follow the sequence of His operations, and seek to establish righteousness first and then peace. The true Salem is above.
‘My soul, there is a country
Afar beyond the stars.’
There ‘sweet peace sits crowned with smiles.’ The swords will then be wreathed with laurel and men ‘shall learn war no more,’ for the King has fought the great fight, ‘and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end... in righteousness and justice, from henceforth even for ever.’ Let us take Him for ‘the Lord our righteousness,’ and we shall blessedly find that ‘this Man is our peace.’ Let us take arms in the Holy War which He wages, and we shall have peace in our hearts whilst the fight is sorest. Let us labour to ‘be found in Him... having the righteousness which is of God by faith,’ and then we shall ‘be found in Him in peace, without spot, blameless.’
For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;Hebrews
THE PRIEST WHOM WE NEED
Hebrews 7:26‘IT became Him to make the Captain of our salvation perfect through sufferings.’ ‘In all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren.’ ‘Such an High Priest became us.’ In these three sayings Of this Epistle the historical facts of the gospel are considered as corresponding to or in accordance and congruity with, respectively, the divine nature; Christ’s character and purpose; and man’s need. I have considered the two former texts in previous sermons, and now I desire to deal with this latter. It asserts that Jesus Christ, regarded as the High Priest, meets the deepest wants of every heart, and fits human necessity as the glove does the hand. He is the answer to all our questions, the satisfaction of all our wants, the bread for our hunger, the light for our darkness, the strength for our weakness, the medicine for our. sickness, the life for our death. ‘Such a High Priest became us.’
But the other side is quite as true. Christianity is in full accordance with men’s wants, Christianity is in sharp antagonism with a great deal which men suppose to be their wants. Men’s wishes, desires, readings of their necessities and conceptions of what is in accordance with the divine nature, are not to be taken without more ado as being the guides of what a revelation from God ought to be. The two characteristics of correspondence and opposition must both unite, in all that comes to us certified as being from God. There is an ‘offence of the Cross’; and Christ, for all His correspondence with the deepest necessities of human nature, and I might even say just by reason of that correspondence, will be ‘to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness.’ If a message professing to be from God had not the discord between man’s expectations and its facts, a message so like a man’s would bear upon its front the evidence that it was of man. It a message professing to be from God had not the correspondence with man’s deepest wants, a message so unlike
men would bear upon its front the evidence that it was not of God.
So then, remembering the necessary complementary thought to this of my text that ‘such a high priest became us,’ there are two or three considerations springing from the words that I desire to suggest.
I. The first of them is this - we all need a priest, and we have the priest we need in Jesus Christ.
The outstanding fact in reference to human nature in this connection is that it is a sinful nature. We have all departed from the path of rectitude and have nourished desires and tastes and purposes which do not rend us apart from God, and between us and Him do interpose a great barrier. Our consciences need a priest, or rather they say ‘Amen’ to the necessity born of our sins, that there shall stand between us and God ‘a great High Priest.’ I need not elaborate or enlarge upon this matter. The necessity of Christ’s sacerdotal character, and the adaptation of that character to men’s deepest wants, are not only to be argued about, but we have to appeal to men’s consciences, and try to waken them to an adequate and profound sense of the reality and significance of the fact of transgression. If once a man comes to feel, what is true about him, that he is in God’s sight a sinful man; to regard that fact in all its breadth, in all its consequences, in all its depth, there will not want any more arguing to make him see that a gospel which deals primarily with the fact of sin, and proclaims a priest whose great work is to offer a sacrifice, is the gospel that he needs.
In fair weather, when the summer seas are sunny and smooth, and all the winds are sleeping in their caves, the life-belts on the deck of a steamer may be thought to be unnecessary, but when she strikes on the black- toothed rocks, and all about is a hell of noise and despair, then the meaning of them is understood, When you are amongst the breakers you will need a life-buoy. When the flames are flickering round you, you will understand the use and worth of a fire-escape, and when you have learned what sort of a man you are, and what that involves in regard of your relations to God, then the mysteries which surround the thought of the high priesthood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ will be accepted as mysteries, and left where they are, and the fact will be grasped with all the tendrils of your soul as the one hope for you in life and in death.
I do not care to argue a man out of his imperfect apprehensions, if he have them, of the mission and work of Jesus Christ. But oh, dear friends! you for whose blood I am in some sense responsible, let me plead with you this one thought - you have not taken the point of view from which to judge of the gospel until you have stood in the perfect rectitude of heaven and contrasted your blackness with its stainless purity, and its solemn requirements; and have looked all round the horizon to see if anywhere there is a means by which a sinful soul can be liberated from the dragon’s sting of conscience, and from the crushing burden of guilt, and set upon a rock, emancipated and cleansed. We need a priest because we are sinful men, and sin means separation in fact and alienation in spirit, and the entail of dreadful consequences, which, as far as Nature is concerned, cannot be prevented from coming. And so sin means that if men are to be brought again into the fellowship and the family of God, it must be through One who, being a true priest, offers a real sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
The new science of comparative religion has been made by some of its adepts to bear witness unfavorably to the claims of Christianity. A far truer use of it would be this - Wherever men have worshipped, they have worshipped at an altar, there has been on it a sacrifice offered by a purged hand that symbol seal moral purity. And all these are witnesses that humanity recognises the necessity which my text Affirms has been met in Christ. Some people would say ‘Yes! and your doctrine of a Christ who is sacrifice and priest, has precisely the same origin as those altars, many smoking with sacrifices to tyrannical gods.’ But to me the relation between the faiths of the world and the gospel of Christ, in reference to this matter, is much rather this, that they proclaim a want, and that Christ brings the satisfaction of it; that they with one voice cry, ‘Oh! that I knew where I might find Him! How shall a man be just with God?’ and that the Cross of Christ answers their longings, and offers the means by which we may draw nigh to God. ‘Such a High Priest became us.’
II. We may take another consideration from these words, viz. - We need for a priest a perfect man, and we have the perfect priest whom we need, in Jesus Christ.
The writer goes on to enumerate a series of qualifies by which our Lord is constituted the priest we need. Of these five qualities which follow in my text, the three former are those to which I now refer. ‘He is holy, harmless, undefiled.’
Now I do not need to spend time in discussing the precise meaning of these words, but a remark or two about each of them may perhaps .be admissible. Taken generally, these three characteristics refer to the priest’s relation to God, to other men, and to the law of purity. ‘He is holy’; that is to say, not so much morally free from guilt as standing in a certain relation to God. The word here used for ‘holy’ has a special meaning. It is the representative of an old Testament word, which seems to mean ‘Devoted to God in love.’ And it expresses not merely the fact of consecration, but the motive and the means of that consecration, as being the result of God’s love or mercy which kindles self-surrendering love in the recipient. Such is the first qualification for a priest, that he shall be knit to God by loving devotion, and have a heart throbbing in unison with the divine heart in all its tenderness of pity and in all its nobleness and loftiness of purity.
And, besides being thus the earthly echo and representative of the whole sweetness of the divine nature, so, in the next place, the priest we need must, in relation to men, be harmless - without malice, guile, unkindness; a Lamb of God, with neither horns to butt, nor teeth to tear, nor claws to wound, but gentle and gracious, sweet and compassionate; or, as we read in another place in this same letter, ‘a merciful High Priest in things pertaining to God.’ And the priest that we need to bridge over the gulf between us sinful and alienated men and God, must not only be one knit to God in all sympathy, and representing His purity and tenderness amongst us; nor must the priest that we need by reason of our miseries, our sorrows, our weaknesses, our bleeding wounds, our broken hearts, be only a priest filled with compassion and merciful, who can lay a gentle hand upon our sore and sensitive spirits, but the priest that we men, spattered and befouled with the mire and filth of sin, which has left deep stains upon our whole nature, need, must be one ‘undefiled,’ on whose white garments there shall be no speck; on the virgin purity of whose nature there shall be no stain; who shall stand above us, though He be one of us, and whilst ‘ it behoves Him to be made in all points like unto His brethren,’ shall yet be ‘without blemish and without spot.’
‘It behoved Him to be made like unto HIS brethren.’ The priest of the world must be like the world. My text says, ‘Yes! and He must be absolutely unlike the world.’ Now, is this not a strange thing - this is a disgression, but it may be allowed for one moment - is it not a strange thing that in these four little tracts which we call gospels, that might all be printed upon two sides of a penny newspaper, you get drawn; with such few strokes, a picture which harmonises, in a possible person, these two opposite requirements, the absolute unlikeness and the perfect likeness? Think of how difficult it would be if it was not a copy from life, to draw a figure with these two characteristics harmonised. What geniuses the men must have been that wrote the gospels, if they were not something much simpler than that, honest witnesses who told exactly what they saw! The fact that the life and death of Jesus Christ, as recorded in Scripture, present this strange combination of two opposite requirements in the most perfect harmony and beauty, is in my eyes no contemptible proof of the historical veracity of the picture which is presented to us. If the life was not lived I, for one, do not believe that it ever could have been invented.
But that, as I said, has nothing to do with my present subject. And so I pass on just to notice, in a word, how this assemblage of qualifications which, taken together, make up the idea of a perfect man, is found in Jesus Christ for a certain purpose, and a purpose beyond that which some of you, I am afraid, are accustomed to regard. Why this innocence; this God- devotedness; this blamelessness; this absence of all selfish antagonism?
Why this life, so sweet, so pure, so gentle, so running over with untainted and ungrudging compassion, so conscious of unbroken and perfect communion and sympathy with God? Why? That He might, ‘through the Eternal Spirit, offer Himself without spot unto God’; and that by His one offering He might perfect for ever all them that put their trust in Him.
Oh, brother! you do not understand the meaning of Christ’s innocence unless you see in it the condition of efficiency of His sacrifice. It is that He might be the priest of the world that He wears this fine linen clean and white, the righteousness of a pure and perfect soul.
I beseech you, then, ponder for yourselves the meaning of this admitted fact. We all acknowledge His purity. We all adore, in some sense of the word, His perfect manhood. If the one stainless and sinless man that the world has ever seen had such a life and such a death as is told in these gospels, they are no gospels, except on one supposition. But for it they are the most despairing proclamation of the old miserable fact that righteousness suffers in the world. The life of Christ, if He be the pure and perfect man that we believe Him to be, and not the perfect priest offering up a pure sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, is the most damning indictment that was ever drawn up against the blunders of a Providence that so misgoverns the world.
‘He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.’ And, therefore, when we look upon His sufferings, in life and in death, we can only understand them and the relation of His innocence to the divine heart when we say: ‘Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him. He hath put Him to grief,’ ‘by His stripes we are healed. Such a priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled’; the sacrificial Lamb, without blemish and without spot.
III. Lastly, my text suggests that we need a priest in the heavens, and we have in Christ the heavenly priest whom we need.
The two last qualifications for the priestly office included in my text are, ‘separate from sinners; made higher than the heavens.’ Now, the ‘separation’ intended, is not, as I suppose, Christ’s moral distance from evil-doers, but has what I may call a kind of half-local signification, and is explained by the next clause. He is ‘separate from sinners’ not because He is pure and they foul, but because having offered His sacrifice He has ascended up on high.
He is ‘made higher than the heavens.’ Scripture sometimes speaks of the living Christ as at present in the heavens, and at others as having ‘passed through’ and being ‘high above all heavens’; in the former ease simply giving the more general idea of exaltation, in the latter the thought that He is lifted, in His manhood and as our priest, above the bounds of the material and visible creation, and ‘set at the right hand of the Majesty on high.’
Such a priest we need. His elevation and separation from us upon earth is essential to that great and continual work of His which we call, for want of any more definite name, His intercession. The High Priest in the heavens presents His sacrifice there for ever. The past fact of His death on the Cross for the sins of the whole world is ever present as an element determining the direction of the divine dealings with all them that put their trust in Him. That sacrifice was not once only offered upon the Cross, but is ever, in the symbolical language of Scripture, presented anew in the heavens by Him. No time avails to corrupt or weaken the efficacy of that blood; and He has offered one sacrifice for Sins for ever. Such a priest we need, to-day, presenting the sacrifice which, today, in our weakness and sinfulness, we require.
We need a priest who in the heavens bears us in His heart. As His type in the Old Testament economy entered within the veil with the blood; and when he passed within the curtain and stood before the Light of the Shekinah, had on his breast and on his shoulders, - the home of love, the seat of strength - the names of the tribes, graven on flashing stones, so our priest within the veil has your name and mine, if we love Him, close by His heart, governing the flow of His love, and written on His shoulders, and on the palms of His pierced hands, that all His strength may be granted to us. ‘Such a priest became us.’
And we need a priest separated from the world, lifted above the limitations of earth and time, wielding the powers of divinity in the hands that once were laid in blessing on the little children’s heads. And such a priest we have. We need a priest in the heavens, whose presence there makes that strange country our home; and by whose footstep, passing through the gates and on to the golden pavements, the gate is open for us, and our faltering poor feet can tread there. And such a priest we have, passed within the veil, that to-day, in aspiration and prayer; and to-morrow in reality and person, where He is, there we may be also. ‘Such a priest became us.’
We need no other; we do need .Him. Oh, friend! are you resting on that sacrifice? Have you given Tour cause into His hands to plead? Then the great High Priest will make you too His priest to offer a thank-offering, and Himself will present for ever the sacrifice that takes away your sin and brings you near to God. ‘It is Christ that died, yea I rather, that is risen again’; and whose death and resurrection alike led on to His ascension to the right hand of God, where for ever ‘He maketh intercession for us.’
Expositions Of Holy Scripture, Alexander MacLaren
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