Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep…
To most of us, I suppose, the various names by which our Saviour is designated in Scripture are just like so many aliases, indiscriminately used, and all conveying the same impression. But, in truth, they each suggest some distinctive aspect of His nature or relations to us, and in Scripture are never used without at least a sidelong glance to their special significance. The writer's thought is always tinted, as it were, even if it is not deeply coloured, by the name which he selects. I have chosen the words which I have read as our starting-point, because they very strikingly bring together the extreme names; that which expresses lowly manhood and that which expresses sovereign authority, "Jesus our Lord," in the union whereof lie the mystery of His being, and the foundation of our hopes, and by which union He becomes "that great Shepherd of the sheep."
I. So, then, in the pursuit of this design, I have to ask you to notice, first, THE SIMPLE, HUMAN NAME JESUS.
1. Let us ever keep distinctly before us that suffering and dying manhood as the only ground for acceptable sacrifice and of full access and approach to God. Then, further, let us ever keep before our minds clear and plain that true manhood of Jesus as being the type and pattern of the devout life,
3. Then, again, let us set clearly before us that exalted manhood as the pattern and pledge of the glory of the race.
II. Then we have THE NAME OF OFFICE — JESUS IS CHRIST. IS your Jesus merely the man who by the meek gentleness of His nature, the winning attractiveness of His persuasive speech, draws and conquers, and stands manifested as the perfect example of the highest form of manhood, or is He the Christ, in whom the hopes of a thousand generations are realised; and the promises of God fulfilled, and the smoking altars and the sacrificing priests of that ancient system, and of heathenism everywhere, find their answer, their meaning, their satisfaction, their abrogation? Is Jesus to you the Christ of God?
III. We have THE NAME OF DIVINITY — JESUS THE CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD. NOW that designation, either in its briefer form, "the Son," or in its fuller form, "the Son of God," is, we may say, a characteristic of this letter. The keynote is struck in the very first words. And then the writer goes on in a glorious flow of profound truth and lofty eloquence to set forth the majesty of this Son's nature, and the wonderfulness of His relations to the whole world. Jesus is this Son. Once, and once only, in the letter does the writer buckle together these two ideas which might seem to be antithetic, and at the utmost possible poles of opposition from each other: the lowly manhood and the wondrous Divinity. But they are united in Him who, by the union of them both, becomes the High Priest of our profession — Jesus, the Son of God. Further, the name is employed in its contracted form to enhance the mystery and the mercy of His sharp sufferings and of His lowly endurance. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." The fuller form is employed to enhance the depth of the guilt and the dreadfulness of the consequences of apostasy, as in the solemn words about "crucifying the Son of God afresh," and in the awful appeal to our own judgments to estimate of how sore punishment they are " worthy who trample under foot the Son of God." In like manner once or twice our letter speaks of Jesus as "Lord," declaring thereby His Sovereignty, and setting forth our relation of dependence and submission.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,