Concerning Whom We Have Much To Say
This book of Hebrews is deep waters, dear friends. It has been spoken of as the book of the opened heavens because of the Man of whom it speaks — the One who has gone through all the heavens and who is seated far above all the heavens. He has ascended up on high.
I was affected by this little reference, "Concerning whom we have much to say", in Hebrews 5:11. The writer of this book is imbued with the glories of Christ, with the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus. He writes, "To which of the angels said he ever, Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee?" This has been said to no other! It has been said to none of the angels, but only to One!
And at the beginning of the book, he writes, "God having spoken in many parts and in many ways formerly to the prophets, at the end of these days has spoken to us in the person of the Son." Think of that! The starting point of this book is the Son. And he goes on to speak of His glories in the following verses.
But the first two sections that I read bear on us at the present time, in the sense that the Lord Jesus is our sympathetic high priest. He has gone through sufferings, He has learned obedience; He has endured temptations, and He is able to sympathise with us, as having gone through these experiences Himself. The Lord was here in flesh and blood conditions and, as we read through the four gospels, we can see how He took part in the sufferings of mankind. He took part in the sorrows that sin had brought in upon mankind. He was apart from sin — sin didn't attach to Him, but He came down to this scene that was marked by sin, and all the results of sin — illness, blindness, lameness, poverty — all these conditions into which mankind had fallen because of sin. The Lord Jesus drew near to sinners and tax gatherers. He ate with such persons. He drew near to the woman at the well in John 4 — this woman who had had five husbands and was so affected by the ravages of sin and by man's fallen nature. He came, as sin apart, but as drawing near and able to sympathise with such persons. And we don't want to set ourselves apart from such, dear friends. We all have part in man's fallen nature that has come in because of sin. And the Lord Jesus has come in order to draw near to such persons. He didn't come to save righteous persons, you know, but He came to save sinners.
We may have been brought up in Christian households and been very much favored, and perhaps our righteousness is like that of the scribes and Pharisees who thought they were not like the rest of men. Maybe we subconsciously think that way sometimes, but let us simply recognise that we are sinners. The Lord said, "Unless your righteousness surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees." The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was not sufficient. It was not sufficient to enter in to the kingdom of God. It was not sufficient for their salvation. The Lord says of the woman in Simon the Pharisee's house, "Her many sins are forgiven, for she loved much; but he to whom little is forgiven loves little." I think as we dig and go deep, and come to it that we are fallen sinners, and repent before God, and are forgiven, it will bring out our love for this Person, the Lord Jesus.
So the writer of this epistle brings in the priesthood of Christ. "Having therefore a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast the confession. For we have not a high priest not able to sympathise with our infirmities, but tempted in all things in like manner, sin apart. Let us approach therefore with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace for seasonable help." Well, these verses don't exactly have to do with our initial salvation, but they are part of the gospel. They are part of the glad tidings, because they have to with the Lord's priestly service to us in our daily lives. It speaks of our infirmities, temptations, and seasonable help. All these things have to do with our daily lives in the pathway of faith. We come across temptations; we find how infirm we are. He is able to sympathise with our infirmities. We don't have a high priest who is not able to sympathise with them — He does sympathise with our infirmities. Perhaps the Lord is bringing in infirmity amongst us so that we come to appreciate the Lord Jesus more as our great High Priest, who is able to sympathise with us in these things. And then temptations: "tempted in all things in like manner, sin apart." At the commencement of the Lord Jesus' public service, the Lord fasted and "After these things, he hungered." Then Satan came and tempted Him three times, The experience He went through in those temptations was very real to Him. And as having gone through those experiences, the Lord understands. He can draw near and sympathise with us in what we're going through.
Well, I read about how He went through the sufferings of death and how He approached death, because that was the most intense period, I believe, the most intense experience of temptations that the Lord went through. He says to the disciples, "Ye are they who have persevered with me in my temptations." And it says, "who, in the days of his flesh, having offered up both supplications and entreaties to him who was able to save him out of death, with strong crying and tears, having been heard because of his piety, though he were Son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered." These verses speak to us of the compressed temptation and the compressed agony and sorrow that He endured in the garden of Gethsemane, how He spoke to the Father, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, but nevertheless, not my will but thine be done." Think of the strong crying and tears that there were. It says of the Lord Jesus, "His sweat became as great drops of blood." Think of His feelings as approaching the awful matter of going into death to meet the sin question! How He recoiled, speaking reverently, from sin. He was "made sin" for us. What a terrible thing that the Lord Jesus, One who was "sin apart" in all His perfection, should go through the experience of being "made sin" for you and me. Doesn't that draw out our affection to Him? Doesn't that draw out our love for our precious Savior? Because without Him going through that experience, you and I would be lost eternally. No eternal salvation. No eternal life with Christ - no experience of enjoying life in eternal conditions with Him, but our part, instead, would be with the one for whom the lake of fire was prepared. But the Lord Jesus, in order to change that, went through this experience of Gethsemane, in which there were "strong crying and tears", recoiling from what was before Him, but He went into death and was made sin for you and me.
Well, that affects us. It affects us because it shows His true and unstinting devotion to God's will and His love for His own. "Ye are they who have persevered in my temptation." How He loved those few disciples, who were with Him to the end! It says "He withdrew from them about a stone's throw", in that garden. You know, there was something that they couldn't participate in and that they couldn't go through themselves, but that the Lord Jesus went through uniquely; yet He says to them, "Ye are they who have persevered with me in my temptation."
In chapter 10, we read of persons in our own dispensation, persons in the early days of the church's history — Hebrew saints, no doubt — who underwent much reviling and persecution from members of the synagogue. The Jewish establishment was totally set against the Lord Jesus. "We will not have this man to reign over us." They rejected Jesus as a fraud, and there was terrible antagonism and real reproach for anyone who came out of the synagogue and confessed Jesus Christ as Lord.
Well, I thought we should consider the sufferings that the early saints went through. He says, "Call to mind the earlier days." He is speaking to Hebrew saints here, who were in a state of decline. They had gone through these sufferings earlier, and declined, perhaps drawing back a little bit, slipping back a little bit, but he is seeking to revive them. "Call to mind the earlier days, in which, having been enlightened, ye endured much conflict of suffering, on the one hand when ye were made a spectacle in reproaches and afflictions, and on the other when ye became partakers with those who were passing through them." Well, the first part of that — "when ye were made a spectacle both in reproaches and afflictions" — refers to what persons went through themselves, as coming out of Judaism, coming out of the synagogue, and confessing the Lord's name — their own personal experiences. But the second part of the verse — "when ye became partakers with those who were passing through them" - is when they found other believers with whom to walk in Christian fellowship. "Partakers with those who were passing through them." That is, they had part in the sufferings that others were passing through, and that's the way the body is formed practically. "If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it." We come to understand the body of Christ in this practical way. When Saul, on the Damascus road, was addressed, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" it wasn't the Lord Jesus personally that he was persecuting exactly, but it was the Lord's body down here. Paul opens up this great impression in his ministry: the Lord Jesus as the Head in heaven and the Lord's body down here, in the saints.
The Lord is teaching us something of this at the present time. One and another are passing through reproach as becoming exercised and separating from iniquity, and persons are enduring real suffering. He says here, "ye have not yet resisted unto blood", but there is suffering involved, and it is for us to partake with one another in these sufferings — "when ye became partakers with those that were passing through them. For ye both sympathised with prisoners and accepted with joy the plunder of your goods, knowing that ye have for yourselves a better substance and an abiding one." Well, our sufferings of this little while have been really very light. We haven't been actual prisoners; we haven't actually had our goods plundered, but the Lord, in His ways, has brought in suffering, and He intends that we should find ourselves "a better substance and an abiding one." These experiences are meant to turn our thoughts heavenward, not just to the clouds and the stars and the sky and what's physically heavenward, but to the Person who lives in heaven — the Lord Jesus Himself.
He points to that later. "For yet a very little while, he that comes will come, and will not delay, but the just shall live by faith." He that comes will come. Every believer has that hope in his heart — the coming of the Lord Jesus to take us to be with Himself. Sometimes we speak of loving His appearing, when the Lord will come with all His saints, and will reign with them, but it's very precious to have a living hope as well. "He that comes will come, and will not delay" is the hope that the believer has, that when we see Him, we shall be like Him. That is the simple hope of being with Jesus. The believer has the great hope of simply being with Jesus, where He is.
Then he writes, "Ye have need of endurance, in order that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise." Well, endurance is a test of the present time, isn't it? Because you may go through an exercise, and you may experience the Lord's support in the exercise, but then it may, over time, dim a little bit; we may grow a little casual as to what we've been through, but the writer to the Hebrews is seeking to remind them of earlier days. These experiences we go through are meant by God to be landmarks in our histories, landmarks in our spiritual lives, that we can call to mind when difficulties arise — times when you know that the Lord came in for you! And you know the Lord helped you to move in faith, to take a step in faith, and you go back to that in your soul experience. I believe these landmarks help you to endure things that you might have to endure in the ways of God.
Well, we don't know how much longer we have to live here, till the Lord comes. We know that we don't, by taking one step of faith, see clearly the whole pathway that is before us. It's a step by step matter, but it is always in view of the hope that lies before us, the "hope of our calling on high in Christ Jesus our Lord."
May we thus, as enduring, experience the high priesthood of the Lord Jesus, in sympathising with our infirmities, helping us through our temptations, and seeing us through in our lives here, and may we come to a greater appreciation and love for the One who is so gloriously spoken of in this epistle to the Hebrews!
For His name's sake.
S. E. Hesterman
Concerning Whom We Have Much To Say