“Christ gives what no one else can, and Christ Himself is the greatest of His gifts” by Bobby Jamieson

“We return one last time to this book’s proper subject, the Christ whom Hebrews proclaims. The question with which we conclude is, So what?

What difference did the author of Hebrews intend his portrait of Christ’s person to make in the lives of those who heard his message? What role does Christ’s person play in Hebrews’ hortatory program?

Adolf Schlatter put his finger on the problem Hebrews’ recipients were facing. He said that they were asking, ‘Is it worth it to be a Christian?’ Hebrews answers with a single word: Christ.

The refrain of urgent reassurance that resounds through the letter is, ‘We have Christ.’

What do we have?

A great high priest who is not only exalted but compassionate, a hope that anchors our soul in the inner sanctum in heaven, a high priest seated on God’s throne, confidence to enter the Holy of Holies, an altar from which none but Christ’s people may eat (Hebrews 4:14-16; 6:19-20; 8:1-2; 10:19, 22; 13:10).

In Hebrews, Christ’s work cannot be divided from His person, nor His person from His work. Who He is and what He gives are inseparable. And the greatest gift He gives is Himself. ‘We share in Christ’ (Heb. 3:6).

In Hebrews 8:1-2, summing up the message of the whole letter, Hebrews appeals not only to Christ’s status and present ministry as high priest, but to the fact that this priest reigns on God’s throne.

What matters for Hebrews hearers is that our high priest is not only a man like us but also the God who rules over us. Jesus’ present priestly intercession is a salvific exercise of divine omnipotence.

If this high priest grants you access to God, none can take it away.

As Nikolaus Walter has put it, Hebrews’ portrayal of Jesus as both high priest and sacrifice is in its way an unsurpassable rendering of solus Christus: salvation is in Christ alone.

And Hebrews constantly appeals to who Christ is in order to announce why He alone can save.

The Son extends sonship to ‘many sons’ (Heb. 2:10) by becoming human like us (Heb. 2:11).

The Son became incarnate in order by his own death to deal death a deathblow (Heb. 2:14-15).

The Son was made like His brothers in every way to become the priest we needed, and He can help the tempted because He was tempted (Heb. 2:17-18).

The Son abounds in compassion because He sinlessly endured every temptation (Heb. 4:15).

The Son was perfected with indestructible life at His resurrection (Heb. 7:16) so that He is now able to intercede unceasingly for His own (Heb. 7:25).

The Son assumed a body in order to offer that body back to God in heaven (Heb. 10:5-14).

The Son began a universal rule after accomplishing salvation and was entitled to that universal rule by His unique claim to both divine and Davidic sonship (Heb. 1:3-4, 5-14).

Christ’s divine and human constitution and His faithful execution of His whole incarnate mission are integral to His ability to save.

Only this Christ can save. Only one who is divine; who became human; who endured temptation and gave His life in death; who was raised incorruptible; and who now reigns in heaven can deal decisively with sin, give us access to God, and make the new creation our permanent possession.

The heartbeat of Hebrews’ pastoral program is present possession of Christ. What makes being a Christian worth it is who Christ is, what Christ alone has done for us, and what Christ alone can give us.

Everything Christ gives is founded on and follows from not only what He has done, but who He is. Christ gives what no one else can, and Christ Himself is the greatest of His gifts.

No one else will do. But if you have Christ, you have all you need.”

–R.B. Jamieson, The Paradox of Sonship: Christology in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2021), 168-169.

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