Category Archives: Priest Most High

“The throne of God’s saving grace” by Robert Traill

“I know no true religion but Christianity. I know no true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ: of His divine person, (the image of the invisible God, Col. 1:15); of His divine office, (the Mediator betwixt God and men, 1 Tim. 2:5); of His divine righteousness, (He is the Lord our Righteousness, Jer. 23:6; which name is also called upon His church, Jer. 38:16) and of His divine Spirit, (which all that are His receive, Rom. 8:9).

I know no true ministers of Christ, but such as make it their business, in their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in His saving fulness of grace and glory, to the faith and love of men; no true Christian, but one united to Christ by faith, and abiding in Him by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of Jesus Christ, in the beauties of gospel-holiness.

Ministers and Christians of this spirit, have for many years been my brethren and companions, and, I hope, shall ever be, whithersoever the hand of God shall lead me.

Through the Lord’s mercy to me, (as to many in London), I have often heard what is far more worthy of the press, than anything I can publish.

Whatever you may think of my way of managing this subject, (and indeed there is nothing in that, either as designed or expected by me, or that in itself deserveth any great regard); yet the theme itself, all must judge, who have spiritual senses, is of great importance, and always seasonable.

It is concerning the throne of God’s saving grace, reared up in Jesus Christ, and revealed unto men in the gospel; with the application all should make to that throne, the great blessings to be reaped by that application, and mens great need of those blessings.

May the Lord of the harvest, who ministered this seed to the sower, make it bread to the eater, and accompany it with His blessing on some that are called to inherit a blessing, and I have my end and desire; the reader shall have the benefit; and the Lord shall have the glory; for of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Robert Traill
London
March 25, 1696″

–Robert Traill, “Preface to The Throne of Grace,” The Works of Robert Traill, vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1810), ix-x.

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“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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“He deals gently with us” by Dane Ortlund

“When we sin, we are encouraged to bring our mess to Jesus because He will know just how to receive us.

He doesn’t handle us roughly.

He doesn’t scowl and scold.

He doesn’t lash out, the way many of our parents did.

And all this restraint on His part is not because He has a diluted view of our sinfulness. He knows our sinfulness far more deeply than we do.

Indeed, we are aware of just the tip of the iceberg of our depravity, even in our most searching moments of self-knowledge.

His restraint simply flows from His tender heart for His people.

Hebrews is not just telling us that instead of scolding us, Jesus loves us.

It’s telling us the kind of love He has: rather than dispensing grace to us from on high, He gets down with us, He puts His arm around us, He deals with us in the way that is just what we need. (Hebrews 4:14-5:4)

He deals gently with us.”

–Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 54-55.

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“With all meekness and gentleness” by John Owen

“The high priest is able to bear with the people patiently and meekly, so as to continue the faithful discharge of his office towards them and for them.

This, as we observed, Moses was not able always to do, as he also complains, ‘Have I conceived all this people? Have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nurse beareth the sucking child?’ (Numbers 11:12)

Yet this is required in a high priest, and that he should no more cast off poor sinners for their ignorance and wanderings than a nursing mother should cast away a sucking child for its crying.

So our apostle, in his imitation of Jesus Christ, affirms that in the church he was ‘gentle among them, even as a nurse cherisheth her children,” (1 Thess. 2:7);—not easy to be provoked, not ready to take offence or cast off the care of him.

So it is said of God, Acts 13:18, that for forty years ἐτροποφόρησε, ‘He bore with the manners of the people in the wilderness;’ or as some read it, ἐτροφοφόρησε, ‘He bore’ or ‘fed them, as a nurse feedeth her child.’

Thus ought it to be with a high priest, and thus is it with Jesus Christ.

He is able, with all meekness and gentleness, with patience and moderation, to bear with the infirmities, sins, and provocations of His people, even as a nursing mother beareth with the weakness of a poor infant.”

–John Owen, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Vol. 4, ed. W. H. Goold, Works of John Owen, vol. 21 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1854/1985), 4: 455–456.

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“All His footsteps were nothing but mercy” by Wilhelmus à Brakel

“You who are godly, ‘Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy’ (Hos. 10:12); ‘Keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually’ (Hos. 12:6). In order to stir you up more to this end, give heed to the following matters with an obedient heart.

First, precepts teach, but examples attract.

Therefore, observe those compassionate persons who have gone before you, and have left you an example. The most perfect example is the Lord Jesus, whom you ought to follow joyfully and willingly, since He is altogether lovely to you.

Read only the history of His life, the gospels, and you will perceive that all His footsteps were nothing but mercy. Time and again you will read: “Jesus being moved with compassion…”

He was not merely moved, however, but His compassion culminated in deeds. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, gave the oppressed their dead again, and traversed the entire country doing good.

In doing so He has left us an example, so that we would follow in His footsteps. Therefore, out of love for Him, conduct yourself as He did. Your name “Christian” also obligates you to this.

Furthermore, add to this the example of Job. Who can read about his compassion without being moved to follow his example? “I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor” (Job 29:15-16); “If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; (for from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother‟s womb;) if I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; if his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep” (Job 31:16-20). That was exemplary.

Add to the example of this man the example of a compassionate woman: Tabitha or Dorcas. Observe the following of her: “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did … and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them” (Acts 9:36, 39).

She was a mother to the poor! She did not occasionally do a good deed, but rather she was full of, and overflowing with, good works and alms (gifts which are the manifestation of compassion). The Greek word ἐλεημοσυνῶν (elémosúne) is a composite word and a derivative of ἐλεέω (eleéo), which means to have compassion.

Thus, she did not only give, but rather she gave, being moved with compassion. First the heart was moved, and the heart thus moved, in turn moved her hand. She did not only buy material from which she made clothing, but her benevolent love was so great that it was her delight to do the sewing herself and to dress the widows with the work of her own hands.”

—Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, ed. Joel R. Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout, vol. 4: Ethics and Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1995), 4: 122.

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“The Lord Jesus is as compassionate now as He was then” by Wilhelmus à Brakel

“Do your sins weigh you down and do you go bowed down because of them? ‘He is the propitiation for our sins’ (1 John 2:2).

Is the soul ashamed because of its nakedness? He is ‘THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ (Jer. 23:6). He will clothe them with the garments of salvation, and will cover them with the robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10).

Is the soul troubled by the wrath of God? He delivers him ‘from the wrath to come’ (1 Th. 1:10).

Do you fear eternal condemnation? ‘There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom. 8:1).

Does the soul long for communion with God? He will bring him to God (1 Pet. 3:18).

Is the soul experiencing desertion, sorrow, and grieving as a lonely sparrow? Is it discouraged and at wit’s end? Do bodily troubles afflict such a soul—being numerous, heavy, and of long duration?

In all these things great comfort is to be obtained from this High Priest. He is a Priest in name and in deed. He is the great High Priest, who is moreover a faithful and a merciful High Priest.

Consider this attentively in these two texts:

‘Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted’ (Heb. 2:17–18);

‘For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin’ (Heb. 4:15).

If one believes Christ to be such as He is, why would we not take refuge with Him, and in taking refuge, not believe that He can be touched with our infirmities, will receive us, and will grant us the desire of our hearts?

Many who are weak in faith are of the opinion that the Lord Jesus is not as easily moved as when He sojourned upon earth.

They reason that if they could but interact with Him as the disciples and the women did, enter a home in which He was present, converse with Him as familiarly as Mary and Martha did, or be in His company, then they would touch the hem of His garment, would wet His feet with tears, make their needs known to Him and beseech Him to have mercy upon them, to take away their sins, to give them another heart, and to cause them to feel His love.

Then they would have hope that He would have compassion upon them and help them. But now He is so far away, so high in the heavens, and in such great glory, that they cannot address Him as it were in immediate proximity, nor will He allow Himself to be moved by the prayer of such insignificant persons as they are.

Know, however, that such thoughts are earthly, proceeding from ignorance and a feeble faith. I assure you out of the Word of God that the Lord Jesus is as compassionate now as He was then, taking note of the misery and desires of man as carefully now as He did then.

Therefore, also now one may speak to Him as freely and familiarly as then. It grieves me that one impugns the compassion of the Lord Jesus.

Oh, that one would know Him as He is! How many a weak believer would then have bold access, pour out his heart with tears and supplications, and have confidence that He would help!

Take note therefore that the Lord Jesus, now being in heaven, is not only compassionate as God—that is, in a manner which is natural to His divinity, proceeding from eternal and infinite love, by which He observes and takes to heart the grievous and sinful miseries of His children and is willing and ready to help them—but He is also compassionate as man.

In order to be able to be compassionate, He had to assume the human nature, which is evident from Hebrews 2:14–17ff. For this reason He was tempted with many tribulations and was subject to anxiety and suffering, in order that He would know by experience how grievous suffering is and understand the frame of mind of the one who is in misery.

He would thus be all the more able to have compassion on them (Heb. 4:15). Now consider both natures together, and view Him as God and man, as Mediator and as high priest. This high-priestly office requires compassion of the most sensitive sort.

‘For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God … who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity’ (Heb. 5:1–2).

Since Christ is High Priest, He has the special quality which belongs to this office: compassion. How compassionate He was when He was upon earth! Repeatedly we read, “And Jesus was moved with compassion.”

Not only does the Lord Jesus have this same compassionate nature in heaven (for if a perfect nature can be compassionate, this is likewise true for a glorified nature), but since there is perfection in a larger measure, the quality of compassion must be even more excellent since it flows forth out of love.

The Lord Jesus being also High Priest in heaven, now ministers in this office with superlative excellence. Consequently, He possesses the quality of the High Priest, that is, compassion of the highest excellence.

Take note also of how intimately the Lord Jesus is united to His elect. They have been given to Him by the Father, in order that, as His children, He would deliver, preserve, and lead them to felicity.

Would He then not exercise tender care over them, and be compassionate towards them when they are in distress? They are His bride, children, and members. He has their very own nature—’for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren’ (Heb. 2:11).

When they are in misery and sorrow, they weep and long for Him, and cry out to Him for help and comfort. How can it be any different but that the Lord Jesus is greatly moved to compassion, especially since He is experientially acquainted with the feeling of their suffering?

Perhaps you say, ‘I grieve over sin. This is a grief which the Lord Jesus has never experienced, and thus sin cannot move Him to compassion, but will rather provoke Him to anger.’

I respond to this that it is true that Jesus was holy, and neither knew sin nor committed it. He tasted, however, all the bitter fruits of sin in such a manner as if He Himself had committed them.

He experienced the hiding of God’s countenance, the wrath of God, sorrow unto death, curse and condemnation. He suffered all of this in a measure which exceeds our comprehension.

He knows the soul’s disposition toward the commission of sin, and thus is able to and does have compassion by virtue of experience.

It is true that sin itself is hateful, but He already has fully atoned for it, so that instead of wrath, only compassion remains.

Consider all this together, believing that the Lord Jesus has such compassion for you, and seek to have a lively impression of Him as such. Would not this strengthen you in all your distress?

Lament about your sorrow to Him in a filial manner, and comfort yourself in His compassion, knowing that He has been afflicted in all your affliction (Isa. 63:9).

You may say, ‘Why then does He not help, considering He is able?’

My answer is, ‘It is not the time, and this is to your benefit. He is preparing you to be the recipient of additional grace, because it will be to the honor of God. Even if you have not been delivered as yet, the compassion of a Friend—of such a beloved Lord, High Priest, and Friend—nevertheless comforts. Therefore, await your deliverance with anticipation and in quietness.'”

–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 1 (God, Man, and Christ), Ed. Joel Beeke, Trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1992), 1: 556–559.

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“Jesus can understand you” by J.C. Ryle

“If any reader of this paper desires salvation, and wants to know what to do, I advise him to go this very day to the Lord Jesus Christ, in the first private place he can find, and entreat Him in prayer to save his soul.

Tell Him that you have heard that He receives sinners, and has said, ‘Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.’ (John 6:37.)

Tell Him that you are a poor vile sinner, and that you come to Him on the faith of His own invitation.

Tell Him you put yourself wholly and entirely in His hands,—that you feel vile and helpless, and hopeless in yourself,—and that except He saves you, you have no hope to be saved at all.

Beseech Him to deliver you from the guilt, the power, and the consequences of sin.

Beseech Him to pardon you and wash you in His own blood.

Beseech Him to give you a new heart, and plant the Holy Spirit in your soul.

Beseech Him to give you grace, and faith, and will, and power to be His disciple and servant from this day for ever.

Yes: go this very day, and tell these things to the Lord Jesus Christ, if you really are in earnest about your soul.

Tell Him in your own way and your own words. If a doctor came to see you when sick you could tell him where you felt pain. If your soul really feels its disease you can surely find something to tell Christ.

Doubt not His willingness to save you, because you are a sinner. It is Christ’s office to save sinners. He says Himself, ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’ (Luke 5:32.)

Wait not, because you feel unworthy. Wait for nothing: wait for nobody. Waiting comes from the devil.

Just as you are, go to Christ. The worse you are, the more need you have to apply to Him. You will never mend yourself by staying away.

Fear not because your prayer is stammering, your words feeble, and your language poor. Jesus can understand you.

Just as a mother understands the first babblings of her infant, so does the blessed Saviour understand sinners. He can read a sigh, and see a meaning in a groan.

Despair not, because you do not get an answer immediately. While you are speaking, Jesus is listening. If He delays an answer, it is only for wise reasons, and to try if you are in earnest.

Pray on, and the answer will surely come. Though it tarry, wait for it: it will surely come at last.

If you have any desire to be saved, remember the advice I have given you this day. Act upon it honestly and heartily, and you shall be saved.”

–J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians (London: Charles Murray, 1900), 85–86.

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