“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.

“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.

“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.

“At the cost of His life” by Martin Luther

“By the fact that Christ is Priest He turns God into our Father, and Himself into our Lord. If I regard Him as Priest, then I know that He does nothing but sit in heaven above as our Mercy Seat and there intercedes for us before the Father without ceasing, pleads on our behalf, and says the best for us.

This is the greatest comfort that can come to a human being, and no sweeter sermon can be preached to the human heart. This He has proved in the Gospel by everything He says and does. For He does nothing but serve and help people and offer Himself to everybody.

In addition, in order to atone for us, He burdens Himself at the cost of His life and blood with all the wrath which we have deserved. Is it possible to preach anything more comforting than this to troubled consciences?”

–Martin Luther, What Luther Says: An Anthology, comp. Ewald M. Plass (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), entry no. 552, pp. 190-191. Luther was commenting on Gen. 14:17-24.