Why, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, etc.
I. THE CHARACTERIZATION OF CHRISTIANS.
1. They are fraternal in relation. "Brethren." These Hebrew Christians were brethren in a twofold sense to the writer of the Epistle - first, as being his kindred according to the flesh; and next, as being of the same religious faith. Every Christian is a member of a glorious brotherhood. We are brothers inasmuch as we have all one Father and one elder Brother; we are animated by one Spirit; we are tending to one home, our "Father's house." Let us endeavor to realize this relationship, and to practically express its spirit. "Love the brotherhood."
2. They are consecrated in character. "Holy brethren." By applying to them the term "holy," the writer does not affirm that all those whom he was addressing were in a state of sinless purity. The adjective conveys two ideas - consecration and transformation. Christians are holy because they have consecrated themselves to the Lord, and are being transformed into moral resemblance to him.
3. They are exalted in privilege. "Partakers of a heavenly calling." This calling "is the invitation given on the part of God and Christ to men, to come and partake of the blessings proffered" in the gospel. In two senses it is "a heavenly calling."
(1) It is heavenly in its origin; a calling from heaven. The holy voices and gracious invitations are from above. All saving influences and impulses are from God.
(2) It is heavenward in its end; a calling to heaven. Spiritual, sublime, eternal, heavenly, are the blessings to which we are called. It is "the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." The "partakers" of this calling are not those who have merely heard the call to gospel blessings, but those who have both heard and accepted that call.
II. THE CHARACTERIZATION OF THE LORD AND SAVIOR.
1. He is "the Apostle of our confession. There is here a comparison of Jesus with Moses. Moses was sent" of God to be the emancipator, chieftain, and ruler of the Israelites (see Exodus 3:10, 12, 14, 15). In this sense he was an apostle of God. Jesus Christ was the Sent of God (see John 3:34; John 5:36, 37; John 6:29; John 10:36; John 17:18). He was sent on a still grander mission of redemption (see Isaiah 61:1-3). Moreover, the Jews designated the minister of the synagogue, who had the charge of its affairs and presided over them, an apostle. And in the verse following our text the writer goes on to speak of Jesus and Moses as each presiding over the affairs of a house. In this sense also our Lord is "the Apostle of our confession." He is sent, not only to emancipate, but also to rule over his Church; to be both "a Prince and a Savior."
2. He is "the High Priest of our confession. Here the comparison is with Aaron. As Aaron was high priest of the Jews, and, as such, made expiation for the sins of the people, so our Savior has made atonement for the sins of the world by the offering of himself in sacrifice. Through him we approach unto God. He maketh intercession for us. He pleads with us and in us and for us. Through him we shall rise to heaven. As the Apostle, he is the Representative of God to men; as the High Priest, he is the Representative of men with God.
3. He is Jesus. There is perhaps a reference here to Joshua, the great general of the Israelites, who led them into the promised land. Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." How great, then, is our Lord and Savior!
III. THE ATTITUDE WHICH CHRISTIANS SHOULD MAINTAIN TOWARDS THEIR LORD AND SAVIOUR. "Wherefore, holy brethren... consider the Apostle and High Priest," etc.
1. The argument. "Wherefore," i.e. because we have in Jesus such "a merciful and faithful High Priest," such a mighty and gracious Helper, we should attentively consider him. And such consideration would be likely to strengthen the Christian faith of any who were in danger of falling back into Judaism; for they would find him a greater Apostle than Moses, a greater High Priest than Aaron, a greater "Captain of salvation" than Joshua. The great principle is this, that the greatest safeguard against weariness, discouragement, and apostasy is an earnest consideration of Jesus; a believing, steadfast, looking unto him.
2. The exercise. "Consider the Apostle," etc. Contemplate him as "the Apostle of our confession." How much greater is he than Moses! Moses did not lead the people into the Promised Land, or even enter therein himself; but Jesus has entered heaven as our Forerunner, has led multitudes into its blessedness, will lead all his people there. Contemplate him as "the High Priest of our confession." How much greater is he than Aaron! Aaron's priesthood was imperfect, typical, preparatory; but our Lord's is gloriously perfect. By his sacrifice he has made full atonement; his intercession is divinely efficacious. Contemplate him as our Savior, "Jesus." He is "mighty to save;" "able to save to the uttermost," etc. Here is the sublimest contemplation. In weakness and weariness consider him, and you will be strengthened and animated. In darkness consider him, and the night will shine even as the day. In sin consider him, and you will seek and obtain forgiveness. In sorrow consider him, and the troubled heart will grow calm and restful. In death consider him, and his rod and staff will comfort you, and he himself will lead you through its dark portals into the joys and glories of heaven. Let this be our constant attitude - "looking unto Jesus." - W.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;