For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.…
This endless life is not the eternity He had with the Father before worlds began; it is His endless life as Mediator. The words mean an indissoluble or indestructible life, safe against the assault of all enemies, and secure from all decay, or possibility of diminution. It may be said, But is not this, after all, the same, for none but the eternal Son of God could become the endless Mediator? Yet, granting this, it leads us to a different point of view for contemplating the work of Christ. Do we not feel that in His incarnation, as God manifest in the flesh, we can have thoughts about God which we could never have gained from the study of the Divine nature in its absolute essence? And so, in considering the endless life of Christ, we may rise to conceptions and feelings about the world to come, and our share in it, which we could not receive from any attempt to grasp the idea of Christ's original and eternal nature.
I. The first thought is the power which this endless life has of COMMUNICATING ITSELF. The very idea of such a life brings with it an inspiration of hope. That we should be able to think of a life like our own, but free from all the impurity which attaches to us. going forward, age after age, without a break and without a check, rising and widening, a joy to itself and a source of joy to others: is it not something to make us hopeful about the soul of man? There is no creature around us that has such a power, and may we not then cherish the expectation of something corresponding to it in reality? But if. moreover, we can come to the reasonable conclusion that such a life really exists; that One of the race has risen above the power of death; that He gave such evidence of it to those who were about Him as made them willing to endure any extremity, even to death, for this conviction; if He has been giving proofs of it since, by new spiritual life in the men, and new moral life in the nations, that have come into contact with Him, must there not be power in the faith of such an endless life? But the power of Christ's endless life does more than communicate the hope of it to others, it gives the possession. When the original well of life had been talented and poisoned by sin, He came to open up a new and pure fountain. He secures for us a pardon consistent with righteousness, without which it could have brought no real life. He begins a new life in the soul, which has hard and manifold struggles with the fierce reluctance of the old nature. He encourages, strengthens, renews it, and at last makes it victorious. All this He does. not merely by presenting knowledge, but by an act of creation through the Holy Spirit. He gives, not the perception or hope, but the possession of it. "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish." Now we may begin to see what power there is in the endless life of Christ. It belongs to Him, not to reserve it for Himself, but to be-tow it on all who will take it from His hand who do not shut their eyes and steel their hearts against the gracious influences that are visiting the world through His death on earth and His life in heaven. But in order to this He must have a continued life. Ha,! it been merely an example, a system of doctrine. He might have diet and left it to itself, but for a power He must live, and live onward. Men are being born who need Him, and they will be born while this world exists, men who have sins, sorrows, temptations, death; nothing can help them — none but Christ Himself, and so He must have the power of an endless life. And even when all are gathered in from earth, when time in its present form is closed, and another kind of time, an eternal time, begins, He will be needed. He will be the Mediator between the unseen God and man for ever, through whom they see God, and know Him, and have fellowship with Him.
II. This thought, which we have been trying to express, contains the germ of all we can say, but we may attempt to unfold it in some of its applications. Let us think then of the power Christ has in His endless life of CONVEYING KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE. Death is the one great barrier between man and growth. What secrets might the man of science wring from the bosom of nature, if he had countless years in which to put his questions, and mark the answers! What wisdom might philosophers gain if they could watch for ages the course of thought and the currents of emotion! But what wrecks lie scattered around us of plans scarcely begun, and what noble thoughts have passed away without an utterance! We do not say that there are no compensations for these short earthly lives, and no sufficient reason for this sad check to our fallen nature in the pursuit of knowledge. Sometimes, when we are disappointed and weary, we get reconciled to the pause, and are glad to think of rest. But when the soul is strong and wisdom sweet, the conception of endless progress in knowledge answers to something very profound in human nature. We recoil from death, not merely as the animal recoils, but because it cuts us off from answers to the greatest questions the spirit can raise. How fitting it would be that beside the tree of knowledge there should be the tree of life! And this want is met when we think of One in our nature with the power of an endless tile, who can be our Leader in all the paths of nature and providence and grace, by which souls can advance in the wisdom of God. All the experience which He gained in His own earthly life is carried up into the higher life, and with it all the experience of all the ages since, in His contact, through the Holy Spirit, with doubt and struggle and grief in the lives of men. Thus Christ is full of endless, fresh life in His Word, so that we find it deeper and higher, and need to grow at, to it. And when we pass in thought from this side of death to those who have entered into the immediate presence of Christ, we can see that the endless life of Christ has its relations to them. What we have in the word of God, they have in the living Christ.
III. We may think, next, of the SENSE OF UNITY IN CHRIST'S PLAN, which we may derive from the "power of His endless life." There are two things secured for the unity of Christians by Christ's unending life.
1. The first is a oneness of heart and sympathy. He became the centre of common affection, not a dead abstraction, but as a living person who draws them all to Himself, and infuses into them common feelings, not at one time or in one place, but through all time and in all places; and so the apostle, speaking of the unity of the Spirit, puts first the one Lord, and then the one God and Father. They are scattered through many generations and many lands, but the thought of an abiding, living Christ makes them brethren of the same family, puts into their heart the same life-blood, and prepares them for dwelling at last in the same house.
2. The other unity secured by this endless life. of Christ is that of action. The Christian Church grows up under the hands of innumerable labourers. They come and go, and" are not suffered to continue by reason of death"; they have their own views and temperaments, and portions of the building bear the marks of it. There are chasms in the walls, raising and removing of scaffolding in dust and noise, to the perplexing of our brief lives. In the midst of all this there are minds eager for unity, and ready to take whatever seems to promise it. It is not to be found in any ecclesiastical despirtism, nor even in the outward gathering of faithful men under one discipline, good though this may be in its place. It is to be sought in the one heart of which we have spoken, going toward Christ, and then in ,he overruling plan which He carries out through all their work.
IV. Think, moreover, how the power of Christ's endless life may fill us with the SPIRIT OF PATIENCE. Many of the evil schemes of the world come from the impatience that belongs to short lives. Even good men take ill-advised ways, because they are anxious for speedy results. They wish for something they can see, "Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants." But he who has the power of an endless life will not only choose no ways that are unrighteous, he will not be hurried into any that are premature. A subject that causes doubt with many is the slow progress of justice and mercy in the world. See how sanguinary wars, iniquitous acts of oppression, great national vices and follies, run the weary round. There is progress; yes, there is progress; Christianity is slowly forming a moral opinion which compels men to have some pretext of right for war, and it is sending its messengers of healing to help friend and foe alike. But how tardy in its approach is the reign of righteousness and peace! The endless life of Christ is a source of comfort to us. He could very soon check the symptoms, but the disease would remain. The great problem is to put down sin not merely because it is opposed to the will of God, but because it is also opposed to the happiness of His universe; it is not simply a contention of power, but of goodness, and this needs time. The endless life of Christ gives Him patience in working for it, bringing His moral and spiritual motives to bear, and using His power at last for those whom no motives could persuade.
V. The last remark we make is that the power of Christ's endless life opens THE PROSPECT OF ABIDING JOY. There is a philosophy of the present day called Pessimism, which holds that life is so entirely wretched, and the universe so tainted with misery, that the only resource possible is utter extinction. It proposes in various ways the question, Is life worth living? and after weighing its short pleasures against its long suffering, it concludes that non-existence for men, and, if it could be, for the universe, is the desirable goal. If those who put such questions would only be led to widen their inquiry, they might find that there are other balances than theirs in which the pains and pleasures of life are to be weighed. When we come to the emotions of the soul, the measure is not by quantity but by quality. There are moments of joy which outbalance years of toil and pain. The first glimpse of the New World to Columbus, the tremulous delight which seized Newton when he was in sight of the new law of gravitation, and which made him unable to finish the last figures of the calculation — these led them to forget as nothing sleepless nights and long anxieties and depressing fears. And there are greater things than these. The joy of selfsacrifice for the cause of truth and righteousness has been to some men more to be chosen than crowns and palaces, and has made flames unfelt as if He who walked in the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar were with them in the fire. This is the joy of souls, and Jesus Christ is the Lord of that kingdom where its home is fixed.
(J. Ker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.