For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;…
Our fundamental conception of the offering of Him who ascended the cross of Calvary to die must be, that it was an offering of life, not of death. It began with the cross, with the moment when He was lifted on high out of the earth; and then, separated from all that was material, local, or limited, He was able to enter upon a spiritual, universal, and everlasting priesthood. Then, as One bearing, the sins of all who had committed, or should afterwards commit, themselves to Him in faith, He yielded up His own life, and theirs in His, as the penalty due to sin. For Himself and for the members of His body He accepted the sentence, "The soul that sinneth shall die"; while at the same time He bowed Himself in submission to the law so mysteriously linked with that sentence, that, as things are in a present world, it is only through death that we can conquer death and find the path to life. On the cross He gave Himself for us, the just for the unjust; so that when we think of Him as the Victim upon which our help is laid, and identify ourselves with Him by faith, we may see that in Him our sins are expiated, and that they no longer bar our admission to the Divine presence and favour. All this, however, was no more than the first stage of the offering made for us by our heavenly High Priest; and the mistake of many is to think that, as the offering was begun, so also it was finished on the cross. In reality, only the initial step was taken when Jesus died. As the blood, or in other words the life, of an animal sacrificed under the law was liberated in death, not merely that the offering might be completed, but that the true offering might be made by the sprinkling; so the blood, or in other words the life, of Christ was liberated on the cross, that His true offering might be made by the surrender of that life to God in a perpetual service of love, obedience, and praise.
1. The conception of Christ's priesthood as a heavenly priesthood, and of the life that He now leads in heaven as the consummation of His offering, alone gives us the accomplishment, and that too in their appropriate order, of everything that was involved in the separate offerings of the law. In the life now offered to the Father and before the Father's throne we see, not only the perfected Sin and Trespass, but the perfected Burnt and Peace-offerings. There the life won through death is surrendered into the Father's hands. There it burns in the never-ceasing devotion of love and praise. There it is passed in the enjoyment of a fellowship with God undisturbed and glorified. And thence it descends to all the members of the body, so that they find, in Him who gave and still gives Himself for them, reconciliation, union, nourishment for a heavenly service, and the comfort and joy of a heavenly feast.
2. As an offering of life Christ's offering is complete, embracing in its efficacy the whole life of man. In this respect the offerings of the law were necessarily incomplete, and so also must be the offering presented in any single act of the life of Christ. But when, as our High Priest and Representative, Jesus offers His life to God, that life covers every stage or department of our life. There is no part of our life in which, by the very fact that He lived a human life, the Redeemer of the world did not share. Must we labour? He laboured. Must we suffer? He suffered. Must we be tempted? He was tempted. Must we have at one time solitary hours, at another move in social circles? He spent hours alone upon the mountain top, and He mingled with His disciples as companions and friends. Must we die? He died. Must we rise from the grave? He rose from it on the third morning: Must we appear before the Judge of all? He appeared before Him who sent Him with the record of all that He had accomplished. Must we enter into eternity? Eternity is now passing over Him. More even than this has to be said; for our High Priest not only moved in every one of these scenes, He has also consecrated them all, and made them all a part of His offering in heaven. In each He was a conqueror, and the fruits of His conquest in each are made ours.
3. As an offering of life Christ's offering is everlasting. His life is presented continually to God; and in it the children of God, whose own it is made by faith, are kept consecrated for evermore. The efficacy of the legal offerings lasted for a time. This offering never ceases, and its efficacy never fails.
4. As an offering of life Christ's offering is made once for all, and cannot be repeated. It is simply impossible to repeat it, for we cannot repeat what has not been first brought to an end; and since the offering on the part of the eternal Son is His life. it follows that His offering must be as eternal as Himself. That offering of our Lord, then, which is the leading function of His priesthood, was only begun, and not completed, on the cross. It is going on still, and it will go on for ever, as the Divine and perfect sacrifice in which our great Representative and we in Him attain the end of all religion, whether natural or revealed, as that sacrifice in which we are made one with His Father and our Father, with His God and our God.
(W. Milligan, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;