The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
Subject - Heaven the place where this great High Priest ministers. From this comes the truth to which he has been looking from the beginning, that in heaven, as the true holy of holies, is fulfilled what was exhibited in type in the tabernacle.
I. THE ASSURANCE THAT CHRIST IS FULFILLING HIS HIGH PRIESTLY WORK IN HEAVEN. "We have a High Priest," etc. Jesus in heaven, acting as our Representative, is the crowning point of what the writer has to say about our Lord. Is not that the crowning point of all that can be said about him? Can we ever know the full blessedness of Jesus till, in our habitual thought of him, he who lived on earth, and died, and rose, is ever seen and felt to be living for us in the heavenly places?
1. The declarations of Scripture give us this assurance. That is intimated in the use made here of Psalm 110., the whole of Hebrews 7. being based on it - the Messiah was to be a Priest at God's right hand. The same word gives us the same assurance; but whereas to the Jew it was prediction, to us it is fulfillment. "He was received up into heaven," declare evangelists and apostles.
2. The discharge of his priestly functions necessitates this. "But [not 'now'] if he were on earth he would not be a priest at all," etc. He could not discharge his priestly duties on earth; the Law would forbid it of one not of the tribe of Levi. If, then, he is Priest, and called to what is priestly, and this cannot be on earth, it must be in heaven, for there is no other place where he could legally minister. But we Christians get the assurance that Christ in heaven is acting as High Priest, in what we find he has actually done and is ever doing. He sends his people what he promised when he should be there. Those gifts and communications come to them from heaven which they know could not come but for his mediatorial work.
3. The fulfillment of sacred types demands this. (Ver. 5.) A very important statement, for it occurs no less than five times in the Pentateuch - proof that the Jewish ritual was but a shadow of certain Divine realities. The ministry of the priests, therefore, must have its celestial counterpart. The high priest, after the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, entered within the veil to present the atoning blood before the mercy-seat. That is the type; then the fulfillment must be in Christ. In the Book of Revelation the Christian sees this fulfilled in a series of visions: Christ redeeming the world, subduing his foes, completing his Church, and all this through his exaltation to the heavenly throne.
II. THE EXALTED POSITION IN HEAVEN IN WHICH THIS HIGH PRIESTLY WORK IS BEING FULFILLED. The Hebrews regarded the high priestly ministry with awe. How the majestic contrast drawn here must have arrested their attention, and surprised them by its claim: "We have such," etc.!
1. It implies our Lord's equality with the Father. On the supreme throne only Jehovah can sit; he who sits with him as his co-equal must, with him, be one God. He who ascended is he also who descended. The Incarnation was the condescension of God himself. Get high thoughts of Jesus, for it will exalt our hope, and make our salvation more sure to our mind, and reveal fresh depths in the Divine mercy.
2. This also implies his fearlessness in the presence of the Father. The Jewish priest stood and trembled and adored within the veil. Jesus sat down on the throne. Why should he fear? we might ask. Because he went there as man's Representative. The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all, he bowed his head in death under the awful burden, he then ascended into heaven, and sat down on the Father's throne. Then how certainly he had put away sin by the offering of himself!
3. This further implies his possession of the favor of the Father. He sat there - why? Because God said unto him, "Sit thou at my right," etc. The Father's delight must indeed be fixed on him he asks to share his throne. But it is as our Mediator he is exalted thus. Of his own right, by his own Deity, that throne was his; the invitation to ascend it was made to him as our Representative. That gives utmost encouragement to us. The welcome given to Jesus is really a welcome to all prayers for his people.
III. THE EFFECT WHICH THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST AS HIGH PRIEST SHOULD HAVE UPON OUR HEARTS.
1. It should lead us to inquire whether we are among God's Israel. "We - whom does that include? The high priest entered the holiest of all for every Israelite; every Israelite could say, He is there for me." Christ, in like manner, appears in heaven for the true [not the typical] Israel, the true seed of Abraham, they who are of faith. Faith admits into God's Israel, and for all these Christ is High Priest. Then, are we of these?
2. It should make us feet the sufficiency of his mediation. We can need no other priest if we have Jesus, and no other sacrifice. What can a man on earth add to that which in him we have in heaven itself!
3. It should assure us of the supply of every necessity. Jesus, who has the Father's ear, is at the Father's right hand; and there for us. Then we have nothing to fear. - C.N.
I. THE REALITY OF THE FACT. "We have such an High Priest." It is not a matter of useless desire or of future hope, but of present accomplished possession. The truth exists indeed in the unseen world, and is not at present visible to sight, as it will be hereafter. Hereafter the very eyes shall take cognisance of the fact, when forth from the holy of holies, the immediate presence of God, the great High Priest shall come to be manifested before the eyes of an astonished world. But why is that time delayed? Why lingers the great High Priest within the heavenly sanctuary? The answer is, that He waits till the number of the elect shall be completed, and the intercession which He for ever lives to make for His people shall be no longer necessary, when, His people being gathered safely in the last veil shall be for ever removed from between them end the full sight of God. Our High Priest still ministers for us till then.
We have such an High Priest.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
II. THE SINGLENESS OF THE PERSON, AND OF THE OFFICE HE FULFILS. "We have such an High Priest" — not many, but one — one, and only one, so absolutely alone, that it is blasphemy to arrogate any part of His work. But will Christ be Priest for ever? This the apostle notices. Yes, for He liveth in "the power of an endless life," and needs no successor.
III. THE PERFECTION OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST, AND THE PERFECTION OF HIM WHO FULFILS IT. "We have such an High Priest." Turn back to the preceding chapter, and you will find that the apostle enumerates beauty after beauty in Christ, as if he were gathering together a cluster of jewels to deck His crown of glory. It is singular, when we read the passage carefully, how we find it crowded with insignia of honour. In human priests, if the most extravagant claims were admitted, It would yet be true that the dignity is only in the office, and not in the men. But when we turn to the true High Priest, how different it is! Here is not only the glory of the office, but the glory of the Person, infinitely qualified in His Deity, to stand between the justice of God and the whole human race. He is no mere dying man like an earthly priest, but clothed with "the power of an endless life." He was not made after the law of a carnal commandment, but made after the oath of God Himself, "a High Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec." He has not entered into the "tabernacle made with hands, with the blood of bulls and goats," but with "His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." He is not one among many, like earthly priests, but is alone in His own single and unequalled majesty, "the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." He does not fill a delegated office, like earthly priests, but fulfils His own office, and that so perfectly that He "is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him." He needs not daily, as earthly priests, to seek forgiveness for His own sins, but is "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." He does not minister afar off from God, like earthly priests, but is already "made higher than the heavens," and at the right hand of His Father pleads evermore for us. He needs not to repeat His daily offerings, as earthly priests, but has made atonement once, "when He offered up Himself." And, lastly, He has no infirmity, like earthly priests, but is the Son of God, Himself God, blessed for evermore — omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, infinite! Who perfect as He? and what wonder that, thus perfect, He should govern as well as atone?-not only Priest, but King, — nay, bearing on His head the triple crown of glory — Prophet, Priest, King.
(E. Garbett, M. A.)
I. THE SEATED CHRIST. "We have a High Priest who" — to translate a little more closely — "has taken His seat on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." If we translate the symbol into colder words, it means that deep repose, which, like the Divine rest after creation, is not for recuperation of exhausted powers, but is the sign of an accomplished purpose and achieved task, a share in the sovereignty of heaven, and the wielding of the energies of Deity — rest, royalty, and power belong now to the Man sitting at the right hand of the throne of God.
II. THE SERVANT CHRIST. "A minister of the sanctuary," says my text. The glorified Christ is a ministering Christ. In us, on us, for us He works, in all the activities of His exalted repose, as truly and more mightily than He did when here lie helped the weaknesses and healed the sicknesses, and soothed the sorrows and supplied the wants, and washed the feet of a handful of poor men. He has gone up on high, but in His rest He works. He is on the throne, but in His royalty He serves.
III. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS OF SUCH THOUGHTS AS THESE. They have a bearing on the three categories of past, present, future.
1. For the past a seal For what can be greater, what can afford a firmer foundation for us sinful men to rest our confidence upon than the death of which the recompense was that the Man who died sits on the throne of the universe?
2. A strength for the present. I know of nothing that is mighty enough to draw men's desires and fix solid reasonable thought and love upon that awful future, except the better that Christ is there. But with Christ in the heavens the heavens become the home of our hearts. See Christ, and He interprets, dwindles, and yet ennobles the world and life.
3. A prophecy for the future. There is the measure of the possibilities of human nature.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
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