(We are continuing a series of studies on God’s plan of salvation as revealed in the sanctuary. We pray they will be a blessing to you. Editor)
Chapter 3—Christ as Man
Christ’s likeness to God, as set forth in the first chapter of Hebrews, is only introductory to the setting forth of His likeness to men, as in the second chapter of Hebrews.
His likeness to God, as in the first chapter of Hebrews, is the only basis of true understanding of His likeness to men, as in the second chapter of Hebrews.
And this likeness to God, as given in the first chapter of Hebrews, is likeness—not in the sense of a mere picture or representation—but is likeness in the sense of being actually like in very nature—the very “impress of His substance,” Spirit of Spirit, substance of substance, of God.
And this is given as the preliminary to our understanding of His likeness to men. That is to say: from this we are to understand that His likeness to men is not merely in shape, in picture, or representation, but in nature, in very substance. Otherwise, the whole first chapter of Hebrews, with all its detail of information, is, in that connection, meaningless and misplaced.
What, then, is this truth of Christ made in the likeness of men, as given in the second chapter of Hebrews?
Bearing in mind the great thought of the first chapter and the first four verses of the second chapter,—of Christ in contrast with the angels, higher than the angels, as God,—we begin with the fifth verse of the second chapter, where begins the thought of Christ in contrast with the angels, lower than the angels, as man.
So we read: “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus,…” (Hebrews 2:5-9)
That is to say: God has not put in subjection to the angels the world to come, but He has put it in subjection to man—yet not the man to whom it was originally put in subjection, for, though it was so, yet now we see it not so. The man lost his dominion, and instead of having all things in subjection under his feet, he himself is now in subjection to death. And he is in subjection to death only because he is in subjection to sin, for “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12) He is in subjection to death because he is in subjection to sin, for death is only the wages of sin.
Nevertheless, it stands eternally true that not unto the angels hath He put in subjection the world to come, but unto man. And, now, Jesus Christ is THE MAN.
For, though this dominion having been put in subjection to man and though now we see it not so, though man was given the dominion over all, and now we see that dominion lost to that particular man, yet we do “see Jesus,” as man, come to regain that original dominion. We do “see Jesus” as man, come to have all things put in subjection under Him.
That man was the first Adam; this other Man is the last Adam. That first Adam was made a little lower than the angels; this last Adam, Jesus, also we see “made a little lower than the angels.”
That first man did not remain in the position where he was made, “lower than the angels.” He lost that and went still lower and became subject to sin and, in that, subject to suffering, even to the suffering of death.
And the last Adam we see in the same place, in the same condition: “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.” (Hebrews 2:9) And again: “Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all OF ONE.” (Hebrews 2:11)
He which sanctifieth is Jesus. They who are sanctified are men of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples. And one man sanctified out of any nation, any kindred, any tongue, or any people, is divine demonstration that every soul of that nation, kindred, tongue, or people might have been sanctified. And Jesus, having become one of these that He might bring them to glory is proof that He is one of mankind altogether; that He, as man, and all men themselves, are “all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Hebrews 2:11)
Therefore, as in heaven He was higher than the angels, as God; so on earth He was lower than the angels, as man. As when He was higher than the angels, as God, He and God were of one; so when He was on the earth, lower than the angels, as man, He and man are “of one.” So that just as certainly as, on the side of God, Jesus and God are of one—of one Spirit, of one nature, of one substance; so, on the side of man, Christ and man are “of one”—of one flesh, of one nature, of one substance.
The likeness of Christ to God is in substance as well as in form. And the likeness of Christ to man is in substance as well as in form. Otherwise, there is no meaning in the first chapter of Hebrews as introductory to the second chapter—no meaning in the antitheses between the first and second chapters, and the first chapter is out of place and empty, as a basis of introduction to the second chapter.
Chapter 4—“He Took Part of the Same”
The first chapter of Hebrews reveals that Christ’s likeness to God is not simply in form or representation but also in very substance, and the second chapter as clearly reveals that His likeness to men is not simply in form or in representation but also in very substance. It is likeness to men as they are in all things, exactly as they are. Wherefore, it is written: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1-14)
And that this is likeness to man as he is in his fallen, sinful nature and not as he was in his original, sinless nature is made certain by the word: “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.” Therefore, as man is since he became subject to death, this is what we see Jesus to be, in His place as man.
Therefore, just as certainly as we see Jesus lower than the angels, unto the suffering of death, so certainly it is by this demonstrated that, as man, Jesus took the nature of man as he is since death entered and not the nature of man as he was before he became subject to death.
But death entered only because of sin; had not sin entered, death never could have entered. And we see Jesus made lower than the angels for the suffering of death. Therefore we see Jesus made in the nature of man, as man is since man sinned and not as man was before sin entered. For this He did that He might “taste death for every man.” In becoming man that he might reach man, He must come to man where man is. Man is subject to death. Therefore Jesus must become man, as man is since he is subject to death.
“For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10) Thus, in becoming man, it became Him to become such as man is. Man is subject to sufferings. Therefore it became Him to come to the man where he is—in his sufferings.
Before man sinned he was not in any sense subject to sufferings. And for Jesus to have come in the nature of man as he was before sin entered, would have been only to come in a way and in a nature in which it would be impossible for Him to know the sufferings of man and therefore impossible to reach him to save him. But since it became Him, in bringing men unto glory, to be made perfect through sufferings, it is certain that Jesus in becoming man partook of the nature of man as he is since he became subject to suffering, even the suffering of death, which is the wages of sin.
And so it is written: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same.” (Verse 14) He, in His human nature, took the same flesh and blood that men have. All the words that could be used to make this plain and positive are here put together in a single sentence.
The children of men are partakers of flesh and blood, and because of this He took part of the same.
But this is not all. He also took part of the same flesh and blood as that of which the children are partakers.
Nor is this all. He also Himself took part of the same flesh and blood as that of which the children of men are partakers.
Nor yet is this all. He also Himself likewise took part of the same flesh and blood as that of which men are partakers.
Thus the Spirit of inspiration so much desires that this truth shall be made so plain and emphatic as to be understood by all, that He is not content to use any fewer than all the words that could be used that just as, and just as certainly as, “the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same” flesh and blood.
And this He did in order “that through death He might… deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Verse 15) He took part of the same flesh and blood as we have in the bondage of sin and the fear of death, in order that He might deliver us from the bondage of sin and the fear of death.
And so, “Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”
This great truth of the blood-relationship, this blood-brotherhood of Christ with men is taught in the gospel in Genesis. For when God made His everlasting covenant with Abraham, the sacrifices were cut in two and He, with Abraham, passed between the pieces. (See Genesis 15:8-18; Jeremiah 34:18, 10; & Hebrews 7:5, 9.) By this act the Lord entered into “the most solemn covenant known to the Oriental” or to Mankind,—the blood covenant,—and thus became blood-brother to Abraham, “a relation which outranks every other relation in life.”
This great truth of Christ’s blood-relationship to man is further taught in the gospel in Leviticus. In the gospel in Leviticus there is written the law of redemption of men and their inheritances. When any one of the children of Israel had lost his inheritance or himself had been brought into bondage, there was redemption provided. If he was able of himself to redeem himself or his inheritance, he could do it. But if he was not able of himself to redeem, then the right of redemption fell to his nearest of kin in blood-relationship. It fell not merely to one who was near of kin among his brethren but to the one who was nearest of kin who was able. (See Leviticus 25:24-28; 47-49; Ruth 2:20; 3:9, 12, 13; 4:1-14, with the marginal readings.)
Thus in Genesis and Leviticus there has been taught through all these ages the very truth which we find here taught in the second chapter of Hebrews—the truth that man has lost his inheritance and is himself also in bondage. And as he himself can not redeem himself nor his inheritance, the right of redemption falls to the nearest of kin who is able. And Jesus Christ is the only one in all the universe who is able.
But to be the Redeemer he must be not only able, He must be a blood relative. And He must also be not only near of kin, but the nearest of kin and the nearest of kin by blood-relationship. Therefore, “as the children” of man—as the children of the one who lost our inheritance—“are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same”—took part of flesh and blood in very substance like ours and so became our nearest of kin. And therefore it is written that He and we “are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call us brethren.”
But the Scripture does not stop even yet with the statement of this all-important truth. It says, further: “For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren” (Hebrews 2:16, 17), whose blood-brother He became in the confirming of that everlasting covenant.
And this He did in order that wherein “He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18) For He was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities;” being “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Being made in His human nature in all things like as we are, He could be and He was tempted in all points like as we are. The only way in which He could possibly be tempted “like as we are” was to become “in all things” “like as we are.”
As in His human nature He is one of us, and as “Himself took our infirmities” (Matthew 8:17), He could be “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” Being in all things made like us, He, when tempted, felt just as we feel when we are tempted, and knows all about it, and so can help and save to the uttermost all who will receive Him. As in His flesh, and as Himself in the flesh, He was as weak as we are and of Himself could “do nothing” (John 5:30); so when He bore “our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4) and was tempted as we are, feeling as we feel, by His divine faith He conquered all by the power of God which that faith brought Him, and which in our flesh He has brought to us.
Therefore, His name is called Emmanuel which is “God with us.” Not God with Him only but God with us. God was with Him in eternity and could have been with Him even though He had not given Himself for us. But man through sin became without God, and God wanted to be again with us. Therefore Jesus became “us” that God with Him might be “God with us.” And that is His name, because that is what He is. Blessed be His name.
And this is “the faith of Jesus” and the power of it. This is our Saviour—one of God and one of man—and therefore able to save to the uttermost every soul who will come to God by Him.
Chapter 5—“Made Under the Law”
“Christ Jesus,… being in the form of God,… emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5-7, R.V.) He was made in the likeness of men, as men are, just where they are.
“The Word was made flesh.” (John 1:14) He “took part of the same” (Hebrews 2:14) flesh and blood as that of which the children of men are partakers, as they are since man has fallen into sin. And so it is written: “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made… under the law.” (Galatians 4:4)
To be under the law is to be guilty, condemned, and subject to the curse. For it is written: “We know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that… all the world may become guilty before God.” This because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:19, 23; 6:14)
And the guilt of sin brings the curse. In Zechariah 5:1-4, the prophet beheld a “flying roll; the length thereof… twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.” The Lord said to him: “This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth.” And what is the cause of this curse over the face of the whole earth? This: “For every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it.”
That is, this roll is the law of God, one commandment being cited from each table, showing that both tables of the law are included in the roll. Every one that stealeth—every one that transgresseth the law in the things of the second table—shall be cut off as on this side of the law according to it, and every one that sweareth—every one that transgresseth in the things of the first table of the law—shall be cut off as on that side of the law according to it.
The heavenly recorders keep a faithful record of our sins, indicating on the roll that pertains to man the particular commandment that is violated in each transgression. And that such a roll of the law does go with every man wherever he goes and even abides in his house is plain from the next words: “I will bring it forth, saith the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by My name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house.”
And unless a remedy shall be found, there that roll of the law will remain until the curse shall consume that man, and his house, “with the timber thereof and the stones thereof:” that is, until the curse shall devour the earth in that great day when the very elements shall melt with fervent heat. For “the strength of sin” and the curse “is the law.” (1 Corinthians 15:56; Isaiah 24:5, 6; 2 Peter 3:10-12)
But, thanks be to God, “God sent forth His son, made… under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” (Galatians 4:4, 5) By His coming He brought redemption to every soul who is under the law. But in order perfectly to bring that redemption to men under the law, He Himself must come to men, just where they are and as they are, under the law.
And this “was made.”He did, for he was “made under the law;” He was made “guilty;” He was made condemned by the law; He was “made” as guilty as any man is guilty who is under the law. He was “made” under condemnation as fully as any man is under condemnation because of his violation of the law. He was “made” under the curse as completely as any man in the world has ever been or ever can be under the curse. For it is written: “He that is hanged [“on a tree”] is accursed of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:23)
The Hebrew makes this stronger still, for the literal translation is: “He that hangeth on a tree is the curse of God.” And this is exactly the strength of the fact respecting Christ, for it is written that He was “made a curse.” Thus, when He was made under the law, He was made all that it means to be under the law. He was made guilty; He was made condemned; He was made a curse.
But bear in mind forever that all this He “was made.” He was none of this of Himself, of native fault, but all of it he “was made.” And He was made it all for us: for us who are under the law; for us who are under condemnation because of transgression of the law; for us who are under the curse because of swearing and lying and killing and stealing and committing adultery and all the other infractions of the roll of God’s law that goeth with us and that remaineth in our house.
He was made under the law to redeem them that are under the law. He was made a curse to redeem them that are under the curse because of being under the law.
But for whomsoever it was done, and whatsoever is accomplished by the doing of it, there must never be forgotten the fact that, in order to the doing of that which was done He had to be “made” that which those already were for whom the thing was done.
Any man, therefore, in all the world, who knows guilt, by that very thing knows also what Jesus felt for him and by this knows how close Jesus has come to him. Whosoever knows what is condemnation in that knows exactly what Jesus felt for him and so knows how thoroughly Jesus is able to sympathize with him and to redeem him. Whosoever knows the curse of sin, “the plague of his own heart,” in that can know exactly what Jesus experienced for him and how entirely Jesus identified Himself, in very experience, with him.
Bearing guilt, being under condemnation and so under the weight of the curse, Jesus, a whole lifetime in this world of guilt, condemnation, and the curse, lived the perfect life of the righteousness of God, without ever sinning at all. And whenever any man knowing guilt, condemnation, and the curse of sin, and knowing that Jesus actually felt in His experience all this just as man feels it; then, in addition, that man by believing in Jesus can know in his experience the blessedness of the perfect life of the righteousness of God in his life to redeem him from guilt, from condemnation, and from the curse; and to be manifested in his whole lifetime to keep him from ever sinning at all.
Christ was made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law. And that blessed work is accomplished for every soul who accepts of that redemption.
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” (Galatians 3:13) His being made a curse is not in vain: it accomplishes all that was intended by it in behalf of every man who will receive it. For it was all done “that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Gal. 3:14.
Still, whatever was intended by it and whatever is accomplished by it, there must always be borne in mind by every soul the FACT that, in His condescension, in His emptying Himself and being “made in the likeness of men” and “made flesh,” He was made under the law, guilty,—under condemnation, under the curse,—as really and as entirely as is any soul that shall ever be redeemed.
And having passed through it all, He is the author of eternal salvation and is able to save to the uttermost from deepest loss all who come unto God by Him.
(To be continued)
(This article was taken from pages 17-39 of the book, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, by Alonzo T. Jones. Some editing has been done for this publication. Editor)