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CHRIST'S POWER TO SUCCOUR THE TEMPTED.
Heb. ii. 18. In that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
THERE was in various respects a necessity for Christ's humiliation on our part, that, an atonement being offered for us, we might find favour with God: on God's part, that his justice might be satisfied, and his law be magnified: and on the part of Christ himself, that he might be qualified for the discharge of his mediatorial office. This, having been expressly asserted in the preceding verse, is further intimated in the words we have just read; which lead us to consider,
I. The temptations of our Lord
Great and manifold were the trials which our blessed Lord sustained,
1. From men
[Though in his infancy he grew up in favour with men as well as with God, yet from his first entrance on his public ministry, he was an object of universal contempt and abhorrence. He endured all manner of contradiction from all ranks and orders of men: they cavilled at his words, misrepresented his actions, reviled him as an impostor, and a confederate with the devil, and, at last, apprehended, condemned, and crucified him.]
2. From devils
[These assaulted him with fiery temptations in the wilderness, urging him to distrust, presumption, and idolatry. They attacked him with fresh vigour in the garden, when the powers of darkness combined all their force against him: and they made their last efforts against him on the cross; when, though triumphed over and spoiled by him," they succeeded in "bruising his heel," and in bringing him down to the chambers of death.]
3. From God
[When he stood as the surety of sinners, God exacted of him the utmost farthing of our debt. It was the Father who
a Isai. xlix. 7.
put the bitter cup into his hands, who laid the tremendous load of our iniquities upon him, and "bruised him," that the fragrance of his offering might ascend up as incense with acceptance before him.]
But, notwithstanding these sufferings of his, our text assures us of,
II. His ability to succour his tempted people-
All his people, like him, are persecuted by men, assailed by devils, and chastised by God. But Jesus is able to succour them: he has a sufficiency,
1. Of power and strength
[He has all power committed to him, yea, all fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him. He can bind the strong man armed, and rescue from him his wretched captives. There is nothing impossible with him; and the weaker his people are, the more shall "his strength be perfected in their weakness."] 2. Of wisdom
[As he has "power to deliver the godly out of temptations," so can he defeat all the plots of their adversaries, and take even Satan himself in his own devices. He sees every weapon that is formed against them, and knows the day and hour that their enemies set themselves against them. He discerns also the best time and manner in which to afford his aid, and so to proportion it to our necessities, as both to secure us the victory, and himself the glory.]
3. Of pity and compassion
[He wept on account of the afflictions of his friends when he was on earth: nor will he forget to pity us, now that he is in heaven. "The very apple of his eye is wounded, whenever any of his dear people are touched.” "In all their afflictions, he is afflicted; and as, in his love and in his pity he redeemed them, and bare them, and carried them all the days of old," so does he now, being "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," and sympathizing with us in all our troubles.]
Having noticed his temptations, and his ability to succour us under ours, it will be proper to shew, III. The connexion between the two, or the dependence of the one upon the other—
As God, he of necessity possessed every perfection:
b Compare Isai. liii. 10. with Exod. xxx. 36.
e Jer. xlix. 30.
d Isai. lxiii. 9.
but, as man and mediator, he learned much from his own experience. By his own temptations,
1. He learned our need of succour—
[He himself, under his own grievous sufferings, "prayed to God with strong crying and tears, and was heard," and strengthened from above. Hence then he knows how much we must need assistance under our trials, and how certainly we must faint, if we be not supported by his almighty power.] 2. He acquired a right to succour us―
[We are bought by him with the inestimable price of his own blood. And it was agreed with him in the covenant of redemption, that, "if he would make his soul an offering for sin, he should see a seed; and the pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hands'." Having then paid the price, he has a right to us as "his purchased possession ;" and has therefore a right to convey to us whatever may be needful for the salvation of our souls.]
3. He attained a disposition to succour us
[We are assured that "he learned obedience by the things that he suffered s." Now, as obedience consists entirely in love to God and man, sympathy, which is the highest office of love, must of necessity have been learned by him, together with every other part of his duty. And how perfectly he had learned it, his address to the persecuting Saul declares; "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" And it is worthy of observation, that the Apostle ascribes his sympathy to this very cause; "his having been tempted in all things like unto us, qualifying and disposing him to feel for us under our infirmities h." Nay, further, he observes, that there was a necessity for him to be made like unto us in all things, in order that he might be a merciful and faithful High-priest in things pertaining to God; which office he could not have executed if he had not, by his own sufferings, been enabled to sympathize with us1.]
1. Those who are conflicting with temptations
[The Lord's people still are assaulted with manifold temptations. Satan is not idle: he still "desires to sift us as wheat," and still "as a roaring lion goeth about, seeking whom he may devour." There is not a saint whom he does not labour to "corrupt from the simplicity that is in Christ:" and
e Heb. v. 7. with Luke xxii. 42, 43.
f Isai. liii. 10.
i Heb. ii. 17.
for this end he still on many occasions "transforms himself into an angel of light." But however severe your outward or inward trials may be, you have the comfort to reflect, that Christ endured the same before you, and is able to afford you effectual succour. Think not then your difficulties peculiar, or insurmountable; but assure yourselves of his sympathy and care; and be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."]
2. Those who are yielding to their temptations
[Excuse not your compliances by pleading the frailty of your nature; for "Christ is able to make all grace abound towards you, that you having always all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work." Continue not then under unmortified tempers, or criminal neglects; but call on the Lord, who "will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will, with the temptation, make also a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it!." I say again, plead not in excuse the corruption of your nature, or the difficulties of your situation: for grace which is not effectual, is no grace. The very weakest amongst you may say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me," and, though assaulted by all the powers of darkness, shall be "more than conqueror through him that loved me."]
NAMES AND OFFICES OF CHRIST.
Heb. iii. 1. Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.
OUR Lord possessed, from all eternity, a nature infinitely superior to that of angels: yet did he submit to the lowest humiliation for us. And it is by the knowledge of him, as humbled, that we attain salvation".
The Apostle having spoken much on this subject in the foregoing chapter, enforces it with this affectionate exhortation
I. Explain the exhortation
a Heb. i. 3, 8, 10.
b Phil. ii. 6, 7.
e John xvii. 8.
The first thing that calls for our attention is the description which he gives of all true Christians—
[Wishing to persuade, he strove by tenderness to conciliate their esteem: he calls them brethren; which they are, both by relation and affection. They are "holy;" set apart for the service and enjoyment of God-washed in the fountain of Christ's blood, and renewed after the Divine image: they are "partakers of an heavenly calling" called to heavenly exercises and enjoyments-obedient to that call-and suitably influenced by it in their hearts and lives. How amiable is such a character!" brethren!" "holy!" "called!" &c. Who would not wish to be found of their number?]
The next thing which demands our notice is the object he sets before them
[When he speaks of Christ in common, he places the name "Jesus" first; but when with more than ordinary solemnity, the name "Christ" is first. He here describes the Saviour both by his names and offices. His names "Christ', Jesus," are peculiarly significant in this connexion: his offices are such as Moses and Aaron sustained under the law. Christ is "the Apostle of our profession," as being sent, like Moses, to publish that religion which we profess: he is also "the High-priest of it," because, like Aaron, he performs all that is necessary for our reconciliation with God.j
The last thing to explain is the duty which he presses upon them
The word which we translate "consider," implies an attentive regard'. It might easily be shewn how important this duty is; but our observations on this subject will occur more properly in another place.]
It is of the same import as Messias, John i. 44. and means Anointed.
8 Jesus is the same with Joshua, Heb. iv. 8.; and Joshua is a contraction for Jah Oseah, the former of which signifies God, and the latter Saviour. This name was given by God to Hoseah the son of Nun, who, as a type of Christ, led the Israelites into the land of Canaan and the giving of this name to the Virgin's Son may be justly considered as an accomplishment of that prophecy which said he should be called Emmanuel, God with us. Its import therefore is, Divine Saviour. See Matt. i. 21–23. and Bp. Pearson, p. 69, 70.
Jesus, as our High-priest, offered himself a sacrifice for us-is gone into the holy of holies to present his blood before the mercyseat-liveth to make intercession for us-presents our offerings unto the Father-bears us on his breast-plate-and makes known to us the will of God. i Κατανοήσατε.