Consider Christ Jesus
“Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? Thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered” (Isaiah 49:24-25).
“God, who at sundry times, and in diverse manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high . . . How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be Spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him? . . . Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage . . . Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 1:1-3; 2:3; 3:14-15).
The verses from Isaiah which head this paper present two queries which Hebrews 1 and 2 answer. I connect these two chapters in Hebrews with the queries, for they are solemn and weighty ones. You and I were the “prey” of the “mighty.” Sin has made man the “lawful captive” of the god of this world—Satan. You will find that two things come out in these two chapters. Salvation as presented in the person of the Son of God, and deliverance through the work He has accomplished by His death.
What does God propose in the gospel? He proposes to deliver you, to break the shackles with which sin has bound you, to bring you out from the power of sin, from the grip of the enemy—in short, to set the captive free. Satan has a hold on you, for you cannot deny that you are a sinner, and “the wages of sin is death,” God says, and “after death the judgment” is a terrible reality that you must face. But here is the charm of the gospel, that after man has sinned, and before the day of judgment, the Son of God has stepped in, has become a Man, and, in grace on the cross, taken the place of the sinner, wrought the work of redemption, broken the enemy’s power, and now the believer in Him is set free.
Are you, my friend, set free and delivered? Do you know, Christ? Have you got Him as your life, your hope, your all? Chapter 1 gives you Jesus as the Apostle, chapter 2 shows Him as the High Priest, and chapter 3 say, “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” Let us obey this behest together.
In chapter 1 you have Him as One who has been sent forth from God to us—this is the Apostle. In chapter 2 you have Him as one who, as man, has gone up to God for us. Thus He is “able to succour” (Heb. 2:18), able to sympathise (Heb. 4:15), and “able also to save them to the uttermost (right onto the end) that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). He is the Saviour, the Deliverer, the Sustainer, and there is nothing your soul can need—nay, more, there is nothing that the heart of God can confer on, or make over to you—that is not wrapped up in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore, my reader, if you have never done it before, pause now, and CONSIDER HIM.
Look how striking is the opening of chapter 1. Am I addressing one who is looking to find the Lord—groping about after Him? How sweetly this falls on the ear. “God hath in these last days, spoken to us by his Son.” Is it a failing prophet who brings us the gospel? A Moses? No. Moses did very well to bring the law, but he could not bring the gospel. Is it Elijah? No. He was a great reformer, but he was unable to bring us the gospel. But Jesus, the Son of God, Jesus the Saviour, He, and He only, can bring us the gospel The law-giver, Moses, can show your uncleanness, but cannot cleanse you; can show you your sin, but cannot take it away. Elijah, though a great reformer, cannot bring you salvation, for reformation is not salvation, is not the new life. If you turn over—as men say—a “new leaf,” it is but a leaf of the old book, and that is not salvation. But if I learn what this blessed One is, and who He is, and then learn eventually that He died for me, all His personal glories only enhance the value of the sacrifice which He offered on my account.
If I look around on the starry firmament I can learn what the power of God is, but not what His heart is; but when I come to Jesus—“the express image of his person”—I learn to know God. Here He was once in this world, and if you follow that lowly humble Man in His pathway, you cannot deny that His whole life was lovely. There is a moral loveliness about His life, which even a Socinian—who would take from Him His Godhead, and deny His propitiatory sacrifice—cannot deny. But I learn that that perfect life, which expressed, for the first time, all that man on earth should have been for God, that life was also, the life of God, and Jesus “the express image of his person.”
He brought grace for guilty man, grace for needy souls. He was in this world the very expression of what God is in His nature, and it came out in the life of a Man here on earth, that I, a man too, might be able to understand it. But this same blessed, gracious, lovely Man was “God over all,” the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person.”
Now this blessed One, whom the apostle brings out here; as being the expression of all that God is, does not sit down in heaven until He has purged our sins entirely, He has gone into the grave and has come out of it, and has gone into the glory, and now I have a Saviour in glory, at God’s right hand, who did not go there until He had done the work that put all my sins away, and gives me a righteous title to follow Him. He went up “when he had by himself purged our sins.” “By himself”—all alone. People think sometimes that they have to do something to help purge their sins away. My friend, that only takes away from the glory and work of the Saviour. You can add nothing to the work of the Saviour. All you can do is to bring in something that obscures the value of that work from your heart.
In the Old Testament, when the High Priest went in once a year, to make atonement, he had the bells on his garments, and the bells told the people, waiting outside, that their priest lived. Our High Priest did not go in until He had done the whole work—He Himself, all alone—that put away all our sins—and it is your privilege and mine to believe on Him now, while He has gone in. Many (Israel) will not believe on Him till He comes out.
Do you ask me, Are you sure your sins are purged away? Well, if they are not already all purged away now, they never will be, for only the blood of Jesus can purge them, and He will not come down from the glory to shed that blood again. Look back at the cross, and see that blessed One doing the work which He only could do. It cost Him His life; it cost Him the hiding of God’s face; it cost Him the being made sin, but He, by Himself, purged our sins.
The Epistle to the Hebrews brings the soul to have to do with Christ, and when the heart has to do with the heavenly Saviour, that man is spoiled for earth. When you learn that He, by Himself, purged, blotted out, removed your sins, what will be the result? I have no doubt you will feel happy, but feelings are not the ground the Christian rests on; he rests on Christ—on Christ, who is the crowned Saviour at God’s right hand, a Saviour honoured, and crowned with glory, when He went back to heaven, as a Man, having finished the work God gave Him to do. And that work was to put sins away from God’s sight, and from off the man who trusts in Him, to pick up ruined sinners on their road to hell, and bring them to glory.
The apostle, in chapter 1, contrasts Christ with angels, and shows His superiority, for angels cannot save you, and bring you to God. Christ came into this world in order to have companions in His Father’s house. He is going to have companions, that is the grace of His heart. None but the heart of Christ could have thought of giving that dying malefactor on Calvary a place as His companion in paradise that day.
Having unfolded the glories of the Son of God in chapter 1, the apostle in chapter 2 says, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard test at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord” (2:1-3). Pause, and ask yourself, How do I propose to get saved? and then answer the apostle’s question, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” He does not say reject, he says neglect. I do not suppose that one who reads this paper thinks of rejecting God’s salvation, but, I ask you, Has Christ had His right place in your heart yet? If not, can you answer this momentous question of the Spirit of God’s, “How shall we escape if we neglect?”
Christ is in heaven today a glorified Saviour, and He is speaking to you from thence. He spake the gospel when He was on earth. Men jeered at Him. He told them of God, and they mocked Him, and at length wicked hands nailed Him to the cross, and He says, I will die for you who only hated Me. He dies, but God raises Him from the dead, and He enters heaven as the Saviour, and from heaven He says to you, How will you escape if you neglect so great salvation?
Oh, my friend, let me entreat you, neglect it no longer, procrastinate, put off no more, halt between two opinions not another hour, nor hesitate, for how shall you escape if you neglect this great salvation of God’s own providing? You cannot escape. There is no other way. Christ says, I am the Way. Oh, neglect Him no more. Cast your eye on Him this day. See how God presents Him to be admired in this second chapter: “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man,” Death is on every man, the wages of sin, but Jesus came and tasted death to deliver man. He has destroyed Satan’s power, therefore the moment that I see that Christ died for my sins and rose again, Satan has no power to hold me any longer.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh, and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Glorious Deliverer! Man dies because be is a sinner. Jesus became a Man that He might die. By His death He destroys the captor and delivers the captive. Death, as the wages of sin, was the sword, in Satan’s hand, that kept man in bondage all his lifetime. By dying, and receiving sins’ wages, Jesus destroys the power of Satan—destroys him “that had the power of death”—and delivers the one who now confides in Himself.
Christ came to deliver. “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?” Yes, Christ delivers. He came to deliver, to rob the mighty of his prey. Come to Him, then, now, and let Him deliver you, let Him save you by His work on the cross, which met all the claims of God, and broke all the power of the enemy. The devil seeks to keep souls from looking up, because he knows that if you see Christ in glory you will get deliverance from his power. You will be delivered if you simply CONSIDER CHRIST JESUS.
The Gospel Messengers 1890, p. 279