"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 ... and deliver ...” (Heb. 2:14.17)
In the benign and beneficial law of redemption in Israel, strange claimants and foreign currencies were never permitted to participate in the ransoming of a life that had become involved in debt, or in the redeeming of an encumbered or mortgaged estate. Such tasks must needs be undertaken and carried through by a person closely related to the one in trouble. Therefore, the first step to be taken in any work of redemption was for the promoter to prove his kinship. (Deut. 25:5.10) This is borne out in the book of Ruth where the words "kinsman" and "near of kin" occur sixteen times in the four brief chapters, leaving no room for doubt as to the right and relationship of Boaz to act on behalf of Ruth, the widow.
A great deal of space is given to this subject in the Scriptures as the whole world is viewed as an inheritance that is placed in the hands of man to administer. A usurper gained control of the inheritance and the human race became the slave of sin and was thereby made subject to death. The only hope for a death.dominated world was that One strong enough in power and sympathetic enough in pity, Who held the right to ransom and possessed the resources to redeem, should rise up and resolutely determine to recover the whole. The coming of the Son of Man into the world was the supreme divine factor in solving the problem and securing release. He bore the designation "Firstborn of all creation" which legally entitled Him to undertake for humanity, but His right is actually substantiated on a far more wonderful basis. As "The Son" His identity is disclosed in regard to His precedence in Heirship. "The Son of Abraham expresses His identity with the Hebrew race. “The Son of David” emphasizes His identity with the nation of Israel. "The Son of Mary" evidences His identity with flesh and blood. "The Son of Joseph" exhibits His identity with toil and labor. "The Son of God" explains His identity with essential deity. "The Son of Man" establishes His identity with all mankind. "The Son of the Most High" evinces His identity with the governance of the world to come.
"The Son of Man" was the grand title Christ advanced Himself. No person born into this world can deny that Christ holds this link of affinity with each member of the whole human family. He came into our very domain not as a fine.weather friend but appeared at the opportune moment when everything concerning man was in a deplorable state. The fierce flame of human agony was burning furiously, but above the roar of the inferno, ears which were Spirit-quickened, caught the music of these matchless words, "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." His birth at Bethlehem, His boyhood in Nazareth, His beneficent ministry in Judea and Galilee attested His right of claim as Redeemer. "He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God." "There is one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus."
His hands never failed in their tender ministries, His heart never faltered in its kindly sympathies, His help never wavered under strain and stress, His hours with the disciples were times of unveiling when they were highly privileged in being alone with One so dignified. Through manifestation the Son of Man kindled the unquenchable fervor of ardent love in the hearts of millions. After all, real happiness is not so much in pleasure as in prevailing. The Son of Man achieved victories and gained conquests in realms where all others had suffered defeat. His compassionate and complacent love shone forth in all its fullness when He tasted death for every man and conquered him who held its power.
Let us notice briefly four features of His work as the Son of Man.
(a) His Sympathy is expressed in bearing our sickness and carrying our sorrows. This He did, not to solicit pity or admiration but to declare the Father, demonstrate His love and deliver the distressed from oppression. Then on one occasion when He turned to a faithful group of women who wept because of the cruel treatment being meted out to Him, He used those striking words, "Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children," implying "I have no need of pity." He asked for no tears but gave them freely, examples of which are recorded at the grave of Lazarus, and again when He grieved over the obdurate attitude of Jerusalem in contemplation of the impending doom of the city. Wonderful in the courage of His sympathy, He faced the disdain and derision that were entailed in the titanic task of removing the very cause of the world's woe. Boaz could scarcely be said to have risked the renown of his reputation, or to have hazarded the honor of his high social standing and heirship in redeeming Ruth. He by no means involved the wealth of his valuable inheritance, or imperiled the kindly esteem of his kinsfolk in Bethlehem in order to see justice done to a poor Moabitish damsel.
On the other hand we know that Christ made Himself of no reputation, stooped from the highest position of honor amid heavenly hierarchies, and, although rich, for our sakes became poor that we through His poverty might be made rich. His action caused angels and principalities to stand in wonderment and bewilderment as they saw Him descend in human form to seek, save, love and cherish an earthly bride.
Herein we are brought into the presence of sympathy incomprehensible and a love beyond degree.
(b) His Service. "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister." From the heights of sovereign majesty He descended to a strenuous ministry and from His celestial estate of being in the form of God He took upon Himself the form of a servant. The integrity He showed in the pursuit of His purpose, the identity of His interests with the sons of men and the intimacy of the considerate help He rendered to all and sundry, supplied a flaming witness to the genuineness of His friendly service.
How reverently and resolutely He carried out His activities of love to woo and win His Bride. Never did the beauty of His character shine out in such perfection as when He faced the facts of defilement and disfigurement that marred the cherished objects of His heart's affection. He mourned the selfishness of spirit and sinfulness of soul that He met with, but, instead of abandoning His designs, He wrought an adequate atonement to erase, cleanse and purify from all sin, in order to make His spouse suitable and be able to pronounce her as being without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. How simply and sincerely He serviced His disciples when He took a towel and girded Himself. John takes pains to describe the character of the One Who did this, by reminding us of His prescience, “for He knew that His hour was come,” also by declaring His preeminence in that He was aware that all things had been committed to His hand, by stating His preexistence, “He came from God,” and by emphasizing His grand prerogative, “went to God.” (John 13:1.3)
Never before had any person of such dignified character rendered so humble a service in such a lovely manner for removing all contracted defilement from His followers. (John 15:3) In the larger outlook He discharges the same service for His church that He may sanctify and cleanse It with the washing of water by the Word. (Eph. 5:26)
Our Lord's availing and affectionate activity on behalf of His church becomes a pattern to His redeemed people for all time. Within the space of ten verses the expression "even as" occurs four times (Eph. 5:23, 25, 29, 33), while "as" occurs thrice. The qualities of this love are to be imitated so that:
In purity of character it must be a holy love, “sanctifying and cleansing.” (v. 26)
The features already wrought out by the Son of man in the history of His redemptive purpose are unique, unifying and unchangeable.
(c) His Sacrifice. "The Son of man came ... to give His life a ransom for many." The voluntariness of His coming, the value of His life, the vision He possessed and His vicarious death by virtue of which He secured atonement are included in His wondrous statement "for the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross despising the shame." When we contemplate the excruciating agony of His suffering in deepest solitude, there is the danger of forgetting the eternal and preexistent glory of His personal splendor. The distance between the highest degree of dominion and humblest deed of devotion is difficult to hold in the mind at one and the same time. The very Lord of Glory was debased, the fullness of the Godhead was dishonored, the King of Israel was disowned and the stately Prince of Life died in agony and blood upon a brutal gibbet. Yet, from this very zero of humiliation He ascended to the zenith of honor at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Boaz, the wealthy landowner and benefactor of Bethlehem, wore no crown of thorns and bore no cross of shame in securing his bride. Yet he was spoken of as the Nourisher and Redeemer of life. (Ruth 4:15) But Christ is not only the Restorer of life; He is the Revealer of truth, the Redeemer of men, the Regenerator of souls, the Ransomer of the estate, the Renewer of joy and our Reconciler to God. Yea, He is the Shepherd of the sheep, the Savior of the world, the Sanctifier of His brethren, "Who gave Himself for our sins that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a people zealous of good works."
By the display of such generous love and glorious grace combined with the precious gifts of life, He allures His beloved into the wilderness away from the sham and show of sentiment and sensation that He might there speak comfortably unto her. (Hos. 2:14) When He opens His lips, He speaks with the profoundest knowledge, the keenest interest, the purest motive and the most perfect volition. His one desire is to lead His betrothed to the highest realization of perfection, permanence and pleasure. So here the bounties of heaven and beauties of holiness are seen to combine in His blessing for His Intended. (Hos. 2:21) The immutables of the Triune God are indicated in the thrice.repeated intention, "I will betroth." How changeless the covenant, how unalterable the union and how lasting the love!
The seven features enumerated are most fascinating and the context states that this is according to the love of the Lord toward the sons of Israel. (Hos. 3:1) Let us notice the features:
(1) The Durability: "I will betroth thee unto me forever." The contrast is made between the transient contracts of the present life and the eternal covenant of union in the life which is to come. The communion continues unmarred and unbroken in its unending intimacy and abiding durability.
(2) The Dignity: "I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness." The character and suitability of nature which characterize the betrothed and make the union possible in view of heaven's holy standards, consist of spiritual beauties bestowed by the Bridegroom Himself Who makes perfect in His own comeliness. (Ezek. 16:14)
(3) The Defensibility: "In judgment." The authoritative decision which sanctions the nuptial celebrations is inerrant in discernment and the contracting parties are declared immune from any lawful accusation raised by anyone anywhere at any time under any condition whatsoever.
(4) The Delectability: "In loving kindness." The delight of complacency displayed by the Bridegroom Whose unblemished disposition dispels any suggestion of inconstancy assures complete satisfaction forever. Every kindly considerateness intensifies the endearment, because the affection of the Beloved is immortal.
(5) The Desirability: "In mercy." Perfect favor in all its divine plenitude is lavished freely and without the slightest suspicion of unworthiness intruding into the happy fellowship. The generous gifts and glorious inheritance imparted are without parallel and wholly unconditional.
(6) The Dependability: "In faithfulness." All falsity and fickleness are banished never more to deflect the affection or divert the adoration. "Great is thy faithfulness" and the redeemed of the Lord are made partakers of the same Divine nature. "When we see Him we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
(7) The Destiny: "Thou shalt know the Lord." The ultimate comprehension will be complete. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." The inherent virtue of Emmanuel and the inestimable value of His friendship in their incalculable length, and breadth, and depth, and height shall then be enjoyed everlastingly.
These are the unveilings of the very heart of the immortal Lover and of the intentions of His infinite love. This notable forecast supplies a description of the fullest and highest realization of the serene endearment of love between the soul and God. Herein are combined intrinsic beauty, impregnable integrity, instinctive mutuality, immortal sympathy, infinite fidelity, immaculate purity and imperishable sincerity . "against such there is no law," either here or in the world to come. What a mystery that God should bend and stoop in mercy to seek and select a sanctified bride from fallen humanity! He Who sways unqualified dominion shows unselfish devotion by emancipating His redeemed people from the disgrace of sin and in exalting such to the society, purity and beauty of heaven eternal.
Sir Walter Scott in "Kenilworth" tells of Lord Burleigh, Marquis of Exeter, marrying a farmer's daughter and lifting her to the status of Marchioness in an earthly mansion, but what is that in comparison with the love of this Celestial Suitor and the endowment He bestows?
(d) His Sufficiency. "Thou shalt see greater things than these . . The angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." When Nathaniel was startled in the presence of Christ by His penetrating understanding he exclaimed, “Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel," whereupon Christ pushed back the horizons by quoting from Psalm 8, in which He is depicted in His universal dominion with a name excellent in all the earth. The Son of man not only abides in faithfulness and abounds in fullness, but assures us absolutely by virtue of His far.flung kingdom and universal administration which are both terrestrial and celestial, immortal and invisible, exquisite and eternal. He supplies the spotless garments of purity, the stainless character of sanctity, the sinless joy of felicity, and the stormless sea of tranquility to enhance the beauties of an incorruptible inheritance. In all this He becomes more and more the wonder and admiration of angels as they seek to peer into the amazing realities of His manifestation by which means He identifies Himself with the saints of every lazar's den. The angels adore and worship Him because in His infinite wisdom He plans the grandest romance ever conceived, builds the greatest mansion of the ages, bestows the rarest gifts of worth, prepares the biggest surprises of history, frames the noblest ideals of righteousness, unites the widest disparities of society and perfects the choicest virtues of excellence. Alas! that such infinite beauty and generosity has comparatively so few real enraptured lovers, and that the immortal loveliness of the Redeemer has so few ravished hearts.
"Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him,
Is not thine a captured heart?
Chief among ten thousand own Him,
Joyful, choose the better part.
What has stripped the seeming beauty,
From the idols of the earth?
Not the sense of right or duty,
But the sight of peerless worth.
'Twas the look that melted Peter,
'Twas that face that Stephen saw,
'Twas the heart that wept with Mary
Can alone from idols draw.
Draw, and win, and fill completely,
Till my cup o'erflow the brim;
What have we to do with idols
Who have companied with Him."