Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden in shame and disgrace, mortally stricken because of sin and bearing in their bodies the ongoing consequence of a nature inclined to sin. It is a sad fact that by one offence death reigned; what a dismal emphasis that, in the body already doomed, the bias to sin went on repeating the process (Rom 5:12,19).

There was a way back—Genesis 3:15 spelt that out and the flashing sword of the Cherubim turning every way was to ensure that anyone approaching from whatever direction should know “this is the way walk ye in it” (Gen 3:24). That way was the way of perfection, for by what other path can man approach his Maker? All God’s ways are perfect: they emanate from the fountain of all goodness and purity and He will be sanctified in those that approach unto Him (Deut 32:3–4; Lev 10:3). For mortal man to be just before God there must be forgiveness; how else, since perfection of the righteous is beyond all sons of Adam.

Forgiveness is conditional upon two related principles. First, the admission of guilt and the recognition of the righteousness of God (Rom 3:23-26). Secondly, there must be the redress of the error committed. Yahweh’s purpose with the first pair was to replenish the earth with His own likeness, with purity of thought and action. It is not that He demands perfection for its own sake but for His own sake, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13). This truth concerning the Father was expressed in the perfection of character of His Son.

Adam could seek forgiveness on the basis of the first principle and by enveloping him and his wife in the skins of the slain lamb, God encouraged them to do just that. Wearing the skins was admission that they wore the consequences of sin. God was right (Gen 3:19–21). Adam was powerless to undo the error, being a sinner and as such disqualified from approach to God; he could not redress the past and certainly could not guarantee perfection in the future. Surely as time elapsed and he begat a son “in his own image and likeness” (Gen 5:3), along with others he must have come to the realisation that they were all in desperate need of a redeemer. When men were known as “enosh” (Heb meaning “mortal man”), then it was that they began to call upon the name of Yahweh (Gen 4:26).

Seed of the Woman

  Before they came to this realisation, God had foreseen their need and promised them “the seed of the woman” (Gen 3:15). Here was one of their own race, born to their problem but not the product of an earthly father. “Seed of the woman” certainly indicates that the one to come must come in our nature but it is not the primary import of the phrase, for if it were, then we would be led to look for the victory over the serpent power of sin by the product of flesh itself. It was “in the flesh” that sin was conquered, not by the flesh.“Seed of the woman” is clearly saying that he would not be of the seed of the man!

Who then will be his father? The concise answer is in the third of the great and precious promises, where almighty God states, “I will be his Father” (2 Sam 7:14).

How then will this be possible? The answer of the Prophet is equally concise: “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14).

When will this be? “When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal 4:4).

Why did God have to do it this way? “For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin , condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3).

In due time Messiah was born and the glad message of Isaiah was proclaimed and though it was true that “unto us a child is born” it was marvellously true that “unto us a Son is given” (Isa 9:6; Luke 2:10–11). Born indeed as a child into our race, that God’s righteousness might be declared in his death, yet also the Son of God, the gift of God, given that we might be saved by his life (Rom 5:10).

His Own Arm Brought Salvation

  Isaiah’s name means “The salvation of Yah” and his prophecy is all about this. It was he that prophesied that Immanuel would come, born of the virgin, which message constituted the basis of his “good tidings” (Isa 40:9; 52:7; 61:1–3). From the very beginning there was none of whom it could be said, “he is righteous” (Isa 41:26), yet Yahweh declares, “I will give to Jerusalem one that bringeth good tidings” (v27). And indeed he had to be “given” by God, “for I beheld and there was no man” (v28). Who then is this one? “Behold my servant, whom I uphold” (Isa 42:1).

Again, when the prophet reviewed in chapter 59 the moral decadence of mankind and the ensuing chaos, the spirit of Yahweh within him lamented “that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor” (Isa 59:13, 16). This situation would have continued without solution except it had been that “His [own] arm brought salvation” (v16). As the outstretched arm extends the being, so Jesus was born as the extension of God for the salvation of man even though many would refuse it. “… to whom is the arm of Yahweh revealed?” (Isa 53:1).

Isaiah employed another figure to illustrate the fact that divine intervention among the human race was to be critical if salvation was to be achieved. “There shall come a rod (Heb means “twig”) out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isa 11:1). Any doubt as to who this may refer to is removed by the Lord himself when he said, “I am the root and the offspring of David” (Rev 22:16).

Paul’s explanation of Isaiah’s figure runs thus: “… concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead” (Rom 1:3–4). Jesus’ human origins were traceable back to David, his holiness of character was a revelation that its source could only be from God. When on Patmos John received the vision of the closed seals, he twice lamented that there was “no man” capable of loosing those seals of history, yet he is reassured that they would be opened for “the Root of David hath prevailed” (Rev 5:3–5). Ordinary men have no more power to control history than they have to perfect righteousness. The manipulation of nations resides with him unto whom the Father hath committed all power in heaven and earth (Matt 11:27).

The offspring of David comes after David but the root of David is before him, as Micah expressed it, “whose goings forth (ie origins) have been from of old, from everlasting” (Mic 5:2). Though begotten of Mary, the origins of the Lord Jesus were from Yahweh his Father. So in this interesting manner the Spirit is emphasising that the Saviour of mankind must be from God, a Son of God, an arm of Yahweh, one of special relationship, a unique extension of God Himself. Thus may be fulfilled the other saying of the prophet Isaiah, “there is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour… Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God (El, strength) and there is none else” (Isa 45:21–22).

“He That Cometh From Above is Above All”

  In these words John the Baptist explained the superiority of the Christ over himself. The crowd had suggested some competition arising from Christ in that his following was growing and many more were being baptised by him (John 3:26). John could not be incited to compete with or resent the glory of his “Bridegroom” (v29). He was but sent before him and rejoiced to see his influence expanding (v 28–30). Yet John was a wonderful man of God: “among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matt 11:11). To what then did John ascribe his gross inferiority to Christ? “He that cometh from heaven is above all” (John 3:31). It is the source of Jesus that is the unique factor and separates his spirituality, his authority, his understanding, his doctrine, from other men, even from the Baptist. Explaining this unique spirituality, John says concerning Jesus that he testified “what he hath seen and heard” (v 32).  Some would say from this that his capacity in comprehending God’s ways was only greater because of education “heard and seen” from his Father and that he received no special “enablement” from God apart from this instruction. But that is not how the Scripture relates it. Jesus spoke the words of God because he was sent of God (v 34). “The Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into his hand” (v35). His begettal of God was therefore the essential first cause of the salvation offered in his name.“He that believeth not the Son shall not see life” (v36).

The relationship between the Sonship of Jesus and salvation in his name is unmistakable. Because he was the Son, the Father gave him all that was necessary to accomplish his Father’s purpose. Other men were never intended to be the Saviour and to make comparison with them or to suggest that they may also have overcome with the same education, is not valid, not wholesome. God chose to save men through His Son, “His Arm” (Isa 59:16; 53:1) and this Son was clearly superior to other men. “He that cometh from above is above all”.

“The Word Made Flesh”

  Yet no passage expresses more succinctly this unique capacity of the Son than John 1:14 where the gospel writer summarises the Divine glory seen among men in Jesus Christ.“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”. The exceptional likeness of God’s character could be ascribed to no other fact than his begettal of the Father. There are no confusing comparisons, no diverging explanations but the clear and certain fact that such moral excellence was only explicable because he was direct from God, his Father.

It was not that the Father put the Word into flesh, as in a father educating his son, but that “the Word became flesh”: in that fact lies the great distinction of the Son of God. “I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23). “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).

“Made Like Unto His Brethren” Heb 2:17

  Is the vastly greater ability and capacity of the Lord Jesus at variance with the statements in Hebrews? “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made  like unto his brethren…” and “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (2:17; 4:15).By no means.

The principal thought of Hebrews 2 is the identity of the Lord Jesus with our human nature in order that he may taste death for every man and qualify as a merciful High Priest on behalf of his brethren (v 9, 14, 17). Hebrews chapter 2 is not teaching that every human being, including the Lord, is equal in understanding, awareness of sin and ability to overcome its temptations. Everyone born of woman is a partaker of flesh and blood and one in nature, being tempted of the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life but within that one nature there are varying abilities for varying responsibilities.

“Suffered Being Tempted”

  Hebrews 2:18 remarks that, “he suffered being tempted” and is therefore “able to succour them that are tempted”. For the Son of God to be found in fashion as a man and know the weaknesses of men would have wrought in him such profound strivings. His love and affinity with the Father must have greatly magnified the evil of sin and yet special powers accentuated the potential for evil as well as the potential for good. Thus we understand better the exceptional description of the effects of Gethsemane upon the Son of God. “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin”!

These considerations help us to avoid the thought of injustice in that Christ overcame sin enjoying exceptional understanding and we fail under a handicap too great. His temptations were greater than ours and the measure of his struggle is the measure of his remarkable victory. Besides, the issue is not one of competition or comparison.

“Jesus was sent to save men from their sins. This office he gladly undertook. If, in achieving that end, it was needful that he be endowed with help which the rest of us have not, should we be envious for that? Should we not rather say, Thank God that He has provided the means for our salvation even if it be true that His sinlessness was made possible for him and has not been made possible for us? The Lord is not a man outsprinting us: he is a Saviour seeking to arrive at the goal from which, and in attaining to which, he can hold out the helping hand to those many sons whom he wishes to bring unto glory” (The Christadelphian 1976 page 127).