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          Christ the Apostle and High Priest


by Robert Murray McCheyne.


Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843) was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and missionary who worked tirelessly for the conversion of his fellow-countrymen to Christ, and for the evangelisation of the Jews and other peoples of the Middle East. He was long remembered for his piety and Christian behaviour. By his words and works he manifested a great love for his God, for his brethren and for the perishing multitudes around him.


“Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus”  (Hebrews 3:1).

When a traveller passes very rapidly through a country, the eye has no time to rest upon the different objects in it, so that, when he comes to the end of his journey, no distinct impressions have been made upon his mind, — he has only a confused notion of the country through which he has travelled.

This explains how it is that death, judgment, eternity, make so little impression upon most men's minds. Most people never stop to think, but hurry on through life, and find themselves in eternity before they have once put the question, “What must I do to be saved?" More souls are lost through want of consideration than in any other way.

The reason why men are not awakened and made anxious for their souls is, that the devil never gives them time to consider. Therefore God cries, Stop, poor sinner, stop and think. Consider your ways. "Oh that you were wise, that you understood this, that you considered your latter end!" And, again He cries, "Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider."

In the same way does the devil try to make the children of God doubt if there be a Providence. He hurries them away to the shop and market. Lose no time, he says, but make money. Therefore God cries, Stop, poor sinner, stop and think; and Jesus says, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; consider the ravens, which have neither storehouse nor barn."

In the same way does the devil try to make the children of God live uncomfortable and unholy lives. He beguiles them away from simply looking to Jesus: he hurries them away to look at a thousand other things, as he led Peter, walking on the sea, to look round at the waves. But God says, Look here, consider the Apostle and High Priest of your profession; look unto me and be ye saved; run your race, looking unto Jesus; consider Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.


I. Believers should live in daily consideration of the greatness and glory of Christ.

(1.) There was once a time when time was not, — when there was no earth, neither sun, nor moon, nor star; a time when you might have wandered through all space, and never found a resting-place to the sole of your foot, — when you would have found no creatures anywhere, but God everywhere, — when there were no angels with golden harps hymning celestial praises, but God alone was all in all.

Ques. — Where was Jesus then? Ans. — He was with God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” He was near to God, and in perfect happiness there. "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. Then I was by Him as one brought up with Him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before Him." He was in the bosom of God: "The only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father." He was in perfect glory there: "Father, glorify Thou me with thyself, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was!"  

Ques. — What was Jesus then? Ans. — He was God. The Word was with God, and "was God." He was equal with the Father. "He thought it no robbery to be equal with God." He was rich. "He was the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person."  

Now, brethren, could I lift you away to that time when God was alone from all eternity; could I have shown you the glory of Jesus then, — how He dwelt in the bosom of the Father, and was daily his delight; and could I have told you, "That is the glorious Being who is to undertake the cause of poor lost sinners, — that is He who is going to put himself in their room and stead, to suffer all they should suffer, and obey all they should obey, — consider Jesus, look long and earnestly, weigh every consideration in the balance of the soundest judgment, — consider his rank, his nearness, his dearness to God the Father, — consider his power, his glory, his equality to God the Father in everything, — consider, and say do you think you would entrust your case to Him? do you think He would be a sufficient Saviour?" — oh, brethren, would not every soul cry out. He is enough — I want no other Saviour?  

(2.) Again, there was a time when this world sprang into being, — when the sun began to shine, and earth and seas began to smile. There was a time when myriads of happy angels springing into being, first spread their wings, doing his commandments, — when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.  

Ques. — What was Jesus doing then? Ans. — “Without Him was not anything made that was made." "By Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him." Oh, brethren, could I lift you away back to that wonderful day, and show you Jesus calling all the angels into being, hanging the earth upon nothing; — could you have heard the voice of Jesus saying, "Let there be light, and there was light;" — and could I have told you, "That is He who is yet to undertake for sinners; consider Him, and see if you think He will be a sufficient Saviour; look long and earnestly;" — good news, good news for sinners, if this mighty Being undertake for us! — I can as little doubt the sureness and completeness of my salvation as I can doubt the sureness of the solid earth beneath my feet.  

(3.) But the work of creation is long since passed. Jesus has been upon our earth. And now He is not here — He is risen. Eighteen hundred years and more have passed since Christ was upon the earth.  

Ques. — Where is Jesus now? Ans. — "He is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." He is upon the throne with God in his glorified body, and his throne is for ever. A sceptre is put into his hand — a sceptre of righteousness, and the oil of gladness is poured over Him. All power is given to Him in heaven and on earth.  

Oh, brethren, could you and I pass this day through these heavens, and see what is now going on in the sanctuary above, — could you see what the child of God now sees who died last night, — could you see the Lamb with the scars of his five deep wounds in the very midst of the throne, surrounded by all the redeemed, every one having harps and golden vials full of odours, — could you see the many angels round about the throne, whose number is ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, all singing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain," — and were one of these angels to tell you, "This is He that undertook the cause of lost sinners; He undertook to bear their curse and to do their obedience; He undertook to be the second Adam, — the man in their stead; and lo! there He is upon the throne of heaven; — consider Him, — look long and earnestly upon his wounds — upon his glory, — and tell me, do you think it would be safe to trust Him? do you think his sufferings and obedience will have been enough?" — Yes, yes, every soul exclaims. Lord, it is enough! Lord, stay thy hand! Show me no more, for I can bear no more. Oh, rather let me ever stand and gaze upon the almighty, all-worthy, all-divine Saviour, till my soul drink in complete assurance that his work undertaken for sinners is a finished work! Yes, though the sins of all the world were on my one wicked head, still I could not doubt that his work is complete, and that I am quite safe when I believe in Him.  

I would now plead with believers. — Some of you have really been brought by God to believe in Jesus. Yet you have no abiding peace, and very little growing in holiness. Why is this? It is because your eye is fixed anywhere but on Christ. You are so busy looking at books, or looking at men, or looking at the world, that you have no time, no heart, for looking at Christ.  

No wonder you have little peace and joy in believing. No wonder you live so inconsistent and unholy a life. Change your plan. Consider the greatness and glory of Christ, who has undertaken all in the stead of sinners, and you would find it quite impossible to walk in darkness, or to walk in sin. Oh what mean, despicable thoughts you have of the glorious Immanuel! Lift your eyes from your own bosom, downcast believer, — look upon Jesus. It is good to consider your ways, but it is far better to consider Christ.  

I would now invite anxious souls. — Anxious soul! have you understood all the glory of Christ? Have you understood that He undertook for guilty sinners? And do you doubt if He be a sufficient Saviour? Oh, what mean views you have of Christ if you dare not risk your soul upon Him!  

Objection. — I do not doubt that Christ has suffered and done quite enough, but I fear it was for others, and not for me. If I were sure it was for me, I would be quite happy. Ans. — It is nowhere said in the Bible that Christ died for this sinner or that sinner. If you are waiting till you find your own name in the Bible, you will wait for ever. But it is said a few verses before that, "He tasted death for every man;" and again, "He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world." Not that all men are saved by Him. Ah! no; the most never come to Jesus, and are lost; but this shows that any sinner may come, even the chief of sinners, and take Christ as his own Saviour. Come you then, anxious soul; say you, He is my refuge and my fortress; and then, be anxious, if you can.  


II. Consider Christ as the Apostle or Messenger of God.  

The word apostle means messenger, — one ordained and sent on a particular embassy. Now Christ is an Apostle, for God ordained and sent Him into the world.

In the Old Testament, the name by which He is oftenest called is the Angel of the Lord, or the Messenger of the Covenant. He is called God's Elect, chosen for the work; He is called God's Servant; He is called the Messiah, or the Christ, or the Anointed, because God anointed Him and sent Him to the work. In the New Testament, over and over again Christ calls himself the Sent of God. "As Thou hast sent me into the world, so have I sent them into the world, that the world may know that Thou hast sent me." "And these have known that Thou hast sent me." All this shows plainly that it is not the Son alone who is interested in the saving of poor sinners, but the Father also. "The Father sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world."

Objection. — True, Christ is a great and glorious Saviour, and able to accomplish anything to save poor sinners; but perhaps God the Father may not agree to pour out his wrath upon his Son, or to accept of his Son as a surety in our stead. Ans. — Look here, Christ is the Apostle of God. It is as much God the Father's work, as it is Christ's work. It occupied as much of the heart of God as ever it did of the heart of Christ. God loved the world as much and truly as ever Christ loved the world. God gave his Son, as much as Christ gave himself for us. So God the Holy Spirit is as much interested in it as the Father and Son. God gave his Son, — the Spirit anointed Him and dwelt in Him without measure. At his baptism God acknowledged Him for his beloved Son, — the Holy Spirit came on Him like a dove.

Oh! brethren, could I lift you away to the eternity that is past, — could I bring you into the council of the Eternal Three; and as it was once said, "Let us make man," could I let you hear the word, "Let us save man," — could I show you how God from all eternity designed his Son to undertake for poor sinners; how it was the very plan and the bottommost desire of the heart of the Father that Jesus should come into the world, and do and die in the stead of sinners; how the Holy Spirit breathed sweetest incense, and dropped like holiest oil upon the head of the descending Saviour, — could I show you the intense interest with which the eye of God followed Jesus through his whole course of sorrow and suffering and death, — could I show you the anxious haste with which God rolled away the stone from the sepulchre while it was yet dark, for He would not leave his soul in hell, neither suffer his Holy One to see corruption, — could I show you the ecstasies of love and joy that beat in the bosom of the infinite God when Jesus ascended to his Father and our Father; how He welcomed Him with a fulness of kindness and grace which God alone could give, and God alone could receive, saying, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee; Thou art indeed worthy to be called my Son; never till this day wast Thou so worthy to be called mine; thy throne, God, is for ever and ever; sit Thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool;" — sinner, will you ever doubt any more whether God the Father be seeking thy salvation, — whether the heart of Christ and of his Father be the same in this one grand controversy? believer, consider this apostle of God, — meditate on these things, — look and look again, until your peace be like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea, — till the breathing of your soul be, Abba, Father!


III. Consider Christ as the High Priest of our profession.

The duty of the high priest was twofold: 1st, to make Atonement; 2nd, to make Intercession.  

When the high priest slew the goat at the altar of burnt-offerings, he did it in presence of all the people, to make atonement for them. They all stood around, gazing and considering their high priest; and when he gathered the blood into the golden basin, and put on the white garments, and passed away from their sight within the veil, their eye followed him, till the mysterious curtain hid him from their sight. But even then the heart of the believing Jew followed him still. Now he is drawing near to God for us; now he is sprinkling the blood seven times before the mercy-seat, saying, Let this blood be instead of our blood; now he is praying for us.  

Brethren, let us also consider our great High Priest.  

(1.) Consider Him making Atonement. — You cannot look at Him on the cross as the disciples did; you cannot see the blood streaming from his five deep wounds; you cannot see Him shedding his blood that the blood of sinners might not be shed. Yet still, if God spare us, you may see bread broken and wine poured out, — a living picture of the dying Saviour. Now, brethren, the atonement has been made, Christ has died, his sufferings are all past. And how is it that you do not enjoy peace? It is because you do not consider. "Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." Consider, — has Jesus died in the stead of guilty sinners, and do you heartily consent to take Jesus to be the man in your stead? then, you do not need to die. Oh, happy believer, rejoice evermore! Live within sight of Calvary, and you will live within sight of glory; and, oh, rejoice in the happy ordinance that sets a broken Saviour so plainly before you!  

(2.) Consider Christ as making Intercession. — When Christ ascended from the Mount of Olives, and passed through these heavens, carrying his bloody wounds into the presence of God, — and when his disciples had gazed after Him, till a cloud received Him out of their sight, — we are told that they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. What! are they joyful at parting with their blessed Master? When He told them He was to leave them, sorrow filled their hearts, and He had to argue with them and comfort them, saying, "Let not your heart be troubled; it is expedient for you that I go away." How, then, are they changed? Jesus has left them, and they are filled with joy. Oh! here is the secret, — they knew that Christ was now going into the presence of God for them, that their great High Priest was now entering within the veil to make intercession for them.  

Now, believer, would you share in the great joy of the disciples? Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. He is above yon clouds, and above yon sky. Oh that you would stand gazing up into heaven, not with the bodily eye, but with the eye of faith! Oh, what a wonderful thing the eye of faith is! It sees beyond the stars, it pierces to the throne of God, and there it looks on the face of Jesus making intercession for us, whom having not seen we love; in whom, though now we see Him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Oh! if you would live thus, what sweet peace would fill your bosom! And how many droppings of the Spirit would come down on you in answer to the Saviour's prayer! Oh! how your face would shine like Stephen; and the poor blind world would see that there is a joy which the world cannot give, and the world cannot take away, — a heaven upon earth!

      Dundee, 1836.



Sermon II, "Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray McCheyne” by Andrew A. Bonar. D.D. Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier, 1891. pp 301-307.