Deep need, deeper help.
Alexander Maclaren on how Christ helps us.
The writer of Hebrews makes a profound statement near the end of his second chapter, where he reveals that it wasn’t the angels who were in the crosshairs of God’s help, but “the offspring of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16). It is precisely human beings, those “made a little lower than the heavenly beings” (Ps. 8:5), whom the Godhead has resolved to rescue and redeem. What does this “help” look like, though? As humanity’s Helper, what sort of aid has God in Christ endeavored to dispense? Well, 19th century Scottish Baptist preacher Alexander Maclaren offers this illuminating insight into the deep help which Christ comes to give. He writes:
Christ’s help is not merely the help of a wise Teacher. Men do not want only teaching. Their need goes far deeper than that. Christ’s help is not only the help of One who declares to His fellows what God is. Men’s needs go deeper than that. Christ’s help is not merely the help of One who sets forth in sweet attractive colours the beauty of holiness and the charm of purity. Men’s needs go deeper than that. We do not only need to know what God is, we need to have our relation to God altered. We do not only need to be told what we ought to do, we need that the past shall be cancelled, and the fatal bias and tendency towards evil within ourselves be taken away. Christ is not the Helper whose help goes down to the depths and the roots of men’s necessity, unless He is Priest as well as Prophet and King. He comes to do something as well as to say something; comes to alter our relations to God, as well as to declare God’s heart to us. (15:1.255-56)
God’s help for mankind is embodied in Christ Jesus, who “partook of the same things” that you and I share in — namely, “flesh and blood” — in order that he might die, thereby destroying “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” and delivering “all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Heb. 2:14–15). That’s how deep your need and mine is. We don’t merely need more advice or more knowledge. We don’t need more assignments or more disciplines. We need something far deeper than moral rehabilitation. We need resurrection. Such is what Christ has done: he has endured “the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).
Grace and peace to you.
Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, Vols. 1–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1944).