The Captain of Our Salvation
by Joseph Orton
Delivered Lord's day Afternoon, December 6th, 1874
In this verse the first little word "for," connects it with what had gone before, as you will find by reading it, how the Lord hath spoken unto us in these last days: "Which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him." And then how He is exalted, and set at God's right hand, and all things are placed under His feet. And the way He came to this: "Thou madest Him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownest Him with glory and honour, and didst set Him over the works of Thy hands...But now," he says, "we see not yet all things put under Him, but 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. For it became Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." God having done so, the Apostle says it was meet and right that so it should be - it became Him so to do; or, as it reads in the Gospel according to Luke, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?"
In looking at these words we will notice first of all - "For it became Him." Then who it was that was thus brought to this low estate - "The Captain of our salvation." Then for whom this was - it was for "many sons."
"It became Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." For my own part I take the word "Him" here to relate to God the Father. "God also bearing witness," we are told, "both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will...that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man." So then afterwards he goes on to speak in this way: "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me." And then we find it lower down: "That He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." It became Him, God the Father, to make the Captain of salvation to these many sons perfect through sufferings.
I would first notice why it is said it became Him to do so. In the next place I would notice that the Captain of salvation unto His people must be made perfect through sufferings. And then notice the intervening words: "For whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory" - the purpose God had in view in thus making the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
First to notice how it is said to become Him. "For it became Him." God is unchangeable in His nature and in His purpose, too; and the Scriptures say God would glorify Himself - it is "to the praise of the glory of His grace" that ever any are saved from perdition, or any mercy or blessing is ever bestowed upon any of us creatures here below.
There was nothing that compelled Him to make what He has made, nor to uphold what He does uphold, but His own will, His own pleasure, to manifest forth His own glory, that it might be seen and known. God's glory was what He aimed at, and He is just and righteous in it. Now as God declares to us that He is unchangeably the same in His nature and in His purpose, too, God could not forgive sin like as many sovereigns here on earth forgive a prisoner who has been convicted, give him a free pardon; nor as we forgive our fellow-sinners their trespasses which they trespass against us. God could not do that, for He must change if He did. That holy law of His, which is a transcript of Him in one measure as to His holiness, to His will revealed unto His creatures, it must cease to be if God could forgive sin like as we forgive it.
And besides, it only reveals, as it were, a part of Jehovah to us - it reveals Him to us as a Creator, and the Lord of His creatures - the Lord of all. It does not reveal those things which were hidden in His mind before time was, what His ulterior purposes were to do and to be; He reveals them to us in His Gospel, they are made known to us there; but neither one nor the other clash, they do not disagree one with the other, so that they should be at enmity; the Scriptures tell us that they meet and kiss.
Now, as God could not forgive sins like an earthly sovereign grants a free pardon to a condemned person, nor as we forgive our fellow-sinners who trespass against us; God must therefore have an atonement made, a price of redemption given to Him ere it could be. So that we find God's rich grace displayed, not merely to suit our convenience, but all to answer His own eternal glory, that He, as a Creator should be just in justifying the ungodly who believe in Jesus Christ.
But there was something more we find than this in what became God, or what was right, meet, and proper that He should do. He speaks of bringing many sons to glory; and that glory, we are told in other parts of the Word, is not a glory here on earth, not what may be seen by our mortal eyes here; but it is to behold the glory which the Eternal Son of God had before the foundation of the world. "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24) So that in bringing these sons there, we find they are brought into the very presence of God, where Jesus, the Son of God, is, to be with God, and to behold His glory, and to be adopted into His family. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." (John 1:18) There is a sight which is in reserve for the saints of God when time is no more with them, but which, Paul says, is beheld by them in this time state, "through a glass, darkly."
Then he comes to describe who these many sons were; there is a oneness between them: "For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." And then again: "For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." "As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Him self likewise took part of the same." Here comes the union, the Eternal Son of God made flesh, that there might be a oneness between Him and the children whom God had given Him. "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me." That there might be a oneness between them; and so, through Immanuel, God with us, they might be brought to behold the glory of God the Father.
Now, "it became" - God the Father - "for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." We would notice what this perfection is, and how this perfection came, and see how relative it is to our state and condition whilst we are sojourning here, and in eternity too. He was to be made perfect, and we are told, "being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation." (Heb. 5:9)
This perfection has a reference to that suitability to all the state and condition of the many sons He was to bring to glory, in being so adapted unto their state as to be a perfect and complete Saviour; as we read, "able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him." (Heb. 7:25) In making the Captain of their salvation perfect, it behoved them that God should make Him perfect through sufferings, in one sense, that He might be a merciful High Priest to us.
What is that suffering the Lord of Glory passed through while here below to become so adapted to our state and condition? and what is that state of perfection to which He has now come to be a perfect and complete Saviour to us? for we are told it was through that He thus became perfect.
In the first place, we read that the Son of God humbled Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was found in fashion as a man. In that state of humiliation in which He was found, in all that He did He humbled Himself; He laid aside His glory, His authority, and power, and became as a worm and no man, despised of men, and the scorn of the people. In that capacity as a servant He had to live to labour and to obey, and He did it for us; and here was a great part of His sufferings in obeying the will of God through all opposition, against all things that were laid in His way - as we say, through rough and smooth - difficulties and dangers, the Son of God had to obey, and did obey; and in His obedience we find the most cruel taunts were hurled at Him, and all manner of reproach and scorn as well, for His very obedience from the heart to God's will. You read how it is spoken of in the Psalms, whatever He did He says, "that was to My reproach;" until at length He says, "Reproach hath broken My heart." (Ps. 69:20) They reproached Him for the miracles that He did, and said He did them through the power of Beelzebub, having connection with him: "By the prince of the devils casteth He out devils." So the reproach, the scorn, and perversion of everything He did through attributing them to evil motives, helped to make up the sufferings of our Lord in this time state, or why would it be put, "Reproach hath broken My heart?" When he Humbled His soul with fastings, that was to His reproach; when He made sackcloth His clothing for His enemy, as though he had been His nearest and dearest friend, that was to His reproach.
He knew what God's will was. He says, "Thy law is within My heart." (Ps. 40:8) There was not the law of sin there, as it is in our hearts, as well as the remains of the law of God with respect to us creatures. Not so with Him, He knew no sin, nor was guile found in His lips. In this was He travelled through. He had opposition on all points, from whatsoever He said or did; snares were laid for Him, if possible to cause Him to fall; and He was taunted and reproached at every turn, so that He was reduced to that low estate; He had to fast, was faint and hungry, and had nowhere to lay His head.
That is what the world gave Him, but not all, for they crucified Him; and here we come to the Son of God made sin for us, bearing our sins in His own body, dying the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God; and He died under the curse, was made a curse for us, made sin for us, and He bore it away, the Just for the unjust.
So He lived; and we may bless Him for His life, for His righteousness is the righteousness of God wrought out in human nature, and His sufferings, His blood-shedding is the blood which the Eternal Son of God shed, and His own blood too; not as He is Deity alone, but He who is the Eternal Son of God, is also God and Man in that one Person. So we have an infinite, eternal righteousness, and we have an infinite eternal redemption too through the Son of God.
But it does not end here. There is the suffering which He underwent here, but there is something beyond that. While He was here below He lived as we live; He ate, He drank, He thirsted, He was wearied and faint by the way, and had to do with the world and things of the world; and though as the Eternal Son of God He was in the Father's bosom, yet, as He was God and Man in on one Person, He was here on earth and away from it.
Now, when He had suffered and died, and was buried, He rose again, "and being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." We have then a full and complete redemption from the time state in which we were created, it is a full and complete redemption by Jesus Christ from under the curse and condemnation; we have a full and complete triumph over sin, death, and hell, and all the powers of darkness, and full and complete triumph over the grave. He is risen again from the dead, ascended on high, and has led captivity captive. We have One risen to everlasting, immortal life to die no more, to be tempted no more, that sin, and death, and hell should plague Him no more. We have One risen now who needs nothing that we need here in this time state, but is gone into the very presence of God, there to appear for us, to behold His Father's face. "I ascend unto My Father, and your Father, and to My God, and your God." (John 20:17) There He has gone into the presence of God for us. We do not read of anyone else being called there; Satan is not called there, the world is not called there, kings, princes and potentates are not called there, no enemy is called there; but the Son of God is called and welcomed there: "Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." (Ps. 110:1; Matt. 22:44; Heb. 1:13)
Here, then, we find God's heart, God's soul (if we may use such an expression) fully satisfied, all His desire accomplished in the Person of His beloved Son. We find here human nature in the Person of the Son of God exalted to the very bosom of the Father; we find here One with us and One with the Father in the holiest of all, appearing in the presence of God for us; One who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, who knows what our temptations are, having passed through them all, and He has not forgotten them; One who is Almighty, and able to succour us; and One with us, a faithful High Priest, able to intercede and save even to the uttermost. And here lies His perfection to us: not as it was when He was here on earth, now He is risen and exalted at God's right hand; and we find in all this God glorified, as it is written, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14) Peace and good will to us, eternal glory and praise to Jehovah!
This salvation becomes God; His justice is satisfied, He has had all He required, perfect satisfaction, a complete atonement, an everlasting righteousness, and such too as no creature could have given. No righteousness of any creature could be like it, or ever equal to it; no obedience like that, no triumph over all obstacles like that; "it became Him." And here is His glory set up, exalted, and extolled by the Son of God when He came and gave Himself, and in giving Himself He gave His all, His whole Person, His whole heart, and all in it. He gave Himself for our sins that He might redeem us from this present evil world. However it may be adapted to us - and it is - it is to God's glory, the Son of God thought it worth it, and He gave it; He longed to give it, that He might glorify His Father. Remember, salvation is to God's eternal glory, and it is God's free grace that bestows this upon us. His free mercy, His eternal love, through His Son Jesus Christ to His own eternal glory for ever and ever, "that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 4:11) now and evermore.
Many people think of this free grace of God that it is free because they like to have it; but it is free because God likes to give it, the freeness is on God's part; the riches of this eternal glory are God's, and it comes to us through a perfect Saviour; and what we are called to is, not to the praise or the glory of our faith because we believed, but it is to behold the praise and glory of God shining unto us in the face of Jesus Christ. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6) And that eternal glory given to Him is in bringing many sons to glory to behold His face, to see Him, and be like unto Him, and behold that eternal glory He had with the Father before the worlds were, the Father's delight, the Father's darling, the Father's only begotten Son, by whom He created all things, and for whom He created all things, and into whose hand all things are given in heaven and on earth, that He should reign, and whose dominion He will show forth in a little while. "We see not yet all things put under Him. But 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." We see not yet all the powers of earth and hell put under His feet, but we shall do by and by. "For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (1 Cor. 15:25,26) Before that we find kings, and all in authority who have fought against Him, all people and all creatures who have fought and rebelled against Him, will be put under His feet. He must reign until He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power; and the last that will be put down is death itself.
Now God sought His own glory, (we must not forget that) and the glorious Gospel of His grace is a revelation to us of God's glory in Jesus Christ, in thus opening the rich treasures of His grace unto us, and that in such a way that there should be a union and communion between the Eternal Son of God and us poor worms, for you read there is the communion of the Father, the communion of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Ghost. There is a union and communion that will be enjoyed here on earth, and will be enjoyed when time is no more; and unto that we are brought through the Son of God being made perfect.