For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;…
There are certain senses in which Jesus was not "separate from sinners."
1. He was not separate from them in respect of nature. It was a true, though immaculate, humanity which He assumed, and in which He tabernacled in the midst of men.
2. He was not "separate from sinners" in respect of residence. He lived on earth. He laboured in Galilee; and Galilee was proverbially bad. He preached, and suffered, and died in Jerusalem; and the voice of Jerusalem's crimes "entered into the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth."
3. He was not "separate from sinners" in respect of society. As one who came, "not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance," He held intercourse with wicked men. The Physician was found beside the sick-bed. The Deliverer of guilty and ruined souls "ate and drank with publicans and sinners."
4. He was not "separate from sinners" in respect of His personal experience at the hands of men, or even at the hands of God. He shared in the ordinary trials incident to sinful man. He was the object of harsh reproach and contumelious scorn. He was judicially condemned to a tremendous kind of death. And it was, literally, in the midst of malefactors that He died. What, then, is meant by the statement that Christ was "separate from sinners"? Plainly, that in respect of character He was altogether different from them. Partaker of the same humanity as they, in Him, characteristically and exclusively, it was immaculate; and thus, even while He moved in the midst of sinners, and was come to "seek and to save that which was lost," His Spirit, in some sense, dwelt apart. Christ was morally perfect in all the parts of His constitution. His intellect was filled with pure and lofty thoughts. His conscience was true to the dictates of eternal rectitude — quick to discern the right, and bold and strong to choose and follow it. His heart was the home, alike of the mild, and the majestic, forms of feeling. His ears were ever wont to hearken to the plaint of sorrow. With a simplicity to which ostentation and art were strangers, His eyes were bedewed with tears for human wretchedness and sin, and anon lifted up in prayer to Heaven. His hands — how busy were they in the cause of goodness and of God! And even as, in the ark, the stony tablets of the law were kept, so in the soul of Jesus that good and: righteous law found a habitation and a home.Every class of virtues was nobly realised in Christ.
1. In Him the devotional virtues were perfect awed complete. Prayer was His recreation and delight. Even when "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him," He gave Jehovah thanks (Luke 22:17, 19). And "truly," His "fellowship was with the Father."
2. In Him. too, the active virtues were gloriously displayed. The exclamation of His boyhood might serve as a general motto for His earthly history: — "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" His aims were high, His heart was earnest, and His hand was busy. "The work of Him that sent Him" was His regular, His uniform pursuit. He "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38).
3. And in the passive virtues, how pre-eminently great was Jesus! How "meek and lowly in heart"! How calmly did He bear the abuse of man! How patiently did He submit to the hand of God! "Abba, Father, not My will, but Thine be done," "The cup which My Father giveth Me, shall I not drink it?" were not only the memorable expressions of His tongue, but also the genuine spirit of His soul. It is indeed a glorious character, the character of Christ — fitter for a seraphic harp than for a human pea to celebrate. In His gentleness He was great, in His greatness He was gentle. Truly, He was " the Lamb of God," and yet "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (John 1:29; Revelation 5:5). The moral glory of Divinity, and the perfect virtue of an unsullied human nature, met in Him.
(A. S. Patterson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;