Reading: Hebrews 2.
"The Son of man made a little lower than the angels". This is with a specific object in view, because angels cannot die, they are not mortal beings, therefore He was made a "little lower" because of the suffering of death. So that Christ was brought into line with the race which had been created with the possibility of suffering death - as that possibility had become actual in the race of Adam, death became actual. And "He tasted death for every man." He partook of flesh and blood and by that was brought into vital relationship with the children, sharers of flesh and blood. Partaking of flesh and blood always involves responsibility with others. And God looks upon the race as a corporate whole, one, represented by one Man. That old race represented by Adam is called Adam - man. It is one by reason of the nature of flesh and blood it shares.
In the new creation, one Man is its corporate nature, the Man Christ Jesus. Sharing in the risen life of Christ, not blood now as in the old race, but oneness of life in Christ Jesus. In eating of His flesh - one corporate Man - He in partaking of flesh and blood involved Himself in responsibility for others, for the race. He took that which was the corporate life of the race by sharing that which made the race one corporate entity, flesh and blood. This involves the principle of responsibility. He took that on when He was made a partaker with them of flesh and blood.
Man was created for dominion and Adam failed in that Divine destiny; but in the Son of Man the Divine desire that was missed and lost in the first man, is gained, attained unto in the "second Man", the "last Adam". In the course of the Divine destiny there is training for dominion by obedience and suffering. And finally man is designed by God to attain unto bodily glory. The Lord Jesus represents the meaning of bodily glory; in the mount His transfiguration came by the very perfection of His humanity. The Lord Jesus as Son of Man gathers up all the Divine thought concerning man and realises it in Himself. God's thought for man is secured in Him in glory, and the Holy Spirit is given to produce that in the "children", "brethren", "sons".
The apostle draws on the Old Testament very freely by which to introduce the family in the House of God. The Lord Jesus as Son of man had to be glorified before He could be crucified. After His crucifixion He entered into His glory permanently; the death of the Lord Jesus takes its character from the fact that He had already been glorified on the ground of His perfected Manhood, His sinless humanity. If the Lord Jesus had gone to the cross before He had reached His perfection, He could not have answered the accuser, could not have met the prince of darkness. In His manhood He was perfect before He reached the cross, before He met and overcame all the powers of darkness. It was necessary for God to be able to say to the full, "a man after My own heart".
The transfiguration of the Lord Jesus was on the ground of the perfecting of His humanity; He was also representing the destiny of the race in Christ attaining unto the glorified body. The physical body is not glorified; it is a spiritual body that is glorified. That destiny was reached in the Mount of Transfiguration in the Son of Man; to make possible the mighty impact of that perfect humanity upon the powers of darkness.
What is before us in these seven things, is the Son of Man in representation. When God, having created a man without a sinful environment, but in which everything was to call out the best in him and with nothing in the strain of his blood to work against him, and yet with all these advantages, and in direct communication and fellowship with God Himself, and being the highest creation outside of God, he had utterly failed, God said, "There is nothing for it but for Me as man to reveal My thought for man". So God accepted the limitation and dependence and came to live upon man's level of life, in weakness in Himself, in utter dependence of Life from above.
Here in Christ as Son of Man you have God setting up His standard in Christ as Man, and going through triumphantly where the best man in a perfect environment had failed. All God's thoughts concerning man were wrought out in this Man, and then He went back to the glory with that perfection and the Holy Spirit was sent out to bring others with that moral glory wrought into them. In the exaltation and exalting of the Lord Jesus as Son of Man, the race has been enthroned and put into its destined position. The racial Man is there in the glory at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
Ezekiel brings that in very much. How many times in that book comes the phrase, "son of man"! And Luke is peculiarly the gospel which presents the Lord Jesus to us as the Son of Man; and then that is also so very fully in the letter to the Hebrews. We have got to see more of the content that is "in Christ" as the Corporate Man in the House of God. When God comes in Christ into this world He approaches the race, approaches man along the line of priesthood. When God approaches man to recover His original design for man, it is always along the line of priesthood. Now the Son of Man came in to recover the original destiny for man.
The exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt is a microcosm of the whole thing. Here we have a people sold to sin, under the bondage of darkness, who have lost their life of freedom in God. This is a type of the race in sin and under the power of darkness, in bondage to Satan, in spiritual death. God regards that nation in the light of one man, a corporate entity in him, and says to Pharaoh: "Let My son go that he may serve Me". So we see God's thought from eternity has always been the same: a corporate people, one man. It is important to notice the tenses of God's utterances. When dealing with the lamb of the Passover, hundreds of lambs were slain that night, but God speaks of it as the lamb; there is only one Lamb in the thought of God. Israel was not regarded as so many people, but as a race.
When God comes to bring out a man to Himself with that thought in it: "to Himself", to make of them a people having dominion in the earth, subjecting all things under them, He says to them, "I would have you above only, not beneath". In that typical movement of God which is a type of a greater thing, to be representative of His thought - world dominion - He approaches along the line of priesthood. For in Israel that night the head of the house became a priest. And the threshold of every house became the altar, the most sacred part of the house. The threshold was a marked place, even a robber would climb up by some other way! Because of the sacredness of the threshold, some people have the custom of hanging up horseshoes etcetera for protection. The blood was taken from the threshold and sprinkled on the two side posts and lintel and so you had a complete circle of blood; thus passing through an encircling of blood from death unto life. And God was approached along the line of priesthood in virtue of shed blood - to secure His end.
Now in Ezekiel you come into the book by way of the priest: "The word came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest" (Ezek. 1:3), and in that book you pass on in a very full way to the House of God. The Divine thoughts are expressed in that house in every detail; it is the corporate people. In Ezekiel you have the House of God with Life; predominant Life is everywhere in Ezekiel. In the very first chapter, mighty, victorious Life is brought into view. You have a four-fold representation of the Son of Man, with the features of the four gospels, and this is carried on into Revelation and the four Living Creatures. This is a representation of Christ the Son of Man, but ultimately the whole creation in relation with Him as the Son of Man. "Full of eyes" signifies perfect spiritual vision, perfect cognisance, and moving in perfect Life! Then later on you have the "dry bones" coming forth out of their graves and Life given to them. And in Ezekiel 47 you have the river coming out from the threshold of the House of God by way of the altar, till there are "waters to swim in" and on either side of the bank of the river trees bearing fruit; a beautiful picture of Life.
The book opens with priesthood, and how frequently to him is said, "son of man". He is a representation of God's thought, and the House is seen coming in as God's thought; yes, but the way of God's approach is by priesthood.
In Luke, the key word is "Son of Man". It is used twenty-five times of our Lord. The Lord Jesus is a representation of God's thought. God is approaching... in Christ as Son of Man. Where does God begin? With the priest Zacharias (there are two dozen Zacharias priests). Priesthood is the way of approach.
Come over to the letter to the Hebrews. The basic thing in the letter is priesthood, and the House of God is brought in by way of the priesthood; the Son of Man is there as the, "High priest who sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high" (Heb. 8:1). Why all this? Firstly, the priesthood always carries with it the principle of sympathy. We have this in this very letter clearly stated, "Jesus the Son of God... we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, One that hath been tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:14-15). This is said of the faithful High Priest having understanding; the priesthood always carried with it that element of understanding sympathy.
Aaron added the sympathy side to the administrative side carried out by Moses; they two made one man. This is a very helpful truth for us, that when God comes in to seek to recover that which has been lost and missed the way, He always approaches man along the line of sympathy. Priesthood is always the way of God's approach to man. How different is man's thought of God, and the adversary has made it his continual business to malign God. We see this in Psalm 2, quoted by the little company in Acts 4 verse 26, when men provoked by the devil take counsel "against the Lord". The adversary has been against God from the time that God cast him out of heaven and his whole intent and purpose is to injure God. He presses that in with the saint more than with the ungodly and he never gives up hope of provoking thoughts against God, raising questions about His love, or doubts concerning His dealings with us in some subtle way. And he will try to use that which comes out of our experience to make us bitter against God. In order to malign God, the enemy will give a complexion to anything that is not true, such as: "The Lord is against you, the Lord is displeased with you. He has left you, He does not hear you". In this way he seeks to inject his own malignity into our hearts. The more saintly the Lord's people are, the more they know the intenseness and agony of this conflict. Those who go on most with the Lord will know more of this battle. Sometimes faith is so tested by the enemy, as he pounces upon everything God intended to bring us to overcome, that it becomes the very thing that destroys us, casts us down, nullifies our fighting force and our ascendency in spirit.
God has not come in judgment, He has come in sympathy, "The Son of man is not come to judge the world but to save the world", the keynote of Luke; not to judge, but to save. The Lord is seeking to recover us; we may have to suffer, but it is along the line of sympathy. "My son regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord... for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He places at His side" (literal translation). And the word "chastening" is more truly rendered "child-training". God comes along the line of sympathy; priesthood is sympathy. This is one more of those secrets of victory!
In His priesthood, by the offering of Himself, the shedding of His blood is a demonstration of the love of God. To overcome is to apprehend the truth about God in Christ, and to see this approaching in sympathy. By so doing we have undercut the malignity of the devil and destroyed his power. Satan has a ground in our fallen soul to work upon. And the way of victory is faith in God as approaching us along the sympathetic line. It is God taking the initiative in sympathy, and He Himself stretched out in love to recover man. In that shed blood we have the expression of love coming to recover. His recovering love does not mean there may not be scourging, but when we can see it is all in love and unto the ultimate of love, the ground is taken from the feet of the devil and we go through the chastening in triumph and obtain God's purpose for us in it.
The sharing of this world dominion with the Son of His love is along the line of chastening. What has God in view in relation to our suffering? The throne! The most successful way of preventing that man-child from coming to the throne is to get doubts about God's goodness to us in our hearts. Satan lost his throne and turned against God. He saw God's intention to bring a race to that place which he himself lost, and even higher than that, "in Christ". Then he set about how to defeat that intention. He will put antagonism into the heart of man concerning God's chastening in love to bring him into that state and position.
If, in the chastening, (and "all chastening for the time seemeth not to be joyous but grievous") we would say, "The Lord has some loving and higher purpose in this, the Lord has some glory in this, and I am out after that", and faith lays hold of God's intention, then we have qualified in that measure for our Divine destiny: 'world dominion in fellowship with the Son of Man through the Cross'. Dominion is a moral and a spiritual thing.