‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.’—Heb. 13:8.
By the name of Jehovah was God known to Israel, from the time of the first mission of Moses to them, and their manumission out of Egypt, and not before. For, saith God to Moses, ‘I appeared unto Abraham, and to Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them,’ Exod. 6:3. This I AM is an eternal word, comprehending three times: ‘that was, that is, and is to come.’
Now, to testify the equality of the Son to the Father, the Scripture gives the same eternity to Jesus that it doth to Jehovah. He is called Alpha and Omega, primus et novissimus, ‘the First and the Last: which is, which was, and which is to come,’ Rev. 1 and here, the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.’ Therefore he was, not only Christus Dei, the anointed of God, but Christus Deus,’ God himself anointed; seeing that eternity, which hath neither beginning nor ending, is only exclusive and proper to God.
The words may be distinguished into a centre, a circumference, and a mediate line, referring the one to the other. The immovable centre is Jesus Christ. The circumference, that runs round about him here, is eternity: ‘Yesterday, today, and forever.’ The mediate line referring them is, ο αυτος, the same: ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.’
I. The centre is Jesus Christ. Jesus was his proper name, Christ his appellative. Jesus a name of his nature, Christ of his office and dignity; as divines speak.
Jesus, a name of all sweetness. Mel in ore, melos in aure, jubilus in corde. (Bernard: Honey in the mouth, music in the ear, joy in the heart.) A reconciler, a Redeemer, a Saviour. When the conscience wrestles with law, sin, death, there is nothing but horror and despair without Jesus. He is ‘the way, the truth, and the life;’ without him, error, mendacium, mors (error, deception, death). Si scribas, non placet, nisi legam ibi, Jesum, saith Bernard: If thou writest to me, thy letter doth not please me, unless I read there Jesus. If thou converse, thy discourse is not sweet, without the name of Jesus. The blessed restorer of all, of more than all that Adam lost; for we have gotten more by his regenerating grace than we lost by Adam’s degenerating sin.
Christ is the name of his office; being appointed and anointed of God a king, a priest, a prophet.
This Jesus Christ is our Saviour: of whose names I forbear further discourse, being unable, though I had the tongue of angels, to speak aught worthy tanto nomine, tanto numine (the greater the name, the greater the majesty). All that can be said is but a little; but I must say but a little in all. But of all names given to our Redeemer, still Jesus is the sweetest. Other, saith Bernard, are names of majesty; Jesus is a name of mercy. The Word of God, the Son of God, the Christ of God, are titles of glory; Jesus, a Saviour, is a title of grace, mercy, redemption.
This Jesus Christ is the centre of this text; and not only of this, but of the whole Scripture. The sum of divinity is the Scripture; the sum of the Scripture is the gospel; the sum of the gospel is Jesus Christ; in a word, nihil continet verbum Domini, nisi verbum Dominum. There is nothing contained in the word of God, but God the word.
Nor is he the centre only of his word, but of our rest and peace. ‘I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified,’ 1 Cor. 2:2. Thou hast made us for thee, O Christ; and our heart is unquiet till it rest in thee. It is natural to everything appetere centrum, to desire the centre. But ‘our life is hid with Christ in God,’ Col. 3:3. We must needs amare (love), where we must animare (live). Our mind is where our pleasure is, our heart is where our treasure is, our love is where our life is; but all these, our pleasure, treasure, life, are reposed in Jesus Christ. Thou art my portion, O Lord,’ saith David. Take the world that pleases, let our portion be in Christ. ‘We have left all,’ saith Peter, ‘and followed thee,’ Matt. 19:27; you have lost nothing by it, saith Christ, for you have gotten me. Nimis avarus est, cui non sufficit Christus. He is too covetous, whom Jesus Christ cannot satisfy. Let us seek this centre, saith Augustine: Quaeramus inveniendum, quaramus inventum. Ut inveniendus quaratur, paratus est: ut inventus quaeratur, immensus est: Let us seek him till we have found him; and still seek him when we have found him. That seeking, we may find him, he is ready; that finding, we may seek him, he is infinite. You see the centre.