Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)
The theme of the book of Hebrews is Jesus and in the first four chapters, we’ve primarily learned about the superiority of Jesus. We’ve learned how Jesus is superior to angels and how Jesus is superior to Moses.
In describing Jesus as superior to the angels, we were reminded that God has made all things subject to and under the control of Christ (v. 2:9). We also learned that God saw fit to “make the founder of [our] salvation perfect through suffering” (v. 2:10). Christ’s work is further highlighted in in v. 2:17:
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17 ESV)
Beginning in verse three, we were asked to “consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession” (v. 3:1) and then the writer began to explain how Christ is superior to Moses. He reminds us that Moses was faithful as a servant to God, but Jesus was faithful as a Son (v. 3:5-6).
In today’s study passage – v. 4:14-16, we will continue looking at Jesus’ role as our high priest. (And this will be studied more and more over the next several chapters.)
What We Do Have
(v. 14) “Since then…” – This passage could possibly refer to at least two things: 1) It could a cumulative “since then” based on what the writer has told us about Jesus throughout Hebrews, or 2) It could refer back to the passage 2:17 – 3:1 where we are first reminded that we have “a merciful and faithful high priest.”
(v. 14) “…we have a great high priest…” – Again, we are are reminded that we do, indeed, have a “merciful and faithful high priest.”
(v. 14) “…who has passed through the heavens…” – This is a reminder that our high priest isn’t like any other. Our high priest is from heaven and condescended to serve among us:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7 ESV)
(v. 14) “…Jesus, the Son of God…” – Our high priest is the Son of God. I’m reminded again of this stunning fact:
(v. 14) “…let us hold fast our confessions.” – Because of Who our high priest is – Jesus Christ, and because of what He has done – he has passed through the heavens to be the Sacrifice for our sins, “let us hold fast our confessions.” What is this confession? It is living by faith in Jesus Christ. Those who grumbled in the desert did not live by faith and did not enter God’s rest. Those who hold fast to their confession do enter God’s rest.
What We Don’t have
(v. 15) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…” – Though our high priest comes from God – though He is God, because He is also man, He can sympathize with our weaknesses.
(v. 15) “…but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are…” – Putting on the flesh of man didn’t mean taking off His deity, but it did mean He became subject to live as a human being. Therefore, Jesus Christ was “tempted as we are.”
(v. 15) “…yet without sin.” – But being tempted is not the same thing as sinning. Though He was tempted, Jesus didn’t succumb to the temptation; He didn’t sin.
(v. 16) “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace…” – Because we have a high priest, Jesus Christ, Who has come to us through the heavens and Who has been made perfect through suffering we have a way to draw near to the “throne of grace.”
(v. 16) “…that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Because we can confidently “draw near to the throne of grace,” oh what a resource we have! In times of trial and trouble, we can boldly approach God through His Son Jesus Christ and “receive mercy and find grace” in our “time of need.”
This passage of Scripture is truly stunning to me. When I break down the passage, as I have above, and take it in a piece at a time, it really blows me away.
I became a follower of Christ at 28 years old. This came after regularly attending church for two years with my new bride.
Before I started attending church and regularly hearing the gospel preached, I thought I had to “clean myself up to make myself presentable to God.” In other words, I thought I had to stop my bad habits and my own peculiar sins before I could go to church. I thought that church members had already done this for themselves.
There was no way I would have “boldly approached God’s throne,” or at least I didn’t think that was possible.
Though I wasn’t a believer, I would pray to God almost every day and would many times try to read my Bible. But though I did these things, I didn’t think God really wanted to hear or deal with the details of my life. And as a result, I went through over 25 years without ever really praying about any significant issue in my life. College choice? Didn’t pray about it. Career choice? Didn’t pray about it. Wife? Nope, not that one, either.
God graciously walked me through those years, but because I wasn’t yet a follower of Jesus, I lacked the benefit of boldly approaching God’s throne of grace.
Now, after following Jesus for many years, I find that I often take this privilege for granted. YES, INDEED, I CAN APPROACH GOD’S THRONE AND I DO IT WHEN AND WHERE I WANT TO. I find that I so often claim the promise of boldly approaching God (which is indeed a benefit and a blessing of the Christian life), but I often overlook, or sadly take for granted, what makes this possible.
This type of benefit wasn’t always available. Yes, many under the Old Covenant walked by faith, but Jesus Christ, through His work here on earth, made this benefit fully available.
We can now, boldly approach God’s throne of grace and “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Wow. Thank You, Jesus.