Monday, April 18

Coming Boldly to the Throne

Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Hebrews 4:14-16 NET)

Why is it that we can have confidence when we approach God for help? It's because of the unique nature of our high priest. He is the one who has all the characteristics required to give us direct access to God. No one else can fill the bill, for he is the only one perfectly suited for the job. It's his perfect suitablity--his complete ability--that warrants our boldness before God.

First of all, our high priest has passed through the heavens. He's not in a subordinate area of heaven; rather, he can be found right up there in the highest heaven next to God. As God's own Son, he has a greatness equal to God's, and there is no barrier of inferiority. He is in God's immediate presence, sitting at God's right hand. You might say that he has God's ear in an immediate and direct way that no one else has ever had.

And that's not all. Not only does our high priest have completely unhindered access to God, but he is also completely one with us in our weakness. He is not representing us before God as one who can only imagine what things are like for us, who can only contemplate from afar what it is to be who we are, but he has been one of us. He came where we are and experienced what we experience. Even his temptations were like ours.

We can never complain that he doesn't know exactly what it is like for us because things were easier for him. No matter what temptation troubles me or what trial taunts me, he can understand, for he has experienced temptation in a deeper way than I have, because he always stood firm in the face of it. He knows the full force of all the kinds of temptation common to humankind, not just the piddling part that sinners who give way to a temptation know.

It is these two things that make him the one perfect high priest: he represents us as one of us, and he has direct access to God. It is because of who he is and what he's done that the way to the throne is open for us. Moreover, it is on the grounds of what he's done that the throne is indeed a throne of grace--that what is dispensed there for us is mercy and grace.

So let us come boldly. If we come hesitantly or timidly, perhaps it is because we don't fully grasp who Jesus the Son of God is and what he has accomplished. If we are apprehensive to draw near, we are ignoring, in a way, some of who Christ is and what he accomplished. It's not bravado that brings us near, for the reasons we can come confidently are strong ones, all centered in Christ and his work. It glorifies Christ when we use freely the access that he, in his uniqueness, has opened for us.

It's because of the unique nature of our high priest that we ought to hold fast to our confession. The writer of Hebrews is writing, at least in part, to faithful Jews who had moved forward to embrace Christ as the fulfillment of God's promises to them. They were tempted to go back to the old system with its lesser priests and sacrifices, but the writer warns them that to do so would be letting go of their confession of the perfect Priest and Sacrifice. Christ accomplished it all--once for all--something no one else could do in any way. He needs no help from anyone or anything, and to the extent that we do not confidently rest in him and his work alone, we are not holding fast to our confession.

Holding on to our confession, then, means grasping tightly to the work of the one-of-a-kind perfect human and complete God, and not reaching back for other helps or go-betweens. It means coming boldly to the throne through the one mediator, the one high priest, the one way to God's ear whenever we need help. It means bowing at the Name of the One who became, for a little while, lower than the angels in order that he might bring us directly into God's presence.

The (NET) Bible is available as a free download at http://www.bible.org.
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