Monday, June 16, 2014

Hebrews 4:14-16 Come boldly!

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

All along, the author of Hebrews has been arguing the superiority of Jesus. He now begins to extol the superiority of the Priesthood of Jesus. The Jewish High Priest was a mediator who went into the Holy of Holies on behalf of the people to offer sacrifices. Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would go in to offer the sin offering on behalf of all of the people. He was not allowed to mingle with the common people, as he was considered too dignified and holy. And of course, because he was subject to death. like everyone else, his job was not permanent.

Jesus, on the other hand is a far superior High Priest, making the author marvel that anyone would choose to go back to that old system. Jesus lives forever at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. He is a High Priest who understands us and has compassion on us. Not only did he mingle with the common folk, he hung out with the worst of sinners. He honored women and children, who had no status in the society of that day. And best of all, His offering for sin was made once for all! There is no need for further work - it is finished!

For this reason, the author of Hebrews assures us that WE may enter the throne room - the Holy of Holies - BOLDLY! There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hallelujah! We receive both mercy (not getting what we deserve) and grace (getting what we don’t deserve). We no longer need a priest to intercede on our behalf. We don’t need saints to pray for us. We don’t need a really spiritual friend to say elegant prayers for us. We can enter his throne room on our own, because Jesus has opened the way.

One of my favorite nuggets in the New Testament is something that took place when Jesus died on the cross, which might seem insignificant. In Matthew 27:50-51b we read the following: Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.  At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

The significance of this event is clear: the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom when Jesus died. That curtain was a few inches thick. The tear came from the top to the bottom (from Heaven to Earth). The way to the throne had been opened forever. We can now enter into that throne room on the authority of our great High Priest!

Don’t take for granted this access we have to the Father. He is waiting to hear from you directly. He longs to meet with you! We are guaranteed that we will receive mercy and grace when we seek Him. Amazing grace, indeed!  

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