Hebrews 4:14-16 “ Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
This is one of my very favorite passages of Scripture. It is so full of hope because of the truth it teaches about our gracious Heavenly Father and our Great High Priest.
Under the old covenant, only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies where God’s presence dwelled, and he could only do this once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:2, Hebrews 9:7). Verse 14 teaches us that Jesus is a greater, better high priest than any earthly high priest. Rather than passing into the Holy of Holies in the man-made temple, Jesus passed through the heavens and is in the very throne room of God. Jesus has full, unfettered access to God the Father, and not merely for one day a year but forever.
When the high priest entered this most holy place, he always had to enter with the blood of a scarified bull and goat in order to atone for first his sin and then the sin of the people (Leviticus 16:14-16). This ritual was repeated every year. Jesus, though tempted in all things, is without sin, so he never had to atone for Himself. Because He was sinless Himself, He could be the once-for-all perfect sacrifice for our sin. We need a high priest, an advocate who can represent us and our need for mercy before our holy God. Jesus is that Great High Priest for us.
When a counselee is humbled and burdened by the weight of her sin, when she sees how truly wrong her thinking or actions have been, she could be tempted to avoid God, give in to despair over her sinfulness and resort to punishing herself. Or, she could vow to make attempts at self-atonement and self-righteousness to make up for her wrongdoing. Both wrong responses demonstrate ignorance or unbelief in Christ’s role as our Great High Priest, and that counselee can grow from the beautiful truths of Hebrews 4:14-16. Once for all, He has already made atonement for our sin, bearing our punishment and bringing us near to God, and He is living in God’s presence as our Great High Priest even now. Even at our worst, we can draw near to God for grace and forgiveness because Christ lives as our Great High Priest.
Rejoice in the hope of this passage. Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest who intercedes for us, covers our sin with His perfect sacrifice and brings us reconciliation with God. We are undeserving sinners, yet we have a merciful Savior. Let these truths draw you into more deeply loving, worshiping and serving Him as we trust not in our efforts but in his merit and sacrifice on our behalf.