Friday, March 24 “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.”

Scripture: Heb. 4:14-5:4

14 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. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 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.

Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs.”

And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.

Some thoughts:

From the very beginning, a priest was the necessary intermediate to represent humans when coming to a holy God. Early on, Moses’ brother, Aaron, was that person. Such a position was not open to all: that person must be born of the tribe of Levi, a descendent of Aaron’s family line, and be specifically chosen by God. Communing with God was via sacrifice, which of necessity, was offered exclusively by the priest.

You are probably familiar with those necessary qualifications. So, I’d like to look at some of the reasons for our High Priest from a little different angle. What if our high priest came from heaven, something like an angelic being as our heavenly high priest. Being from heaven, they would naturally be holy and therefore could represent us in the presence of our holy God. If a high priest is to be a permanent high priest, he must be holy and sinless. This heavenly priest fulfills that requirement. But not having been human, this heavenly holy being could not fully experience the human dilemma of living in a sin-filled world. There would be no truly human connection. The transaction would be from heaven to heaven as such and not actually connect with earthly humanity.

On the other hand, clearly the human high priesthood of Aaron’s line did not ultimately solve the problem either with fallen men offering sacrifices on behalf of other fallen sinners. The necessary holiness on the part of the priest always required a blood sacrifice over and over. The fact that it had to be repeated over and over meant one thing; it did not permanently solve the sin problem. Bottom line–we have an impossible separation between humanity and God . . . that is unless this High Priest is from heaven. Being perfectly holy and sinless and also being from earth being fully human enables this High Priest to perfectly grasp every aspect of the struggles of humanity. Being the sinless Son of God from heaven in the earthly physical body as a human being enables the separation between God and man to be bridged eternally.

As you read in our pericope for today, of course Jesus Christ is that High Priest, our High Priest forever. What people often forget or just don’t think about is that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in his glorified human flesh in the heavenly dimension now! He is interceding on our behalf continuously. Before his ascension, there was never human flesh in heaven. In Christ, we are seated with Jesus in the heavenlies now. The temporary solution that was Aaron’s line of priesthood is no more.

There may be things in your life today that are so difficult to overcome. Who can understand those battles we face? Have you ever been embarrassed to admit those struggles to God? After all, we’re talking to a holy, perfect God! Never hesitate to speak frankly with our High Priest. He completely identifies with us in our weaknesses and temptations. He had them too without sinning, so he knows how to help us. He’s been down your road. Come boldly to the Savior this day.

Music:  How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds    Emu

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
in a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
and drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
and calms the troubled breast;
’tis manna to the hungry soul,
and to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the rock on which I build,
my shield and hiding-place,
my never-failing treasury, filled 
with boundless stores of grace!

Jesus! my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
my Prophet, Priest and King,
my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
and cold my warmest thought;
but when I see thee as thou art,
I’ll praise thee as I ought.

Till then I would thy love proclaim
with every fleeting breath;
and may the music of thy Name
refresh my soul in death!

Words: John Newton (1725-1807), 1779

Prayer: (Our High Priest praying for us.)

Father, my people do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one-as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

                                                            –Jesus, from John’s Gospel