“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 weakness, 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” (Heb. 4:14-16).
When I was in college, I really needed to find a job to help provide some additional funding. I had many applications in, but was constantly rebuffed for one reason or another. I remember someone telling me at the time, “It is not what you know, but who you know that will be most helpful in finding a job.”
As it turned out, I had a family connection to the owner of the McDonald’s that was within walking distance of the campus. Within a week, I had a brand-new polyester uniform, a nametag, and a regular schedule of work. As it would turn out, it was perhaps the worst job I’ve ever had in my 40+ year working career. But I had a job, nonetheless.
Through the years, I have often found introductions, employment, and opportunities afforded me through the connections I had. Some of those worked out beautifully, and a few others were disastrous. The problem usually is that we never quite know one another well enough, which makes these encounters haphazard at best.
But this passage in Hebrews makes a remarkable statement. “Since we have a GREAT high priest…” High priests acted “on behalf of men in relation to God” (Hebrews 5:1). They reconciled sinful people and their holy Creator through various sacrifices. But these sacrifices were deficient and temporary. Speaking of these sacrifices later on, the writer says that “it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near” (Heb. 10:1). Indeed, “every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Heb. 10:11).
But here, we are exhorted to “draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.” The very one who’s presence is a dreadful reality for sinful man (Heb. 10:31) beckons us come. Our confidence is not in our own merit or strength. It rests in that first phrase. We hold fast to our confession, for it is rooted in this great high priest. The priests of the Old Covenant labored day after day, never effecting any satisfaction for sin, but simply being signposts that pointed to a greater reality, a greater sacrifice. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…” (Heb. 10:12). The priests stood perpetually, but Christ “sat down” because His work was finished!
Jesus is the Mega High Priest because his action on behalf of men in relation to God was sufficient and permanent. Jesus sacrificed himself, taking our sin upon himself once and for all. And out of that death and His victory over death and the grave in the resurrection, we can “draw near to the throne of grace.” Rather than finding the judgment seat of God before us, we find a mercy seat. And not only do we receive mercy, but we “find grace.”
Grace flows to us from the perpetual fountain of Christ, and it comes to us in the Word of God, through prayer at the throne of grace, and in baptism and the Lord’s Supper. What an amazing thought, that “he gives more grace!” (James 4:6). “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Phil. 3:12)