The book of Hebrews can be divided into thirds. The first third speaks to the preeminence of Christ. The second third shows Jesus as the Great High Priest, and the final third gives us exhortations for life. Although we are in the second third of the letter, Hebrews describes Jesus as Priest in every chapter. Here is a reminder of the importance of this name to the Jewish people. After the first Temple was destroyed and the Exile took place, the Jews returned under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah where the priesthood was restored. But after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the Jews lost not only the capital city but also the Temple. After this destruction took place, the temple and the priesthood were NEVER reestablished.
The high priest was the supreme religious head of his people. Aaron held this position first, and it was handed down to the firstborn son of the high priest. The high priest's special garments represented his function as mediator between God and the people, and no one except the High Priest was allowed to enter inside the veil into the Holy of Holies, the most holy place and the place where God's presence resided along with the ark of the covenant. Once each year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest of Israel entered the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people (Lev 16).
Jesus was mentioned as High Priest 79 times, but Great High Priest 1 time. The veil that Jesus passed through was the heavens! Verse 14 gives Jesus an important identity when it says, "Jesus, Son of God". Jesus speaks to His humanity, and Son of God speaks to His deity. Because of this, we can "hold fast to our confession".
Verse 16 begins with "Let us then (referring to verse 15) with confidence..." Confidence means, "candid, plain speech, cheerful courage". Because of the blood of Christ and the finality as High Priest, He has taken up residency in each of us who have surrendered our lives to Him! The verse goes on to talk about the "throne of grace". Thrones are not typically equated with accessibility. They speak of power, separation, and elevation. But, Jesus sympathizes WITH us (verse 15). He suffers along with us in that He was tempted (like us), yet He was without sin (unlike us). See 2 Cor 5:21.
The Jewish people would be thinking of the desert wanderings when God gave Moses the Law. God told them to not come too close, and to not touch the mountain. Now, the same God is saying, "Come close!" Why? Because of Jesus! Jesus was tempted but didn't sin. He's walked through all of that, and He knows what you are going through already.
To Discuss Today:
1. How does your prayer life show that you believe Hebrews 4:14-16? Do you really believe Jesus understands what you are going through? What does Scripture say about that?
2. No matter what happens with the election in November, we are citizens of a different kingdom that will not be shaken. How does this give you confidence, and how do you live differently from the world because of this Truth? How does this impact how to talk to people about controversial or difficult topics?