If we’re sinful people, are we free to come into the presence of a sinless, perfect God? And if we’re permitted to approach God, how should we come before him? Hebrews 4:14-16 helps to answer these questions.
In the last two Reflections, we examined the second chapter of Hebrews. There, the Incarnation laid the foundation for our salvation and offer of Jesus’ empathy. Because he suffered and was tested, he understands our struggles and is able to help us.
Hebrews 4:14-16 reiterates the good news of Hebrews 2. Because Jesus is a human being, he is able to be “a great High Priest who has entered heaven” (4:14). As our High Priest, he has offered a uniquely effective sacrifice for our sins. But Jesus, as High Priest, also relates to our human frailties: “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (4:15). Thus we have in Jesus one who has opened up a way to God for us and who knows what it's like to be human.
This makes all the difference in the world in our relationship with God. In light of the High Priesthood of Jesus, Hebrews 4:16 proclaims, “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.” Because of who Jesus is and what he has done, we know that God has forgiven our sins and that he understands our struggles. Therefore we do not have to wallow in guilt when we approach God. We do not come before him begging for a hearing and fearful of his rejection. Rather, we come “boldly,” telling God everything on our minds and hearts. (The Greek word translated here as “boldly” means “with full freedom to say everything.”) When we come before God in prayer, we know in advance that we will receive God’s mercy and grace . . . not because we deserve it, but because of what Christ, our High Priest, has done for us.
Living Christmasly means freely and frequently coming before God’s throne in prayer and worship. It means approaching the King of kings with boldness because of what Jesus, the Word Incarnate, was able to accomplish as our Great High Priest. It means having confidence that God understands our weaknesses and is eager to lavish his mercy and grace upon us.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When you come before God in prayer, do you come boldly? Why or why not? What keeps you from feeling free before God? What helps you to pray with abandon?PRAYER: What an amazing privilege to approach your throne, O God! And even more amazing still is the invitation to come before you boldly. Thank you for making yourself available to us. Thank you for the High Priestly work of Jesus. Thank you that he understands our weaknesses.
O Lord, how I thank you for all the times and ways you have poured out your mercy and grace upon me. You have been there when I needed your help, again and again.
May I continue to approach you with boldness, O God, not because there is anything special about me, but because there is everything special about Jesus, the Word Incarnate, my Great High Priest, my Savior. In his name I pray, Amen.
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.