The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 224)
Our Great and Glorious High Priest
“Seeing then that 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 cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”
This passage of Scripture contains two exhortations, one leading to the other. The first is in v. 14 and it says, “Let us hold fast …”. The second is in v. 16 and it says, “Let us therefore come boldly …”. Both exhortations centre upon Jesus Christ as the great High Priest due to His finished work on the cross, and how He has opened the way for believers to come into the presence of God, our Creator. We shall examine both exhortations in this article to better understand the glorious truth in these verses.
Let Us Hold Fast Our Confession
The first exhortation tells us to hold fast our confession. What is this confession? It is what we know and believe concerning the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. So, what do we know and believe concerning Him?
A Great High Priest
v. 14 says that “we have a great High Priest”. First, a “Priest” is one who stands between ourselves and God. He represents God to man, and He represents man to God.
In the Old Testament times, once a year, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem and offer the blood of animals to atone for his sins and the sins of the people. When Jesus Christ died and His blood was shed, the veil in the Temple was torn into two. This signified that from that moment onwards, redeemed man is able to enter into God’s presence, through Jesus Christ. What this means is that Jesus had offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice, once for all, for the remission of sins. As Hebrews 9:22 says, “without shedding of blood, there is no remission.”
When Jesus died and His blood was shed, He was both the perfect sacrifice and the High Priest, offering Himself without blemish to God. As Hebrews 7:26 said, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless (blameless), undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens”. How glorious Jesus is as the High Priest!
Second, our High Priest is “great” and this word refers to the dignity of His Person and the perfection of His character. When the angel Gabriel came to the virgin Mary to announce that she would conceive and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Jesus, the angel also said, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest” (Lk 1:32). Who can be greater than Him when the Bible says in Philippians 2:10-11, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.
Jesus Is The Great High Priest
His Name is the central word in v. 14, and it involves the thought of His perfect sinless human nature. Matthew 1:21 states that, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins”. The reference is to His manhood, His humanity. 1 Timothy 2:5 explains, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus”. Because He is man, He is fully able to represent us before God and to understand our needs and sympathise with us. Indeed, this is what Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin”. Our great High Priest is a Man like anyone of us except that He is without sin. Because He is a Man, He is able to understand us fully and completely.
Jesus Is The Son Of God
v. 14 tells us that this Jesus is also the Son of God, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God”. He is a Man, but He is God first; He is the God-Man, and because He is God He can perfectly represent God and express the mind of God to us.
Jesus Himself tells us in John 14:7, “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him”. He continues in v. 9b, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”. If we know Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour, we also know the heavenly Father. How blessed it is for us to know Jesus who is the Son of God and through Him we know our heavenly Father.
Jesus Has Dealt With Our Sin
The important work of any priest, including the High Priest, is to deal with the sins of the people. However, the sacrifices the priests made could not remove sin permanently. But when Jesus died on the cross at Calvary, He “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins … For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb 10:12, 14). Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself, the perfect, sinless Man, was fully acceptable to God in removing man’s sins once and for all.
Jesus Has Passed Into The Heavens
Just before Jesus took His last breath on the cross He said, “It is finished” (Jn 19:30). Jesus has finished the work that God the Father has set Him to do on earth. He has done the will of God the Father and so, v. 14 tells us that Jesus has gone up to the throne of God where He now sits in dignity and honour as our living, loving Saviour. Hebrews 1:3 says, “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”.
Recapitulating Our Confession
Through this first exhortation, we confess the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as our great High Priest who, having accomplished our salvation by dying, and having been raised from death and ascended into the heavens, is now seated at the right hand of God. Because of Him we are able to draw near God in faith and fulfill the second exhortation in this passage of Scripture, set out in v. 16.
Come Boldly To The Throne of Grace
The second exhortation indicates our response to all that Jesus has done for us and made possible for us and the verse emphatically declares “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace”.
The important words for us to take note of are “Let us come” and there are several questions which we can ask with reference to these words.
Who Is To Come?
Who is invited to come? The answer is “us” and so we are to come. Every believer is to come, unworthy though we are. The way into the holiest place, before the Almighty God, is open to us. Hebrews 10:19-22 reads, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water”.
How Are We To Come?
Are we to come cringingly, with uncertainty as to whether we would be accepted? No! We are to come “boldly” or, as the word means, “with unstaggering confidence”. It can also be paraphrased as “Let us fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near”.
How is this possible? It is possible because the Lord Jesus is our great High Priest. This does not mean that we are to come carelessly or flippantly, but it does mean that we are to come with absolute assurance that for Jesus’ sake, God will accept us and help us.
Where Are We To Come To?
The answer is, “unto the throne of grace”. We are to come to a throne, for Jesus is not only Prophet and Priest, but He is also King. We do not come to a throne of judgment, as judgment is done away with for the believer. John 5:24 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life”. And Romans 8:1 declares, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”. So, we come to a throne of grace, in fact, to the mercy seat, to the place where He is gracious, and this is why we can come boldly.
When May We Come?
The answer is, “in time of need” (v. 16). That is, every time we have a need, not the need of food and clothing which God knows we need, but whenever we feel the need for pardon and purity, for assurance, comfort, strength, or help of any kind, then we may come at once, directly to the throne of grace, and receive from the Lord Himself all that we need.
Why Are We To Come?
The answer is, “that we may obtain” not attain, and not merely “request”. When we come to the throne of grace, we obtain two wonderful benefits.
First, we are to come to the throne of grace so that we may obtain mercy. We are always in need of this, for the reference here is to our constant need for pardon and cleansing. Thank God that this is always available! 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
Second, we are to come to the throne of grace so that we may find grace to help. According to 2 Corinthians 9:8 and 12:9, God’s grace is always there, available and sufficient. But we must come to the throne of grace in order to “find” and receive the grace we need.
The phrases “obtaining mercy” and “finding grace to help” explain beautifully how God lovingly treats us. “Obtaining mercy” expresses the heart of God towards believers even as we continue to sin and need to seek His pardon, while “finding grace to help” expresses the hand of God towards us in our times of need.
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have Him as our great and glorious High Priest. Because of this, we have the greatest privilege to be able to come boldly and frequently to the throne of grace of the Almighty God. Here, we discover more and more His loving heart and the help of His powerful and mighty hand!
If you are not a believer, this same privilege can be yours if you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord. Believe that He died for your sins and that God raised Him from the dead and that He is now ascended into the heavens, seated at the right hand of God. He was, and is, and is to come, the Living Saviour of all mankind.
- Alan Yong is a deacon of The 'Fisherman of Christ' Fellowship.