Our Great High Priest
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 CSB
We established that the readers were very familiar with the Old Testament practices and had high regard for Moses, even some believing that Moses was superior to Jesus. We saw in the past few weeks how the author showed otherwise. Another claim, then, is that the readers believe that Aaron and the line of high priests might be superior to Jesus. Yet, Jesus is even superior to them, “since we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens – Jesus the Son of God.” The function of the high priest was to enter the holy of holies, the inner sanctum of the tabernacle/temple, and offer up a sacrifice on behalf of the people. The high priest had to purify themselves to enter this area, offering a sacrifice for their own sin beforehand, lest they drop dead in God’s presence. Yet, the phrase “passed through the heavens,” shows that Jesus Christ went beyond the physical limits and was in the presence of God, surpassing the high priests. Not only that, but Jesus Christ is also “the Son of God,” presenting Jesus as both fully human and fully divine and omnipotent. Therefore, because Jesus Christ is our supreme High Priest, we are challenged to “hold fast to our confession,” to draw close to Jesus and walk with Him. So naturally, then, how do we hold fast, especially when challenges arise? Jesus is able to assist the believer in doing so, for He too has gone through the same trials in His humanity, yet overcame the trials and temptations. “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus Christ experienced the full range of temptation, going up against Satan in Matthew 4:1-11. The key aspect, though, is that Jesus did not sin. If He did, He would have to atone as well, like the other high priests. He would have lacked the qualification to be our perfect atonement for sin. Because He was sinless, He offers perfect redemption and victory over sin and its temptation. In light of who Jesus is, what He has gone through, and how He can offer us assistance over temptation, “therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” We are challenged to enter God’s presence with reverence, approaching His throne and worship Him. We are to approach with humbleness and receive His grace that He provides, just like the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (see Luke 18:9-14). We also approach with boldness. Even though we enter His presence with reverence and humbleness, we do not have to be afraid to ask for help. God knows that we need Him and is willing to give to those who ask.
Isaac De Guzman