AN INCENTIVE TO HOLY LIVING
By Henry Jaegers
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
These final words in chapter 4, serve as the capstone to what has already been said. The chapters and sections prior to this contained struggle, sometimes failure, diligence and concentration in order to find that promised rest. But now before us, we find a great encouragement leading us to further experience the blessing that is ours that only the life of faith can fully understand. Let us, the consider the opening words: "seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus son of God, let us hold fast our profession" (Don’t lose your grip).
As I consider these great words, my heart overflows with great joy as I consider the final work that Jesus came to do. Considering what we read in the first chapter, we are told that when he had completed his work on the cross, he sat down. The work of sitting down describes what lies before us as we have Jesus our high priest sitting before the throne of God, representing us and our various needs before the throne of our loving God.
I cannot help but sing that the song was written by the great poet of England, Francis Ridley Havergal that says:
“All his work is ended, joyfully we sing.
Jesus has ascended, glory to our king".
Now, it's time to consider what all of that means to us. Jesus, the King of glory, in the kingdom of heaven, as our Lord and Savior, is now beginning to continue that work on our behalf before the throne of God. He made the atonement for our sins and satisfied the required by God’s holiness for a perfect sacrifice, but now that work of salvation is completed, his work of grace continues on our behalf as he sits before the throne of God. He knew, and although this verse does not describe in detail everything that he is doing, it sets before us great words of encouragement as we consider fully who he is. How was Jesus different from any man who ever lived or any prophet whoever spoke or an angel who is ever singing? Now there lies before us, the description of who he is and the encouragement that he offers to us in these closing words of this chapter.
The first thing that we are told is that he is unlike the priests of the Old Testament, who were separated from the people and had little understanding of the difficulties that the people faced because of their isolation. Now we have a faithful high priest who fully understands even in a greater capacity than we ourselves in the pressures that we face each day in our earthly journeys. He came, as part of his ministry to identify with sinful, suffering humanity, experiencing in a greater way the power of temptation with greater pain and discomfort than we could ever imagine. He is a faithful priest who understands, and loves, and knows how to speak the words to his father that will ultimately result in our rest.
We are told that he was tempted in all points as we, but those words do not reflect clearly the meaning of it all. It means that he suffered beyond any that we have ever experienced. As we in our struggles often fail and have to ask for forgiveness, he never failed by giving in to the temptation. He felt the full impact in a way that none of us has ever experienced "yet without sin".
His faithfulness made it possible for us to find peace with God, for God allowed Jesus our perfect, sinless, Savior to suffer the punishment that we deserve, in order for us to find that rest which we so need in times of difficulty. As he stands before the Father, he prays for us in ways that we could never pray for ourselves. He prays in the way that the father listens, and the father answers those prayers in relation to our most earnest need.
With that understanding, he gives us this great invitation that says, "let us come boldly unto the throne of grace". This invitation enables us to come before God in confidence and assurance where there is no need to fear. The God who was once a consuming fire because of our sin, shows himself to be compassionate and loving as he exhorts us to come boldly to the throne of grace. And what happens when we do that?
Here are two things that are often missed as we consider what they mean. “That we may find mercy”. Mercy to cover our sin and purify us for what comes next. "And grace to help in time of need". We have mercy to take care of our past failure and grace to give us the strength to continue on and experience the blessing that lays before us. What a marvelous way to end this chapter. A chapter that begins with an admonition, and ends with the blessing.
How may we close as we contemplate this great blessing except with the word of praise and thanksgiving as uttered by those in the heavens in Revelation; "blessing and honor and glory and power be unto the one who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever. Now that's something to think about.