STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Let Us Hold Fast Our Confession”
“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 sympathize 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” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
What wondrous encouragement our Lord gives us to remain faithful! To strive to be diligent in all matters of faith. Before God we are laid bare, even molecule to molecule, laid out flat. Nothing can be hidden from our Lord. For many, that brings terror, but for Christ-believers that brings joy. I cannot—even if I desired—hide anything from Jesus. He knows me perfectly and loves me unconditionally. Jesus knows my myriad faults, and yet He forgives me. The fact that our Lord has perfect knowledge of us and still calls us His own is amazing grace!
The fact that our Lord has perfect knowledge of us and still calls us His own is amazing grace!
Jesus is our Great High Priest. The Old Testament priests would offer sacrifices that were a preaching of Law and Gospel. Those sacrifices showed the people that sin was a deadly matter that could only be paid for in blood. They showed them that neither animal blood nor their own blood could pay the price demanded. The sacrifices showed that sin demanded death! That was the Law, but the sacrifices also proclaimed the Gospel in all its beauty by pointing the people ahead to the coming Savior, Who alone could and would pay for the sins of the world with His own blood. He would be the sacrificial Lamb slain for the sins of the world. What a powerful message of sin and grace!
Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. His death atoned once for all mankind. As our High Priest, He understands everything we go through in this life; nothing escapes His sight, and He is always there to help. The Lord promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Further, “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (4:15). Jesus was and is flesh of our flesh, true man as well as true God. During His earthly life He underwent the severest temptations that have ever come upon any person. Jesus was tempted His whole life so that His entire being—body and soul—would sometimes be rocked to the very core, yet He never sinned. In the Garden of Gethsemane He declared His soul to be “. . . exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38). Not to speak of the attacks of the devil, which hounded Him time and again.
Jesus understands all the temptations we face, the continual attacks on our soul that we fight daily. He is understanding toward our weaknesses; He knows what it means for weak flesh and blood to battle with the forces of darkness. Jesus faced every temptation without sinning, and He then took upon Himself our sins and paid in full the price they demanded. He held the course relentlessly, making us the recipients of His grace.
Jesus encourages us daily through His Word to place all our trust in Him, knowing He loves us beyond measure. Let us, then, approach with confidence the Throne of Grace, that we may “. . . obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16). Without the redemption won by Jesus, no sinner would dare come near the holy and righteous God. Through the merits of Jesus, however, we are enabled to approach the very throne of the great God Himself with joy and confidence. Through Jesus we are given God’s grace in place of the condemnation we deserve. We find peace through the forgiveness of sins. Christian faith stands on the absolute certainty that Jesus, our High Priest, has won a full and complete reconciliation! There can be no greater comfort!
Jay Hartmann is pastor of Faith
Lutheran Church in Coloma, Michigan.