Passage: Hebrews 4:14-16
“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” (v. 15 – NLT)
My head was stuck to the pillow that morning. Any hope for energy had vanished with the dawn of a new day. The sanguine in me wanted to jump out of bed and start the day as usual – study my Bible, prepare the kids for school, get ready, run out of the house to face Atlanta traffic. But my body answered quickly: “No, ma’am. Not today. We’re not getting up.” (Sigh.) As I lay in bed, half conscious, I started muttering a prayer: “Jesus… I need you to be the wind beneath my wings.” In the quietness of the moment, when a prayer is said and an answer is anticipated, I heard His tender voice whisper to my soul: “I’ve been there.” It seemed like a strange answer to me. I was hoping to hear something more like: “get up, take thy bed and walk!” But His answer was clear: “I’ve been there.” Suddenly images from Jesus’ life on earth came to my mind – moments depicted in epic movies such as the Passion of the Christ and Jesus: the painful, unforgettable images of my Savior, as He suffered on his flesh more than any man or woman ever has or ever will.
I did make it out of bed that day… eventually.
As I opened my Bible the next day to continue my study on Hebrews, the Lord’s answer from the day before still resounded on my mind. As I read the end of Chapter 4, God’s answer to me started to make sense with Paul’s comments to His countrymen regarding the nature of our High Priest.
The book of Hebrews was written for the first century messianic Jews. These men and women perfectly understood the establishment of priesthood. They knew that the High Priests of the Old Testament had to be men appointed by God and consecrated for Him. After Christ’s death and resurrection, there are no mentions to the title “High Priest” in the New Testament in reference to ministers within the church. This title became Christ’s alone. His atoning sacrifice on Calvary ended once and for all the Jewish priesthood, demonstrating that priests or animal sacrifices are no longer required.
Jesus – our Sympathetic High Priest
“Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” Isaiah 53:4-6 (Amplified)
The power of sympathy of our Great High Priest is not referred to as something that would distinguish Him from other high priests, but rather to express the resemblance and understanding that our Savior has regarding the feelings and struggles we all face. “For He understands our weaknesses, for He faced all the same testings we do” (v.15) The greek word “astheneia” (transliteration) translated as “weaknesses” or “infirmities” in most texts, refers to both bodily infirmities, such as disease and also the general weaknesses of human nature. Jesus has suffered all our infirmities, both physically and emotionally. If it were not so, our King would not have been the perfect mediator between us and Holy God, for He would not be able to sympathize with our shortcomings and hurts. You see, our Savior’s unparalleled greatness as God, the Son, does not by any means make Him incapable of sympathy. Although He is indeed the Son of God, He has a human soul – a soul actually, intensely human – which went through a complete array of trials and tribulations and reached Its glory through suffering. Although He was without sin (v.15), He lived a life of constant temptation and sorrow because of the sin that assails mankind. Therefore we understand the meaning of the prophetic voice of Isaiah as He foretold of our Great High Priest that He would “bear our griefs” – of sickness, disloyalty, irritations, loneliness and death. He knows, in His flesh, the precise force of every evil that ever tried and tempted mankind.
All Things Considered
“For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18 – NASB)
So, you are facing a trial. A very difficult one.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NASB)
Go to your High Priest. He’s been there! No matter where you look and what you are facing, there’s not a facet of our humanity that Jesus did not experience. Except sin. He has gone through everything you and I experience and conquered every single temptation and overcame every single pain. Therefore you and I can boldly come and ask the Father, in the Son’s Name and have the perfect confidence that He hears AND understands.
Bold Before the Throne
“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.” Heb 4:16 (NLT)
The Gospels show us the reality of the many trials that Jesus has gone through in His life on earth; from the temptation by Satan in the Wilderness and reaching its climax in Gethsemane. And yet, “He was without sin” (4:15.) He stood firm, at great cost, during the hardest moments of His life as God, the Son, and today He stands with us during our hardest trials. This should make us shout for joy! In Hebrews 4:16, the author calls us to “hold firmly to the faith that we profess” and then calls us to “be bold” as we come before the Throne of Grace. We are to be bold as we pray for our needs and the needs of others: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23. This boldness is to be reflected in our prayer life and in our testimony to others. We have access to the Holy of Holies through the blood of Christ that redeemed us.
We too often criticize other religions for their legalism concerning their prayer rituals. And yet, many times these devotees are much more faithful than we are to come before their gods and plea for their needs. That is a shame! Sometimes our reluctance in praying for our needs and others’ may suggest a lack of gratitude for the amazing access we have into God’s presence. Jesus is always there, eager to be summoned by His children. Let us come into His presence more often! Let us bow before Him with expectant hearts, knowing that He who promised is (indeed) faithful!! Let us talk to our High Priest, who loves us so much and so desired to make a way for us into God’s presence that He laid down His life for you and me.
What a Joy to know that we have a friend before the Throne of Grace, and that He is the Almighty’s Son! As often as we look up to His loving face, we can boldly enter His courts and ask for anything In Jesus’ Name, whether it is forgiveness for the past or helping grace for the future. Not only do we have ample access to the Throne of Grace, but we also have freedom of speech with Him who sits thereon. We can draw near with confidence!
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)
It grieves my soul when I hear someone say that they don’t feel “loved” by God. I think of Jesus as He went through all the trials and temptations during His life on earth. He did so, all the while possessing the power to stop anything at any time and yet, choosing to suffer to set me free. Moreover, choosing to die to give me ample access to the God of the Universe.
When I think about my trials, I think of our Savior at the cross, blood running down His precious face, as the crowd that He was willingly dying for shouted “crucify Him!” I’m reminded that my sin shouted “crucify Him” at the foot of the cross. I remember that He chose to die to become the One who would fill the gap between me and a perfect, Holy God. Why? For love. Overwhelming, amazing love.
When I think of my trials in light of eternity, of my wants in light of the surpassing riches of knowing my Savior, they pale in contrast. When I think that my Jesus is seated on the High Heavens, at God’s right hand and interceding for me, I am filled with the assurance that every trial I go through must be allowed by a loving God who is molding me, making me more like His Son. And in the process of doing so, He gives me glimpses of His amazing grace, eternal and unfailing love, and yes, He even sends me that wind to lift my wings up when I am too weak to fly. I pray that I learn more each day, to obediently and expectantly stretch my wings out by faith, knowing that He is getting ready to make me soar. For I know that I know, that “He who began a good work in me will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6.
Dear Father, I thank You with all my heart and soul that You have sent us Your only Son to provide a way to Your presence.
I worship You and thank You, my Jesus, for living on this earth and suffering all the pains and sorrows that we suffer, so you could nail all our hurt and sins to the cross. I know that the Father hears my prayers because of Your sacrifice and love. I know, that all things will work together for my good, and I know that this is only possible because of You. I love you, Jesus, My Great High Priest. In Your Name I pray, Amen.