Saturday 14 October 2017

Bible Book:

“Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness” (v. 16)

Hebrews 4:14-16 Saturday 14 October 2017

Psalm: Psalm 103


Having warned people that they must not grow hard-hearted orweary in their faith our author turns once again to encourage them.In so doing they turn to an image which may seem distant to us butwas familiar to them, namely that of the high priest.

Those people who were first addressed by this letter woulddoubtless have made an association with the Jerusalem temple, thedaily sacrifices which took place there, the priestly families whowere responsible for the worship of the temple and, in particular,the high priest who had responsibility, as a descendant of Aaron,to offer sacrifice for the people on the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16).

However, although throughout this letter our author uses some ofthe imagery found in Leviticus to speak of Jesus the readers aredirected away from the exclusive order of priests of which Aaronwas seen as the father. Later they will speak of the whole Aaronicpriesthood as being like a shadow of what God is really doing inChrist. This would have been a challenging concept for readers tograsp, but vital for them if they were to continue on the Christianroad.

Jesus, the high priest, is first described as having ascended toheaven. In other words, he uniquely fulfils the role of presentinghumanity to God, not from an earthly distance but in the verypresence of God. However, although risen and ascended, Jesusuniquely understands human nature, including its tests andtemptations, for he too has been tempted.

It is unlikely that many in first-century Judaism had muchcontact with the high priest in Jerusalem. Indeed, he does not comeacross as very approachable. In contrast, Jesus may be approachedwith confidence, not only because he is the effective high priestin God's presence but also, in light of his knowledge of what it isto be human, because he is mercy and grace personified.

To Ponder

  • In what way can you use the picture of Jesus as high priest tohelp your own faith to grow?
  • Charles Wesley's words "Bold I approach the eternal throne"(Singing the Faith 345) are deliberately shocking, giventhe thought that people should really be overwhelmed by God'spresence. How do you find the balance between coming to God withconfidence and yet experiencing proper awe in your worship andprayer? 
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