The most powerful weapon
in the whole universe is the Word of God.
Like a sharp double edged
sword it penetrates and cuts to the innermost center
of the human personality. Nothing is hidden in the
human heart that is not revealed by the Word.
Nothing is left unexposed to its penetrating light.
Everything is open and laid bare to the eyes of the
Lord God. It exposes our depravity and the root of
our sin nature (Hebrews 4:12-13).
Has the Word of God
pierced you? Has it penetrated into your innermost
being? Has it exposed your wicked heart? No word of
man can do that. The same word that brings
conviction also bring promises of God's great
provision. The Word of God assures the believer that
none of those who are really saved shall miss the
perfect and eternal rest that God has provided or
us. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and
Great High Priest is the supreme motive for holding
fast to our profession of faith in Him.
"Therefore, since 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 One who
has been tempted in all things as we are, yet
without sin. Therefore let us draw near with
confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may
receive mercy and find grace to help in time of
need" (Hebrews 4:14-16, NASB95). [All Scriptures
unless otherwise noted are from New American
Standard Bible NASB95].
The only person in the
Bible who was ever called a "great high priest" was
Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus Christ as our High
Priest is the most distinctive theme in Hebrews. The
priesthood of Jesus is central to the theology of
Hebrews. Everything that is discussed in this letter
is developed around the theme of Jesus as High
Priest. The central theme will be developed in
chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10. In chapters one through six
the author is laying the foundation for that
presentation. Because Jesus is our representative in
heaven before the throne of God we must hold fast
We have a Great High
Priest (Heb. 4:14)
The emphasis in Hebrews
4:14 is on the word "great." In the person of Jesus
Christ we have a "great High Priest." He is of par
excellence. He is unique in that He is megas
literally "great priest." It speaks of supreme
dignity, excellency and all sufficiency of Jesus
Christ. He is the greatest of all priests, no one
can be lifted to comparison with His greatness. The
author of Hebrews is declaring that Jesus Christ is
greater than Aaron and the levitical high priests
because He is not the one who entered the Holy of
Holies only once a year and sprinkled blood to atone
for his own sins and then those of the people. Jesus
is superior to all other priests.
Earlier in his letter the
writer of Hebrews told us that Jesus is our High
Priest. "Therefore, He had to be made like His
brethren in all things, so that He might become a
merciful and faithful high priest in things
pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins
of the people" (Hebrews 2:17). And in 3:1 he wrote,
"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly
calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest
of our confession" (Hebrews 3:1). It is almost like
3:7-4:13 is a parentheses that takes us back to 3:1
which has introduced us to the priesthood of Jesus.
What makes Him so great
is that He is the Son of God, appointed to be the
High Priest, who has made propitiation for our sins
and passed through the heavens and is
interceding on our behalf at the throne of God. As
our Great High Priest nothing can hinder Him in
accomplishing His eternal purpose on our behalf.
What a great God and Savior! Our great High Priest
is the Son of God.
Our High Priest is
infinitely great in His person and office. He has
dignity and glory because He is the Son of God. He
is without sin, separated to God the Father.
Moreover, he is of the order of Melchizedek--He is
High Priest and the Messiah. He was ordained a High
Priest by an oath of God Himself. His sacrificial
offering was without spot and blemish. He knew
no sin. His covenant, His administration, and His
sacrifice are perfect. It never has to be repeated.
It was once and for all. This cannot be said of any
man. The divine justice of God has been perfectly
satisfied by Jesus Christ. His is an eternal
perpetual office of priesthood. We can now come
boldly before His throne of grace anytime, anywhere,
and in any situation.
Jesus is in heaven.
It is helpful to keep in
mind the Jewish High Priest passed from the altar
through the outer court and the Holy Place behind
the dividing veil into the Holy of Holies only on
the Day of Atonement. He was a shadow of the coming
day when our Great High Priest by means of His
ascension passed through the heavenly places to the
actual throne room of God. Jesus is accomplishing
only what Aaron and other levitical priests could
shadow in a symbolic manner. Our High Priest passed
through the created heavens into the presence of
The writer of Hebrews
tells us literally, Jesus has "passed through the
heavens." Jesus has gone into the very presence of
God. The Jewish people used the word "heaven" often
to avoid speaking directly of God. The plural
"heavens" probably does not have any special meaning
here. The idea is Jesus is in heaven at the throne
of God interceding for us right now. The gospel
writer Luke recorded for us this great historical
event in Acts 1:9. "And after He had said these
things, He was lifted up while they were looking on,
and a cloud received Him out of their sight." Jesus
transcended all the limits of time and space. How
majestic is His greatness. "For Christ did not enter
a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the
true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in
the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24). Jesus
has entered where God is. "For it was fitting for us
to have such a high priest, holy, innocent,
undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above
the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26).
This was the promise of
Jesus the night before His crucifixion. He said to
His disciples: "Do not let your heart be troubled;
believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's
house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I
would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for
you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will
come again and receive you to Myself, that where I
am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3). In the
words of the writer of Hebrews He is providing us an
Jesus the Son of God
Our great High Priest is
further identified with both His title Son of God
and His incarnate human name Jesus. This High Priest
is Jesus, who is the Son of God. This is Jesus who
was born in a manger, died on the Roman cross, and
rose bodily from the dead. It emphasizes His
ministry, suffering, death, resurrection and
ascension. He is the son of Mary and the Son of God.
No, God did not have sex with the virgin Mary to
produce Jesus as some modern cults teach. Jesus is
God incarnate, truly man and truly God. He is the
God-man. Therefore, He can identify with God and
with man. No one else could possibly provide
reconciliation between a holy God and radically
depraved man. This is why we need a great High
"The wages of sin is
death." Jesus went to the cross and paid in full our
sin debt to the righteousness of God. Only someone
without sin who is one with man could accomplish
that for us. He became our representative and died
in our place as our substitute sin offering. He took
our place on the cross. "For while we were still
helpless, at the right time Christ died for the
ungodly. . . But God demonstrates His own love
toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us" (Romans 5:6, 8).
The writer of Hebrews
stresses that it is Jesus who has passed through the
heavens and seated at the right hand of the Majesty
on high" (Heb. 1:3).
Let us Hold Fast our
Confession (Heb. 4:14-15)
The writer has already
told us to "consider Jesus, the Apostle and High
Priest of our confession" (Heb. 3:1).
We are to do this without
wavering until the end (v. 14). Moreover, the writer
encourages his readers saying, "Let us hold fast the
confession of our hope without wavering, for He who
promised is faithful; and let us consider how to
stimulate one another to love and good deeds"
(Hebrews 10:23-24). Why in the world would we ever
want to throw away that confidence in Him?
Our Christian life begins
with faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and
confession with the mouth. "If you confess with your
mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that
God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for
with the heart a person believes, resulting in
righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses,
resulting in salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). We have
believed with the heart and confessed with our lips.
It is both inward belief in God's provision through
Christ, and outward profession before men. With the
heart you believe and are justified. With the mouth
you confess and are saved.
Jesus can sympathize
with our weakness.
Our great High Priest can
identify and empathize with us in our needs. He is
not off in some remote distant space, but is ever
present with us. "Lo I am with you always, even to
the end of the age," He promised us.
"For we do not have a
high priest who cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all
things as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
The writer's conviction is so strong he uses a
double negative in the original to stress completely
the sympathy of Jesus to our weaknesses. "We do not
have a high priest who is not able to sympathize."
He is man, as well as
God. He is highly exalted, yet He can descended to
Not only is Jesus
faithful as High Priest, He is also merciful.
It is true that Jesus did
not have a sinful nature, but that does not mean He
was not tempted to sin. He endured every temptation
Jesus has been tempted
in all things.
Jesus whole life on earth
was lived under assault of Satan. We can never
understand the intensity of temptation thrown at Him
by Satan (Mark 1:12-13; Matt. 4:1-11; 16:16-23;
27:40-46). We are incapable of grasping the profound
level of temptation against Him because of our
As an incarnate man Jesus
under went the same things we endure, but in a more
intense manner. Because human depravity has so
affected our mind, will, desires we can never grasp
the profound depths of His temptations. He faced
temptation as the sinless Son of God in a manner in
which we can never grasp.
A. W. Pink observed, "He
was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Sin may be
considered as to its principle, and as to its
effect. Men are tempted to sin by sin, to actual sin
by habitual sin, to outward sin, by indwelling sin."
But Jesus was not liable to such temptations unto
sin from within as we are. Jesus was tempted from
The writer of Hebrews
places one of the greatest emphasis on the deity of
Christ in the New Testament, but he also stresses
the real humanity of Jesus. He points out the
limitations of Jesus' human frailty.
Yet without sin
Jesus endured every
temptation "yet without sin." He never experienced
personal sin. This is the only thing that separates
Jesus from us in the matter of temptations. He did
not sin. He was and is sinless. Jesus was genuinely
tempted, yet without sin.
John Owen said, "He was
absolutely in all things 'without sin'; He neither
was tempted by sin, such was the holiness of His
nature; nor did His temptation produce sin, such was
the perfection of His obedience." The Son of God who
could not sin, yet He was tempted just as we are.
Jesus was tempted, yet
He sinned not.
Had Jesus yielded to just
one sin He would have been in the need of a Savior.
As a sinner it would have been impossible for Him to
make atonement for other sinners. Like the levitical
priests in the Old Testament He would have had to
first make an atonement for Himself and then for the
sins of the people. However, "It was fitting for us
to have such a high priest, holy, innocent,
undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above
the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26). He did not need to
offer up a sacrifice for Himself because He was
"without sin." He was the sinless Savior. He was
uniquely qualified to offer up a sacrifice "once for
all when He offered up Himself."
If Jesus was not
without sin, we would still be in our sins.
Jesus is the "guarantee
of a better covenant" because He was sinless. He is
the "Son, made perfect forever" (Heb. 7:28).
Jesus is the Lamb of God
that lifts up and take away our sins (John 1:29). We
have been "redeemed . . . with precious blood, as of
a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of
Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19). Later Peter adds, "who
committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His
mouth" (1 Peter 2:22). This is consistent with the
message in Isaiah 53:9, "His grave was assigned with
wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any
deceit in His mouth" (Isaiah 53:9). Jesus confronted
religious leaders with the question, "Which one of
you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you
not believe Me?" (John 8:46) No one responded.
They had no evidence that He was a sinner. The
apostle Paul stated probably the key verse to the
whole Bible in 2 Corinthians 5:21. "He made Him who
knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we
might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Draw near to God with
confidence (Heb. 4:16).
The moment Jesus died He
tore open the veil that separated us from entrance
into presence of a holy God. We have access into the
presence of a holy God based upon the perfect
atoning sacrifice Jesus made upon the cross.
"Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to
enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new
and living way which He inaugurated for us through
the veil, that is, His flesh" (Hebrews 10:19-20).
Christ made full expiation for our sin through His
The Day of Atonement was
a shadow of the real provision God would make to
cover our sins. The Jewish high priest could enter
into the Holy of Holies only one day of the year and
sprinkle blood on the mercy seat after making a
sacrifice of his own sins. However, based upon that
perfect sacrifice of Jesus for our sin, the
believing sinner can now have free access to
enter into the presence of God.
Every believer, young,
old, weak, immature, ignorant, have now "in Christ
Jesus . . . been brought near by the blood of
Christ" (Ephesians 2:13). Freedom of access to the
very throne of the LORD God is now the right and
blessing of every believer in Christ.
Throne of grace
It is the majestic throne
of God's sovereign grace. What a glorious privilege
for the child of God.
God's throne of grace is
His mercy seat. He gives us the boldness to enter
into His presence.
Grace is God's riches at
Christ's expense for all those who did not deserve
it. The author of Hebrews is asking how can we
withdraw in cowardice, impatience, faintheartedness
when we have such a great High Priest who is our
righteousness and strength?
Jesus is our
righteousness. Jesus is our Melchizedek. Jesus is
our peace. Jesus is our life. How can we possibly
neglect so great salvation?
Our great High Priest
watches over us, prays for us, holds us fast, brings
us into the presence of God. He bears us on His
loving heart. Therefore, we come boldly to the
throne of grace. It is only in the person of Jesus
Christ that we draw near to God the Father. "The
throne of majesty and righteousness is to us a
throne of grace. The Lord is our God. There is not
merely grace on the throne, but the throne is
altogether the throne of grace. It is grace which
disciplines us by the sharp and piercing Word, it is
grace which looks on us when we have denied Him, and
makes us weep bitterly. Jesus always intercedes: the
throne is always a throne of grace. The Lamb is in
the midst of the throne. Hence we come boldly,"
observed Adolph Saphir the great Hebrew Christian.
God relieves us of our
miseries. The word "mercy" stresses our weakness. We
can come to Him for timely help before it is too
late. Jesus is filled with compassion because He is
the great High Priest. He is always ready to
empathize and treat us with mercy. He was tempted.
He suffered. Therefore He knows us intimately. We
can therefore, come to Him expecting full, tender,
deep sympathy and compassion. He is every ready to
comfort, forgive and give us His divine strength. He
comes in mercy to restore to us fellowship with God.
Thank God He does not
give us what we deserve. We each deserve an eternal
hell, but God in grace and mercy gives us eternal
life if we will call upon Him. He invites us poor
and need to come as we are in our depravity and
trust His saving grace to cleanse us, forgive us and
save us for all eternity.
"Yet for this reason I
found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus
Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an
example for those who would believe in Him for
eternal life" (1 Timothy 1:16).
We have in Christ "both
pitying mercy and pardoning grace."
Find grace in time of
Like the apostle Paul,
Jesus says to us, "My grace is sufficient for you."
The only qualification is be in spiritual need. Only
depraved sinners qualify for God's grace.
Self-righteous persons never qualify in God's eyes.
God's timing is always
perfect. He comes to us in our times of weakness,
temptations, and sin and gives us forgiveness,
cleansing and power to overcome sin.
Through Christ we have
open to us "access" in one Spirit to the Father
(Eph. 2:18). "Access" (prosagoge) is "a
leading or bringing into the presence of" through
the assistance of another. We have an entrance by
means of the Holy Spirit into the presence of God
the Father. By faith in the atoning death of Jesus
Christ we have access into the throne of grace of
God. We have this access in one Spirit through
Christ to God the Father. We have this access to God
"in Christ." The word was used for
introducing a person into the presence of a
sovereign. It was also used for the dock where a
ship harbors, or haven. We have the perfect haven of
The Word of God is
penetratingly clear: we are sinners. We are in the
need of God's saving and sustaining grace. We are
the ones who have disobeyed Him.
The Bible also tells us
that Christ is the great High Priest. He is ever
ready to intercede on our behalf. We do not have to
go to anyone else. He stands ready to listen to our
guilty plea and cleanse and forgive us of our sins.
The only sacrifice that
will cover our sins is the all sufficient death of
Christ. Jesus paid our debt to the righteousness of
God. Nothing else will do.
When we come in faith as
sinners He reconciles us to God. We are justified by
grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ. God
the Father declares us just in His sight based on
the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. "Saved by
grace" will be our theme through out eternity.
The application to the
believer is that Jesus is ready to help us in every
time of need. We need His mercy. God in His mercy
causes all thing to work together for the good of
those who love Him and are called according to His
purposes (Rom. 8:28). There are no exceptions. Hard
times, difficult experiences, pressures in life come
our way that we may draw near to Him and call upon
Him receive strength and glorify His name.
There is hope for us
today because we have full assurance and confidence
that we are always accepted before God in the person
of our Great High Priest who is His Son. "Just as He
chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,
that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In
love He predestined us to adoption as sons through
Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind
intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of
His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the
Beloved" (Ephesians 1:4-6).
Therefore, the writer of
Hebrews admonishes us to constantly be coming to the
throne of grace. Let it become a habit to come to
Listen to these promises:
"Therefore He is able also to save forever those who
draw near to God through Him, since He always lives
to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25).
"Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full
assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled
clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed
with pure water" (Hebrews 10:22).
These passages of
Scripture remind us the help in time of need is
available every moment in our daily life. We are
without excuse. God has made the great provision for
the lost sinner as well as the believer. Whenever
and whatever the need may be God's grace is
all-sufficient and is ever available.
Our great High Priest
offered the supreme sacrifice for our sins on the
cross, and as a merciful and faithful High Priest He
invites us sinners to come to His throne of grace.
4:14-16 Jesus Christ Our Great High Priest