Wednesday 4th November 2020
Hebrews 4: 14 – 16
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Imagine walking through rough and rugged territory. Then you pause and lift your eyes. You see that the path leads on to bright uplands. You know that your leader has already gone ahead and prepared the way. And your energy is renewed. Your fears fall away. That moment of pause, of looking up, is 4:14 of Hebrews.
Chapters 3 and 4 took us into the desert, to the Exodus journey, to the lonely lands between escape and arrival. A desert is dangerous. A pilgrim needs determination to get through. The Christian way, the letter suggests, is like the Exodus pilgrimage. There are dangers. We are fragile. Yet get through we must.
Then at 4:14, we lift our eyes. The way goes upward and Jesus has taken it. He is, by the strange geography of grace, both far ahead and near at hand. He has ‘passed through the heavens’. He is risen and ascended, above the pressures, pains and powers of earth. Yet he remains one of us. He was himself a traveller, a learner, a sufferer, flesh and blood. He knows our weakness. He was tested to destruction, but not to sin. He sympathises. He can sustain us.
This Jesus is majestic and mighty – up high, as Hebrews puts it. He is also tender, approachable and compassionate – within reach. This is what Hebrews means by calling him priest. Jesus connects earth and heaven. He nurtures contact between the majesty of God and the experience of earth. He belongs to both realms and he bridges, he mediates, between them.
The theme of Jesus as priest will be explored and developed in the chapters ahead. For the moment the message is direct and straightforward. You can trust Jesus. He will help you. Keep the faith. Draw near.
Lord Jesus Christ,
tested and troubled as one of us,
risen and glorious as one with God,
we ask for confidence
to draw near to you and hold firm to you.
When we are beset with need, with fears, with tiredness,
may we seek your presence and find your strength.
Journey with us, we ask, that we may follow you. Amen.