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 (NASB)
Jesus is better. A phrase worth perpetually repeating. Not a day goes by that I am not aware of my need for a Savior (thanks, parenthood). There are days when the weight of my sin and failures overwhelm me and cause me to hang my head in despair. There are days when I live under the weight of my sin to the point where I am ashamed to approach my Gracious Father or doubtful that I am being sanctified. During these days when I “feel” defeated, I am thankful for the Holy Spirit and a reminder of this Truth: As a child of God, I have a Great High Priest who intercedes on my behalf and gives me unhindered access to my Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ went before me and paid the penalty of my sins so I might stand blameless before my Heavenly Father. I repeat, Jesus is better.
In the book of Exodus, we read of God’s boundless love towards the Israelites and a rescue story of epic proportions. By God’s sovereign hand, the Israelites were released from their captivity. In the midst of their journey to a promised land, God prescribed a system in which the sinful nation could experience restoration and fellowship with Him by establishing a meeting place known as the Tabernacle. It was here that God’s chosen priesthood (the Levites) would make sacrifices and intercede on behalf of the nation of Israel. It was here that the earthly high priest, once per year, would enter into the Most Holy Place and make atonement for the sins of the people. Consider for a moment, you are an ordinary Israelite living under the Law. To make reparation for your sins and enjoy fellowship with Yahweh, you must repeatedly use a sacrificial system involving imperfect sacrifices and an imperfect mediator. Sounds exhausting and insufficient, doesn’t it? Generation after generation of high priests performed their duty as Israel’s mediator, but their role was not a permanent solution to humanity’s sin problem. These flawed spiritual leaders could not bridge the gap between man and God. However, All-Knowing God had a better plan. The earthly Tabernacle and its elements were merely a shadow of what was to come. Enter Jesus Christ. Hebrews describes Him as our Great High Priest, the one who interceded on our behalf at the cross is now sitting at the right hand of God and continues to intercede for us (Romans 8:34). He is the One who is better.
If this description of Jesus Christ as your Great High Priest perplexes you or does not resonate, consider for a moment why He is better.
- The high priest passed through the earthly tabernacle. Jesus Christ passed through the Heavenly Tabernacle (Hebrews 9:11, 24).
- The high priest’s work was ongoing and never complete. Jesus Christ’s salvation work was once for all (Hebrews 10:11-12).
- The high priest presented an animal sacrifice on behalf of the sins of God’s children. Jesus Christ presented Himself, the spotless Lamb, as our sacrifice (1 Peter 1:19). His blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat of Heaven to atone for our sins.
- The high priest, while capable of showing compassion, could not sympathize in every way with his congregation. The sinless Son of God sympathizes with all our sorrows, heartbreaks, and discomforts because He was subjected to the trials of humanity (Hebrews 4:15) and therefore can offer us aid in our weakness.
- The high priest wore costly, ornamented garments and a golden diadem upon his head inscribed with “Holiness to the Lord” (Exodus 29:6). Jesus Christ went to the cross bloodied, stripped, and bearing a crown of thorns because He Himself is Holiness!
This is our Great High Priest. I repeat, Jesus is better!
How should this knowledge affect the way you approach God?
First, it should lead you to surrender. Maybe you only see a Throne of Judgement due to past or present failures. Do you stand in unbelief and wonder how a Holy God could love an unworthy sinner such as yourself? Have you refused to place God on the throne of your life by professing your faith in Him? You have a Great High Priest who has gone before you and done what you and no earthly priest can do. He bridged the divide between you and our Most Holy God. Come filthy, come broken, and come in the depths of your despair declaring Jesus Christ as Lord to receive grace and forgiveness. He will take your filthy rags and clothe you with His righteousness.
Second, it should lead you to live daily as a daughter of the King. Maybe you have professed faith in Jesus Christ but stand daily under the weight of Satan’s oppressive condemnation instead of under the abundance of God’s grace. Not only is His throne one of judgment, but in Hebrews, it is beautifully described as a Throne of Grace. If Jesus Christ has been made the Lord of your life, you can approach the Throne of Grace with confidence and assurance that you will find forgiveness and help in your time of need. You will find strength in your weaknesses. Joy in your sorrows. Counsel and wisdom in your uncertainties. You will experience an abundance of God’s immeasurable grace and mercy when discouraged and broken because of your sin.
Finally, it should lead you to worship your Great High Priest. While many earthly religious leaders may be worthy of their calling, none deserve the glory and honor more than Jesus Christ Himself. Praise the One who is better!