Jesus, Our Great High Priest
The significance of the Book of Hebrews is that it speaks so much of our Lord’s office as our faithful High Priest and how we benefit from that. Here at the end of chapter four, the Preacher gets into the meat of his sermon on this very topic. Understand that our Lord’s priesthood is predicated on who he is as the Son of God (which was what chapter one was about), his assumption of our humanity when he became the Son of Man (chapter two), his work on the cross taking our sin upon himself as both the one who offers the sacrifice and who is sacrificed (chapter two), and presently his exaltation to the Right Hand of the Father (his “session”) where he executes his priesthood on our behalf until he bring us to his “rest” (chapter three).
Our Lord and Savior thus elevated, the Preacher says, “Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Did you hear? We have not just a “high priest” but a “great high priest,” one “passed into the heavens,” not passed into the grave as all others. What greater reason have we to “hold fast our confession?” We serve 1) a living God who 2) has in His service a Priest who ever ministers at His side on our behalf to whom His Majesty always listens as he is His Son (and thus God as well). But what is more, this Priest, though “great and high” is not so high and mighty that he cannot be touched by his people’s cries but, on the contrary, “sympathizes with our weaknesses.” And why is this? Because “in every respect” he “has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He knows us. Our Lord is not some far off deity who cares not for us or anything else; he is the one who in the fullness of time was sent by God, “born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). And he bore up under and conquered every temptation and every trial in life and death for us for the express purpose of delivering us from the same.
Therefore, we have every reason to draw near to the throne of grace. He beckons us; our succor is why he came. Our Lord invited all “who labor and are heavy laden” so to give them rest (Matthew 11:28). But here the call is to those heavy laden with temptation and sin, trial and persecution, fear and trembling. And note that they are to apply to “the throne of grace.” Did you hear? Our Lord’s throne is a throne of grace! Come and “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” for it is His grace, His favor, that makes us to endure, to conquer. Yes, we have such a “great high priest!”