Hebrews 4:14-16

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 23, 2021 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” -Hebrews 4:14-16

Because the word of God is what it is as discussed last week in Hebrews 4:12-13, the author now moves to discussing Jesus as our high priest, which we’ll look at for the next few weeks. This is one of the primary themes of the book of Hebrews, and it’s the only book in the Bible that addresses this specific topic.

But first, since this is a topic many of us today don’t think about regularly, what exactly is a high priest? The first person appointed as the high priest was Moses’ brother Aaron (see Exodus 29). The high priest wore certain clothing, and he was the only person permitted into the Holy of Holies in the temple (where the presence of God dwelt), which would only happen once a year on the Day of Atonement. On that day, the high priest would wear all of his priestly garments when entering the temple, then in secret he’d take most of them off until he only wore a simple linen garment. He would enter the Holy of Holies alone, make expiation (reparation, making amends) for the sins of the people, sprinkle the blood of the sin offering on the mercy seat, and offer incense. When done, he would put his priestly garments back on and go back out in front of the people (Leviticus 16). Other than that one special day of the year, the high priest would serve in the same temple duties as the other priests.

To summarize this, in the culture of the people of Israel, the Day of Atonement was the one day each year when their sins would be forgiven. It was the work of the high priest to make this happen according to the instructions God had given.

Hebrews 4:14 specifically calls out Jesus as our great high priest. The title of “great” singles Jesus out as being greater and superior to all of the high priests that the nation of Israel had for generations. Jesus was not just an earthly priest, but He had ascended into heaven as well, again noting Him as superior to the other high priests who had lived.

It is because of this role that Jesus holds that we can “hold firmly to the faith we profess.” We can have confidence in our faith because of who Jesus is and the work that He has done. Remember how the regular high priests had to perform their work every year on the Day of Atonement? Jesus is greater than those high priests because His work only needed to be performed ONCE. Period. The high priest’s work would remove the sins from the nation of Israel for the past year. Jesus’ work on the cross removed the sins from all people, everywhere, past, present, and future – forever! This work is so much greater than what the high priests did each year, and because of that, we should hold firmly to our faith in Jesus.

Verse 15 tells us more about Jesus and why He can be given this title of the great high priest. He was tempted to sin in every way, just like we are all the time. All of the high priests of the nation of Israel were also tempted to sin, too. The difference is that Jesus did not sin – not even once, ever! He can relate to us and empathize with our weaknesses, but He also lived the perfect life that was required so that His sacrifice would be worthy to forgive the sins of all people. He entered into our sinful weakness, yet He remained without sin. It’s easy to think that Jesus living a perfect life was easy for Him since He is God, but the author of Hebrews makes it clear that wasn’t the case. Jesus was still tempted in every way, just as we are, but He resisted each and every one of those temptations. His sinlessness was hard-earned.

So what does the sinless life of Jesus mean for us? Verse 16 tells us: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Earlier in Israel’s history, only the high priest could enter the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, and even then, only once a year. But because of the work of Jesus the great high priest, we can approach God with confidence! God has extended His grace to us because of the work that Jesus did. Jesus’ life and death paid the penalty for our sins, so that we are now able to approach God with confidence.

While we may feel unworthy to approach the Almighty God of the universe, we must remember that He does not see our sinfulness when we approach Him; rather, He sees Jesus’ perfect life. We know that we need God’s mercy and grace, because by ourselves and in our sinfulness, we are not worthy to be anywhere near Him. But because of Jesus the great high priest, we may approach God whenever we find ourselves in a time of need, and His grace and mercy will always cover us.

Jesus was fully successful in His work as the great high priest, and then He approached God’s throne in heaven so that we, too, may have the opportunity once we put our faith in Him. Hold fast to that faith and approach God with confidence, thanking and praising Him for the work of Jesus, the great high priest!

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.