Today’s Reading: Hebrews 4
The second most difficult book in the Bible to understand is Hebrews, because of its assumption that the reader is familiar with the Old Testament. It is dependent upon reader’s understanding of the book of Leviticus and it is written to Jews who would know this book completely. The two key words in the book are sacrifices and priest. In today’s culture, we are not familiar with the concept of priesthood and sacrifices.
The basic premise of Hebrews is that these Jews were getting tired of the battles that go along with being a Christian. The more secular the world becomes, the more at odds we appear to be. The more we are committed to Christ, the more we experience conflict and collision. Some of these Hebrew believers were being persecuted and even their property was being taken from them. These new Christians’ wondered, How can we make it? Is it worth it? They were considering going back to the world and back to their old ways.
The author of Hebrews had one simple message to give them: Jesus. He wanted them to know they had a friend in high places who would get them through because He really understands what they were experiencing:
“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 4:15-16)
That message is still true today: you are not alone. You have Someone with you and He is Someone who has been through what you are going through. The Message says it like this:
“We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”
Wow! We serve a Jesus who has experienced it all. Why is this important? Charles Spurgeon said it well: “A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears.”
Is this really true? Does Jesus understand what you are going through because He has been through it Himself? Jesus doesn’t just know what you are going through, He knows what it’s like to go through it. This makes Him a personal Savior. There is nothing you have gone through that He has not gone through in some form or fashion.
He understands what it is to be let down by friends.
He understands betrayal.
He understands fear and wanting to quit.
He knows the pain of losing loved ones.
He understands having someone close to Him murdered.
Just to name a few.
He found out what it’s like to discover your life is on the clock. (Some hear it like this: “You have cancer; you have three months to live.”)
He was a carpenter. He knows what it is to work a 9-5 job. He had deadlines and work orders.
He knew homelessness: Jesus said, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).
Jesus knew what it’s like to cry out to God and ask why when things got tough: He said on the cross: “My God, My God, why . . .?” (Matthew 27:46).
So what is the result of having this kind of Jesus? The writer of Hebrews tells us in the first word of the next verse: Therefore. It means, “here’s the reason” I just told you what I told you. Hebrews 4:16 reads: “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.”
He says, now that you know you have a High Priest who understands the pain of life, what are you going to do about it? And he gives the answer: “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.” The King James Version says we are to “come boldly.” That says it all. In other words, we can approach God with frankness, bluntness. We can be open, plain, and daring—telling it like it is. We can have freedom in what we say. We can speak unreservedly. It’s real talk. It is going to Jesus, not trying to impress Him, but telling him, “This is who I am, and this is what I am going through, and this is how I feel.”
You say things like, “I am afraid,” “I don’t want to die,” “I don’t want to live,” “I can’t go on another day,” “I’m through with this marriage.”
The more you know Jesus, the more you can be real with Him. “Jesus loves you as you are not as you ought to be.” (Brennan Manning)
And He knows you! So you don’t have to pretend with Him.
We can go to the throne boldly. Or as The Message puts it, “So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give.” How can we do that? We have the Son who understands and will take us to the Father.
Did you know there was a time in American history when any citizen could go to see the president? At the end of the Civil War, a dejected Confederate soldier was sitting outside the grounds of the White House. A young boy approached and asked what was wrong. The soldier explained that he had repeatedly tried to see President Lincoln and had been unable to do so. He wanted to tell the president that his farm in the South had been unfairly taken by the Union soldiers. But each time he tried to enter the White House, the guards turned him away.
The boy motioned to the soldier to follow him. When they approached the guarded entrance, the soldiers came to attention, stepped back, and opened the door for the boy. He proceeded to the library where the president was resting and introduced the soldier to his father.
The boy was Tad Lincoln. He was the son of the President of the United States.
The soldier had gained access to the president through the president’s son. How much more should we rejoice in our access to the grace of the King of kings? We are connected to the Son and He can get us in to see the Father in tough times. The Son allows us to walk right up to Him.