Do you ever wish there was someone you could talk to? Someone who would understand the challenges you face at any given moment? But maybe, as you think of all your friends and family, and perhaps even your church pastor, it seems that there is no such person. Sure, there are plenty who are compassionate and wise who will give you a hug or share an encouraging word, but there’s no one with whom you can have that intimate talk – or cry – that your heart desires.
If you’ve never felt that way, then maybe it’s just me… I’ve been there more than once, where, even with a great support group around me, I knew there was no one I could go to who would really understand what I was going through. After all, it’s my life, so how could an outsider really understand? And I’m betting I’m not the only one who’s ever felt that way.
I found some good news in the book of Hebrews, though.
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NKJV)
That High Priest is Jesus Christ. And in Him, I found that I am not alone. There is someone I can talk to, who will understand exactly what I’m going through and what I need at any given moment… because He’s been there! The same is true for you!
I’ve read the book of Hebrews before, but for some reason that passage never jumped out at me until I happened upon it a few months ago. I already knew I could come boldly before God, because there is another passage in Hebrews that expresses my right to do so:
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus… 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…
Hebrews 10:19,22 (NKJV)
Both passages invite us to draw near to God, which is beautiful, but they hardly have the same meaning. The key follows the "therefore" of each passage.
In Hebrews 10:19, we are told that because of the blood of Jesus, therefore we can approach God with boldness. That is Christianity 101. Without the blood of Jesus, we are all sinners doomed to an eternal separation from God. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, though, and allow His cleansing blood to wash over us, we are made perfect in the eyes of God, and we are worthy of being in His presence. Let us never forget the blood of Jesus which gives us this ultimate privilege!
In Hebrews 4:15-16, we are told that because Jesus was in all points tempted as we are, and as a result can sympathize with our weaknesses, therefore we can approach God with boldness, knowing He will meet us with mercy and grace. Does that strike you the way it struck me?
The Hebrews 10 verses give us the right to come to the throne; the Hebrews 4 verses give us the reason to come to the throne.
Think about your relationship with the President of the United States. Most likely, you can’t easily approach the President on your own. If someone gave you a “pass” to get to him, that would be great. But even then, other than for the novelty of it, what would be the point? He is in a totally different place in life than you and me, and he has a lot of things going on, so he’s probably not going to be able to connect with what you need from him. I’m sure he would listen kindly with the best of intentions, but ultimately, he’s probably not going to be able to personally help you.
With Jesus’ blood, we have that “pass” to get to God, our Father in heaven. But what would be the real value of that if we only found God to be some high and mighty king who reigned from a distance, who couldn’t directly connect with His children? It would be an honor to be in His presence, but it wouldn’t be an intimate encounter.
That is not at all the case, though! When we come before the throne of God, He is thrilled. He has extended an invitation: come, draw near. He has told us to come boldly, with confidence. Why? Because He understands what we are going through – because He has Himself endured everything we will ever face and He can relate first-hand!
By the way, it’s important to know that the word for “tempted” in Hebrews 4:15 can also be translated to indicate enduring “trials” or “tests.” (Sometimes in our language today, we don’t think of temptations, trials and tests as having the same meaning, and that could cause you to miss the value in that verse.) How comforting it is to know that Jesus relates to us on such a real level. No one can compare to that.
Here is a popular passage from the book of Isaiah that foretold Jesus’ life, and which gives us further insight into His ability to relate to our trials:
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
Isaiah 53:3-4,7 (NKJV)
He willingly lived that life for us, so now He can understand what you’re talking about when you come to His throne aching from your trials and tribulations.
And here’s just one more word study for this lesson: The word for “mercy” that Hebrews 4:16 says will be extended to us, indicates an outward expression of pity, or sympathy that is expressed by helping someone, and not just by remaining passively interested.
God invites us. He gives us the right to come boldly. He understands our needs. And He will respond with love and compassion.
Keep that in mind the next time you pray. See if it doesn’t change the way you talk to Him.