This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. ~Hebrews 4:15-16
It is easy for us to see God in his great majesty as far above, far off, and disconnected. So we struggle trying to reach up and search for a God we fear doesn’t understand. Yet God, as he describes himself in the Bible, is one who reaches down to us.
Several chapters in Hebrews speak of Jesus as our great High Priest. Priests were those who stood between God and people. On behalf of the people they would make appeals and sacrifices to God. On behalf of God they would show his glory and holiness to the people. The high priest was the one able to approach nearest to the full presence of God as he manifested his glory in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle and the temple. But this the high priest could only do once a year and with much ritual. If he failed at any of it, he would be struck dead.
Jesus as the great and perfect High Priest is the God-man who stands uniquely between God and people. He offered himself in a single sacrifice to atone for the sins of all his people so we might stand perfectly pure before God (Hebrews 9:11-15).
More than this, in God the Son becoming one of us, he went toe-to-toe with the same kinds of temptations we face day in and day out. But in the struggle where we failed, Jesus stood victorious. While his perfect obedience was necessary for us to have hope and life, he does not use it to gloat over or shame our weaknesses, struggles, or failures.
Instead, he understands our weaknesses.
Far from a far off God, God draws near. He gets us, he understands us. In Psalm 8 David pondered the majesty and greatness of God and cried out, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human begins that you should care for them?” And in Psalm 103: “For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”
Knowing this about God is to inspire confidence. Not that we should struggle and fail and have no concern about our sin. Rather that we should struggle and run headlong into the arms of grace.
This is why Hebrews tells us we should come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. Knowing that he knows us and understands us, knowing what he has offered us in Jesus, and therefore knowing his great love for us. When we struggle we run to God and there we find mercy, grace, and help—the very things we need in the moments of temptation.
This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.