In our journey together through the book Hebrews, we saw our author introduce the major theme of the whole letter (2:14 to 3:1) that is the high-priestly work of Jesus. Then (3:1 to 4:13) we were informed of more reasons for the readers, and us, to consider Jesus as our great high priest. Now from 4:14 we discover more.
Jesus, coming to us in our humanity, knowing limitations just like us, experiencing temptations like us, now has passed through the heavens. A human like us is now in the heavens! Therefore, let us …. he urges the reader, urges us. He avoids using forceful commands in the letter like “you must”. The many warnings are forceful enough. So we find so many let-us’s in this letter! His bold compelling urge is to hold fast our confession, hold firmly to the faith we possess. It is God’s urgent urging. (4:14-15)
Hold fast.Don’t let go of what you have experienced, what you know, confess, profess, possess, what you live by, what you live for. This can happen either by subtraction (losing it) or by addition—adding foreign ideas, new fads that are alien to the word of God. How awful to lose what has been entrusted to us. How appalling it is to see how little of God’s wonderful design is seen in today’s Christianity which has been so corrupted and subverted by pagan and worldly ideas, the ideas of men.
Think about it! Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses! In fact he in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. He was not 50% human—he was 100% human, like us, when he came here.
So (4:16), let us boldlyapproach his throne. Jesus sympathises with us and yet he rules, rules with absolute authority! And let’s draw near with confidence (bold faith) because it’s the throne of grace where mercy and grace are freely available. Grace is not merely “unmerited favour”— a common misconception. Grace is what God supplies to help us in our neediness. So what are we waiting for?
The enemy’s accusations can obstruct our approach, causing us to withdraw from the presence of God instead. But the Holy Spirit’s conviction is specific and actually points us to Jesus and his death for us—the remedy! Satan’s accusations are vague, throwing whatever he can at us. Jesus shows us how to resist, gives us sufficient grace to overcome, showers mercy on us. Let’s not be put off.
In Hebrews 5:1-3 we learn from our Jewish teacher-writer that a Jewish high priest is human and weak—such a person can be gentle and understanding. And that a high-priest does not appoint himself. Like the Jewish high priest, Jesus is human, he knows human weakness, he deals gently with us and Jesus is God’s chosen one. But in Jesus, there is a massive difference: Jesus needs no atonement for himself, but he atones for us all. He suffers for our benefit. A human priest can never do this. It is essential to know Jesus, not merely to know about him. He is alive.
Jesus was chosen as our high priest after a completely different order to that of the Jewish order—after the style, the pattern, of that mysterious figure we meet in the book Genesis, Melchizedek. We learn (5:5-6) that this different order of priest is eternal, and comes out of God Himself (a “Son”) to us, into our humanness.
One of the most fascinating of the Dead Sea Scrolls is “Pesher Melchizedek”, written in ancient times by members of the Jewish Qumran sect and hidden for 20 centuries until its discovery with the other scrolls in 1948. In this amazing scroll, Melchizedek is a historical figure who is portrayed there in the roles of kingly messiah, priestly messiah, messiah of the spirit, end-time judge, and even God! What a combination.
Jesus experienced human limitations (5:7-9) and came in our human weakness to the extent that he needed to pray constantly and passionately, loudly, tearfully to God who alone could save him from death (If it be your will, let this cup pass from me! And My God, why have you forsaken me … into your hands I commend my spirit).
We learn that even he, a Son, learned obedience through what he suffered and like us, was involved in a process of being made perfect. The (Greek) word translated perfect in v.9 means ‘complete’, ‘finished’. This most significant process was finished and necessarily here on our earth, in human form, so that he at last becomes the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.
And there is no other one named who can guarantee this eternal salvation—not in all history, not in any religion.
Note carefully : this salvation is to all who obey him. We must hear him and keeping hearing and obeying him.