“We have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God” (Hebrews 4:14).
Most of us are at a disadvantage when we read this verse because we don’t have a clear notion of what a high priest is. In the Old Testament the high priest was the number one person spiritual leader. There were various levels and orders of priests in Judaism, but there was only one high priest. He represented the nation of Israel on the Day of Atonement. On that day he would go behind the thick veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. There he would offer the blood of a goat on the golden Mercy Seat that sat atop the Ark of the Covenant. When the blood was offered in the way God prescribed, the sins of the people were atoned or covered for another year (see Leviticus 16).
That system was never meant to last forever. The high priest had to repeat the sacrifice year after year. And when one high priest died, he was replaced by another who continued the yearly sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. Now that Christ has come, the sacrificial system of the Old Testament has been abolished. Christ has become our great high priest who has passed through the heavens into the sanctuary of God. Christ’s sacrifice never needs to be repeated because through his death on the cross, he made a complete and final atonement for our sins.
He is the right person to hear our prayers because he has entered the Holy of Holies in heaven. He is Jesus (his human name) and he is also the Son of God (his divine title). Though he is not visible to us today, the same Jesus who once walked on the earth is now in heaven, having opened the way to God by his own eternal sacrifice.
Because Jesus knows how sinful we really are, we don’t have to play games when we pray. We can come to God just the way we are, clinging only to the cross and claiming nothing but the blood of Jesus as our only hope.
Because Jesus is our great high priest, we’ve got a friend in high places. We’ve got connections in heaven. We’ve got a friend at the throne of grace who delights to answer our prayers. Come boldly. Come often. Come to the throne of grace and pour out your heart to God. You will not be turned away.
We praise you, Lord Jesus, that you are able to help us in our time of need. Help us to pray boldly because we are praying in your name, Amen.
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