Our Great High Priest
In a recent sermon I was commenting on Jesus’ ability to enter into our pain and suffering at our deepest point of need. The writer of Hebrews in the 4th chapter says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as you are-yet was without sin” (v.15 NIV). Jesus didn’t face every identical circumstance that we may experience but He faced trials common to the human experience. Jesus dealt with the fundamental issue of pain in a powerful way. We see in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus’ struggle with a desperate sense of loneliness and terror as He faced the realization that because He was going to become a sin offering for all of humanity that He was going to be separated from His heavenly Father. In Matthew’s gospel we see Jesus’ words when He says, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death; tarry here, and watch with me” (26:38 KJV). The next verse continues the same theme of struggle and despair when Jesus’ prayed “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt,” (26:39 KJV).
Wow, what an incredible turmoil of soul Jesus experienced on our behalf. Jesus felt what it was like to be human and all the pain and hurt of separation that is experienced in humanity. He can connect with us at our deepest point of need because of His own experiences. Jesus as a sin bearer is also the one who sympathizes with us in the cause and effect of living in fallen humanity. Pain is a real equalizer; it knows no racial, cultural, national or time and space barriers. As the hymn writer wrote some 200 years ago, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
That’s an amazing thought, yet it’s very biblical. Notice again what the writer of Hebrews says in the next verse after telling us that Jesus sympathizes with our pain. Verse 16 says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” (v.16, NIV). Because our great high priest has been tempted in all ways like us we are invited to come with boldness or confidence into the throne room with our petitions. What a great thing to receive mercy and to find grace in our time of need all because our high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, has gone through the hell-fire of temptation on our behalf. Let us make sure that 2013 finds us bowing at the throne of God, pursuing Jesus so that we too may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.
For God’s Glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo