We have an unbelievable privilege that the pre-Christ Church didn't know. We have the freedom and the confidence to come boldly before the throne of God, in the name of Jesus, to ask whatever we wish. We are able to have fellowship and relationship with the God of the universe in a way that those before us couldn't. We no longer have to make sacrifices before we go into His presence; we no longer have access on "special days of observance" only; we no longer need a mediator to speak to God for us.
Why is this? What makes all of this available to us and not to the forefathers of our faith?
Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest.
Today the name that we get to focus on is one of my favorites. It's also a name that many do not know or understand because it's widely misunderstood and there are scores of people who still think they need a priest to confess their sins or to speak to God on their behalf. If only we all understood this precious name of Jesus and the new reality it represents, there could be great freedom in our relationship with the Lord and in our confidence before Him. Remember, God has made aspects of His character known to us that He wants us to embrace and believe, and this name for Jesus is no different. We are meant to be set free in the name of Jesus, in the knowledge of Him as our Great High Priest.
Where does this name come from?
The book of Hebrews is filled with references to Jesus as our Great High Priest, beginning in chapter 4 through the first part of chapter 10. Specifically it was written to make the case that not only is He our Great High Priest, but He is superior to the previous role of priests. It's written to show us that the old way of approaching God through the priests and sacrificial system is now obsolete and made complete in Jesus. Because of His shed blood and ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, we can now come through Him. We have a new covenant now and this new way of coming to God is far superior than the old way.
"Therefore since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 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 we are-yet was without sin." Hebrews 4:14-15
"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." Hebrews 4:16
What are some ways that Jesus is superior to the priests of the Old Testament according to Hebrews 7:22-28?
-He lives forever and never has to be replaced
-He's able to save whoever comes to God through Him
-He makes intercession for us
-He's Holy, undefiled, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the Heavens
-He doesn't need to sacrifice for His own sins first
-His sacrifice was once and for all
What does his "once and for all sacrifice" mean and why does that matter?
"Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever." Hebrews 7:27-28
-Jesus gave us an "all access pass" to the Father by paying the full price for sin one time, knowing it would be sufficient forever, for all people...for anyone who would confess and believe.
-The priests in the sacrificial system had to continually sacrifice because their own sin would un-do the cleansing they had just performed for the people. Their work was endless because their efforts were never enough. They could never maintain the standard of perfection before a holy God. And they weren't meant to. God knew this and he used the sacrificial system to show us that no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn't live up to the law on our own. We could never get "pure enough" and something always had to die in our place (the required animals) so their blood could cover our sins.
THAT is exactly why He sent Jesus to do away with that! To give us a better way, to do what we were (are) unable to do for ourselves. And that's why Jesus as the Great High Priest is far superior!
"When Christ came as High Priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect Tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption." Hebrews 9:11-12
"In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding..." Ephesians 1:7-8
His blood gave us access to the Holy Place, cleansing us as the blood of the goats and calves once did. His blood alone gives us redemption from sin. Blood had to be shed, it was a requirement of God's covenant with the people, and Jesus supplied it once and for all!
That is amazing mercy, isn't it?? A gift that is far beyond what we deserved or could attempt on our own. Jesus as High Priest is good news for us! We DO NOT have to come to God the Father through any other way or through any other person. No human needs to intercede for us, we get the privilege of coming to Him through Jesus Christ. So if we are a believer and we belong to Him, we get to come to God with confidence! Freely! Boldly! The grace that we need is found at the throne of God and it's ours to access because of Christ. He died to give us an "all access pass" and we need to use it! To rest in it. To take advantage of it. It's been made available to us and it's all because Jesus is our Great High Priest. I don't know about you, but this name for Jesus strikes such a heart of gratitude in me...I am humbled by this incredible privilege and so thankful that we no longer have to stand before the law and it's standard that we couldn't possibly keep. We get to stand in freedom and debt to One who came to fulfill the law. The requirements to be in God's presence still stand, He is Holy and we cannot come before him with sin, but Jesus made a way for us and through Him we can come in confidence.
I love this name!! And I love Jesus in a whole new way because of it. So today, maybe some questions to ask...
-How do I come into the Lord's presence? Do I rely on someone to speak for me?
-Do I try to sacrifice my way into his presence? Am I bent on doing more? Working harder?
-Have I forgotten the freedom with which God invites me to come?
-Do I ask boldly and in confidence, believing that God is for me and my sin has already been atoned for, once and for all by Jesus?
All of this is the result of Jesus as our Great High Priest. So if you've been feeling like there is no way you can talk to God about your life, about your struggles, about your hopes and dreams, about your disappointments...YOU especially need to know today, that Jesus came and sacrificed once and for all, for YOU, so that YOU could have a relationship with the Father. So that YOU could come without reservation or doubt, knowing that He does hear YOU and He does love YOU. You don't need a priest and you don't need the shed blood of a goat...You need JESUS, He's your Great High Priest now! What a gift!
With my kids today...
We have been talking a lot about prayer. About how special it is to talk to God, whenever you want. I chatted with Carter this morning about that, he had a bad dream last night and I was reminding him that God is always awake! He can always talk to him and tell him when he's scared, or when he needs him or whenever he wants to thank him. Without missing a beat, he told me "But Mom, I can't hear God. He's way up in the sky!" Well the beautiful thing is that we can hear him through His Word and he grows up we'll help him recognize that, but it doesn't change the fact that God always hears us. Always. We love to give our kids the opportunity to pray at every meal. Sometimes they want to, sometimes they don't. But most of the time someone is always volunteering. Lately Carter has been facing the same hurdle...he starts strong with a "Dear Jesus, help us to be ok..." and then he stops and looks at Trav and I and says, "I can't know the words!" Meaning, he doesn't know or remember what else he should say. It's so sweet, it melts us every time, but we always answer him with, "Yes you do buddy! Just talk to Jesus. Tell him anything you want to." Usually with some prompts he can keep going and wrap it up, but we don't want him (or Ava) to think there are only certain "magic words" that God hears! Jesus, the Great High Priest, opened the doors (so to speak) for all of us to approach God right where we are, just as we are. Jesus is always a whisper away and kids need to know that. I love to tell my kids that because the reality is, I can't always be where they are and as hard as I try, I can't always protect them from everything. But God can and God does and whenever they are uneasy or unsure, He is right there, just a whisper of His name and they have His ear.
Praying this name of Jesus blesses you today, friends. You can call on God anytime and anywhere and it's all because of Jesus! I'm reminded to thank Him today for that incredible blessing.