Have you ever felt like God was distant, that he’s “out there" somewhere? When you pray, does it feel like you’re talking to the ceiling? When you sin, do you still struggle with unresolved guilt?
Then today’s passages and devotional are for you.
I think the ancient Hebrews spoke for the overwhelming majority of humanity when they begged Moses “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” The vast majority of people who’ve walked this earth knew two things: 1) There's an Almighty God who created everything, and 2) We’re separated from this God for some reason, and it probably has something to do with this sense of guilt we’re feeling. Why do religions have priests and sacrifices and other gods as go-betweens? Most believing Greeks didn’t even try to approach Zeus himself: They worshiped some lesser god who might be able to help them or maybe plead on their behalf. That’s because people don’t feel like they can approach the Almighty on their own.
Of course, this is in stark contrast with the typical American view of God as our buddy. We tend not to have a strong sense of our sin. But as a general rule, the more religious you are, the more you rely on some sort of go-between.
Enter Jesus. Paul tells us that as surely as there’s one God, there’s also one Mediator between God and mankind. Not more than one. If any man claims to be a priest who has direct access to God that you don’t, don’t listen to him. As I pointed out a few days ago, this is why a proper understanding of the Incarnation is so important. If Jesus isn’t God, then he’s not powerful enough to save us. If he’s not fully human, he can’t be our representative before the Father, nor can he be our sin substitute.
John calls him our “advocate.” This was a legal term, literally one “called to walk alongside” someone. Now, knowing how seriously God takes sin, we need to focus our energies on not sinning, on obeying our Father as best as we can. Sin is what nailed our Savior to the cross. But we still do it, and when we sin we have an advocate, sort of like a defense attorney.
And finally we come to the passage in Hebrews, one of my favorites portions of scripture in all the Bible. We have a great High Priest who’s gone into the highest Heavens. He’s sat down at the right hand of God the Father. And this High Priest is perfectly able to sympathize with our weaknesses, both physical and spiritual. He’s not some god like the ones on Mount Olympus who lived on high and who couldn’t relate to us. He was born into poverty in a backwater province of a nation that most people never heard of. He was a blue-collar worker, and he struggled with all the indignities, both small and great, which we do. And most importantly, he struggled with sin. He was really tempted, much more than we’ll ever experience.
Part of the good news, however, is the one way in which he can’t relate to us. He never sinned; he always obeyed the Father in everything, in matters small and great. If he wasn’t perfect, then again that would disqualify him to be our Savior. He couldn’t very well pay our debt if he was in debt himself.
So why is this truth about his priesthood so important? Because of this, our relationship is different from every other creature in the universe. To the rest of the universe, his throne is a throne of power and glory and judgment. And it's that to us too to some degree, but for us it’s primarily a throne of grace. We can approach this throne anytime, day or night, not with arrogance, but with full confidence. What’s the difference? The difference is that he invites us to do this.
When you need mercy and grace to help you in your time of need, approach his throne of grace with confidence, because you know that your High Priest is providing you with complete and immediate access.
He’s paid for it, so use it.
Here's "He Was Heard" by Michael Card
Lord Jesus, I’d never be foolish enough to approach the Father in my own merit. It’s only because of you, my Mediator, my Advocate, my High Priest, that I can approach the Father. Thank you.