Grace and Priest
I want to invite you to turn to Hebrews 5. We’re actually going to pick up in the last couple verses, Hebrews 4, and diving into chapter 5 today. I want to set the tone for where we’re going in this book, why we are in this book. Let me just put it this way. It may be more memorable this way. Jesus isn’t who you think he is. He is who he says he is.
I think sometimes in our culture we get really confused with the identity of God because we sort of just make God what we want him to be, and then we live in light of what we want him to be, sort of forcing him into our box. What we find out in that religious way of thinking is in any other fashion you do that other than allow God to be God, your god ends up bankrupting you. It’s really just a form of idolatry to serve yourself.
What we want to do this summer is we just want to look at the simplicity of Jesus. God created you to know him, enjoy him, and to delight in him in all of eternity. The joy for which you were created to discover in life is found in God because you’re created for his purpose. It’s not until you understand the idea of who God truly is that you can begin to live for the reason for which you were created.
God made this walk in life pretty simplistic as it’s communicated to us in Scripture. Religion has a tendency to complicate it, and Jesus has a tendency to beat the snot out of religion and let us just enjoy him. Anytime you’re stressed out about what it means to walk with God, it’s quite possibly because you’ve got a little too much religion and not enough of Jesus in your life. We’re just looking at the Book of Hebrews to discover what that means.
Hebrews starts off in a very powerhouse type way for us. It’s written to the Jews, which is why the title for us today when we read it in English it’s called the Book of Hebrews, but he starts with the idea of prophet. “In times past God spoke to the prophets, today he speaks to us in Jesus,” which would have woken the Jews up because the prophets had been silent for hundreds of years. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to identify Jesus in title and categorically for us to sort of put things in perspective. We like to just define things to help our minds at ease. If we’re unfamiliar with things, sometimes we don’t like the ambiguity of life.
The Book of Hebrews is really helping understand the identity of Jesus. He does it in several ways. He does it in the titles of the Old Testament, and he does it through systems of sacrifice that were represented in the Old Testament. The reason God created titles in the Old Testament for individuals and the system of sacrifice was to create shadows that would ultimately point us to everything culminating in Christ. You see this in the beginning of Hebrews, you’re going to see this through the rest of book.
In Hebrews 1, Jesus is the Prophet, he’s God, he’s King, and in chapter 2, verse 17, he gives us the title of Priest. He tells us he’s better than the angels, he’s greater than Moses. It’s going to go on from here, and it’s going to show us that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. We’ve talked about Jesus being the Sabbath already. Jesus is the Lamb, Jesus is the temple, all of these are shadows for us to see how everything created in the Old Testament culminates itself in Christ.
In fact, if I were just to open up in the Book of Hebrews 4:14, that’s exactly what the author wants you to think of. He says this, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who is passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Our confession is rooted in everything that the identity of Jesus is. Jesus isn’t who you believe he is. Jesus is who he says he is. It’s significant to our walk in living in life to see who he is in the light of how he has communicated himself.
In Hebrews 10:23, in talking about confession, this is our theme verse. It says this from the book, “Let us hold fast our confession of our hope without wavering. He who promised is faithful.” The reason the author wants to bring us to this point, to seeing the faithfulness of Jesus, culminating with everything in Christ, is because life can shake you up. The question you’ve got to answer when life gets rocky is where is your foundation? What do you put hope in?
If you think about the people that the Book of Hebrews is written to, it’s written to the Jews. They’re about to face some of the hardest persecution they have ever endured in life. They faced persecution up to this point, the early church was birthed out of persecution with the stoning of Stephen. The church spreads from Jerusalem all the way to Rome. They get to Rome and Nero starts persecuting the church. The emperor persecutes the church. Then the church begins to scatter again because of the persecution. That persecution is extensive. In fact the first 250 years of Christianity, 125 of those years it could cost you your life for following Jesus. So, when you’re a Jew pursuing this Christ, there is tremendous cost that you’re about to pay for your faith in Jesus. It’s alienated you from your people, and now Rome itself is about to persecute you.
In an American context, we don’t always grasp the full picture of the decision that individuals would make in this society, because the way our American structure is built, we tend to think very individualistically. It’s all about you and what you want. In other cultures throughout the world, the more predominate thought isn’t so much about individuality, but community.
What you find in many cultures that are community based, there’s also religion attached to community of which people find their identity. So we’re not talking about in the Hebrew context them just walking away from a belief system and entering into a relationship with Jesus. We’re talking about people that are walking away from a religion that has built the system of life around them. It’s where their identity is. Now they find themselves in their faith alienated from their people. This is a very complex place for them to be because their culture has found identity in this religion, and so to remove themselves from their people religiously is to alienate themselves from community. In that, where is your foundation?
Even religiously, if you look at religion and you look at Jesus and you choose to embrace relationship with Jesus over religion, there is still certain comforts that you grew up in that type of environment of community where they find identity. It has you reeling. Where do you go? How can you draw near to God? In some cases, people learned to put their hope in a religious leader that they feel or that they idolize in helping them approach God. How can they get close to them? Then as far as the culture goes, in turning to Jesus, am I betraying my people? What do you hope in?
Jesus even said in his own communication to his disciples that father would be against son, and mother would be against daughter, that to pursue him, there is cost. To do that, you need a foundation. You need a hope. You need to be able to draw near to God.
This is where Hebrews 4:14 starts. If you remember last week, we talked about rest, right? Sabbath. God created you. It’s not just Sunday that’s a special day. Everything that God created is sacred. The Sabbath is only intended to point us to … or what God created as the Sabbath was only intended to point us to Jesus who is the ultimate Sabbath for you to rest in him.
In light of that thought, he then starts Hebrews 4:14. It says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest,” a priest in the Old Testament was one who represented you before God. So he starts off with this idea that once you walk out of this religious system, you’re left wondering, “How can I draw near to God? Where can I put my hope? Who’s going to help guide me, direct me?” It says here in this, “Jesus is the great high priest who has passed through the heavens, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
Not only is Jesus priest, but this section of Scripture refers to him as the great high priest. In Israel’s day, they had the high priest position, but even beyond that, now Jesus is the great one. You think about in Israel’s day what the high priest was, to be a priest you had to come from the tribe of Levi. To hold the position of high priest, you had to even come from the family of Aaron out of the tribe of Levi, and the high priest position was really only held by one person until they died.
Now it’s saying in this passage that beyond all that, Jesus is the great high priest. How so? If you were a Jew, you would need to know that, right? If I’m going to put my confidence here, how do I know that Jesus becomes that position for me and what I need in life? When you think about the Book of Hebrews, it’s beginning to lay that foundation in his identity position. He is King, he is Prophet, chapter 2, verse 17, chapter 3, verse 1, he is Priest. It begins to give this identity of Jesus that what makes him great is that he has taken all of the positions of Israel. They weren’t held by any single person. They were held by multiple people. Now all of it culminates itself in Christ.
Even beyond that, it’s saying in this passage that this high priest has passed through the heavens. What this author is doing is he’s beginning to draw imagery. By the way, I’m going to throw out a lot of text of Scripture that if you want to study this week, I don’t have time to dive into it all. I want to give you some passages that you can look up that relate to this text.
I think when this author’s writing Hebrews 4, what he’s thinking of in his mind is the calling of Aaron as high priest in Scripture, and I think most specifically Leviticus 16. The calling of Aaron is in Exodus 28, but in Leviticus 16 this particular section of Scripture is talking about the Day of Atonement.
When you think about Israel’s history, God tells Israel to create a temple. When it was first created, it was called a tabernacle. The word tabernacle literally means the dwelling place of God. If you wanted to meet with God, you went to this tabernacle. Here’s the interesting thing about the tabernacle or the temple. It only ever had two rooms. Only two rooms in this tabernacle. We’re going to take time in two weeks when we get to chapter 8 and chapter 9 to talk in detail about this temple, but there were only ever two rooms in the temple.
What made it even further unique is that in these two rooms, the first room the priest could enter, but only the priest could enter it. In the second room, only the high priest could enter, and the high priest could only enter that room one time a year. That’s described for us in Leviticus 16 when he would go into this room. When he would go into this room, he would pass through a veil that separated the two rooms. When he would walk in behind that veil, there was what’s called the Ark of the Covenant, or the Mercy Seat, and to Israel it was a picture of the throne of God. The Shekinah glory, or the presence of God was said to dwell here.
One time a year on the Day of Atonement, according to Leviticus 16, the high priest would go in there. He would first make a sacrifice for his own sins by the sprinkling of blood. Then he would make a sacrifice for the people of Israel by the sprinkling of blood. When he walked into this room, it was important that he carry with him incense that were smoking and coals that were burning that created further smoke. When he gathered at this Mercy Seat, what it was supposed to do was cloud, that smoke would cloud the glory of God, because if the high priest walked in to the presence of God, it would strike him dead.
In comparison to this, we have this building as a church where we gather together, it’s like we all show up to worship, but we hang out in the parking lot and no one actually ever goes in the building. That’s insane to think about, right? What it was to Israel was the demonstration of the holiness of God, how pure it was, that they created this entire structure to demonstrate to them this present holiness of such a glorious God that only one individual could enter into one time a year. He passed through the veil.
What it’s saying to us in Hebrews 4:14 is it’s now describing Jesus as passing through the heavens, and if you read, we’ll see this in weeks to come, that in Hebrews 8 and 9, that God calls his presence in the heaven, the place where he rules and reigns from, the heavenly temple. He says about the earthly temple that it’s only a shadow of the heavenly presence of God ruling and reigning. When it’s talking about Jesus going through the heavens, it’s this description of passing through the veil as your high priest.
Then it goes on from there in verse 15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Verse 15 is saying Jesus relates to us. Jesus cares about you. What do you struggle with? What do you fight against? What do you give up? What do you sacrifice? Jesus relates to.
I said in the beginning, Jesus is writing this to a group of people that are alienating themselves from their own friends and family. What he’s saying in this verse, and Jesus experienced the same thing. You think about when Jesus was crucified, why he was crucified. He called himself the King of the Jews. In mockery, he was beat and that phrase hung over his head. As he hung on the cross, they taunted him, and Jesus still said, “Father forgive.” Jesus knows what it’s like for the sake of truth and love to be alienated by his own people. He’s saying in this passage, not to take the easy road, but to understand that Jesus relates to you and Jesus take this position for you, that you can draw near to him.
Then in verse 16, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.” Again, Leviticus 16, thinking about going through that veil, the Ark of the Covenant was called the Mercy Seat. It’s saying this throne of grace of where Jesus finds himself is the place where you go to receive mercy. The throne of grace is the antitype to the Mercy Seat in the heavenly tabernacle.
Jesus in saying this about himself then compares his position to that of chapter 5 of Hebrews and begins to describe for us the title of high priest from a human perspective created in Old Testament law. It says, “For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men and things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin.” So they’re taken from the tribe of Levi, appointed from the house of Aaron, in order to make sacrifices of sin. The priest represents men before God, or the people of Israel before God. In verse 2, “He can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided since he himself also is beset with weakness, and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins as for the people, and so also for himself. No one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.”
It’s saying to us in verse 3, this priest isn’t perfect. He has to make sacrifices for his own sins before he can make sacrifice for other people, and he has to do it continually because no sacrifice is ever sufficient because people are always sinful, including the priest.
Because people are always sinful, including the priests. And, in this position, he doesn’t take this to himself, but God gives it to him. When you consider the position of High Priests in Israel’s day, it was a sacred position. God guarded this position, God maintained it, and the Tribe of Levi, the House of Aaron … In fact, when you read the Old Testament, you see different individuals in the course of the Old Testament trying to take on the position of priest and God punishing them for it. This was sacred, holy, and identified the holiness of God. In fact, King Saul in First Samuel chapter 13, the first king in Israel, had the kingdom ripped away from him by God for acting as a priest. Cora, who led in the rebellion with some other individuals, tried to make themselves priests in number 16 and God judged them.
King Usiah was struck with leprosy for the same reason. Second Chronicles chapter 26, but God appointed Aaron to the sacredness of this. And the very existence of this priesthood system of the Old Testament of the sacrifices gave evidence that man is estranged from God. But it’s an act of grace on God’s part, in which he institutes the whole Levitical sacrificial system to give the people opportunity to come before God. And while it was gracious for God to institute Levitical law, what you see in the evidence of the Old Testament is that it was not sufficient or an end in itself but merely a picture of what was to come as it culminated in Jesus who becomes that lamb and that High Priest. And so in verse 5 and verse 6 of this section of Scripture becomes the significant hinge point to understand what’s being communicated in this chapter about the identity of Jesus and all that he would fulfill.
In verse 5, it says this, “So also Christ did not glorify himself so as to become a High Priest but he who said to him, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you.'” Just as he says also in another passage, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizadek.” And I’m gonna say this and hopefully I say it multiple times in this book, the New Testament is written by Jews and when they’re quoting the Old Testament like they are in verse 5 and verse 6, those capitalized sentences, they’re saying to us that the picture of what Jesus fulfills in the New Testament has already been declared in the Old Testament. So if you wanna understand the significance of his position as High Priest, you’ve got to look at these passages in the Old Testament in their context. It is so important when you see Old Testament passages quoted, not to just dive past them but to stop for a minute, pause, look from where it’s quoted, go back and understand that passage because it adds such beautiful imagery to what’s being communicated.
In chapter 5 verse 5 and 6, these are two of those verses that gives us that powerful punch to the identity of Jesus. And in fact, I would tell you this about verse 5, it says, “You are my son, today I have begotten you.” This section of Scripture is quoted multiple times in the NEW Testament. It’s quoted when Jesus begins his ministry at his baptism. It’s quoted twice in the Book of Hebrews. Peter quotes it in his Epistles. And this quote represents the identity of Jesus. If you remember how the story goes, John the Baptist is the forerunner to Jesus, declaring the kingdom that is to come, calling people to repent, telling them to make straight the paths because the king is coming. Jesus shows up and his declaration is, “Behold, the kingdom of God’s at hand. Repent and believe.” Jesus is coming to present this kingdom, to bring you a piece that you could know God for all of eternity.
But when Jesus begins his ministry, he goes down to the Jordan River and he is baptized and at his baptism, the father speaks and the spirit descends and the spirit when it’s descending is anointing Jesus for his ministry. Oftentimes when Psalm chapter 2 is quoted, it’s pointing to the kingship of Jesus. Jesus is anointed for his ministry as king who is come to deliver his kingdom. In fact, Psalm chapter 2 verse 7 where this comes from, is considered by Israel as a kingship Psalm. In fact, they say it’s a messianic kingship Psalm. They would recite this before their kings in Israel’s day but they ultimately knew that a king could not fulfill all of Psalms chapter 2, an earthly king but this had to be the Messiah who was going to be their ultimate king. And when Jesus is baptized, it is the father that declared this Psalm over his son as the king of king and lord of lord. And Jesus is anointed for ministry as that king and he say, “The father, you are my beloved son, today I have begotten you,” to help us recognize Psalm chapter 2 is Jesus now fulfilled in the flesh.
But here’s what’s also interesting about Hebrews chapter 5 verses 5 and 6 as the author wants us to recognize that not only is Jesus anointed to be king, he’s also anointed to be priest. And the reason we know that is, because in verse 6 he then quoted Psalm 110. In quoting Psalm 110, this Psalm’s already being quoted in Hebrews. It was quoted in Hebrews chapter 1 verse 13. It talked about the ruling nature of Jesus but it says this, in verse 4 of Psalm 110 is where they’re quoting this, it says, “You are my priest forever according to the order of Melchizadek.” What’s interesting if you study Psalm 110, I’d tell you this week, if you wanna read it, it’s a good Psalm to read. This Psalm culminates two identities of Jesus in one chapter of the Bible. You see, within this chapter the father talking about the son and him ruling and reigning.
And then in verse 4, it also talks about the son being after the order of Melchizadek, which is a priestly position and being after the order of Melchizadek, it says that he is ruling forever. And so it’s talking about him being a king forever, ruling as priest forever and this identity in Jesus after the order of Melchizadek. Now what in the world is he bringing up Melchizadek? I told you not look at the screen, how many of you can even spell that, all right? Who was this Melchizadek? I gotta tell ya if you study in the Bible, there are only two chapters in the Old Testament that even talk about him, Psalm 110 and Genesis chapter 14. In the New Testament, it’s Hebrews chapter 5 to 7. So if you wanna study Melchizadek, by all means have fun this week, that’s all you’ve got to look at, all right?
But this Melchizadek figure becomes important and especially to the Jews because Hebrews is written to the Jews. Here’s the question you have if you were a Jew. I can see how Jesus could be king. He comes from the Tribe of Judah, which is of the lineage of David and a promise in Samuel chapter 7 verse 14 is David’s kingdom will be forever and ever. So the Messiah obviously had to come from the kingdom of David in order for that king to reign forever and ever. But I can’t make sense of him being a priest. Because in order to be a priest you had to be a Levite. In order to be a higher priest you had to be from Aaron. How if Jesus is from Judah can he be a High Priest? And the answer is, his priestly lineage doesn’t come from Levi? Where does it come from? Melchizadek.
Melchizadek becomes an important person in order to understand the position of Jesus. It’s when Jesus’ talked about being your higher priest it’s from the position of Melchizadek. Now fortunately for us, in Hebrews chapter 7, it lays out the qualifications of what it takes to hold a priestly position after the order of Melchizadek. And I just showed you for a minute, this is what it looks like. Hebrews chapter 7 verse 2, in talking about Melchizadek it says this, “To whom also Abraham a portion a tenth part of all the spoils was first of all, by the translation of his name, King of Righteousness and then also the King of Salem, which is the King of Peace.” Here’s what’s it’s saying in Hebrews chapter 7 verse 2, “Abraham was the first Jew. He had Judaism. He could have been liked to the King in Melchizadek.” That’s good for you, I’m a Jew, I’m gonna do my thing over here.
But rather than do that, he looked at Melchizadek and he paid homage to Melchizadek. He revered the position of Melchizadek. He saw Melchizadek as the King of Peace, the King of Righteousness. And though being a Jew, he still in his Judaism, went to Melchizadek to honor that position above his position as Jew. And then in verse 3, it gives the qualification as to what it takes to hold the position of Melchizadek. Look at this, without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life but made like the son of God, he remains a perpetual priest. So what it’s saying, in order to after Melchizadek, the only one that can ever fulfill that position is God himself because everything else in this world has a beginning and an end. But what it’s saying in this passage of Scripture is that Jesus fulfills this position because in his life he has no beginning and end, there is no mother and father.
He is the origin of all things and in that he is neither beginning of days or end of life. But he’s made like the son of God and therefore he remains a priest perpetually. You know what happened with Levites of the House of Aaron as High Priests? They died and they always had to appoint another one. But Jesus now having this position of Melchizadek is not only saying it’s impossible for anyone else to have this position but himself holds this position forever. So when we talk about the authority of Jesus and everything culminating in him, Jesus holds the position of Melchizadek and King as Psalm 110 tells us prophetically before Jesus even arrives because he holds a Melchizadek position as priest. And it goes on describe for us, Hebrews chapter 5 verse 7, talking about Jesus and the days of his flesh. He offered up both prayers and supplication with loud crying and tears to the one able to save him from death and he was heard because of his piety.
So let’s begin to describe the beauty of seeing him as High Priest and what he endured for you. Prayers and supplications and loud crying and tears, he’s talking to the father who brings in the life from death because of his piety. This idea of piety is the word for reverence or if I said it in another way, humility. It’s as if to say in our lives, who sits on your throne? Like when you wake up tomorrow morning, what’s the basis for the decisions that you make? Is it because you’re Lord of your life or because God is? Humility is the language of God. If you wanna draw near to God, the Apostle Paul says this in Romans 12, “I beg you brothers by the mercies of God that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice holding acceptable to God,” which is your reasonable act of service or worship.
God didn’t create you for your glory. God created you for his glory. But here’s the great gain in living for God’s glory, you experience tremendous joy because the purpose for which you were created is only found in him. God knows the reason for your design better than you do. But there becomes a place in trust in all of lives for we’ve got to submit ourselves and take ourselves off the throne and trust in God that he knows better. And in that there is great joy. And same in Jesus, that he practiced humility or demonstrated humility in the flesh and to the point that he’s in tears crying out on your behalf as High Priest and I think in this story what they have pictured is communion, the Last Supper. But I think the Last Supper’s kind of interesting. I might have a different take on it than different people but when the Last Supper was partook of with his disciples in the upper room, there were four cups that were celebrated in the Passover celebration.
And the last cup, I don’t think Jesus partook of the last cup and I’ll tell you why. The last cup, I think Jesus blessed it, Jesus pronounced it but Jesus didn’t partake of it because the last cup is a representation of the second coming of Christ. That’s what it means. And Jesus tells this disciples as they’re breaking bread over this cup that I’ll drink it and kneel with you in the kingdom. Jesus is using the picture of communion to remind us that he is returning but here’s something else that’s interesting with the cups. In one of the cups there is placed bitter herbs in them and bitter herbs are a representation of sin during the Passover celebration. And tradition goes that when Passover was celebrated, that when they would drink the cup they had to drink it deep before they can allow it to pass so as this cup goes around, each individual will take the cup, they were to drink it deep, as they drunk it deep they were allowed to pass the cup to the person beside of them.
Until it got to the last person who was to take the last drink. In the last drink there were the bitter herbs, which was a representation of sin and whoever got the last cup had to drink it deep before they could let the cup pass. And they were to drink of the sin, bitter herbs. And Jesus in the Garden of Eden as he’s crying out in Luke chapter 22 verse 42, he says to the father, “God, let this cup pass. Nevertheless, not my will be done but your will.” When Jesus is praying that prayer, he’s not saying to the father, “Look God, I don’t wanna go to the cross.” Some people read that passage and think that’s what Jesus is saying. Look, Jesus understood his whole life was about his death. In fact, in Hebrews 13, it tells us for the joy set before him he endured the cross. He knew his life was about his death. He’s not praying don’t let this cross happen. What Jesus is praying, as he thinks about his life that’s about to be offered as communion, as the sacrifice for sin, he’s asking for the strength to take the last drink of his cup so he can let this cup pass.
God let his cup pass. Nevertheless, not will but your will be done. This prayer, this crying is for you. The strength he’s begging for in taking on sin, it’s for you. And so it’s saying this about verse 7 in Jesus and then it goes on verse 8, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered in having been made perfect he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal life.” So it’s contrasting this thought, “Although he was a son,” meaning he’s God, he knows everything. He also learned obedience, now it’s not saying he learned obedience like God didn’t know because he’s God, he knows. But he’s actually learning obedience because he’s become flesh and so what he’s learning is what he knows experientially now. It’s being played out. And so it goes on from there in describing this in learning obedience as being made perfect or being made complete.
Jesus in his life has now demonstrated himself as that perfect or complete sacrifice for you because he has walked and learned obedience as that sufficient sacrifice of your life and it calls us again in this passage to obey. I want us to know it’s not telling you to obey for salvation. It’s not saying, “Now go obey God so that you can experience salvation.” But what it rather is saying, it’s saying obey God because he has brought you salvation. So the call in this passage is for trusting in God. It’s looking at this High Priest and what he sacrificed in you and now obeying what he’s communicated to you in that he has given his life and called you to trust in him. That brings me to this, let me make some application for us.
Which brings me to this. Let me make some application for us. I’m gonna tie all this in for us from the beginning of Chapter 5, actually the end of Chapter 4 and into the end of Chapter 5. It says this, “Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who’s passed through the Heavens, Jesus, the son of God.” Here’s what it tells you to do, “Let us hold fast our confession. Out of everything in life that can rock you, this foundation, the identity in Jesus and where you are in Him, hold to this. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
Then it tells you this again, “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace, to help in the time of need.” Come boldly to this throne of grace it says. Now just consider the description it gives for our approach to Jesus. The throne of grace. This is an incredible phrase for us to think about in terms of this king. Religious mentality, you never know if you ever done enough. But because of His grace, it’s calling you in this passage to come boldly before this king.
If I just, maybe in a sobering question, ask you for a moment, what is God obligated to give you? Or what does God owe you? I know what God has given you, but I don’t know that God has to give you anything. In fact, in 1 John Chapter 4, it tells us that God is love. And love is about giving itself away. In fact, love is about the sacrifice of self to the benefit of another. And so God is love, and by His nature He gives Himself away to the benefit of others. Even to the expense of you being in sin.
God loves you where you are, and this passage, it’s referring to this as a throne of grace. When you study thrones in scriptures it relates to God. The Bible really only gives us two thrones. It either gives us a throne of judgment or a throne of grace. In this passage, it’s calling you to this throne of grace, and it tells us to let us go boldly to this throne of grace, which shows us the sufficiency of who Jesus is. So in Verse 14, don’t give up your confession. Why? Because Jesus was victorious and you can come boldly to Him at any time. Not only does it show you the sufficiency of Jesus, but also shows you the freedom we have on Christ.
Now you think, Old Testament, New Testament here. Old Testament, you had a High Priest. When you screw up, when you sin, it’s gonna cost you ’cause you gotta go buy a lamb. Right? And you take that lamb to the temple and you make a sacrifice. You’re like, “Here I am. I sinned. I gotta make this sacrifice.” And in some cases it’s total burnt offering, so none of that lamb is gonna be used for your family. It’s all of it consumed because of your sin. Now you think about all of this process, you sin, you’re alienated in your relationship with God, you gotta find a mediator, you approach that mediator, you go through this whole process. And then five minutes later, you’re walking about the temple, and before you know it, someone does something stupid and you say something stupid back about it, and you’re like, “Man, I gotta go buy another lamb. And I ain’t got time for this.” And you gotta take your lamb and go back to the temple and make another sacrifice. How inefficient that is with your time.
And this is what it’s saying in the freedom of Christ. Come boldly. No doubt the temple shows the holiness of God. But no amount of religious work could satisfy, because the human heart goes wayward so fast. But it says in this passage, come boldly. This is an impossibility religiously, I think, to receive this type of grace. In religion, you’re just constantly performing, never knowing if it’s enough. But here in this passage, it talks about we receive mercy because of this throne of grace. And when you think about grace in the Bible, I would tell you if you wanna look up a few verses in the Bible, Romans 11:6 it tells us, “If works are added to it grace is no longer grace.” Or Ephesians 2: 8,9, “For by grace are you saved through faith not of yourselves. It’s the gift of God not of works lest anyone should boast.”
Grace is totally unmerited favor from God. It has nothing to do with what you do. It has to do with everything He has done for you. So it tells us to come boldly to this throne of grace. What makes Christianity different than every other religion in this world, is this grace that allows us to find forgiveness in Christ. Because you think, even in dating the beginning of human history, when Adam and Eve sinned, they have no idea how God’s gonna respond to it. But in their religion they run away from God. They run away from God, they hide from God, they clothe themselves, they pretend like God’s not around, they try to perform these religious works to appease God, but it’s God who pursues them and extends to them grace.
It’s God who loves them where they are. And God who promises them a sacrifice. And God who gives us all the opportunity to come boldly. Boldly to the throne of grace. Not because of what you do, or have done, but because of what He’s done for you. Let us go boldly to the throne of grace shows us positionally in Him. When we talk about coming boldly to this throne, I want us to know, this is every believer. Every believer in Christ. In the Old Testament it was the High Priests. In the New Testament it’s every believer that has this opportunity. Religiously we tend to develop spiritual elitism that some of us are more spiritual than others. Right? Sometimes we might even elevate pastoral position, like there’s something more special about when I pray than you pray. I just want you to know this morning, that’s garbage.
What Jesus did for you was enough for you to come before Him at any time, in any moment, boldly pursuing Him. In fact, when Peter thinks about this, he says it like this 1 Peter Chapter 2, talking about everyone, “You are a chosen race. A royal priesthood. A holy nation of people for God’s own possession so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into this marvelous light.” So it’s God pursuing you in sin. God pursuing you in darkness. God bringing you in His light. And the title He gives you, look at this, it matches the identity of Jesus. Royal priesthood. King Melchizedek. Since you belong to the king, you have royalty in the king and you have access to the king, just like the priests. It’s not this spiritual elitism. It’s not even gender based.
It’s like in the Old Testament, it was only from one tribe, it was only from the House of Aaron, and it was only dudes. In the New Testament, it doesn’t matter. All of you, all of us, come boldly to this throne of grace. Here’s what happens because of it. It gives us a beautiful position, guys. That now just as Jesus calls you to experience Him relationally at any moment, at any time, Sabbath rest. You also represent the people of this world, too. This king, this priest. You become a priest. Or I guess a priestess or something, I don’t know. But you have this position before God to represent the world.
And here’s how Hebrews ends. Hebrews Chapter 5, he says, “Concerning Him, we have much to say. And it’s hard to explain,” talking about Jesus and Melchizedek, “since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles, the oracles of God. And you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness. For he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
So what it’s saying is because of what Jesus has done, you can approach God at any time. And you need to understand how you can represent God to this world in that position. How beautiful it is. But in this case he’s saying, and people aren’t living it out. It’s become ineffective. In fact, he compares it to partaking of milk rather than meat. It’s sorta, I don’t know if I should put this picture in your mind, but it’s sorta like this. It’s like when a mother feeds their one-year-old, completely natural, supposed to happen in life. But man if you’re still doing that at 15, dude that looks way weird. Way weird! Do not do that, right? And it’s time to have a steak, buster. It’s not gonna cut it with just milk anymore. You need some meat in that diet. You are incredibly insufficient, right?
And it’s saying that about you. Like in the Old Testament, here’s the priest and they elevated him in such a wonderful position. I know the New Testament has positions of eldership and pastor. I know that. And I don’t wanna make light of that. But I just want us to understand how powerful of a position you have in Christ, and the way you live it out in this world. Because not only can you approach Jesus at any time with any need, you can powerfully live for Him in this world to the point that you see change.
Let me just tell you that practically works. In your life, you will never come to Jesus unless you see your need for Jesus. I could read you everything that Jesus did for you, and crying out for you on the cross, for your sins, but until you recognize that you are sinful, alienated from God, you will never embrace that. You need Jesus. If there were any other way, Jesus would not have done what He has done for you. And so you need Jesus. But here’s the powerful thing. In God pursuing you in His grace, despite your sin, that grace transforms your life. Jesus is honest with you. He’s truthful. You need Him. You need Him. You cannot live, especially for eternity, without Him. You need Him.
And even in being truthful, He loves you deeper than anyone ever loved you. I think one of the most beautiful stories for me in seeing that played out is Jesus coming to the woman at the well. Her life’s a mess. Jews didn’t talk to Samaritans. Especially her. And she was alienated by Samaritans. Not only did Jews not talk to Samaritans, but Samaritans aren’t even talking to this woman. And Jesus meets her and Jesus is truthful with her, and Jesus is honest with her. But Jesus still loved her at a depth in her life that she had never been loved, and that grace transformed her.
Look guys, when you talk about being a priest in this world, this is what I want you to understand. This is the way the world operates. When the world sees something ugly happening that it does not like, they use it as an excuse to be a rear ended return. Like, you were an idiot, and now you justify my behavior to act like a rear end back to you. I’m completely justified because look what they did. And that’s the way the world works. Not Jesus.
Jesus is truthful, but He still offers a place of redemption. He still offers a place of grace. And I hate watching it in the news today, like someone does something that’s foolish and dumb, and everyone develops their opinions, and everyone just blasts everyone else constantly. I think there’s an important place to share truth. Man, not with such venom towards someone else. Everyone’s created in the image of God. And no one’s gonna get anywhere good by tearing each other down.
I think in our society, in recent decades, where’ve we best seen that? Where’ve we best seen someone just living with a statement of truth in the midst of evil, and demonstrating the beauty of Christ by example. From me, if I just thought of a figure historically. Every reason in the world to fire hate with hate, but you know what won the day? Grace. You know what changes hearts? Grace. You know the best person to speak that grace? Is the one who’s been wronged. That is power over your enemies.
The same thing is true with Jesus. I was an enemy of Christ but you know what changed me? It’s grace. I think of this week, a friend messaged me, one of my, I guess, heroes I should say in Christianity, passed away. When I was a young guy, I was a punk. I’d like to punch you and take your money before I … something like that, I don’t know. Something violent and mean before I did anything gracious. And there was this was this older man that was in our neighborhood, or in our area where I lived, and he was like 50, 60 years older than me. And I hung out with a crowd that were just a bunch of punks together, doing punk things all the time.
And this guy, when he would see us in the streets, would just come up to us and we would always hear this weird laugh, and sometimes he wore suspenders. He’d be like “Heh, heh.” Like this. And this old guy would just come up, and we would look at him just like, is this weird when you’re young, this older guy coming up with this wool hair, and he’d be like, “I bet you guys think you’re tough don’t ya? Well if you’re real tough you’d follow Jesus.” And we’re like, “Who is this guy?” Here we are just being these punks, and this guy would just come up into our group, and just start talking about Jesus. And he would call us out. But do you know in my life, I never had a man do that.
And here he was truthful, but he still loved us. That group of kids that I was a part of, we ran wild because we didn’t have the figures around us to give us healthy ways of thinking. We had no idea. I mean it was easy to do. Just walk by him. Right? Look your nose down at him. They’re lower than you. Or, think about what Jesus has done. How His grace transforms your heart. Grace has power to change. And can I tell you, it’s not until you come to the throne of grace, that you’ll begin to live that grace in your life.
So Martin Luther said, in his Ebeneezer Baptist church in 1968, “Everyone,” everyone guys, “Can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Can I tell you the only place that really comes, is when you find your identity in Christ. Because it’s only in that love, that it would lead you to love others in such a way.