14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16)
As is often the case with Hebrews our author weaves together several themes into a single verse or paragraph. In this section he again exhorts his audience to remain firm in their confession (see Heb. 3:1, 10:23, and 11:13) and (re)introduces Jesus as (1) high priest, (2) son of God, and (3) human who has “been tested as we are.” This combined theme is one he addressed in chapter 2 (and I addressed two weeks ago) and is clearly central to the author’s message.
The confession the author speaks of is perhaps best summarized in Heb. 2:9 “we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Jesus became human and died for the world yet now reigns in glory with God.
In this passage, Heb. 4:14-16, we are encouraged to hold firm to our confession specifically because Jesus now lives and is active as our “great high priest” interceding for us before God. And it is his very humanity that should reassure us because when we are most in need of grace because of our shortcomings, he will offer his mercy, knowing our plight since he himself faced the same temptations. He did not succumb to the temptation himself, yet he knows our struggles.
People from antiquity to today have debated the divity-humanity of Jesus. The author of Hebrews, however, has no doubt and it is this unique status that enables Jesus to provide salvation to the world.
To be continued…