As we stand on the threshold of another year it causes us to pause and consider again the greatness of the Lord who has given us so much and on whom we can lean for what lies before. The writer to the Hebrews presents in many ways the greatness of the Lord in order to display how much we can rely on Him. Turn your mind for a little to the closing verses of Hebrews 4 - such writing in Scripture encourages us on the way.
The supremacy of the Lord Jesus stands unique. In Israel no high priest had ever been addressed as the "great" high priest but the Lord is indeed our "great high priest" (Heb 4.14). All high priests in the past failed, but the Lord Jesus is marked by the perfection that only He who was sinless could possess. He stands far above and far beyond all. In the closing verses of Hebrews 2 (vv.17-18) He is described as being "made like unto his brethren", showing His manhood; He is acknowledged as being "merciful and faithful", showing His manner; He is declared to "make reconciliation for the sins of the people", showing His ministry.
The Great High Priest passed through the heavens (4.14, JND). This is recorded in Acts 1 at the end of the forty days which followed His resurrection. In the presence of the disciples, "while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (vv.10-11). He arrived at the sanctuary, the third heaven. When the two men clothed in white apparel asked the question, "…why stand ye gazing?", it indicated that there was still preaching to be carried out and work to be done to spread the gospel throughout the world.
He who arrived in the third heaven is "Jesus the Son of God". The sonship of the Lord Jesus is declared to be eternally irrevocable, never to be questioned. He who is the Son of God is indeed deity as He is also man. Little wonder that the writer of the epistle encourages the reader to "hold fast our profession" (4.14). It is Lord who helps and encourages us to be faithful in our devotion to Him.
"We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (4.15). Over the centuries it has been pointed out that here we have a double negative - "we have not", and "which cannot be touched" – that having come from the pen of the writer to emphasis the force of the truth he is conveying. "We have not an high priest" who is ineffective, who "cannot be touched". If we had a High Priest who could not be touched by our condition we would have no hope. But our High Priest is able to be touched. We see here the sympathy of the Lord for those who feel weakness when tempted. Our High Priest was tempted by the devil and therefore He takes care to be close to those who are passing through days of temptation as the adversary seeks to be victorious in his sinful plans. He sought in three ways to cause the Lord to sin, just as Adam had sinned (Mt 4.1-11; Lk 4.1-13). How mighty is the Lord who at Calvary conquered the enemy!
The exhortation of the closing verse of Hebrews 4 is encouraging: "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace…" (v.16). This exhorts us to approach, in a priestly manner, the throne which is characterised by grace. What support we receive as we call on Him to be with us through a trial, as the adversary seeks to pull us down. We must remember that through Him, our great High Priest, "…we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need".