Day 8

Our Great High Priest

from the Hebrews reading plan

Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, Psalm 110:1-7, Matthew 4:1-11

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, Psalm 110:1-7, Matthew 4:1-11

I used to think I had to sacrifice a lot of things in order for God to love me.

I have this vivid memory from my high school youth group. At one particular meeting, we listened to one of the “stars” of our youth group give a testimony about how he believed God was calling him to quit baseball and give all his time and energy to God. So he quit. His choice to make a big sacrifice was glorified and applauded. And I wondered, What is God calling me to sacrifice? What do I have to give up for Him to love me? What would be enough?


It took me years to identify how traumatic that message was for me. Though I don’t aim to judge one person’s actions and how they follow the promptings of the Spirit, the glamorization of that choice was embedded in my mind. I lived in fear that if I didn’t sacrifice the things I loved to do or wear or make or buy, then I wasn’t doing enough for God. I thought He would punish me instead.

And so I walked around afraid that God was going to take everything and everyone I loved away from me. I began to see my relationship with Him as a give-and-take where He only took, and I only gave. I didn’t know that is literally the opposite of what the Bible tells us.

I didn’t understand that what I owe to God is more than I could ever give. I didn’t understand that “sacrificing” wouldn’t make me a better Christian. In fact, it wouldn’t make me a Christian at all. I didn’t understand that the debt I owe to God is because of my sin, and that Jesus is the only One who could pay it. Without Jesus, I was—and I am—helpless to stand before God.

The truth is God does require something for the payment of our sins, because His is a perfect justice. But thankfully, the balance of His mercy does not rest on me. It rests solely on Jesus, who “became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9).

The closing verse of Edward Mote’s classic hymn, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” says: Oh, may I then in Him be found, / dressed in His righteousness alone, / faultless to stand before the throne. Today’s passage from Hebrews beckons us to do the same, to “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Boldness. Some translations say “with confidence,” which we have only in the security of Christ. We don’t have to approach the throne with fear, with everything we love bundled up to lay on an altar, thinking that what we have to offer is somehow going to be enough to pay for our sin—because it isn’t.

Only Jesus is enough.

Jesus is our Great High Priest (v.14). Traditionally, high priests would offer sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people and themselves, because they sinned too. But Jesus’s sinless perfection made His sacrifice the source of eternal salvation for everyone who would ever believe.

This is an eternal, unchanging truth: We are not enough. Only Christ’s righteousness allows us to approach God’s throne with confidence, to receive the grace and mercy He offers us. Thanks be to God!


Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.

Post Comments (79)

79 thoughts on "Our Great High Priest"

  1. Daisy Wyatt says:

    I can relate to this passage a lot. I’m 24 now, and it’s only in the past year or so that I’ve been able to realize how deeply rooted some false ideas about Christianity and godliness and being obedient to my Heavenly Father are in my brain. Many of these ideas I picked up going to church with my family as I grew up. For most of my youth, I remember going to my parents’ (who were in their 50s at the time) Sunday school classes and small groups. The reason for this was two-fold: 1) I couldn’t stand the youth group because much like everyday school at the time, it was clicked off, uninviting, and overall very foreign and hostile to me; and 2) when I did go, I was frustrated with the superficial nature of the message that was being presented to the teenagers. So I bailed and hung out with the older adults. Doing this had two results: I did gain deeper knowledge of some of the more technical aspects of scripture, but it also deprived me of a reliable Christian peer group. As we all know, going it alone sucks and can be really hard—enter college-age me. I was at the point in my life where in my mind, God could do His thing over there and I’ll just do my thing over here. Obviously we all know that doesn’t work for forever. But that did buy me time to grow and gave me some separation from the ideas in my head that I didn’t yet realize were false. I guess maybe in a way that God was preparing me during that time for a sort of renewal now, a fresh approach to Him. I could go on for a long time with this story, but if just one other person can relate to the struggle of hearing an incomplete version of scripture and having to overwrite mistruths and lies that have taken root in their brains, that’s enough. To that person, have faith, stick with it, regularly bury your nose in your bible, and most importantly—ask questions and seek people who can give you genuine answers that are backed up by scripture in its proper context. Don’t take anything at face value when someone proclaims it to you. The scripture even talks about testing those who would teach us, verifying that what they’re saying aligns with the word of God. For me as a kid, that wasn’t something I was yet able to do, but now, I’m in a growth spurt if you will. I still struggle lots with my day to day life and sticking with it instead of just drifting away again to do my own things. But every time I drift, that hurt returns from me not putting an emphasis on spending time with my Father. And not surprising, the God who pursues us all calls me back to Him every time if I just shut up and stop being so stubborn for a minute and humble myself once again to what He has done for me and wants to continue to do in my life.

  2. Becca McCleary says:

    yes yes yes we are not enough. we are not enough. we are not enough. i don’t think we could ever say that enough

  3. Julie says:

    I appreciate what the author was going for, and it IS important to know that in no way can we ever sacrifice enough to earn God’s love or forgiveness. Love and sacrifice is a message that is skewed by people, because we cannot fully comprehend unconditional love.
    However, that is not too say that because of Jesus we will never be called to sacrifice things we love. Nothing in this world is ours to begin with, it’s only given to us but by the grace of God. Therefore, if he asks it of us, we should be willing to give it freely. Abraham was a man of God, a man promised to be the father of many, but was still sleeping to sacrifice his son. The apostles, men that walked WITH Jesus, people that understood the significance of his sacrifice, were asked to, in all but one, forfeit their very lives.
    So, although nothing we do can earn love or salvation, only Jesus can, this doesn’t exclude us from being asked to sacrifice.

  4. Caitlyn Smedley says:

    Yes yes!!! This message and scripture so resonate with where I am right now. I just recently committed my life to Christ. I fee a lot like the Hebrews must have felt, very overwhelmed. It’s so hard in a world with so much ugliness and sin to wrap your head around the message that we are SO loved. Loved enough that God would give us his living, perfect son to die for OUR sins.
    I follow a woman on social media who I have been looking to as a role model in faith for the past several months. I’ve watched her leave her family, throw out her makeup, give up Starbucks amidst other things in the name of becoming more favorable in God’s eyes. You are so right when you say that the message is traumatic, especially in someone like me who considers themselves a brand new baby Christian who is just beginning to learn God’s word. I now truly understand that there is not enough I can do on this earth to fully atone for my sin. All I can do is love God and his Son, seek to live a life that glorifies him and do my best to repent of my sins as they come. Nothing more, nothing less. Amen.

  5. Julie H says:

    I loved all your messages. When I read scripture I couldn’t help but wonder if God is also talking a out anointing us. He said we should sit at his feet until he made a stool for our enemies. Doesn’t the next part go on about us ruling in the areas he has assigned us too? If anybody could shed light on this, I would really appreciate it. I’m afraid I’m misreading.

    1. Janee C says:

      Hebrews 5:4 says, “that no one takes this honor on himself ; instead a person is called by God, just as Aaron was.” We know from reading the bible that chosen messengers , priest , people that took great position such as Aaron, Moses, David did not suddenly decide on your own to take on a great position. They were appointed or called by God. God always anoints , equips those he calls to complete the tasks. In Psalms 110:1 it is spoken to us and David that if we are to sit by God and do life with him that he will extend his power to allow us to carry out the appointment. God empowers us to do things fully and to have complete access to it.

  6. Audrye Williams says:

    Amen! I also felt outcasted by a group of 16 year old girls who acted this way in high school … I was not “good” enough because I had actually engaged in a sinful lifestyle early on … but God wanted me anyway and led me to him at 17 and gave me a powerful testimony in Jesus Christ. I have walked with him ever since and it has been 7.5 years. Those girls still follow him as well but I am have seen the Lord move in powerful ways despite my unworthiness. I am thankful that those who are forgiven much, love much and experience much of the Holy Spirit.

  7. Liz Adams says:

    This was so good. If any of you are familiar with the enneagram, I identify as a type two. I struggle constantly with trying to earn love. I catch myself constantly falling back into the rhythm of trying to earn God’s love. Reading this helps me re-focus my attention on Christ instead of myself!

    1. Melanie says:

      Another 2 here and I feel you! I struggle a lot with the idea that I can’t earn my salvation, but if I shift my focus to ‘i don’t have to’ not just ‘i can’t’, I remember how unconditionally loved I am because of what Jesus did. God has declared me worthy so I don’t need to earn worthiness. Equally comforting, I can’t do anything to lose that. It’s not based on my performance. Praise God!

  8. Alexis Maycock says:

    I can definitely identify with the author. I too grew up with that warped view shaped out of my own youth group experience and it traveled with me all through my high school, college years, and into my 20s. It took a long while for
    me to accept that Jesus was enough. The freedom of knowing He is enough – nothing like it!

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