Our Great High Priest
Open Your Bible
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.