Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We’re taking a break from our series on Esther.
I think this passage is especially fitting as we enter a season on what it means that the Son of God became Man for our sakes.
Our salvation hinges upon the Son of God becoming a man just like us.
He obeyed in our place. He was tempted and without sin.
He died for our sins in our place.
He rose again that we might have newness of life.
The wonderful reality is that He also ascended into heaven.
And yet I believe many of us do not really appreciate what this passage is communicating to us.
Do we understand that the Son of God is still fully God and fully Man?
As our Great High Priest do we ever think about how sweet this reality is?
Do we think of Christ as distant from us?
Jesus is graciously disposed toward us.
He is still as willing to receive poor sinners in heaven as He was on the earth.
My goal today is to help you to recognize how sweetly and tenderly Jesus Christ cares for you now in heaven.
Have you ever felt your thoughts drifting to how sweet it would have been to have been like Peter and John and the other disciples? That is to say,as long as there was modern medicine and internal plumbing…
How wonderful it would have been to walk next to Jesus?
How amazing it would be to experience His tender heart for you as you came to Him with your concerns and fears?
We might sin or have great troubles and go to Jesus and ask: Would you please pray for me?!
Beloved, this passage teaches us that the risen Christ still is very much tender toward You and cares deeply and understands all your struggles.
But how much can He really care? You might be asking this question.
When Jesus knew that his hour had come, that he would soon depart out of this world unto the Father, “…having loved his own, he loved them to the end.” John 13:1
He loved them forever.
In John 13, John records Jesus’ washing of the feet. The Scriptures tell us that Christ knew that His hour was upon Him.
He knew He would soon suffer the pain of the cross and the wrath of God for His own.
But He also knew that the glory that He once had would soon be restored to Him.
What do we see of Christ’s heart?
Jesus, knowing that He was about to return to the Father…
Jesus, knowing that all authority in heaven and earth would be restored to Him…
…washed His disciples’ feet!
What was Christ’s mind thinking about as He knew He was about to have glory restored to Him?
Was He thinking of the glory that was to be restored?
John tells us that His mind was upon His disciples.
His heart went out to them.
John 1:11 tells us that Christ “…came to His own…”
His own children.
His own body.
His own Bride.
Christ, as He realized He was going to go out of this world, that His disciples would remain in the world.
One might think that Christ’s heart might go to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.
They were His own as well.
His heart goes out to those Who are to remain in the world.
This world where there is much evil.
This world full of misery and sin.
Having loved His own, He loved them till the end.
So Christ stooped and took on the form of a Servant.
He would soon be in heaven and it was His last chance to show His disciples His heart by performing an outward act of utterly debased service for them.
In the midst of thoughts that He would soon have all glory and majesty, He stooped and washed their feet.
What kind of love is this?
John 14:3 records Jesus saying, in effect: I will come again for you.
He shows them and us by this that He is the bridegroom and has us as the object of His affection.
Think of the intensity and certainty of a good bridegroom.
He has made his home ready and is going to marry His bride.
All the preparations are ready.
The Bridegroom does not send others to get His Bride.
No, He Himself, goes to her.
It is a time of love and love descends better than it ascends.
Jesus comes down to us Himself and says with love: I will come again and receive you to myself and where I am you will be also. I go to prepare a place for you.
It’s as if Christ is saying to us, His Church: The truth is that I cannot live without you.
I will not be content until I have you where I am.
My heart is set upon you.
If I have any glory then you shall have part in it.
How can we shrink back from such a great salvation?
“I will not leave you as orphans…” is His promise in John 14:8.
I will not leave you alone on this earth as fatherless and friendless children.
No, I cannot bear it.
My Father and I have only one friend Who lies in the bosom of us both.
The Holy Spirit.
He proceeds from us both.
I will send Him to you to take care of you.
I cannot go away from this earth and leave my Bride to fend for Herself and so I entrust you to my closest Friend.
I will pray to my Father and He will give You another Comforter.
He will glorify Me.
All His speech will be to make Me better known by you.
You will be reminded of how great I am to you and how much love I have even now for you.
Every minute when I am thinking of You He will make it known to you.
1 Cor 2:12 teaches us that by having the Spirit we …have the mind of Christ.
1 Cor 2:16 tells us that the Spirit dwells in Christ’s heart.
Beloved, we have the Spirit and so we have Christ’s heart as surely and speedily as if Christ is with us!
Christ ever lives to intercede for us. He is leaving nothing to chance.
Christ has poured out His Spirit unto us.
He sent the Spirit as He promised.
In Ephesians 4 we see that as Christ ascended into heaven He poured out gifts by the Spirit for the work of ministry.
That same Spirit is here today.
It is moving your hearts to worship.
It is uniting you to the risen Christ Who is now praying for You.
He has even now sent His Word, this Day, to move your hearts to respond to the Gospel.
The Spirit is even now taking the words that Christ is praying for you and putting them into your heart to convince you of His love and care for you. That He will perfect you and destroy any enemy that stands in the way of Him receiving His Bride.
Consider the heart of Christ.
Consider the invitation of Christ to you.
John 7:37 records the words of the last public sermon of Jesus.
It echoes even to this day as the words that Jesus spoke on earth to men and women and children that remain on earth.
It expresses the heart of Christ toward sinners.
On the last day of the feast, He stood up and cried: If any man thirsts let him come to me and drink!
These is Jesus’ last public sermon on earth and it remains true even today.
What love and concern Christ has for sinners.
This brings us to our text today.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
The double negative is like saying this: We most assuredly have a High Priest Who can relate to our temptations and struggles!
He totally and completely gets it.
He knows what it is to be afflicted.
He knows what it is to be tempted.
He has not forgotten.
Christ knew that we would think that He cannot possibly relate to us now.
We doubt this reality.
He’s in heaven.
He’s in glory.
He doesn’t see us.
He doesn’t know what it’s like to go through this.
He can’t possibly still love me after I’ve sinned like this.
But Christ responds to us tenderly here and surely.
No, I know exactly what you’re going through.
I know precisely the sins you’ve committed.
It is my very heart to receive sinners.
It is of my nature to receive and comfort all who come to me.
He is as tender in His heart toward you as He ever was.
The love that Christ had for us drove Him to the Cross to die for sinners.
This love certainly now continues in His heart now that He has redeemed you from death and slavery to sin!
His love is not a forced love toward us.
He does not love His Bride out of mere duty because the Father has given us to Him.
It is His very nature to love us.
It is natural for Him to love us and show mercy toward us.
He is the father of mercies.
We are commanded in the Scriptures, as adopted children of God, to show mercy, meekness, kindness.
We are adopted sons but Christ is a natural Son.
These things come with difficulty for us but they flow out of Christ’s heart toward us poor sinners.
Matthew 11:28 lays out His heart: Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest…for I am meek and lowly in heart.
We’re tempted to think that He’s too high now.
He’s too holy.
He can’t look at me or be merciful to me.
No, says Christ, Come to Me.
I am meek and lowly in heart.
Gentleness and mercy is my very nature.
You’re too high and holy! We reply.
No, says He, I am lowly.
No man or woman or child is too low for my love and regard.
When Christ was in the midst of His pains on the Cross a poor sinner on the cross next to Him turned and pleaded: Remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.
Christ’s heart, even then, even in the midst of agony, looked outward with compassion and lowliness toward a needy sinner.
Today you will be with Me in paradise, says He.
How much more in heaven, where He is not distracted by pain, is He ready to receive all who are weary and heavy laden?!
Consider the command of Ephesians 5 as Paul tells us that a man ought to love his wife as his own body.
What do his thoughts ascend to?
The love of Christ for His Bride.
He loves us as His own body.
He died for us and ever lives to present us perfect for the day He has prepared for us.
Beloved, are you yet convinced of Christ’s continued mercy and concern for you?
Are you beginning to understand how important it is that the Son of God took on human flesh?
You see we’re soon to celebrate that day when God took on flesh by the womb of a virgin.
God did not become more merciful when the Son of God took on flesh for us.
Yet, for us, it was an important demonstration.
God’s love and concern in the Old Testament was always covered to some extent by the distance between the Creator and the creature.
We recite the Apostle’s Creed once a month but do we live each day in awe at the fact that the Son of God became flesh for our sakes?
God assumed flesh to provide a new way of being merciful to us.
God’s mercies have now become human mercies.
It gives a kindness and naturalness to us that we can understand by our capacities as humans.
God now naturally pities us as we are flesh of His flesh.
Bone of His bone.
He is man to encourage us to come boldly to Him for grace.
As a man comes to a man for mercy.
That we might become familiar with Him.
Jesus’ mercies are God’s mercies.
Jesus’ mercies are human mercies.
Come to Me, He cries, I am meek and lowly in heart.
What’s the use of all this?
What should you take away from this?
First, remember how ready Christ is to forgive you of your sins.
Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts but turn to Christ.
Trust in Him.
Lay the burden of your sin at His feet and receive Him.
His nature toward you is to pity you.
It is not His nature to be angry with you as you come to Him with your sin and ask for forgiveness.
It is of His nature to be meek and lowly.
His is the face of a friend to those in need.
His anger is reserved for your sin and not for you.
Look at your sin as God looks at them: O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?!
His anger is not toward you but against your sin to ruin it – to take away its power to enslave you.
He pities you as a father pities a child who is sick with some terrible disease and will do all in his power to take it away.
Secondly, we ought to be reminded that Christ is really praying for us and equipping us against all our foes that would keep us from pursuing Him as our highest goal.
This encouragement in Hebrews is written in the midst of severe warnings to followers of Christ who are being lazy in their Christian walk.
The writer of the Hebrews is reminding them that we cannot neglect this great salvation but we must press on and encourage one another daily.
Beloved, we need this reminder as individuals when we have every other priority in life ahead of Christ.
We need this reminder when we wake up in the morning and decide to pray and read the Scriptures because we know the battle is upon us and we need each other’s prayers as Christ the High Priest moves us to pray for one another by His Spirit.
Be encouraged of the reality that Christ is praying for you. Christ, by His Spirit, empowers you to press on with each other and that we have been given one to another.
Finally, beloved, this is all meant to remind you Who your closest friend is in times of misery, distress, temptation, and sin.
You have One in heaven whose nature it is to be on your side – to pity and love you and has the utmost love toward you even as He loves His own Body.
In this life you will find that your friends here on earth will fail you.
There are times when I as an elder fail you in my love toward you.
There are times when a husband fails his own wife in loving her as his own body.
There are times when a mothers and fathers neglect to love their children and show them kindness and meekness and gentleness and to remember their frame.
When friends fail you, you have this reality.
Tell them this:
If you will not pity me I know One Who will.
One in heaven.
His heart is touched by all my sicknesses and sorrows.
I will go and pour out my heart to Him and ask for comfort.
Come boldly! Says He.
Lay open your complaints to Me.
I promise you will find grace and mercy in time of need.
Men and women love and need to be pitied by their friends even if their friends cannot help them with their need.
Christ not only pities you but He has all authority in heaven and earth.
He will not only pity you but will supply all your needs.
Let us pray.