Near to the Heart of God

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Having talked about Christ in 3:1ff as an apostle (“one who is sent with full authority to represent the sender” – Lightfoot), he moves on to further develop Jesus’ priestly role. The “therefore” he begins 4:14 with seems to go past his previous mention in 3:1 and back to 2: 9ff. His conclusion (“Therefore, since we have such a great high priest”) is rooted in what he has told them in 2:9-18 where he touched upon the atoning work of Jesus and how:

He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 2:17-18

You can see why he says Jesus is a great high priest! He is a “merciful and faithful” and makes atonement for us (2:17)—how could He not be great!

But there’s another important dimension he wants to add. He’s also great because He “has ascended to heaven” or “gone through the heavens” (see the marginal reading. Lightfoot points out that just as the high priest passed through the veil of curtains into the holy of holies, Jesus has passed through the heavens into the presence of God). On either reading, the point is that Jesus is now at the right hand of God (1:3) and brings them before the Father’s throne (4:16). 

You can’t get any closer to God than to be at His throne and Jesus takes them there. Clearly, He was the Person they needed to follow! He had been where they were (4:15) and was now where they wanted to be. And He could help them get there. This is why the writer began by telling them, “Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess” (v. 14).

In speaking of Jesus’ priesthood, he’s giving them theology, yes—but it’s theology he wants them to turn into biography! Here are four life-altering truths from the text.

1. The cross of Christ leads us to the throne of God. Just as the high priest passed through the curtain on his way into the presence of God under the old covenant, under the new covenant the disciple goes through the cross of Christ to enter God’s presence (10:19-22). The priestly cross work of Jesus enabled them to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence” (4:16). 

2. At the throne of God we see the heart of God. Who is God? When you strip away all the layers God is pulsating love as manifested in merciful understanding and gracious empowering. This is our Father intimately and ultimately revealing who He is. At the heart of the throne that rules the universe there is mercy and grace for those who come to Him through Jesus.

3. At the throne of God disciples find the power to see it through.

That’s the issue for the people Hebrews is written to. It was not about whether they could get started (they had already done that), it was about whether they could finish. And the writer wanted them to know in no uncertain terms that it was at the throne of God where they would receive exactly what they need to finish the race. 

4. Through Jesus, disciples are invited to live near to the heart of God. The choice is clear: We can visit the throne every now and then and live lives that reflect that, or we can live near to the heart of God and be filled with His mercy and grace. 

What kind of life do you want to live?



Published by A Taste of Grace with Bruce Green

I grew up the among the cotton fields, red clay and aerospace industry of north Alabama. My wife and I are blessed with three adult children and five grandchildren.

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