Hebrews 4:14-16 We confess that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. We confess that there is one God in three persons. We confess that the Bible is the Word of God and that all it teaches is true. We confess that that this world is not all there is, that Jesus will come again, and that death is not the end.
But the challenge for all of us comes in holding fast to that confession of faith throughout our life so that it is not mere words but the shape of our life until we go to meet the Lord.
And so we need the encouragement we have from God’s Word tonight that in Jesus Christ we have a compassionate high priest who knows our weaknesses and understands our struggles and has done everything necessary so that we will hold fast to our confession to the end and be saved. The Bible says:
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.
We know so many people who have begun their life in faith and ended it in unbelief. Several weeks ago we heard Jesus tell us the Parable of the Sower and how the devil works to steal God’s Word from our hearts --and how we fail to put down deep roots of faith --and how we focus on the wrong things.
When we have these kinds of spiritual enemies inside of us and outside of us we can’t help but wonder and worry how we will ever be able to endure in faith and be saved.
And that is what’s necessary! Jesus says that it is only the one who endures to the end who will be saved. Paul says that there are many who run the race and never finish or are disqualified along the way.
When we look around at how many lose their faith along the way to heaven --and when we understand how great our enemies are who would want us to be counted among them--how can we be confident that we will remain steadfast?
The Bible says that we have a great high priest who is the very Son of God. Not just a wise teacher or kind pastor-- but the very Son of God who has laid down his life for us in the cross to restore us to God—a great high priest of power and might and glory and wisdom and power who is right now doing everything in this power to keep us in faith and bring us to our heavenly home.
The death and resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ is our assurance that Jesus lives for no other purpose than to make sure we hold fast to our confession all our days and enter into eternal life.
And our great comfort, especially when we consider our frail we are and how often we fall along the way, is that this same mighty, glorious, powerful, wise King is compassionate towards us and will not give up on us along the way. The Bible says:
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.
The great mystery and wonder of the incarnation is that God himself, in the second Person of the Holy Trinity took upon himself our flesh in the womb of his blessed Mother and became one of us in every possible way except for our sin.
When the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary, one cell became two cells, and two cells become four and four became eight and eight became sixteen and so it went as a baby began to grow and develop within her in exactly the same way as every other baby.
When Jesus was born he was as helpless as every other baby and his mother cared for him as our mother cared for us. He had to learn how to eat with utensils and how to crawl and walk and run and write his ABC’s. He was happy and sad, tired and lonely, excited and bored like every one of us.
Jesus, our great high priest knows just exactly what it means to be human and what it means to face our struggles and live our life because he was one of us including facing temptation.
On the first Sunday in Lent we heard about the temptation of our Lord, that he was tempted in every way just as we are. From our very parents down to this moment and the people sitting in these pews every one of us have faced temptations and fallen to those temptation again and again. Every person in the human family save one—Jesus Christ.
He knows about our temptation and what that means for us not just because he is omniscient, but because he faced them as well—with ne important difference: where we have all fallen, he did not. He took his stand upon the Word of God and remained faithful and his faithfulness is not only our example, it is our righteousness before God.
His faithfulness in times of temptation is given to us as a gift in place of our failures ad it avails in God’s sight for salvation but it also means that our crucified and risen and ascended glorious king is able to understand and sympathize with what we have to face as fallen people and his compassion leads him to reach out to us with his mercy and forgiveness for every time we fail and so we can come to him in our need and brokenness. The Bible says: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace
When Adam and Eve fell victim to temptation in the garden they fled from God and hid from God in shame and fear. What they did to hide their guilt was wholly insufficient. But God sought them out and God forgave them and God made a blood covering to hide their shame, promising that there was one to come who would destroy the works of Satan that led to their ruin.
That is who Jesus is and that is what Jesus has done. He is the sacrifice whose blood washes away all our sins and he is the priest who makes that sacrifice with his own body on the cross.
There is absolutely no reason for us to hide from him in fear and shame and guilt—absolutely no reason to think for a second that we must do something to make things right with God by the work of our hands. Jesus Christ has done that for us and so when we fail and when we sin we can draw near to his throne of grace.
And yet we know how often we are tempted to ignore that gracious invitation. The devil tells us that Jesus will never forgive that sin or that there is some kind of forgiveness limit that we have already met. But those are the devil’s lies.
Jesus lives and reigns at this moment on a throne of grace for the very purpose of forgiving us and welcoming us back into our Father’s house and restoring to us all that sin and Satan have robbed from us.
The throne of our great high priest is one of grace and not judgment-- and grace is exactly what we can expect to receive as we come to him with our sins and weaknesses and failures—grace to help in time of need. The Bible says that we come to Jesus: that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
When we come to Jesus with our sins and guilt and shame what we receive in their place is his mercy. Mercy is the kindness and love and help that the powerful show to the weak and that is exactly who Jesus is and exactly who we are.
Our great high priest has defeated death and the devil and he rules the universe at this moment for the sake of his people, causing everything to work for our eternal good. Jesus wants us to not only begin in faith but end in faith. Jesus wants us to have all of the blessings—both earthly and eternal that are rightfully ours as children of God. But he also knows and understands everything in our life that keeps us from enjoying those blessings and that trip us up along the way.
And so when we come to him in prayer, confessing our sins and throwing ourselves on his mercy. His blood forgives us all our sin and keeps on forgiving throughout our lives. But we also receive help so that we can go forward in life in a way that is better and more Christ-like than we have gone before.
He speaks to us in the pages of Holy Scripture so that we know better his will and are encouraged to follow it. He feeds us with his own body and blood to strengthen our faith and remind us all that he did for our salvation.
He gives us pastors and teachers and fellow Christians who will instruct us and admonish us when needed and set an example for us to follow.
As we turn to him again and again we will always find a compassionate high priest who stands ready to meet our needs. Amen.