Online Bible Commentary
Call in the Cavalry
Hebrews 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)
The writer of this letter begins this passage with the word therefore, which refers to the previous passage. In the previous passage the writer warned against falling into unbelief. As Christians, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us to remain faithful to our profession of faith in Jesus Christ. However, we can still have times of weakness where we give into sin, thereby quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Sin is unbelief in God. Sin comes from believing that God is not capable of fulfilling His promises to us, as stated in the Bible. Unfortunately we sin, and we typically find ourselves giving in to the same sin over and over again. That is because when Satan finds our weakness, he attacks us in that very area. This passage tells us how to deal with those moments when we are attacked.
First, we need to remember that we have a “great high priest” (v. 14a). The Hebrews of the Old Testament had their own high priest. Aaron, the brother of Moses was the first high priest. The high priest fulfilled the role of representing the Hebrews before God. The Hebrews of the Old Testament could not go directly to God. Even the high priest could only go before God one time a year. However, since these Hebrews of the New Testament, to whom this letter was written, are now Christians, their high priest is God himself, Jesus Christ. So they are able to go before God, themselves, anytime, anywhere.
So, Jesus Christ is the “great high priest”. The word translated “great” is the Greek word “megas”. Our high priest is a “mega” high priest. Think super hero, perhaps Superman, on steroids. He is greater than great. He has super powers and can do all things. He can even fly. He flew “through the Heavens” (v. 14b). He flew through the first heaven (our atmosphere), the second heaven (our solar system), to the third heaven (beyond our solar system) to the place we call “Heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2). The cool thing is that we Christians also get to make that flight someday.
The phrase translated “gone through” is the Greek word “dieleluthota”, which is a perfect active participle of the word “dierchomai”, which means “to pass through”. Since this word is of the perfect tense, it means that Jesus passed through the heavens and is still there. Jesus sits on His throne at the right hand of God the Father, as our mega high priest, and represents our case before the Father.
Because we have a mega high priest working for us, we are encouraged by the writer to “hold firmly to the faith we profess” (v. 14c). He is able, and willing, to “sympathize with our weaknesses” (v. 15a). He suffers together with us when we are tempted. He suffered when “tempted” (v. 15b) by Satan, just as we do. So, when we are tempted, He knows exactly what we are going through and what we are feeling, He also knows exactly what to do, because He was “without sin” (v.15c). He did not give in to the temptations of Satan when He was tempted (Mt. 4:1-11).
Since Jesus knows exactly what to do to avoid sin, He, naturally, is our solution to avoiding sin. We are to “approach” His “throne of grace” (v. 15a). We do this by turning to prayer at the moment of our temptation. But we do not approach the Lord in a timid, whiny, fashion. We come to Him “with confidence” (v. 16b), boldly and already believing that He will do what we ask.
When we do that we “receive mercy and find grace to help us” (v. 16c). Mercy and grace are exactly what we need at this moment. His mercy covers the things we should have done, such as immediately running the other way when we first even get a scent of sin. His grace gives us the power to do what we need to do at that moment.
His mercy and grace come “in our time of need” (v. 16d). This phrase is a translation of the Greek word “eukairos”, which means “at the right moment”. Josephus used this word when writing of King Herod waiting for the right time to talk to his sons about who would succeed him. It is the perfect time.
Jesus sends his mercy and grace at the perfect time. Think of a western movie when the troops are under attack. They are about to perish, and then they call in the Cavalry. The Cavalry gets there just in the nick of time to save them. Jesus is our Cavalry. When we call on Him He will save us, at the perfect moment that we need Him.