Hebrews 4:14-5:10 – He Gets Us

Hebrews 4:14-5:10 – He Gets Us

Please turn with me to Hebrews chapter 4. 

Two weeks ago during the Superbowl, a Christian organization aired two commercials with the tagline “He Gets Us”—attempting to convey a message that Jesus understands everyone, and has a message for everyone. This is the second year in a row this organization aired commercials during the Superbowl, and they have racked up close to a million views on YouTube in the past two weeks. 

The commercials have generated no end of controversy—liberals have criticized the commercials for its link with conservative organizations, and conservatives have complained that the commercials don’t preach the full gospel message. 

My own thoughts on the commercials are a bit complicated, but my point is that they certainly have generated a lot of conversation, though probably not the kind that they hoped to generate. 

But is this idea that “Jesus Gets Us” Biblical? And where does that idea come from?  Yes. It is a biblical idea, and the idea is spelled our clearly in our passage today.

As a quick reminder of where we’ve been so far, the author of Hebrews begins the book by saying that when the Jews were under the Old Covenant, the Old Testament, God would deliver messages through His prophets, and especially the prophet Moses, through whom God gave His people the covenant and its laws. 

In chapter 3, we hear Jesus being called “The Apostle and High Priest of our Confession…” — Greater than Moses! Jesus’s message completes, fulfills, and replaces Moses’s message. That’s what it means that Jesus is the “Apostle of our confession.” (In other words, the one sent by God to bring the news that we are to believe and tell people about…”)

Now the author of Hebrews begins to unpack this idea of Jesus being our High Priest, and He’s going to be doing that throughout chapters 4 through 10. So let’s get started in chapter 4 verse 14.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. 

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. 

16 Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. 

1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed in matters pertaining to God for the people, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he is also clothed with weakness. 3 Because of this, he must make an offering for his own sins as well as for the people. 4 No one takes this honor on himself; instead, a person is called by God, just as Aaron was. 

5 In the same way, Christ did not exalt himself to become a high priest, but God who said to him, You are my Son; today I have become your Father, 6 also says in another place, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. 7 During his earthly life, he offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was the Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. 9 After he was perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 and he was declared by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

From our passage today, I want to point out four things about our High Priest Jesus, and I’m thankful that the author of Hebrews gave me four words that all start with “S” to explain those four things.  Jesus our High Priest is Superior, He is Sinless, he can Sympathize, and he is the Source of our Salvation. (I guess that’s five…)

Hebrews 4:14–5:10 (CSB)

Our High Priest is Superior

The next 6 chapters discuss his superiority as a priest, but the author of Hebrews gets started on the reasons Jesus is better than any merely human High Priest.

He starts by saying, Jesus “passed through the heavens”—meaning that He ascended into heaven. 

In the old covenant, the merely human priests would go in to the holy of holies to present the sacrifice, and then come back out as the aroma of the sacrifice would rise to heaven to God, but Jesus, the fully-god-and-fully-human priest, made the sacrifice and he himself went to heaven, where is is still standing before the throne of God. 

His sacrifice was not a temporary sacrifice that would need to be repeated. The effect of his sacrifice lasts forever, because He Himself was the sacrifice and He Himself is still there in the throne room.

In chapter 5 verse 6 and 10, the author of Hebrews mentions briefly that Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek—and then he doesn’t explain himself until chapter 7, so we’ll wait on that, but a quick preview is that Jesus the High Priest is superior to the Levitical priesthood – because they paid homage to Melchizedek. Pastor John will explain that really well in two weeks.

Our High Priest Is Sinless

Next we see in chapter 4 verse 15 that Jesus is sinless. But we also see that He was tempted in every single way that we are.

And think about that for just a minute. Every kind of temptation that has come upon mankind, Jesus faced. Brainstorm to yourself for a bit, what kinds of temptations do you face? What kinds do you tend to give in to? What other kinds of temptations do you see other people facing?  Jesus faced these same kinds of temptations. 

We see in chapter 5, verses 7 and 8, that Jesus suffered, and he wrestled in prayer. 

But our Great High Priest Jesus never gave in to the battle. He was sinless. And in chapter five verse 3 we see that merely human priests had to offer sacrifices for themselves as well as the people, but our Great High Priest’s sacrifice was perfect because He was perfect. He didn’t need to offer a sacrifice to save himself. He made the sacrifice strictly to save his people.

Jesus obeyed perfectly in his temptation and suffering.  But we don’t. Do we?  This idea that Jesus was without sin has the effect of making us feel unworthy of Christ. And that is right. We are unworthy. 

But that is precisely the point! That is the gospel! That is the confession that we are supposed to hang on to! We are unworthy! But our great high priest, who was sinless, gladly sacrificed to make us worthy!

Our High Priest Can Sympathize

The fact that Jesus is sinless can tempt us to think that He looks down on us and shakes His head at our failure to measure up. But what does our passage say about how this sinless Jesus feels toward us? How does a human priest feel toward his people?

“He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he is also clothed with weakness.”

Hebrews 5:2 (CSB)

Jesus took on our weakness. He, being God, became a man, and faced every temptation and suffering just like we do, and so he deals gently with us. He gets us.

The point of this passage is to help us know that Jesus understands our weakness.

The Gospel-writer Matthew records what he witnessed of Jesus during his earthly ministry.

When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36 (CSB)

Jesus does not look down on your weakness. He sees it, and knows it, and has compassion on it, and calls you to trust Him in it. To fix your eyes and your mind on Him. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our Confession, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. The source of our salvation. 

Our High Priest is the Source of Salvation

His obedience in temptation and suffering, and enduring the trial of the cross in his humanity, is why He is able to save us: He obeyed where we didn’t. He obeyed in our place. He passed the test that Adam failed in the garden. 

The book of Genesis shows us that God put Adam in the garden to grow it and guard it. But instead Adam turned to selfishness and disobedience. 

Christ came into His creation, and even though He also was tempted, even though he suffered—He did not give in to that temptation.

And that is why he was declared worthy to be our Great High Priest, and why His sacrifice of Himself on the cross was declared worthy – one sacrifice for all people for all time. No more sacrifice is necessary or possible!

He did it because we couldn’t. When we sin, when we fail to obey, look to Jesus: not to feel guilty for your failure, but to feel gratitude for his mercy and grace!  You didn’t love God with all your heart; you didn’t obey your creator’s commands. But Jesus did for you. Look to Him. And hang on.  

And that is exactly what the author of Hebrews tells us to do in today’s passage. In light of the fact that we have a High Priest who is Superior to the Old Covenant priesthood, who is Sinless, who can Sympathize, and who is the Source of our Salvation:

Hold Fast Your Confession

Chapter 4 verse 14 calls us to “hold fast to our confession.” Last week John explained this idea of “holding fast”—like a fastener on a box that keeps it shut tightly.  It means that you can and should feel secure about the things you believe. Jesus really does forgive sin. His sacrifice really was enough for all your sins! He really is your high priest! He really does understand you! He really does care about you!

Approach the throne of Grace with Boldness

The second thing we’re encouraged to do in light of our Great High Priest Jesus, is in chapter 4 verse 16. Because our debt is now paid, and Jesus really is there interceding on our behalf, we can approach God’s throne with boldness!

Because Jesus did everything needed to face up to God – and he invites us to come to him boldly.

What does it look like to approach boldly? It looks like approaching like children. There was a time when Jesus was teaching the crowds who were standing around amazed at his teaching. Can you imagine how much awe you would be in if you were present there? 

You know the great thing about kids?  They often aren’t very impressed by people adults think are important. When Jesus was there preaching, a bunch of small children came up to him. The disciples tried to hold them back, but Jesus said:

When Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 

Mark 10:14 (CSB)

Approach God’s throne like those kids. In fact, Jesus said if we don’t, if instead we try to get ourselves all cleaned up and act proper and religious and polite, and midwestern nice, we won’t be able to enter the kingdom!

Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 After taking them in his arms, he laid his hands on them and blessed them.

Mark 10:15–16 (CSB)

Approach the throne of Grace for Help

Finally, notice what it is we are supposed to approach the throne of God for:

Therefore, let us 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 (CSB)

Do you find yourself having a hard time holding on to your faith? Do you have a hard time remembering that Jesus died for your sin?  Do you have a hard time obeying perfectly, and refusing temptation? Do you have a hard time bearing up under suffering and do you feel like maybe you are about to quit?

We are to go to God’s throne when we need help. Not when we have it together. That’s what the throne of grace is there for.  Approach it with boldness.

Perhaps there are some of you here who have never approached God’s throne before. Who haven’t ever believed in this Jesus, the Great High Priest before. This verse is also an invitation to you. You can approach God’s throne with boldness, by believing that Jesus did everything needed to pay that debt for the sin that keeps separating you from God. You just need to trust him.

Let’s pray.