The Great High Priest – Hebrews 4:14
Northwest Christian University
May 8, 2015
My objective of this essay is to explain that God would have made arrangements for us to continue to receive his grace after his Ascension into Heaven. Also, the fact that Jesus was offered as a reparation for our sins once for all, does not mean that we would not choose to be disobedient on occasion, even after our conversion. This is my attempt at explaining the systems that God has given us through his church to continue his mission of forgiving us for our sins, as well as our need to hear the words of forgiveness.
(This essay was an assignment for a Biblical Themes of the New Testament class, but it was also a response to a video that I will show at the end of the post. My hope is that this is the start of a conversation, rather than this be the last word on the subject.)
In my understanding of Jesus, the compassionate high priest, we see the author of Hebrews explaining that Jesus is the leader of new breed of priest that no longer exists only in a designated place that only a few people are chosen to be able to visit. “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.” (Hebrews 4:14 NABRE) We need only hold fast to our confession, or remember to focus on him rather than our own selfishness, and we can have access to God through the intercession of his Son in our lives.
Earlier in the same chapter, we see the author of Hebrews saying that even though Jewish people had access to God through the person of the high priest in the Old Testament, they would not receive the good news because of their disobedience. Jesus Christ died to make reparation for our sins, so he has given us access to his grace through his suffering and death on the cross. I submit that sometimes, through our disobedience it is difficult to see clearly a path to reconciliation, so the church has given us an opportunity to go to a priest to hear words of reconciliation. For those times that we have not been so disobedient that we are not separated from God, we are given the gift of grace through the communion that Jesus offered to us before his death.
James says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” (James 4:15 NABRE) He not only knows our weaknesses through what he experienced, but also through his hand in creation, he knows our ability to be forgiven and act accordingly. He has given us a vehicle to hear the words that bring about this forgiveness through the experience of the Eucharistic liturgy at Mass, as well as the words of absolution that we hear in the confessional. The prayer that we say at the end of confession is a great prayer to sow the seeds of repentance in my life. Here are the words that we say: O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all of my sins, because of your just punishments but most of all because you, my God, are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen
Since I am a convert, I was not raised with an understanding of what a relationship with God is supposed to look like. It is a great help to me to know that when I make a mistake and decide to follow my will instead of God’s will in my life, I can hear the words of the priest telling me that he wants my whole life. Since the priest is a sinner, like me, I can believe that he is giving me what I need to grow in my faith life, and not just hear his words and go back to my sin. There are many other parts of the confessional that help me spiritually, but I feel like this is enough for now.
(By the way, this was one of my first two classes in my degree completion program at NWCU, and I loved it…Thanks be to God for giving me a great professor that challenged me to think more critically about what I believe and why I believe it!)
The New American Bible, Revised Edition (March 9th, 2011)