“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”
Hebrews 4:14-16 (HCSB)
There are so many times in my life where I envision God as looking down on me—all of my lostness, sin, and mistakes—with a distraught, disappointed look on His face. I feel as though the door of mercy and pardon has been bolted and locked before me, because, no matter how hard I fight and strive, I can never seem to get it right. I disobey. I reap destruction around every corner. I complain about every gift that God’s gracious hand grants me. To be completely honest, the majority of the days I feel as though I more closely resemble the devil himself than I do my holy, loving, compassionate Father: the One in whose image I was created.
I find myself especially enraptured with those visions of an angry, vengeful God in times of confusion. I find myself in a haze, without a clear sense of God’s will for my life, and I immediately suppose that my lack of sight is equivalent to God turning His back on me. This feeling is heightened by the further understanding that I know I am messing up. I see myself slipping in more areas than I can even count. Surely, it is only a matter of time before God pulls the rug out from underneath me and reveals to the world who I truly am: a blind, wretched, apathetic mess of a man.
But that is not the case, and that is why this is possibly one of the most beautiful and deeply refreshing commands/promises in all of the Bible: “to draw near to the throne of grace with boldness…” It reaches out to us with an outstretched hand and gives us a glimpse of the glory of God’s patience, mercy, and forgiveness; then, it invites us in for more. It ensures us that the God of the Universe has experienced love, life, and loss just as we have, yet He remained unstained.
The death of Lazarus was not defined by understanding, the garden of Gethsemane did not consist of fields of tulips and beds of daffodils, and the road to Golgotha was not paved with joy. In all of these places, there is no doubt that Jesus, the One who now intercedes to the Father on our behalf, experienced stabbing questions, unfathomable pain, and complete loss. Yet, in those same places He turned to God, and now He stands beside us to encourage us to do the same.
He sympathizes with us. He remembers the moments of temptation, testing, and strife and asks us to come find mercy and grace in Him. Look to David’s prayer in Psalms 51, as He cries out to God for mercy after His sin with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah the Hittite:
“You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;
You are not pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.”
Psalms 51:16-17 (HCSB)
God does not ask for us to do all of the right things, to offer all of the right sacrifices, to have all of the answers. He is not looking for a people who have it all together because none of us will ever truly have it all together. He is looking for people to draw near to Him in their complete and total brokenness, in their hopeless and utter confusion and to trust that He will love them anyways. That He will guide them even when they can’t see it. That is our role: to draw near to the One we can never deserve to draw near to and receive mercy and grace.
While God certainly does not belittle the weight and consequences of sin, He does ensure us that His grace is greater than it. Yes, sin does still result in death and separation from God—and to be totally frank, anyone who suggests anything less than that is teaching a false gospel— however, it does not—in fact, it cannot—overpower the weight of Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of those who believe. That is why He said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30 HCSB). It was completely taken care of on the cross.
Nothing more needs to be done except the acceptance of that sacrifice, and so we, a broken and wretched people, can be called the redeemed lights of the world, able to draw near to the throne of God Himself, who has chosen to call us His children. There is more beauty in that than any word, picture, song, or utterance of man could ever capture, and it is out of that place of absolute adoration of the glory and love of our Creator that we seek to please Him, even though we know we still are broken. All the while, we hold fast to the promise that there is grace and that one day, we shall see Him and we shall be like Him. (1 John 3:2)
In eager anticipation of that day and with the love and guidance of Christ,
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV