Hebrews 4, 14 – 16
Today's contributor is Nicholas King, a Jesuit priest, scholar and author who teaches the New Testament at Oxford University. For the Bible passages, he used NRSV for the Old Testment and his own translation for the New Testament readings. To read passages from the King James Version, click here.
Something to read
So, 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 [i.e. that Jesus is the High Priest]. For the High Priest that we have is not one who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses; no – this one has been tempted in exactly the same way, in every respect; but he never sinned. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help us at just the right moment.
Something to think about
The Letter to the Hebrews is one of the more difficult documents in the New Testament, and people therefore tend to run away from reading it.
In fact, Hebrews has one simple message, that 'Jesus is the Real Thing'. In today's reading, the author is trying to express this insight in terms of the metaphor of Jesus as the Great High Priest; and like all priests, including great high priests, Jesus has known temptation (otherwise he would not be human).
What he has not done, however, is ever, even for a moment, to give in to the temptation. And so he 'has passed through the heavens'. So you and I are not permitted to gaze complacently at our peccadilloes, and mutter 'Well – it's only human to sin'.
Our task, today, is to approach God 'confidently' (that is the difference that Jesus has made, that we can have confidence in approaching the Throne of Grace), and 'receive mercy and find grace'.
Something to do
'Confidence' is easily confused with 'arrogance'. Have a look at your life today, and see if you can tell them apart. The secret will be to keep your eyes on Jesus and on his Father.
Today, try and see one area of your life where you have been successfully tempted in a way that damages other people, or damages our world, and ask the Father, and Jesus, to help you get it right.
Something to pray
Jesus our Lord, you are indeed the Real Thing. We ask for the grace to draw near to your throne, and to receive the mercy that you offer. Teach us, during our Lenten journey, to become more aware of our temptation to destroy the Father's Kingdom, and to despise our sisters and brothers. Help us to walk side by side with you on your journey to Easter. Amen.