Diet Devotional 18
Hebrews 4:15-16 - "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. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need."
To appreciate this passage, we have to understand a little something about Old Testament history. When the temple was built, it had diifferent chambers for different purposes, composed somewhat like concentric rings. The outer chambers were for Gentiles and sinners, while the inner chambers were for priests and sacrificial ceremonies. The most inner chamber (separated by a thick curtain) was called the Holy of Holies, where the high priest made the annual sacrifice of atonement. Inside that was a piece of furniture called the "Mercy Seat" or also called the "Atonement Cover" (Exodus 25 and 26) where God himself would appear. That one time each year, the high priest was expected to be totally sinless before entering God's holy presence. In fact, because other priests had been stricken dead for entering with sin in their hearts, they started tying a rope around the high priest's feet so that they could pull him out if he was killed. Therefore, you can imagine how frightening this must have been for a man, even a high priest who should technically have it all together. This was not a place that you entered "with confidence."
Jesus's death replaced the system of law with a system of grace; and very literally when he died, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies was ripped in two (Luke 23:45). This symbolized the common man's total access to God because of Christ's sacrifice. And that's where today's verse comes in. Paul was referencing the temple structure as he wrote this passage to the Hebrew Christians. And he was writing it in reference to our need for help during a time of temptation. He was referring to Christ as the high priest who was tempted as we are, and the fact that we no longer need to fear God because of our imperfection. Instead, we can go "with confidence" to the throne of grace (symbolically the Mercy Seat) and receive what we need to help us in our time of need. Jesus made that possible. And in my case, his temptation with food was even greater than mine. He had been in the desert without food for 40 days (Matt. 4:1-11). Matt. 4:3 makes it clear that he was definitely hungry...