“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess” (Hebrews 4:14, NIV)
Easy as it is for Christians to overlook, the ascension is an important event in Christ’s saving work. It is easy for us to think that it would be better if the risen Lord had remained here on earth; then every doubting Thomas could have their fears assuaged, and the church would never have to wrestle through issues of biblical or theological interpretation.
Well, one day Christ will return and all strife and doubt will be ended. But for this present age, God in His wisdom has given us a greater gift than we would have designed for ourselves. The risen Lord ascended. He does not walk among us in the flesh; instead, He stands for us (in the flesh) in the true holy of holies as our great high priest.
The high priest is the mediator who helps the people to draw near to God. Our high priest is God Himself, who first drew near to us. He is the God-man, and after suffering for our sins He rose to bring us life and ascended to provide us with complete salvation. On the one hand, His deity marks His greatness and ability to reconcile us; on the other hand, His humanity marks the fact that He understands our weaknesses and is able to help (v.15).
What is the result? What is the wonderful privilege that Christians enjoy because of the ascension of Christ?
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (v.16).
We come freely before the throne of God. The high priests of the Old Covenant could only enter the holy of holies once a year. Our high priest has entered and remains in the true heavenly holy of holies. Through Him, we approach God’s throne–and it is a throne of grace. Here stumbling saints may find not condemnation, but mercy.
Gracious and glorious is the salvation of our God.