Hebrews 4:14-16 “14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested[d] as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16 was a frequently used ‘memory verse’ when I was growing up. In fact, I could still sing you the song that a former youth pastor created for this verse. Yet in my memory, we always seemed to put less emphasis on the verses that came before 16, thus giving it less impact.
Verses 14 and 15 describe a high priest (Jesus) who is yes, great, but also, one who has experienced what it means to live in this earthy body and knows what struggles we face. The passage illuminates that Jesus as high priest is not out of touch, arrogant or judging us from a distance, but rather, Jesus is able to relate to us with compassion because he went through it all too. Jesus sympathizes (read: cares about, supports us, and understands what we are going through) with us because he knows what it is like to live the human experience.
That kind of understanding and compassion means we can be confident that Jesus knows what we need and actually wants us to have it! We don’t need to convince Jesus that there is pain in being human or that we need extra grace every day for the weaknesses we see in ourselves. We don’t need to make the strongest, well researched, and convincing argument in order to get the help we need because Jesus is ready to give it freely. We don’t need to be afraid of the no, of rejection, of being turned away, because the high priest sympathizes with our struggle and wants to see us win. We can be bold about asking for what we need when we understand that we don’t need to fight for grace, mercy, love, belonging, belovedness, etc. It is freely given for all of us.
So, go ahead and be bold about it! Ask for what you need and know you’re asking someone who understands.
- In what area of your life do you need to feel Jesus understanding and caring about what you are going through today? What would that kind of gentle support feel like?
- For LGBTQ+ folks, what narratives do you need to rewrite in order to believe there is nothing that can keep you from approaching Jesus? What would it look like for you to approach Jesus boldly with what you need today?
- How could that boldness translate into other areas of your life?
- What would it look like to be bold in supporting the LGBTQ+ people in your life? In your church?
This Lenten reflection accompanies the Tell Your Pastor #imaffirming initiative. To learn more click here.