19My friends, the blood of Jesus gives us courage to enter the most holy place 20by a new way that leads to life! And this way takes us through the curtain that is Christ himself.
21We have a great high priest who is in charge of God's house. 22 So let's come near God with pure hearts and a confidence that comes from having faith. Let's keep our hearts pure, our consciences free from evil, and our bodies washed with clean water. 23We must hold tightly to the hope we say is ours. After all, we can trust the one who made the agreement with us. 24We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things. 25Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer.
26No sacrifices can be made for people who decide to sin after they find out about the truth. 27 They are God's enemies, and all they can look forward to is a terrible judgment and a furious fire. 28 If two or more witnesses accused someone of breaking the Law of Moses, that person could be put to death. 29 But it is much worse to dishonor God's Son and to disgrace the blood of the promise that made us holy. And it is just as bad to insult the Holy Spirit, who shows us mercy. 30 We know that God has said he will punish and take revenge. We also know that the Scriptures say the Lord will judge his people. 31It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
32Don't forget all the hard times you went through when you first received the light. 33Sometimes you were abused and mistreated in public, and at other times you shared in the sufferings of others. 34You were kind to people in jail. And you gladly let your possessions be taken away, because you knew you had something better, something that would last forever.
35Keep on being brave! It will bring you great rewards. 36Learn to be patient, so you will please God and be given what he has promised. 37 As the Scriptures say,
“God is coming soon!
It won't be very long.
38The people God accepts
will live because
of their faith.
But he isn't pleased
who turns back.”
39We are not like those people who turn back and get destroyed. We will keep on having faith until we are saved.
Today’s reading marks a turning point in this letter to the Hebrews. Up to this point the author has been advancing a whole series of reasons or arguments, which explain why the coming of Christ marks the beginning of a superior way of life – a superior faith – when compared to traditional temple-based Judaism.
Here is a brief summary of those reasons. Jesus, God’s son, is a better prophet than Moses. Through Christ we have a new and better covenant with God. Jesus is a better priest than the Levitical priests of the Old Covenant. He offered a better sacrifice than the blood of bulls and goats. Through Jesus we have better access to the throne room of God.
But all these “better thans” have happened for a reason. The reason is that we may draw near to God. The whole point of Christ’s coming is to give us direct access to God our Father. “So let’s come near God with pure hearts and a confidence that comes from having faith. Let’s keep our hearts pure, our consciences free from evil, and our bodies washed with clean water” (v 22).
Having been granted this unfettered access to God, we are urged to draw near. James makes a similar plea in his epistle. “Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you” (James 4:7-8a).
Furthermore, we are urged to draw near with courage (v 19), with confidence (v 22), with trust (v 23), and with faith (vv 38-39). In light of what Jesus did on our behalf, let us draw near and not turn back.
Lord Jesus, I am forever grateful for the access I have to the throne of grace. That access is possible solely due to you. Thank you, Lord. I bring my petitions boldly before you. Keep me ever faithful, I pray. For your own sake, Amen.