We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that
enters the shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our
behalf, has entered, having become a priest forever according to the
order of Melchizedek.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book Christ the Center, suggests that in the Christian life we put too much emphasis on “How” and too little on “Who”. By giving priority to “How” we put ourselves at the center and Christ to the side. But by answering the “Who” we then answer the “How”.
The “Who”, of course, is Christ! Hear the apostle Paul: “For to me, living is Christ” (Philippians 1:21); “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Or, listen to Jesus: “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:20), and, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5).
Focusing on the “Who” opens for us new and exciting vistas! We see that Christ is our great High Priest who not only represents God to us, but represents us to God. Jesus stands before God on our behalf. This was symbolized in the typology of the Old Testament’s Day of Atonement Yom Kippur. On that high and holy day, the high priest symbolically gathered all the worship and sacrifices of the people and carried them into the Holy of Holies presenting them to God. The high priest acted as God’s representative for the nation, standing in solidarity with all the people. This was symbolized by the names of the twelve tribes imprinted on his breastplate. At the point the high priest entered the very Holy of Holies, God accepted the people.
The New Testament understands all of this as foreshadowing Christ representing us as our High Priest. Christ offers up to God, not a sheep or goat as sacrifice, but Himself. On our behalf Christ presents to God His life of perfect obedience. He offers for us the worship and prayer that we are unable to offer. As our High Priest, He carries us with Him in His ascension into heaven’s Holy of Holies. Today’s Scripture reveals Jesus Christ as “a forerunner on our behalf.” He enters God’s holy presence for you, in your place and in your name.
John Calvin, in his commentary on the book of Hebrews, rejoices in the “Who”, our great High Priest, acting for us:
“For the high priest entered the holy of holies, not in his own name only, but also in that of the people, inasmuch as he bare in a manner the twelve tribes on his breast and on his shoulders…so that in the person of one man all entered into the sanctuary together. Rightly then does the Apostle speak, when he reminds them that our high priest entered into heaven; for he has not only entered for himself, but also for us (emphasis added).
Jesus entered heaven for us, offering to God the perfect obedience, prayer and worship we cannot offer. Thus, God receives our ‘offerings’ as acceptable and well pleasing. Jesus has empowered us to pray in His name because He has first prayed representing our names. Jesus is the “Who” of the Christian life, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of it all!
What then is the “How” of Christian living? The same book of Hebrews reveals the “How” in the “Who”: “Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
It’s not about us, but about Christ! Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him!
Grace and peace,