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.
In his book Christ the Center Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggests that we put too much emphasis on the “How” in the Christian life and too little emphasis on the “Who”. By giving priority to “How” we put self at the center and Christ to the side. Bonhoeffer taught that by answering the “Who” we would then answer the “How”.
In the New Testament the “Who”, of course, is Christ! Listen to 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).
Putting our focus on the “Who” opens up for us new and exciting possibilities! In today’s scripture we see that it is Christ, our great High Priest, “Who” not only represents God to us, but, us to God. Jesus stands before God for us, on our behalf. This was symbolized in the typology of the Old Testament on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. On that high and holy day, the high priest symbolically gathered all the worship, prayers and sacrifices of the people and carried them into the very Holy of Holies, presenting them to God. The high priest acted as God’s representative for the people, standing in solidarity with them. This was visually symbolized by the names of each of the twelve tribes imprinted on the high priest’s breastplate. As the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, God was accepting all of the people in, or through, the high priest.
The New Testament book of Hebrews looks at the high priest and the Day of Atonement and reveals that Christ represents us as our High Priest. Christ sacrifices to God, not a sheep or goat as sacrifice, but Himself. Christ presented to God on our behalf what we are unable to offer: a sinless life of perfect obedience. It was as our High Priest that Christ carried us with Him in His ascension into heaven’s Holy of Holies. Today’s scripture speaks of Christ as “a forerunner on our behalf.” Christ entered God’s holy presence for you, in your place and in your name.
John Calvin writes in his commentary on the book of Hebrews about Christ our High Priest, acting for us and on our behalf:
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 Christ entered heaven for us, our “forerunner”, offering to God His perfect life and sacrifice. He offered up the holy life of worship and prayer we are unable to offer. God therefore receives our worship and prayer as acceptable and well-pleasing. Jesus commands and empowers us to pray in His name because He has first prayed in our names. Jesus is the “Who” of life, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end of it all!
What then is the “How” of the Christian life? The “How” flows from the “Who”! The same book of Hebrews that present Christ as High Priest on our behalf, tells us to keep our focus on Him: “Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
So it is all about Who you know: Jesus Christ! Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him as we worship, pray and serve!
Grace and peace,