Anchor Scripture, Hebrews 4. 14-16:
“14. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
- For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
- Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Let me illustrate a point by surmising that there might be people you would rather not have to approach for help in certain situations. They may appear to have the answers and solution to some problems, but the process of approaching them itself could be perceived as a problem. You might have attached to them a reputation that leads you to conclude that approaching them will not be without complication or lead to other problems. If your perception is accurate, then you probably cannot be faulted for choosing not to receive help from those people.
It perhaps bears some resemblance to the modern phenomenon of a financially challenged person with an unenviable credit history and poor credit rating consciously declining the intervention of an exploitative financial institution. They may have concluded that if a bank, for example, agrees to ‘help them out’ with a special loan without the source of their problems addressed; new ones will potentially be created on top of their initial problem. There are real-life examples of financial practices involving unaffordable loans that increase the indebtedness of already poor borrowers that entrap them financially to the lender.
God’s approach is different. God can deal with the underlying problem, and the immediate problem, and future problems. In our anchor passage, we see Jesus declaring his experience in ‘the feeling of our infirmities’. He feels qualified to relate to our negative experiences and the issues of life that render us vulnerable, exposed and in need. Jesus claims to know how we are feeling in our time of need; and has the perfect solution for those times. He also claims the best of intentions, to help sons of men, his friends with whom he can empathize.
Let us generously paraphrase and scripturally expand on the content of Hebrews 4. 14-16: “We have Jesus Christ as our example and model. He is the son of God and has gone up to heaven, where he is right now. We should therefore tightly hold on to the things He has taught us through the bible, keep confessing them and never give them up physically or intellectually. We can trust Jesus because he has the benefit of the first-hand experience of how challenging and difficult life is. He knows that everything has the tendency to push and encourages us to disobey God, commit little sins and live contrary to the lifestyle Jesus himself lived here on earth. Despite all these pressures he demonstrated how it is possible for us to live above sin. He wants us to do exactly the same- live a victorious life beyond sin and guilt. He knows the feelings of our infirmities! When we feel the feelings of our infirmities, we are in need of help. He Himself needed help when walking in the flesh. Like He received help, we need to receive help. He wants us to take certain actions in those times of need: Come to God in prayer, and do so boldly. Receive mercy and receive grace- we need it. When mentally and physically down, we are not spiritually down! Even then when we call, he answers and helps!”
Infirmity is a physical or mental weakness. By claiming to understand the feelings of our infirmities Jesus assures us he understands how we feel during our physical and mental weakness and inadequacy. The implications of the scriptures are that even in those moments, we are capable of taking some actions. In that state, our best action is approaching Him in prayer and coming without shame or fear. If we do, we will be rewarded with mercy and grace. We do not have to deserve that mercy. We do not have to justify receiving grace from God. God has decided that it is appropriate to show mercy and give grace- freely. Isn’t it comforting to know that he has your best interest at heart, and is not motivated by ant form of interest to be derived from your situation?
Jer. 29.11-“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
In fact, he has done beyond what you might wish him to do. Isa 53.4-5: 4. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
It makes sense to approach this loving God with confidence, boldness and faith. It is wise to approach the God who knows your weakness and uses it in your favour. You can take comfort in his promises that could work for you today- in your privacy, without the involvement of anyone else. Consider and discuss his words with him. In John 14:1-4 he said “1. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. “
In John 14:13-14 he assures “13. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. “
People are very good at asking for things that benefit them – good, nice, necessary things. While teaching His disciples to pray and ask God for things Jesus said (to them then and to you now) in Matthew 7:9-11 “9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
What do you think of God? Do you think of Him as an unapproachable person who benefits from helping you out? Whatever your thoughts of Him, God is claiming to be better than people are at taking care of his children who ask him for help! Are you somehow weak or in need? Do you need help? Do you need mercy? Do you need things that would make your life better? Have you, like many of us, messed up in a big way? You need to approach the God who knows your weaknesses and is determined to use them to your advantage and never fail you.
The language is plain and emphatic. Hebrews 10:19-20,22 “19. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20. By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 22. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” The claim is stark. Ephesians 2.18. “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God ”
Family members know each other to an extent. Parents know their children well and know their weaknesses. But they trust each other and confide in each other.
Your heavenly Father knows your weaknesses- the ones you are aware of, and the ones you know little or nothing about.
When you are weak in mind or body, be bold. Go to the God who knows your every weakness, and who is ready now to do the best for your life and your future. Or what kind of a father do you think God is?
He knows you. He knows everything. He knows everyone. Why not remember his call and approach the God that knows your weakness.
The invitation is open. Isa.1.18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Let us pray…
The excerpt of a sermon delivered on Sunday, November 24, 2019.