Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (verses 19-23)
I remember sitting by myself in the dimly lit, echoing hallway of a local music school, waiting outside the firmly shut double-doors for my turn to go in and be adjudicated for my music exam. I was about 8-years old, feeling very much alone, and terrified. From behind the door came the sounds of the current victim, plunking away at the piano, running their scales, scrambling through their memorized pieces, and giving answers (muted by the closed doors) to the seemingly endless questions of the “ear test” portion of the exam. It was terrifying. Oh, I said that already. But it was.
Finally, the doors opened, a poor, shaken, young soul emerged, and I was ushered in, taking their place. The room seemed massive. Certainly it was gloomy – completely uninviting. The piano, off to the side, appeared, to my young eyes, disproportionately large. And behind a huge table, looming in the gloom, sat the adjudicator, stiff and unyielding. Did I say I was terrified?
That image rises up in my mind as I contemplate this completely joyful and contrasting account in Hebrews of entering the very presence of Almighty God. Who could imagine that joy would be the emotion? Whereas we could rightly expect to be struck immovable by the fear of the occasion, the author urges us to run in, full bore, with complete confidence of being set at ease, made at home, immediately welcomed and embraced.
How can this be? Only because of Jesus. Only because of our great High Priest. So many of the things mentioned so far in Hebrews get caught up together in this short passage, laying the groundwork for our “full assurance of faith” that allows us to enter with joy. The “blood of Jesus” has paid the price, once for all. He is our “High Priest,” the one who is for us, and he also presides over the house of God – so, of course, we’re welcomed in. His sacrifice means that “our hearts (have been) sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience,” meaning all guilt is gone – there is no fear of judgement because the slate is wiped clean. Indeed, every blemish is removed, “our bodies (having been) washed with pure water.” Shame is dismissed, insecurity defused. Meanwhile, confidence undergirds our feet and fills our soul. We are in Christ.
So, “draw near to God.” What an amazing invitation. Come into the glorious (non-gloomy!) presence of the Father. There’s no need to hold back. Come right in, because you belong. Our God is faithful. So, too, is our great High Priest.
Be at home.
Father, thank you for your desire (from before the foundation of the world) to welcome me home.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice, paving the way, making me clean.
Holy Spirit, thank you for revealing the heart of the Father and making known “the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
Reflect: What element of the verses above best prepares your heart to enter God’s presence with complete confidence? Identify it. Gives thanks for it. Meditate on it.