Draw Near

Therefore, brothers and sisters, 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 and with the full assurance that faith brings, 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. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:19-25

The writer of Hebrews lays out the proper response to the good news of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Most Holy Place was the inner most room of the Temple. The priests would sacrifice animals on the bronze altar in the courtyard. Then they would wash with water in the wash basin. After that they would enter the Holy Place where the lamps on the lamp stands needed to be trimmed, the bread of Presence had to be replaced, and the altar of incense had to be kept burning. This was their daily work as priests.

But once a year the high priest, and only the high priest, would go into the Most Holy Place where the ark of the covenant rested between two cherubim. He had to do an elaborate set of cleansing rituals before he went past the inner curtain and entered the Most Holy Place because the very Presence of God was there. If he entered in an unworthy or unholy way, he would drop dead in God’s Presence.

But when Jesus give up His body and spirit on the cross, that inner curtain separating God and humanity was torn from top to bottom. Jesus became the once and for all sacrifice that allows us to approach God confidently with a cleansed conscience. Faith in Jesus is what allows us to receive the cleansing that comes from the blood of Christ and the water that flowed from His side. Because of Him, we can approach God with confidence.

So our proper response to this great news is that we draw near to God. We live with an awareness of the reality that God is already near to us. The Kingdom of God is “at hand.” It’s within reach. We only have to draw near to God with our hearts and minds to experience His Presence.

And we respond to this great news by holding unswervingly to the hope that we profess. Our hope is this: that we’ve been saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus and not by our own works. Our hope is that even though we make mistakes, God calls us a new creation and sees us as clothed in Christ, unblemished and washed clean. Our hope is that Christ now dwells in us through His Spirit, and that we will eternally dwell with Him when this life is over.

Our response to this great news is to spur one another on toward love and good deeds as we continue to meet together as the church. We respond to this great grace by meeting together as the Body of Christ, the church, and encouraging each other to continue in the faith. We lay down our pride and admit that we can’t live this life of faith in isolation. We admit our need for one another. We admit that we not only need Christ in me but we need Christ in you to help strengthen me on this journey of faith.

All of these things–the drawing near to God, the living in hope, the love and good deeds, the encouraging each other, the meeting together as the church–are the proper response to the good news of the gospel. This is what gratitude for our rescue looks like.

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