I’m big on counting the cost of following Jesus. I believe Christians are more fulfilled when they are doing hard things for Jesus in response to His grace.
One of the main questions I ask believers when they’re struggling through the tough demands Jesus puts on His faithful followers is, “Where do you go to meet Jesus when you need Him most?”⇦Tweet that! If a Christian has a fuzzy answer to that, I know that they’re more likely to fall apart during trials, to grow weary and lose heart. And if they give me that blank stare or try to impress me with a sufficiently religious answer, I love to turn them to Jesus’ great invitation to meet Him at the safest place in the universe.
Often, there’s a sigh of relief as they begin reading the first verse.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
This is a precious and meaningful invitation to every believer in Christ, to every Christian, but the context tells us why these three verses are especially meaningful to the devoted follower of Christ, the disciple. Especially when following is hard—when He’s asking us to deny ourselves and take up our cross.
Meet Jesus At a Place to “Rest”
Hebrews 4 is all about God offering a place of rest to His people and warning us that we may not enter that rest. Some view this as a warning against losing the rest of heaven. (What? Jesus is suddenly going back on His promise to give eternal life to all who believe?) Others say that this refers to losing the rest of God’s comfort and care. (True, but as you’ll see, I believe this is the comfort and care reserved for those who follow in spite of the pain of following.)
Though heaven will be restful, and it is comforting to rest in the care of God, neither of these concepts of rest fit the context. The “rest” of Hebrews 4 is clearly the rest that the generation of Israelites referred to in Psalm 95 failed to enter (4:5). It is also a rest that Christians might miss if they are not diligent, but disobey (4:11).
No one can accuse God of being “unfair” if He refuses to grant them entry into this rest because His powerful word exposes not only their actions, but also their motives (4:12-13).
I believe the “rest” of Hebrews 4:1-13 is the full experience of the life God offers His people, in this life and the life to come. For that generation of Israelites, it was inheriting the land. There was nothing “restful” about that process, since it meant warfare, suffering, and hardship. Their “rest” was the experience of receiving God’s full provision as they pursued and obtained God’s full blessing through obedience. There is nothing “restful” about the process for a New Testament believer, since it means hardship, disappointment, spiritual warfare, and suffering.
What is the command of Hebrews 4:14-16? Hold fast to your confession! Don’t be like the disobedient generation that did not hold fast to their confession that the God of Abraham had promised them this land. Don’t be found wanting according to the revealing standard of Scripture that determines your accountability to Christ. Hold firmly to the faith you profess, live in a way that demonstrates your belief in Christ and His commands. (In Mark’s language, “Follow Me!”)
What is the comfort of Hebrews 4:14-16? The priesthood of your Lord Jesus offers you every resource you need to pursue your “rest,” especially His invitation to His throne of grace! Your High Priest understands the struggles of pursuing your rest because He fully identifies with your trials and understands your temptation to disobey and give up. He has literally felt the full force of your temptation and trials. He has felt it deeper than you ever will because He resisted the same temptations and trials all the way to perfect obedience!
What is the confidence of Hebrews 4:14-16? When we bow before Jesus at His throne of grace in prayer, we are in the safest place in the universe! When we bow before Jesus at His throne of grace in prayer, we are in the place where we will find mercy and grace to help in our time of need!
The Safest Place In the Universe to Meet Jesus
Everything changed when Jesus Christ finished His work on earth—to walk among us, die for our sins, rise from the dead, and ascend to the Right Hand of the Father. One of the most important changes had to do with the prayers of the saints. For the first time those who belong to God are invited to the throne of grace to offer their requests before a compassionate High Priest who knows exactly what it feels like to be human!
For the devoted disciple of Christ, the mystery of suffering and the mystery of prayer are connected. Both suffering for Him on earth and kneeling before His throne of grace in heaven are a privilege. Both are required, and you will not keep following Him through the suffering on earth if you’re not bowing before His throne of grace in heaven along the Way.
Your redeemed heart will only be at rest when you are living out of who you are in Christ, when you are pursuing and experiencing your destiny in Him. In Mark’s language, when you are following Him. And if you want to stay in that place of rest, if you want to keep on following Him, even when it’s hard, you need to keep meeting Him at His throne of grace!
If you want to follow Jesus, you must learn to meet Him at the safest place on earth!⇦Tweet that!
When you think that following Christ is too hard, come to His throne of grace to receive your perfectly prepared dose of mercy and grace from your Savior for that specific time of need.
Can you imagine Jesus’ joy when you meet Him there?
There’s no more fulfilled Christian than the one standing before Jesus at His throne of grace asking for mercy to help as she pours out her life in His name.
What would your life look like if you learned how to meet Jesus there, to rest in His mercy as you serve, sacrifice, and suffer for Him?
What are you waiting for?