December 3rd: Draw Near to the Savior

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

HEBREWS 13:20–21

One of the things pleasing in God’s sight is that his people keep on drawing near to him forever and ever. And so he is working in us this very thing.

Hebrews 13:21 says he is doing this “through Jesus Christ,” which means, at least, that Jesus has purchased this grace for us by his death and that Jesus prays and asks the Father for it on the basis of that death.

In other words, when the writer of Hebrews tells us that drawing near to God is what qualifies us for the eternal saving work of our High Priest, he doesn’t mean to say that our High Priest leaves us alone in our sinful bent and natural resistance, as if we could draw near to God on our own. Rather, our High Priest intercedes for us and asks the Father to do just what Hebrews 13:21 says he will do—work in us what is pleasing in his sight—“through Jesus Christ.”

Let me illustrate this by the way it looked when our High Priest was on the earth. In Luke 22:31–32 Jesus says to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” So already Jesus was interceding for his own when he was on the earth. And he was praying that Peter’s faith—that his faith—our faith—not fail.

Moreover, he was so confident in his prayer for Peter that he said, “When you have turned again,” not, “If you turn again.” So even though Peter stumbled in denial, his faith did not fail utterly. That is what the Lord prays for us. This is one more piece of our great security and hope in this great epistle of assurance.

Is it not a wonderful thing this Christmas season to know that God bids us come? That this great, holy God of righteousness and wrath says, “Draw near to me through my Son, your High Priest. Draw near to me. Draw near to me”?

This is his invitation in these Christmas readings: “Draw near to me through your High Priest. Draw near to me in confession and prayer and meditation and trust and praise. Come. I will not cast you out.” For Christ “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).