In His Presence

The new possibility created by the priestly ministry of Jesus is that through Him we may enter into the sanctuary, the place of God’s holy presence:

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain (that is, through His flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach . . . (Hebrews 10:19-21).

Here is the climax of the writer’s argument. Through the living, dying, and ascending of  Christ, we can enter the sanctuary. We can stand in the holy presence of God and offer an unending sacrifice of praise (13:15). This is the joy, the delight and the reality of Christian worship: it takes place in the presence of God through the priesthood of Christ. This is why Calvin could say that Christ is our altar on whom we lay our oblations (Institutes IV.8.17) and also, commenting on Hebrews 2:12, that “Christ leads our songs, and is the chief composer of our hymns” (1853, 67). It is also here, within the sanctuary, that our whole life is lived as a sacrificial giving to God. This is the joy, the delight, the reality of Christian living: it is life lived in the presence of God through the priesthood of Christ. To be in the presence of God is the reality of Christian worship and living, because Christ has opened up for us a “new way” (10:20) through all that would divide us from God’s presence; and this way is nothing else but Himself. Following Westcott’s construction of 10:20, we have “a way through the veil, that is, a way consisting in His flesh, His true human nature” (1903, 322).

Christopher Cocksworth, “The Cross, Our Worship and Our Living,” in Atonement Today, 118-119

Emmanuel! (17)

“For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying,

‘I will tell of your name to My brethren;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.'”  (Hebrews 2:11-12)

The writer uses some of the boldest incarnational language in the New Testament in order to define the identity of Jesus as the Son of the Father, but at the same time maintains a radical emphasis on His humanity. His reason for demonstrating the latter is to establish the right of Jesus to be the high priest or mediator of the New Covenant.  The role of the priest was to act on behalf of the people in relation to the holy presence of God. In order to represent the people, the priest had to be both one of the people and chosen by God to fulfil this role.  Jesus qualified on both grounds, as our brother (2.11) and as God’s Son (5.5).

Christopher Cocksworth, “The Cross, Our Worship and Our Living,” Atonement Today, 116