The Sacrifice of Praise

The sacrifice of praise [Hebrews 13:15] . . . is offered to God through the Lord Jesus. All our praise and prayer passes through Him before it reaches God the Father; our great High Priest removes all impurities and imperfections and adds His own virtue to it:

To all our prayer and praises
Christ adds His sweet perfume;
And love the censer raises
These odors to consume. (Mary B. Peters)

The sacrifice of praise is the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. The only worship that God receives is that which flows from redeemer lips.

Believer’s Bible Commentary, 2nd Edition (on Hebrews 13:15)

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

Our Great High Priest

Hebrews thus considers also the present lordship of Christ as a high priestly Office. As a result of this conception of the High Priest, the author connects as closely as possible Christ’s present work and His once-for-all act. “Consequently He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (7:25). This quite clearly indicates a high priestly office which Christ continues to fulfil in the present since His resurrection, and eis to pavteles (throughout all time).

—Oscar Cullmann, “Jesus the High Priest”, Christology of the New Testament,  101-2

One Mediator

The Christology of Hebrews also undoes forever any notion of mystical communion with God. By this, I mean that communion which bypasses Christ to have a direct experience of divine enlightenment, or some numinous spiritual feeling. This is important when we see many contemporary worship songs, activities and approaches which emphasis the inner psychological/emotional state of the worshipper and use it as the criterion to decide if worship has been effective or not. Hebrews will not let us replace the mediation of Christ with the mediation of the worship leader who is able to engender an effective response, which is then interpreted as direct communion with God.

—Noel Due, Created For Worship:  From Genesis to Revelation to You, 181