It’s difficult to write for an audience you don’t know. The pastor who penned the Letter to the Hebrews clearly knew his readers, since he is able to reference their circumstances and sufferings with some detail. But I don’t have that luxury in writing for you! However, I imagine that you, dear reader, know much more about deep snow than I (a Southern boy, born and bred) do. As you know (and as I’m told that), when walking through snow that’s above your knees, it’s exhausting to move over long distances. I have walked across soybean fields, where the plants grow very densely, causing me to “high-step” the whole way. After a hundred yards or so, it stops being fun!
I imagine, though, that there’s one thing that might make your walk easier. If someone has gone before you to tramp down the snow, and if you’re able to walk in their footsteps, it must make a night-and-day difference! There are still problems, but because someone else has already done the far harder work, you’d be able to make it pretty easily.
So it is with the Christian life:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Being a Christian is meant to be a lifelong, dedicated game of follow the leader. Jesus is impeccably qualified to be our Savior—literally! That is, he’s perfectly suited to understand and feel for us, since he is one of us. There is no circumstance we go through that is foreign to Jesus. No one “gets” the human experience, with all its ups and downs, like him.
And to top it off, Jesus was impeccable (from the Latin peccare, “to sin”). Consider how amazing it is for Jesus, having slogged through the same life as us, without sinning at all. As a young child and teenager, he never failed to love God and people perfectly. He was tempted in every way—think about that: every way—that we are. But he never gave in and succumbed to disobedience or an unloving heart. And now, as he serves as God’s appointed mediator, he can beckon to us from heaven, as it were, saying, “Where I am, you can be, too” (see John 14:2-3).
What’s that mean for us? It means that the heavy trudging through a nasty and broken world—the really heavy trudging—is finished. What we face in this world really is hard, but it’s nothing compared to what the Son of God had to do—and did. So we can come to God. It really is possible for us to follow him all the way to the end, and we really must. We cannot give in to the pressures to loosen our grip on the gospel. And while we wait to reach heaven ourselves, it’s okay that we’re needy. In fact, only the needy find help, since only they know they can approach God with confidence (amazing!) and find undeserved grace and mercy when it’s needed.
Keep trudging. The way is clear.