Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession… Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. –Hebrews 4:1-16
It is unfortunate, and quite unintentional, that we have lost the sense of priesthood in our Lutheran churches. To be sure, we have preferred the notion of “pastor” for our clergy, and that is as it should be. But from the earliest times of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the form of worship has centered on “priesthood”—the bridging of the distance between God and man.
And it would be useful to us today, because it would help us to understand how it is, then, that Jesus is our High Priest, who in His death, resurrection and ascension has passed through the heavens to approach the very throne of grace, to intercede for us, to make our great God accessible to us, though we are yet sinful human beings.
Without our High Priest, the way to the Father would be still closed, so that we could not draw near or come to God in our present broken state. But Jesus Christ has become both our High Priest, but also the Lamb being sacrificed. He will be the sacrifice—as well as offer the sacrifice—that our sins might be forgiven, and our relationship with the Father restored. Now we are reconciled to Him, through the blood of the Lamb.
Holy Saturday is a day for thinking of such deep things. We have witnessed our Lord’s crucifixion and burial, but we are not yet to Easter joy. We have passed Good Friday, but are not yet at the empty tomb. We have a day for silent prayer, and ponderous meditation upon the events of our salvation. And…we take a moment to consider what it means that we have such a great High Priest, through whom we can now draw near to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help in our time of need. We have walked a long way together in these Lenten (now Holy Week) devotions. The destination has not been Good Friday or even Easter Sunday, but the throne of grace—that we might come near to God with confidence as the redeemed, saved people we now are!
Lord God, on this day when our Lord’s body lay in the tomb, give us time for rest and reflection, silence and prayer, that the full meaning of our redemption will settle upon our hearts and minds, as we prepare to celebrate the Easter feast; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Taken from Wendel, David, From Ashes to Easter, Ashes Lenten Devotional Booklet, North American Lutheran Church.