Summary: The finished work of Jesus gives us confident access to God.
A CALL TO DRAW NEAR
Broadly speaking, this passage represents the end of the argument for the pre-eminence of Jesus’ priesthood, and the beginning of some practical applications.
In expounding the sympathetic priesthood of Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16), the writer has already shown from the Old Testament that Jesus’ priesthood is superior to that of Aaron. The priesthood of Jesus is of quite another order (cf. Hebrews 5:6), both eternal and unchangeable (Hebrews 7:24). Jesus is both the sinless high priest, and the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 7:26-27).
Furthermore, Jesus’ priestly office is exercised in a superior sanctuary: the heavenly rather than that which was only a shadow of the heavenly (Hebrews 8:1-2). Jesus has a more excellent ministry because He is the mediator of a so-much-better covenant (Hebrews 8:6). The blood shed by our Lord Jesus Christ goes beyond the mere purification of the flesh, to the purging of our consciences: cleansing us from sin, and enabling us for the service of God (Hebrews 9:14).
The salvation of Jesus is viewed in all its reality: the past sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26); the present session at the right hand of God (Hebrews 9:24); and the fullness of salvation at His return, when He returns for those who are waiting expectantly for Him (Hebrews 9:28).
In many respects the opening verses of chapter 10 seem to be a reiteration of chapter 9 – but the writer is by now working towards the application of these truths in our lives. Jesus has finished the work which the Father sent Him to do (John 17:4; John 19:30). He is now seated, His work completed, at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:11-12). He awaits the culmination of all things, when His enemies will at last be “put under His feet” (Hebrews 10:13 clearly echoes Psalm 110:1 – Paul no doubt alludes to the same Old Testament verse in 1 Corinthians 15:25-26).
The application draws ever closer as the writer re-emphasises the one offering of Jesus (Hebrews 10:14). Although we are still being perfected in experience, in point of fact Jesus has already accomplished our perfection at the Cross – a past event with on-going consequences for our lifestyle. Sanctification, in this verse, is on-going action: “those who are being sanctified.”
It is interesting to note here that the Holy Spirit is witnessing to US through the Scriptures (Hebrews 10:15). He has re-introduced the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 in Hebrews 10:16; and He is now telling us that it is OUR sins and iniquities He will remember no more (Hebrews 10:17). If our sins are forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus, then there is no further need for the sacrificial system represented by tabernacle and Temple (Hebrews 10:18).
“Therefore” (Hebrews 10:19) introduces the whole practical section of the letter, but also specifically the application of this point. The finished work of Jesus gives us confident access to God. It is by His blood, and through the metaphorical “veil of His flesh” that we thus boldly approach (Hebrews 10:20).
With Jesus as our high priest (Hebrews 10:21), exhorts the writer, let us:
“Draw near” (Hebrews 10:22) faithfully, with a sincere heart; and in the certainty of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ (which we call “assurance of faith”). Make your approach boldly, having had your conscience (inwardly) cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and having been outwardly washed in the obedience of baptism. Furthermore, let us:
“Hold fast” (Hebrews 10:23) to the confession of our hope. Ours should be a sturdy hope, because He who made the promises is reliable!
Finally (Hebrews 10:24-25), let us be considerate of other Christians, encouraging one another to love and good deeds. Let us not neglect the meeting together of Christian community, both giving and receiving the word of exhortation – and all the more so, said our writer all those centuries ago, as we see “the day” approaching.