Holy Week Devotionals Day Five:
What Good Friday Is All About
since we have confidence to enter the holy places 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 draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
The great passion of the writer of Hebrews is that we would “draw near” to God (Hebrews 4:16, 7:25, 10:22, 11:6). Draw near to his throne to find all the help we need. Draw near to him, confident that he will reward us with all that he is for us in Jesus. This is clearly what he means in Hebrews 10:22, because verse 19 says that we have confidence “to enter the holy place,” that is, the new heavenly “holy of holies,” like the inner room in the tabernacle of the Old Testament where the high priest met with God once a year, and where his glory descended on the ark of the covenant.
So, the one command, the one exhortation, that we are given in Hebrews 10:19–22 is to draw near to God. This is the great aim of this writer, that we get near God, that we have fellowship with him, that we not settle for a Christian life at a distance from God, that God not be a distant thought, but a near and present reality.
But what does it mean to “draw near to God?” This drawing near is not a physical act. It’s not building a tower of Babel, by your achievements, to get to heaven. It’s not necessarily going into a church building or walking to an altar at the front. It is an invisible act of the heart. You can do it while standing still, or while lying in a hospital bed, or while sitting in a pew listening to a sermon, or driving to the grocery store, or being stuck in your house because of a worldwide pandemic.
Drawing near is not moving from one place to another. It is a directing of your heart into the presence of God who is as distant as the holy of holies in heaven, and yet as near as your closest friend. He is commanding us to come, approach him, draw near, and focus our hearts on him.
This is the very heart of the entire New Testament gospel! Christ came into the world to make a way for us to come to God without being consumed in our sin by his holiness.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
“For through him [Christ] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18).
“We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:11).
This is the center of the gospel—this is what the Garden of Gethsemane and Good Friday are all about—that God has done astonishing and costly things to draw us near. He has sent his Son to suffer and to die so that through him we might draw near. And all of this is for our joy and for his glory.
The reality, that is often hard for our human pride to accept, is that God does not need us. If we stay away, he is not impoverished. He does not need us in order to be happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. But he magnifies his mercy by giving us free access through his Son, in spite of our sin, to the one Reality that can satisfy us completely and forever, namely, himself. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). The beauty of the gospel is that God does not need us, but that he loves us and desires what is best for us to such a degree that he would give himself in our place, in order that we might have the joy of experiencing him forever. This is what Good Friday is all about, that because of God’s infinite love, mercy, and grace, we who were once far off because of our sin can now draw near to God because of what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf.
As we think through and reflect upon the meaning of Good Friday, pray:
That God would focus your mind on the love that Jesus has shown to sinners like us.
Thank him for his mercy and grace that we do not deserve.
Ask that, through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, you would never become numb to the sacrifice of Christ on your behalf to show his love for you.
Also, as we focus this week on what Jesus has done to bring salvation to his people, take this opportunity each day to pray for someone who does not know the Lord and ask God for opportunities for you to share the gospel with them.