Have you ever played peek-a-boo with a baby? They can’t walk, they can’t talk, but they can smile and giggle. And, for some reason, the surprise of seeing your face pop out from behind your hands primes the pump, and the sustains the flow, of what seems like perpetual joy. And though you do it over and over and over and over again, it never seems to get old. If your experience has been like mine, you’ll usually tap out before they’re done being delighted.
That’s the dynamic that comes to mind this morning as I chew on drawing near for mercy, and then finding grace.
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 4:16 ESV)
Receive mercy. Find grace. That’s the confidence we’re to have every time we choose to deal with our time of need by drawing near to the throne of grace.
And what kind of need are we talking about? Though I’m confident it can apply to all types of need, I think specifically it’s the need to somehow deal with our sin.
I think the “then” of let us then looks back to a living and active word which splays the human heart and soul and discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart (4:12). That its context is the fresh realization that nothing is hidden from God’s sight, “but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (4:13). And that’s problematic. Everything laid bare before the One to whom we must give account.
But then, there’s Jesus. A great High Priest who has passed through the heavens. One able to sympathize with the weakness of our flesh and our repeated failure to do the good we want to do, and frustrating propensity to keep on doing the evil we don’t want to do (Rom. 7:18-19). One who knows what it is, in every respect, to be tempted as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:14-15).
In light of this then: in light of being exposed; in light of the weakness of our flesh and the repeated failure of our will; in light of a great High Priest; in light of it all, draw near to His throne, the throne of grace. Draw near to receive mercy. And when you do, find grace.
Our only plea for sin is mercy — and if we think we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (1Jn. 1:8). All we can seek is God’s kindness in not giving us what our sin deserves. Our confidence to do so founded in the once for all sacrifice for sin, when Jesus our great High Priest offered Himself as the spotless Lamb of God to atone for all our transgressions. I draw near to receive mercy.
But when I draw near to receive mercy what else do I find? I find grace. Not only do I not get what I deserve, but I find that I also get what I don’t deserve. God’s kindness but the key which unlocks the floodgates of God’s grace. Finding myself not only forgiven through the finished work of the cross, but also loved with an everlasting love. Not only deemed holy because Jesus is holy, but delighted in as a son or daughter because we have received the Spirit of adoption.
We come to the throne, again and again, over and over and over, confessing our sin and repenting of our flesh-fueled actions — the way to the throne a well-worn path to the cross.
And, again and again, over and over and over, we are surprised by grace. His unmerited favor unexpected. Overwhelmed with the fresh reminder of being blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3). Overcome, knowing again that, despite ourselves, we have been raised up with Him, and seated with Him in heavenly places “so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7). Experiencing, as if for the first time all over again, His abundant love and unfathomable acceptance washing away our guilt and shame.
We seek mercy, again and again, over and over and over. Confident not in ourselves but in the blood of Jesus. Shed once, applied forever.
But, while we come to receive mercy, again and again, we find, in addition, grace, over and over and over. And we don’t know whether to laugh with unexpected joy or cry with heartfelt appreciation. Often we do both.
Drawing near for mercy. Finding grace.
To God be the glory.