What Good Friday Is All About
Consequently, he [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
The great passion of the writer of Hebrews is that we “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. And 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 that inner room in the old 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. The great aim of this writer is 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, that we experience what the old Puritans called communion with 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 absolutely still, or while lying in a hospital bed, or while sitting in a pew listening to a sermon.
Drawing near is not moving from one place to another. It is a directing of the heart into the presence of God who is as distant as the holy of holies in heaven, and yet as near as the door of faith. He is commanding us to come, to approach him, to draw near to him.
The Center of the Gospel
In fact, this is the very heart of the entire New Testament gospel, isn’t it? That 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. It’s all so that we might draw near. And all of this is for our joy and for his glory. He 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).
These readings are produced from DesiringGod and freely available for distribution here: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/love-to-the-uttermost