It’s a God-accomplished relationship, not one that we contrive. This relationship we’re called to is not our building a tower, or our climbing stairs, or our somehow trying to maneuver our way to get close to him. Notice the language: We’re to draw near “with our hearts sprinkled clean from a evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” This echoes the God-centeredness of the New Covenant, when God promised that he’d write his law on our hearts, that he’d give us his Spirit, that he’d make us clean (Jeremiah 31:33). The point is that God is behind this. God did it. Draw near to him.
Two obstacles in the way
But it’s not that simple. There are obstacles in our way. There are many things, in fact, that might deter you from a rich relationship with God, but two in particular are worth mentioning: 1) the fear of judgment and 2) the fear of disappointment.
1 . The fear of judgment
The fear of judgment keeps you from a rich relationship with God because you just can’t believe that God can forgive your sin. You know your sin and guilt, and although you like the idea of a closer relationship with God, you wouldn’t dare pursue it. You think a person as messed up as you just isn’t supposed to be close to God. The fear of judgment imagines God frowning, crossing his arms, annoyed, angry, fed up with your mess-ups. He is not a Father running to meet you, but one waiting to punish you. How could you draw near to him?
2 . The fear of disappointment
The fear of disappointment, on the other hand, says, “Oh yeah, I get that relationship stuff. I’ve tried it before. Have you seen how crazy my life is?” This is a fear that doesn’t tempt us to stop believing; it tempts us to forfeit a life of intimacy with Jesus because we just don’t think that kind of life is possible for us. We’ve tried it. We just can’t do it. And therefore we’ve bunkered down into a Christian life solely about survival.
But God has something to say. If we struggle with either of these obstacles, Hebrews 10 speaks up with the good news that Jesus abolishes both fears at the cross.
Jesus Died for us
First, we can have a rich God-accomplished relationship with God because of Jesus’s sacrifice (Hebrew 10:19-20).
Notice how verse 19 begins, “Therefore, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus.” He means that we have access to God now because Jesus died in our place. The once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus has completely absorbed God’s anger towards us. Yes, we have sinned. Yes, we are sinners. Yes, we deserve punishment. But Jesus was the sacrifice for us. He died in our place. He bore our sins in his body on the tree. He suffered the wrath of God on our behalf.We don’t have to be afraid of God’s judgment anymore. If you are united to Jesus by faith, the anger is gone. The punishment has been paid. There is no more condemnation.
Jesus Prays for us
Second, we can have a rich God-accomplished relationship with God because Jesus prays for us (Hebrew 10:21).
The second part of verse 21 gives us another reason to draw near to God: Jesus prays for us. The writer tells us “. . . and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near . . .” Right beside the foundation of Jesus’s death in our place is this glorious picture of Jesus praying for us. The death of Jesus and the intercession of Jesus, then, provide the grounds by which we can have a rich relationship with God.