Day 355: The Hand that Holds the Scalpel (Hebrews 4:12-16)

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13

Through the Bible: Hebrews 1-6

Hebrews 4:12-13 would be terrifying if you took it by itself. God’s word pierces us like a double-edged sword. It slices through fat and flab and muscle and sinew, laying bare the intentions of the heart. Under God’s word, we are as naked and exposed as a patient on an operating table. And if all you had was Hebrews 4:12-13, there would be no comfort in God’s word at all. Only the terror and shame of exposure.

But we don’t have to stop with verse 13. Because verse 14 follows it:

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 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.

I can approach the throne of grace with confidence because I know Jesus has been there. There is nothing—no rejection, no temptation, no anxiety—that I can bring to Jesus that he is unable to sympathize with. The only difference is that He found His way out of every valley without sinning.

So verses 14-15 negate the terror of verses 13-14. Because of my great high priest, I can submit to the the double-edged sword of God’s Word, knowing that the surgery the Great Physician is performing is for my healing.

I had breakfast this morning with one of my best friends. He is a recovering alcoholic, who is dealing with PTSD, struggling with how to love his wife well, coping with anxiety and depression, learning how to daily avoid the temptations of alcohol and porn, and desiring to be the best father and Christ-follower he can be.

And he is discipling me.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Isn’t it the other way around? You are the pastor. You’re the one who’s been to seminary. Aren’t you discipling him?”

I said what I said. Because he’s the guy that I can talk with easier than anyone else. I can ask him about how to cope with my own anxiety and depression, and my own closet full of temptations. I can confess to him my failures in loving my wife well and leading my children. And he will listen to me. He will love me with tears in his eyes. And then, like the Marine he is, he will kick me in the butt and tell me what I need to do.

He can do this because he’s been in the hole where I am. Just as I can trust my Jesus with the darkest parts of my heart because I know he’s been there, I can trust the guy who is discipling me. Sure, there are days when I’m the guy on the rim of the hole, reaching my hand down to help him out. But just as often, he’s reaching down to me. And on those days, I know I can grab hold with confidence, because he knows the way out of the hole.

Author: James

I pastor Glynwood Baptist Church in Prattville, Alabama. I read a lot, write a little, and drink lots of coffee. I have three callings in life: surrender to Christ, be a husband to Trish, and be the best father/grandfather I can be. Everything else is an assignment, because everything else can be done by someone else.

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