Having started by examining Jesus’ identification with us, making him our great High Priest, the author develops that theme further in chapters 4 and 5. Through sharing in our sufferings and struggles, Jesus hasn’t just fulfilled some arbitrary requirement to allow him to serve as High Priest; he is a mediator who understands our struggles and pains, so that he can understand us.
From 5:11 onwards, the writer brings in a response to what Jesus has done. As he went through a process of being made ready to be our mediator, we have a process to go through. We begin with receiving the gift of salvation, and the Holy Spirit. We are not to stay as ‘newborn’ Christians, only ever taking in what is easy to digest. We are to grow in understanding, and in discernment – seeing the world through the eyes of informed faith so that we can do good in the world.
The author then comes back to our hope – the hope of following Jesus, who has become ‘a forerunner on our behalf’ to lead the way into the Father’s presence.
How can we grow to maturity in faith? It’s a lifelong journey and work, founded on the grace of God’s gift in Christ. Faith, hope and service of others all seem to be part of the author’s picture of the maturing Christian.
There’s also a wonderful image in 6:7;
Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
The image includes the production of a crop – usually an image of good deeds – but begins with being receptive to God’s refreshing and ends with blessing. Stillness and receiving from God are often lost in our rush to achieve and serve God in practice. Perhaps by doing a bit less we might achieve a bit more, and even recognise more of God’s blessing.