The Throne of Grace
We do not have a high priest unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Then let
us boldly approach the throne of grace to receive mercy.
—Hebrews 4:15–16 (NRSV, adapted)
MARY LUTI | Jesus may have been sinless, but he doesn’t expect you to be. So don’t get hung up on that “without sin” part. Pay attention instead to the “in every respect” part. Jesus was tested by life just as we are, as he struggled for an authentic human life and died a fully human death.
He knows what is in us—the endless string of promises we’ve broken; the thousand times we’ve sworn off something and done it again; all our sordid, sad, and stupid sins; our exhausting efforts to prove ourselves to God, who isn’t actually interested in our self-per- fection projects, but just wants us to surrender and come home.
Jesus was a fellow testee, and life’s testing turned him tender towards human weakness. As we struggle through life, driven by fears, hapless in choosing, distracted by shiny objects, overcrowded with longings, running on empty, running from empty, he sympathizes.
The ancient creeds say that he will come again in glory “to judge the living and the dead.” Don’t worry about the “judge” part, either. For who best to judge us than the one whose visceral compassion for weakness makes it impossible for him to condemn us?
Christ’s judgment seat is a throne of mercy. We can approach it boldly, as if there’s nothing to fear. Because there isn’t. If that doesn’t make you grateful and glad, nothing will.
PRAYER May life’s testing turn me tender, too, O Mercy. And may my tenderness ease my neighbor’s way to you.

About the Writer:
MARY LUTI is a long-time seminary educator and the author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles on the practice of the Christian life.

Source: “Running from Empty” | 2023 Lent Devotional by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group, made up of United Church of Christ ministers and writers who collaborate on resources for people in the church, outside the church, and not sure about the church.