Jesus Sympathizes With Us
A. We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize: Thus far the writer to the Hebrews was careful to document both the deity of Jesus (Hebrews 1:4-14), while careful to also remember His compassionate humanity (Hebrews 2:5-18). It means that Jesus, God the Son, enthroned in heaven, our High Priest, can sympathize with our weaknesses.
- To the ancient Greeks, the primary attribute of God was apatheia, the essential inability to feel anything at all. Jesus isn’t like that. He knows and He feels what we go through. The ancient Greek word translated sympathize literally means “to suffer along with.”
- What makes the difference is that Jesus added humanity to His deity, and lived among us. When you have been there, it makes all the difference. We might hear of some tragedy at a high school, and feel a measure of sorrow. But it is nothing like the pain we would feel if it were the high school we attended.
B. But was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin: Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted and to battle against sin, though He was never stained by sin. “His sinlessness was, at least in part, an earned sinlessness as he gained victory after victory in the constant battle with temptation that life in this world entails.” (Leon Morris)
- Sometimes we think that because Jesus is God, He could never know temptation the way we do. In part, this is true: Jesus faced temptation much more severely than we ever have or ever will. The Sinless One knows temptation in ways we don’t, because only the one who never gives into temptation knows the full strength of temptation. It is true that Jesus never faced temptation in an inner sense the way we do, because there was never a sinful nature pulling Him to sin from the inside. But He knew the strength and fury of external temptation in a way and to a degree that we can never know. He knows what we go through and He has faced worse.
- “Yet He endured triumphantly every form of testing that man could endure, without any weakening of His faith in God or any relaxation of His obedience to Him. Such endurance involves more, not less, than ordinary human suffering.” (A.B. Bruce)
C. Sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted: Jesus can sympathize with our weakness and our temptation, but He cannot sympathize with our sin. We should not think that this makes Jesus less sympathetic to us, and that He could understand us better if He had sinned Himself.
- “But listen to me; do not imagine that if the Lord Jesus had sinned he would have been any more tender toward you; for sin is always of a hardening nature. If the Christ of God could have sinned, he would have lost the perfection of his sympathetic nature.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)
Based on the Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik.