Summary: Jesus is our sympathetic High-priest, fully understanding our weaknesses.
Our sympathetic High-priest – 4:15
Reading Matthew 4:1-11; Heb 4:14-5:10
Jesus wept. –John 11:35
15 For we do not have a High-priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
We touched on this before when we looked at Chapter 2, but the truth is so wonderful that it bears repetition!
Have you ever felt really down, perhaps you were unwell, or somehow things were going badly. An acquaintance saw how blue you were and decided to cheer you up. They told you that your problems weren’t so bad and proceeded to tell you that it was your own fault and you needed to get a grip, pick yourself up by your bootstraps, dust yourself down and get on with your life! Now didn’t that helpful advice make you feel a lot better? … No? You do surprise me!
The truth was that they didn’t understand what you were going through. They didn’t understand how badly your head or heart ached. If they had they would have been much more sympathetic, now there is a lovely word. When we are blue, true sympathy is better than all the know-it-alls who think they have all the answers – but don’t really understand the half of it.
Of course God knows us through and through. He knows what makes us tick – after all he designed and made us. He knows the cause of our health problems and our heartaches. But if we spoke to Him about our troubles we might expect Him to respond with indifference, most manufacturers don’t care after they have got your money – you try going back for help with a 20, 50, or 80 year old product that has gone faulty! Even if you did find someone who wanted to be helpful you might expect a diagnosis that required a PhD to understand and a billionaire’s bank account to pay for it.
The Bible reminds us, time and time again, that it is not like that with God. He is interested in our concerns and heartaches. And not just like a curious scientist watching laboratory rats, but because He loves us. Perhaps, though, you think that He is so remote, up in heaven that He can’t understand how we feel. He may understand the theory of our problems – what is wrong with our dickey ticker, creaky joints, or auto-immune system. This verse makes it clear that this just isn’t so. Jesus doesn’t only understand the theory of our weaknesses – He understands the feeling of our infirmities as the AV puts it. Why? Because He stood where we stand and faced the sort of problems that we face! Let’s think about it for a while:
• Have you had a tough life? So did Jesus! He was born in a stable and lived the life of a peasant.
• Do you have housing problems? Jesus had no place to lay His head. Mt 8:20
• Do family responsibilities weigh you down? There is no mention of Joseph after Jesus 12th birthday. Jesus probably had to support Mary and His half brothers and sisters from an early age. As He died in agony on the cross He even had to think who would take care of His mother.
• Do people undervalue you or put you down? Those who lived in Nazareth saw Him only as the boy who had grown up among them, the son of Joseph and Mary. When He tried to reveal His true identity they tried to stone Him. Mk 6:3; John 6:42
• Do people slander you and make unkind remarks? They called Jesus illegitimate – John 8:41, a glutton and a drunkard. Mt 11:19
• Are you misunderstood? He ate with the dregs of society and they said he was just as bad – Mt 9:11. He healed a paralysed man they called Him a blasphemer – Mt 9:3. He cast out demons and they said He did it by the power of Satan – Mt 12:24.
• Are you under too much pressure? Crowds followed him everywhere, until He was so tired he slept in a little boat in the middle of a storm Mt 8:24
• Are you hated or unjustly treated? The Pharisees saw Jesus as a threat and hated Him so much that they determined to destroy him, arrested Him, rigged His trial and arranged His execution. His judge knew that he was innocent, but condemned him to death anyway – it was politically expedient – Mt 12:14.
• Are you lonely or let you down by your friends? Judas sold Him; Peter denied Him with oaths and curses; His closest friends deserted Him. The crowd who had screamed His praises a week before bayed for His death. On the cross even His Father forsook Him.