FOR WE DO NOT HAVE A HIGH PRIEST WHO CANNOT SYMPATHIZE WITH OUR
WEAKNESSES: ou gar echomen (1PPAI) archierea me dunamenon (PPPMSA)
sumpathesai (AAN) tais astheneiais hemon:
5:2; Exodus 23:9; Isaiah 53:4,5; Hosea 11:8; Matthew 8:16,17; 12:20;
Philippians 2:7,8) (Hebrews 2:17,18; Luke 4:2; 22:28) (Hebrews 7:26; Isaiah
53:9; John 8:46; 2Corinthians 5:21; 1Peter 2:22; 1John 3:5)
Though now ascended up on high,
He bends on earth a brother’s eye;
Partaker of the human name,
He knows the frailty of our frame.
Our fellow-suff’rer yet retains
A fellow-feeling of our pains;
And still remembers in the skies
His tears, his agonies, and cries.
In ev’ry pang that tends the heart,
The Man of sorrows had a part;
He sympathizes with our grief,
And to the suff’rer sends relief.
For - He explains why we can and should hold fast to our confession
of Jesus as our Messiah and Redeemer.
Do not have - He is saying in fact that despite His exalted
(heavenly) position and despite the fact that we don't see Him (as the
reader could see the High Priest most likely at the time of this writing)
does not (Greek word for "not" is ou = absolute negation) negate His ability to function as a priest today on our behalf,
a theme begun in chapter 2...
Therefore, He (Jesus) had to be made like His brethren in all things, that
He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to
God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself
was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid
(picture of one in need crying out for help) of those who are tempted (present
= from without, source of temptation
could be the world, the fallen flesh or the devil) . (Hebrews 2:17; 2:18-note).
In chapter 5 he writes that our High Priest Jesus...
can deal gently (metriopatheo from the adverb métrios = moderately,
and páthos = passion - literally moderate in one's passions toward another)
with the ignorant and misguided, since He Himself also is beset with
weakness (He 5:2-note)
[word study]) speaks of one who has power by virtue of His inherent
ability and resources. Thus He is able. The
describes His continually available power and ability!
Sympathize with our weaknesses - The Exalted One suffers together with
the weakness of the one tempted.
Jesus understands temptation as Luke reminds us recording that...
for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those
days; and when they had ended, He became hungry. (Luke 4:2)
Jesus addressing His disciples who had been with Him for 3 years
And you are those who have stood by Me in My trials (temptations -
the word describes a test to learn the nature or character of something) (Luke
with pictures an intimate connection with +
pascho [word study]
= suffer; English = "sympathy") is the a feeling for or capacity for sharing
in the interests of another - an affinity, association, or relationship
between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the
other; unity or harmony in action or effect.
Sympathy (As you read
the definition ponder Jesus' ability and desire to sympathize with us as His
brethren) - Fellow feeling;
the quality of being affected by the affection of another, with feelings
correspondent in kind, if not in degree. We feel sympathy for another when
we see him in distress, or when we are informed of his distresses. This
sympathy is a correspondent feeling of pain or regret. In medicine, a
correspondence of various parts of the body in similar sensations or
affections; or an affection of the whole body or some part of it, in
consequence of an injury or disease of another part, or of a local
affection. Thus a contusion on the head will produce nausea and vomiting. To
sympathize is to have a common feeling. To feel in consequence of
what another feels; to be affected by feelings similar to those of another,
in consequence of knowing the person to be thus affected. We sympathize with
our friends in distress; we feel some pain when we see them pained, or when
we are informed of their distresses, even at a distance. (Webster's 1828)
Jesus is able to experience pain jointly with us. The exalted High Priest
suffers together with the weaknesses of the those who are being tested and brings
This word group (sumpatheo, sumpathes = compassionate in 1Pe
3:8-note) often suggests a tender concern can also imply a power to
enter into another’s emotional experience of any sort.
It expresses the feeling of what others feel so that one can respond with
sensitivity to the need. People who have true "sympathy" generally do
not say, "I know how you feel." Because since they know how you feel, they
also know how unhelpful it is to hear someone say, "I know how you feel."
True sympathy is a fairly quiet, time-intensive, presence-intensive way of
The only other NT use of the verb sympatheo is also in Hebrews (no uses in the
For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted
joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves
a better possession and a lasting one.
The Lord you serve, the Savior to whom you look, is not aloof from your
trials, but feels them with intimate acquaintance. He is not disinterested
or cold to what you are going through; he came to this earth and took up our
human nature precisely so that he might now be able to have a fellow feeling
with us. Therefore, he is eminently able to represent you before the throne
of his heavenly Father, pleading your cause, securing your place, and
procuring the spiritual resources you need. (Reformed Expository Commentary)
[word study] from a = without + sthénos = strength,
bodily vigor) means without strength and figuratively describes a state of
incapacity to do or experience something.
Not sufferings, but weaknesses, moral and physical, which predispose to sin
and facilitate it.
The infirmities here are not sufferings but weaknesses, moral and
physical, that predispose one to sin, the weaknesses which undermine our
resistance to temptation and make it difficult for us to keep from sinning.
He was tempted "like as we are." On this last, Expositor's has a valuable
"The writer wishes to preclude the common fancy that there was some
peculiarity in Jesus which made His temptation wholly different from ours,
that He was a mailed champion exposed to toy arrows. On the contrary, He has
felt in His own consciousness, the difficulty of being righteous in this
world; has felt pressing upon Himself the reasons and inducements that
incline men to choose sin that they may escape suffering and death; in every
part of His human constitution has known the pain and conflict with which
alone temptation can be overcome; has been so tempted that had He sinned, He
would have had a thousandfold better excuse than ever man had. Even though
His divinity may have ensured His triumph, His temptation was true and could
only be overcome by means that are open to all. The one difference between
our temptations and those of Jesus is that His were without sin."
Astheneia - 24x in 23v - Matt 8:17; Luke 5:15; 8:2; 13:11f; John 5:5;
11:4; Acts 28:9; Rom 6:19; 8:26; 1 Cor 2:3; 15:43; 2 Cor 11:30; 12:5, 9f;
13:4; Gal 4:13; 1 Tim 5:23; Heb 4:15; 5:2; 7:28; 11:34. NAS =
ailments(1), diseases(1), ill(1), illness(1), infirmities(1), sickness(3),
sicknesses(2), weak(1), weakness(9), weaknesses(4).
Weaknesses does not refer directly to sin, but to feebleness or infirmity.
It refers to all the natural limitations of humanity, which, however,
include liability to sin. Jesus knew firsthand the drive of human nature
toward sin. His humanity was His battleground. It is here that Jesus faced
and fought sin. He was victorious, but not without the most intense
temptation, grief, and anguish.
of the great truth that our Jesus our Great High Priest is can
sympathize with our weaknesses - Bob Weber, past president of
Kiwanis International, told this story. He had spoken to a club in a
small town and was spending the night with a farmer on the outskirts
of the community. He had just relaxed on the front porch when a
newsboy delivered the evening paper. The boy noted the sign Puppies
for Sale. The boy got off his bike and said to the farmer, "How much
do you want for the pups, mister?" "Twenty-five dollars, son." The
boy's face dropped. "Well, sir, could I at least see them anyway?" The
farmer whistled, and in a moment the mother dog came bounding around
the corner of the house tagged by four of the cute puppies, wagging
their tails and yipping happily. At last, another pup came straggling
around the house, dragging one hind leg. "What's the matter with that
puppy, mister?" the boy asked. "Well, Son, that puppy is crippled. We
took her to the vet and the doctor took an X ray. The pup doesn't have
a hip joint and that leg will never be right." To the amazement of
both men, the boy dropped the bike, reached for his collection bag and
took out a fifty-cent piece. "Please, mister," the boy pleaded, "I
want to buy that pup. I'll pay you fifty cents every week until the
twenty-five dollars is paid. Honest I will, mister." The farmer
replied, "But, Son, you don't seem to understand. That pup will never,
never be able to run or jump. That pup is going to be a cripple
forever. Why in the world would you want such a useless pup as that?"
The boy paused
for a moment, then reached down and pulled up his pant leg, exposing
that all too familiar iron brace and leather knee-strap holding a poor
twisted leg. The boy answered, "Mister, that pup is going to need
someone who understands him to help him in life!"
disfigured by sin, the risen, living Christ has given us hope. He
understands us--our temptations, our discouragements, and even our
thoughts concerning death. By His resurrection we have help in this
life and hope for the life to come. (Brian
Bell, Calvary Chapel, Murrieta)
BUT ONE WHO HAS BEEN TEMPTED IN ALL THINGS AS WE ARE, YET WITHOUT SIN:
pepeirasmenon (RPPMSA) de kata panta kath homoioteta choris hamartias:
With sympathetic feelings touched,
He knows our feeble frame;
He knows what sore temptations are,
for He has felt the same.
But though He felt temptation’s pow’r,
unconquered He remained;
Nor, ‘midst the frailty of our frame,
by sin was ever stained.
But - sets up the contrast. Yes He is the perfect High Priest, but He
is also the High Priest who is able to understand.
from the noun peira = test
from peíro = perforate, pierce through to test durability of things)
is a morally neutral word simply meaning “to test”. Whether the test
is for a good (as it proved to be in Heb 11:17-note) or evil (Mt 4:1 "Then
Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by
the devil") depends on the intent of the one giving the test and also on
the response of the one tested. (See word study of another word meaning to
test or prove =
Peirazo - 38x in 34v - Matt 4:1,
3; 16:1; 19:3; 22:18, 35; Mark 1:13; 8:11; 10:2; 12:15; Luke 4:2; 11:16;
John 6:6; 8:6; Acts 5:9; 9:26; 15:10; 16:7; 24:6; 1 Cor 7:5; 10:9, 13; 2 Cor
13:5; Gal 6:1; 1 Thess 3:5; Heb 2:18; 3:9; 4:15; 11:17; Jas 1:13f; Rev 2:2,
10; 3:10. NAS = did(1), put(1), put to the test(2), tempt(2),
tempted(13), tempter(2), test(6), tested(2), testing(7), tried(2),
Peirazo can have several
nuances depending on the
(1) trials with a beneficial purpose and effect, (2) divinely permitted or
sent, (3) with a good or neutral significance, (4) of a varied character,
(5) definitely designed to lead to wrong doing, temptation, (6) of men
trying or challenging God.
The trials may come from God or under
His permissive will from Satan, or may be the result of our own wrong doing.
The solicitations to do evil come from the world, the evil nature (the
"flesh"), or the
When the Scriptural context clearly indicates the testing is an enticement
to evil, the word is most frequently translated by a form of the English
tempt, which carries that negative connotation and this NEVER refers to a
test from God.
Tempted here in He 4:15 is in the
signifying a past completed action with continuing results or effects -
believers continue to be the beneficiaries of the truth that Jesus experienced
all that we would be faced with and thus He can understand our plight and He
can come alongside with aid in our time of need.
Jesus has gone before us and has run the race and finished the course. And
as the One Who is fully also fully Man, He felt every pressure, experienced
every pull and suffered every allurement men face. And yet as the perfect
Man Jesus did so without failure and without sinning in thought, word or
deed! Never once did he stumble. Not even for a moment.
Regarding the phrase "in all things" Ryrie comments that...
Not that Christ experienced every temptation man does, but rather that He
was tempted in all areas in which man is tempted (the lust of the flesh, the
lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, 1John 2:16), and with particular
temptations specially suited to Him. This testing was possible only because
He took the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3), for had there not been an
incarnation, Jesus could not have been tempted (cf. James 1:13-note). Yet our
Lord was distinct from all other men in that He was without sin; i.e., He
possessed no sin nature as we do. Because He endured and successfully passed
His tests, He can now offer us mercy and grace to help in time of need, for
He knows what we are going through. (The
Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody Publishers)
J B Phillips has an interesting note in his book Ring
of Truth: A Translator's Testimony...
The record of the behaviour of Jesus on the way to the cross and of the
crucifixion itself is almost unbearable, chiefly because it is so intensely
human. If, as I believe, this was indeed God focused in a human being, we
can see for ourselves that here is no play acting; this is the real thing.
There are no supernatural advantages for this man. No celestial rescue party
delivered Him from the power of evil men, and His agony was not mitigated by
any superhuman anaesthetic. We can only guess what frightful anguish of mind
and spirit wrung from him the terrible words 'My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me?' But the cry 'It is finished!' cannot be one of despair. It
does not even mean 'It is all over.' It means 'It has been completed'—and
the terrifying task of doing God's will to the bitter end had been fully and
finally accomplished." [J. B. Phillips, Ring of Truth: A Translator's
Testimony. New York: Macmillan, 1967)
All things - No exceptions. Any and every temptation you have ever
experienced, our Lord has already experienced. No wonder He can sympathize.
As we are - As speaks of likeness and emphasizes correspondence
but not identity. Yes, Jesus was fully Man, but He was fully God, something
believers will never be.
Without sin - This quality is the outstanding difference that must
never be overlooked in considering the actual humanity of Jesus. He did not
yield to sin. But more than this is true. There was no latent sin in Jesus
to be stirred by temptation and no habits of sin to be overcome.
[word study]) originally conveyed the idea of missing the mark as when
hunting with a bow and arrow and then missing or falling short of any goal,
standard, or purpose. See literal use of the similar Hebrew word (Jdg 20:16-note).
did have "weaknesses"
common to our human nature (hunger, thirst, weariness, etc.). In fact, Satan used his
strongest weapons against these weakness, but utterly failed in every
attempt to stumble our Savior. Jesus
remained lived and walked about in a world of sin and yet remained undefiled
which enabled Peter to write that we were redeemed...
with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of
Christ. (1Pe 1:19-note)
These grand truths regarding Jesus' sinlessness even though sorely tempted
are the grounds
of our sure hope and His steadfast sympathy regarding our weaknesses.
Later the author reiterates that Jesus...
is able (has the inherent power) to save forever those who draw near to God
through (this preposition pictures the entree provided by Jesus as High
Priest) Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (what an
encouraging truth that He is continually interceding for us - see note on
same truth in Romans 8:34-note).
For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent,
undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews
knew no sin...
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become
the righteousness of God in Him. (2Cor 5:21)
committed no sin...
WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH (1Pe
There is no sin in Jesus...
And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there
is no sin. (1Jn 3:5)
John Calvin said that...
Christ was both a Sacrifice and a Priest. No other satisfaction for sin
could be found, and no one else was worthy to offer the only-begotten Son of
God. Christ now fills the office of Priest so the Father will look favorably
upon us and welcome us into His family.
This does not make Christ less tender, but more so. Anything that is sinful
hardens, and inasmuch as he was without sin, he was without the hardening
influence that sin would bring to bear on a man.
J C Philpot in Daily Portions
(September 30) on Hebrews 4:15, 16
What heart can conceive or tongue
recount the daily, hourly triumphs of the Lord Jesus Christ's all-conquering
grace? We see scarcely a millionth part of what he, as a King on his throne,
is daily doing; and yet we see enough to know that he ever lives at God's
right hand, and lives to save and bless.
What a crowd of needy petitioners
every moment surrounds his throne! What urgent needs and woes to answer;
what cutting griefs and sorrows to assuage; what broken hearts to bind up;
what wounded consciences to heal; what countless prayers to hear; what
earnest petitions to grant; what stubborn foes to subdue; what guilty fears
to quell! What grace, what kindness, what patience, what compassion, what
mercy, what love, and yet what power and authority does this Almighty
Sovereign display! No circumstance is too trifling; no petitioner too
insignificant; no case too hard; no difficulty too great; no seeker too
importunate; no beggar too ragged; no bankrupt too penniless; no debtor too
insolvent, for him not to notice and not to relieve.
Sitting on his throne of grace, His
all-seeing eye views all, His almighty hand grasps all, and His loving heart
embraces all whom the Father gave Him by covenant, whom He Himself redeemed
by His blood, and Whom the blessed Spirit has quickened into life by His
invincible power. The hopeless, the helpless; the outcasts whom no man cares
for; the tossed with tempest and not comforted; the ready to perish; the
mourners in Zion; the bereaved widow; the wailing orphan; the sick in body,
and still more sick in heart; the racked with hourly pain; the fevered
consumptive; the wrestler with death's last struggle--O what crowds of
pitiable objects surround his throne; and all needing a look from his eye, a
word from his lips, a smile from his face, a touch from his hand! O could we
but see what his grace is, what his grace has, what his grace does; and
could we but feel more what it is doing in and for ourselves, we would have
more exalted views of the reign of grace now exercised on high by Zion's
What Jesus Didn't Do -1 Peter 2:23 - I once heard a skeptic say that if Jesus
really was the Son of God, His sufferings must have been easier to bear.
This comment caused me to re-examine the Gospels. While reviewing the
incredible things Jesus did and said to accomplish our great salvation, I
also noted a number of things Jesus didn't do that are equally vital to our
Jesus didn't demand His own will (Matthew 26:39). He didn't call down
legions of angels to rescue Him (Matthew 26:53). He didn't defend Himself or threaten
His accusers (Mt 27:12, 13, 14). He didn't save Himself (Mark 15:31). He didn't come
down from the cross (Mark 15:32). He didn't stop loving and saving sinners (Luke
The fact that Jesus could have done these things intensified His agony and
increased the temptation to use His power for His own advantage. But He
didn't. Instead, He used His power for our benefit! This is described in
Hebrews 4:15, 16. Jesus suffered temptation the same as we do—except that He
didn't sin. So He can "sympathize with our weaknesses" (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, we
can approach His throne of grace boldly and obtain His "help in time of
need" (Hebrews 4:16).
Whatever your need is today, Jesus wants you to come and make full use of
this privilege. —Joanie Yoder (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Though Christ was tempted in all ways,
He did not sin in word or deed;
So now we can approach His throne
For grace to help in time of need. —Sper
Every temptation is an occasion to trust God
The Empathy Factor - In the summer of 2005, I led a group of high
school students on a missions trip to Jamaica. Our goal was to build a
playground at a school for deaf children in that beautiful island country.
Many of our students had previously visited the school and played with the
kids. But one of our teenagers had a special connection to the Jamaican
children. Chelsea too grew up in a world of quiet. Deaf since birth, she
didn't hear a sound until she was 11, when she received a cochlear implant.
Now able to hear about 30 percent of the sounds around her, Chelsea
understood the deaf in ways our other students could not. She had true
Empathy is a strong emotion. It can drive us to come alongside those who are
in similar situations. It can cause us to care in a deeper way for those
with whom we share a concern or a difficulty.
The most important example of empathy is the Lord Himself. He became one of
us (John 1:14). Because He did, He understands our struggles and weaknesses
(Heb. 4:15). Jesus knows what we are going through, for He endured this life
Himself. As we receive His grace in our time of need, we are better able to
come alongside others. —Dave Branon (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
God lived as man, as one of us,
And understands our need for grace;
He is not distant nor detached
From all the trials that we face. —Sper
No one understands like Jesus.
Open At The Top - A preacher was delivering a sermon before a
large congregation. He pointed out that believers aren't exempt from
trouble. In fact, some Christians are surrounded by trouble—trouble to the
right, trouble to the left, trouble in front, and trouble behind. At this, a
man who had served the Lord for many years, shouted, "Glory to God, it's
always open at the top!"
This man's confidence in God is fully supported by Hebrews 4. Because our
great High Priest, Jesus the Son of God, has ascended to heaven and is
interceding there for us, we have good grounds for trusting Him in the midst
of trouble (v.14). Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, for when
He lived on earth He was tempted in every way that we are, yet He never
sinned (v.15). His throne is completely approachable and is called "the
throne of grace" (v.16).
In Hebrews we're urged to look up from our trials and to approach that
throne boldly by faith. Through humble prayer, we will receive mercy for our
failures and grace to help us in our time of need (v.16).
Are life's trials and temptations hemming you in? Has the tempter told you
there's nowhere to go? Take heart. Keep looking up—it's always open at the
top! —Joanie Yoder (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
When life's afflictions batter you
Like waves upon the sand,
Remember to look up to God
And take His outstretched hand. —Sper
To improve your outlook, try the uplook.
The Hypocrite Excuse - I have a neighbor who can't stand
hypocrites. In fact, he tells me that he stopped going to church because he
saw too many hypocrites there.
He's not alone. That's one of the most popular reasons people give for
rejecting Christianity. My neighbor is right—there are too many hypocrites
in the church.
The problem of hypocrisy, though, is not the issue to pursue with people who
reject the gospel. The key is validity. Does the presence of hypocrites in
the church invalidate the gospel message?
In today's Bible reading, Paul accused Peter of hypocrisy (Galatians 2:13).
Did that invalidate the gospel Peter preached? Some people may think so,
perhaps because they expect Christians to be perfect. What might surprise
them, however, is that Jesus Himself warned against and condemned hypocrisy
(Matthew 6:1-18; 23:13-33). He hates it more than they do.
That brings us to a key point: The validity of Christianity is not based on
imperfect Christians but on the perfect Christ. Therefore, if a person could
show that Jesus was a hypocrite, he would have an argument. But that's
impossible. Jesus was sinless and without fault (John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus is the answer to the hypocrite excuse. —Dave Branon (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Lord, help me make my witness clear,
And labor faithfully,
So friends and neighbors turn to Christ
Through what they hear from me. —Anon.
Instead of looking at hypocrites, look at Jesus.
The Humanity Of Jesus - I once overheard this comment about a
person who was always critical: "The trouble with him is that he's forgotten
what it's like to be human!" How easily we forget our past struggles and
become unsympathetic toward those who are struggling today. But there's one
who hasn't forgotten what it's like to be human—Jesus.
In Hebrews 2:9-18, we "see" Jesus' humanity more fully. As a man, He was
able by God's grace to experience death in our place. And during His earthly
life Jesus was made perfect through His sufferings (v.10). But there's more.
"Both [Jesus] who sanctifies and [we] who are being sanctified are all of
one." Because of this oneness, Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers and
In a body like ours, Jesus lived, worked, and overcame every obstacle, so He
knows what it's like to be one of us. Having passed through all these
experiences without sinning, He then went to heaven and is now our
approachable High Priest at the throne of grace (vv.17-18; 4:14-16).
We all need someone who knows what it's like to be human yet has limitless
power to help us overcome our human weaknesses. Jesus is that one. He longs
to hear us speak His name and ask for His help.—Joanie Yoder (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
God lived as man, as one of us,
And understands our need for grace;
He is not distant nor detached
From all the trials that we face. —Sper
No one understands like Jesus.
The Puppy - A man put up a sign in his yard that read: “Puppies
for Sale.” Among those who came to inquire was a young boy. “Please,
Mister,” he said, “I’d like to buy one of your puppies if they don’t cost
too much.” “Well, son, they’re $25.” The boy looked crushed. “I’ve only got
two dollars and five cents. Could I see them anyway?” “Of course. Maybe we
can work something out,” said the man. The lad’s eyes danced at the sight of
those five little balls of fur. “I heard that one has a bad leg,” he said.
“Yes, I’m afraid she’ll be crippled for life.” “Well, that’s the puppy I
want. Could I pay for her a little at a time?” The man responded, “But
she’ll always have a limp.” Smiling bravely, the boy pulled up one pant leg,
revealing a brace. “I don’t walk good either.” Then, looking at the puppy
sympathetically, he continued, “I guess she’ll need a lot of love and help.
I sure did. It’s not so easy being crippled.” “Here, take her,” said the
man. “I know you’ll give her a good home. And just forget the money.”
Jesus Understands - Seven-year-old Andy had to have his left arm
amputated, and it wasn't easy to adjust to the loss. When he returned to
school, his teacher wanted his classmates to understand how difficult the
normal activities of life were for Andy. So one morning she told the other
students to keep their left arm behind their back. That meant they all had
to do everything with their right hand.
Little things like turning the pages of a book, writing neatly, and keeping
the paper from slipping became difficult. Buttoning clothing took extra
effort, and tying one's shoes became impossible. Andy's classmates
discovered that the only way they could really understand his problem was to
experience for themselves the difficulties he faced.
Because the Lord Jesus, God's Son, became a man, He can identify with our
trials and temptations. He understands the heartaches, pain, and
difficulties we face. Since "He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is
able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18). And because He was
without sin (4:15), He was able to die in our place as the perfect sacrifice
for our sins (2:14-17).
How thankful we can be that we have a Savior who understands and cares!
—Richard De Haan (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
God understands your heartache,
He knows the bitter pain;
O trust Him in the darkness,
You cannot trust in vain. —Smith
No one understands like Jesus
Since World War II, the name John W. Peterson has become synonymous with
fine gospel music. Over 1,000 gospel songs and hymns, as well as many other
musical works such as cantatas, anthems, choral arrangements, and gospel
film musicales, have been written by this gifted and dedicated composer. Mr.
Peterson gave this account of “No One Understands Like Jesus,” written
during the early years of his ministry:
At one time I had a fairly responsible position with a well-known gospel
ministry. One day a supervisory position opened up in my department. I was
led to believe that I was to be promoted to this position. I was thrilled
and challenged by the prospect of a new job. But I was by-passed, and a man
from the outside was brought in to fill the position. There followed days of
agonizing heart searching. It was all I could do to keep from becoming
bitter. One night I had occasion to spend an evening with the man who was
brought in for “my” position. For some reason or other, though otherwise a
very pleasant fellow, that night he became quite caustic in some of his
remarks to me, and I was deeply hurt. Later that evening, after returning
home, I was sitting in our living room thinking about the events of the past
days and about the bitter experiences of that evening. I began to feel very
alone and forsaken. Suddenly, I sensed the presence of the Lord in an
unusual way and my mind was diverted from my difficulties to His
faithfulness and sufficiency. Soon the thought occurred to me that He fully
understood and sympathized with my situation—in fact, no one could ever
completely understand or care as did He. Before long, the idea for the song
came and I began to write—
NO ONE UNDERSTANDS LIKE JESUS
John W. Peterson
No one understands like Jesus.
He’s a friend beyond compare;
Meet Him at the throne of mercy;
He is waiting for you there.
No one understands like Jesus;
Ev’ry woe He sees and feels;
Tenderly He whispers comfort,
And the broken heart He heals.
No one understands like Jesus
When the foes of life assail;
You should never be discouraged;
Jesus cares and will not fail.
No one understands like Jesus
When you falter on the way;
Tho you fail Him, sadly fail Him,
He will pardon you today.
No one understands like Jesus
When the days are dark and grim;
No one is so near, so dear as Jesus—
Cast your ev’ry care on Him.
Monday, April 9, 2001
Read: Hebrews 4:14-16
[Christ] has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.
- Hebrews 4:15
TODAY IN THE WORD - C. S. Lewis had this insight into temtation: “You find
out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.
A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know
what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one
sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by
always giving in . . . Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded
to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation
Jesus “has been tempted in every way, just as we are” (v. 15). Yet unlike
us, He remained perfect and never once gave in to any temptation. As a human
being, He experienced the full force of temptation, and this makes Him
uniquely qualified to sympathize with and intercede for us in our struggle
against sin (cf. Heb. 2:18).
Verse 14 contains both a command and the means to fulfill it. We are to hold
firmly to our faith. How? The means is Christ. He is our “great high priest”
who offered Himself as the sacrifice for sin. He accomplished His mission,
and is now back in heaven.
What specifically about Jesus should give us confidence and inspire faith?
The fact that He was tempted. From this, we know that He can understand when
we’re tempted. And from His sinlessness, we also know that He can help us
Jesus, the Son of Man, has exhaustive, experiential knowledge of what it’s
like to be a tempted human being. Every temptation we face has already been
defeated by Him!
Because of Christ’s brotherhood with us, we can pray and worship God with
total confidence. We’re not asking a distant God for help with troubles He
can’t relate to, but rather, we know with certainty that Christ understands
and sympathizes with our weaknesses (v. 15).
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - As you struggle daily with various temptations,
today’s Scripture verses should be a great encouragement. As a human being,
Jesus knew what temptation was, He has already faced every temptation and is
ready to help us.
This truth is so essential to spiritual warfare that we’d like you to write
out a prayer about it today. Let your prayer be a heartfelt request for
Christ to strengthen you to resist temptations specific to your life, based
on the fact that He understands through His personal experience what you’re
going through. (See
Bible Institute's Today in the Word)
Somewhere in the history of organized sports, a coaching staff tried out a
new theory. These coaches reasoned that taking their teams away the night
before a big game and putting the athletes up in a hotel gave them a
competitive advantage. They felt that this cloistering would remove the
athletes from the distractions of everyday life and allow the team to focus
more thoroughly on the game ahead. For decades, this has been a common
practice among both college and professional teams.
Jesus knew the value of concentrating on the task at hand, and He prepared
for His contest with Satan as no person has ever prepared before or since.
Forty days alone in the desert not only removed Jesus from every human
contact or since. Forty days alone in the desert not only removed Jesus from
every human contact that would demand His attention; by fasting, Jesus even
said “no” to normal human needs in order to prepare Himself for the
devil’s looming temptations.
The temptation of our Lord allows us a glimpse at a level of spiritual
warfare we would otherwise know nothing about. The Bible says that Jesus was
tempted in the same ways we are tempted (Heb. 4:15), but we will never
experience the intensity of the trial Jesus faced.
Bible Institute's Today in the Word)
Octavius Winslow - Daily Walking With God - January 11
See Him bearing our sicknesses and our sorrows; more than this, carrying our
iniquities and our sins. Think not that your path is a isolated one. The
incarnate God has trodden it before you, and He can give you the clear eye
of faith to see His footprint in every step. Jesus can say, and He does say
to you, "I know your sorrow; I know what that cross is, for I have carried
it. You have not a burden that I did not bear, nor a sorrow that I did not
feel, nor a pain that I did not endure, nor a path that I did not tread, nor
a tear that did not bedew my eye, nor a cloud that did not shade my spirit,
before you, and for you. Is it bodily weakness? I once walked forty miles,
to carry the living water to a poor sinner at Samaria. Is it the sorrow of
bereavement? I wept at the grave of my friend, although I knew that I was
about to recall the loved one back again to life. Is it the frailty and the
fickleness of human friendship? I stood by and heard my person denied by
lips that once spoke kindly to me; lips now renouncing me with an oath that
once vowed affection unto death. Is it straitness of circumstance, the
galling sense of dependence? I was no stranger to poverty, and was often
nourished and sustained by the charity of others. Is it that you are
houseless and friendless? So was I. The foxes have their shelter, and the
birds their nests; but I, though Lord of all, had nowhere to lay my head;
and often day after day passed away, and no soothing accents of friendship
fell upon my ear. Is it the burden of sin? Even that I bore in its
accumulated and tremendous weight when I hung accursed upon the tree."
Chambers on Hebrews 4:15 - Until
we are born again, the only kind of temptation we understand is that
mentioned by St. James—“Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his
own lust, and enticed.” But by regeneration we are lifted into another realm
where there are other temptations to face, viz., the kind of temptations Our
Lord faced. The temptations of Jesus do not appeal to us, they have no home
at all in our human nature. Our Lord’s temptations and ours move in
different spheres until we are born again and become His brethren. The
temptations of Jesus are not those of a man, but the temptations of God as
Man. By regeneration the Son of God is formed in us, and in our physical
life He has the same setting that He had on earth. Satan does not tempt us
to do wrong things; he tempts us in order to make us lose what God has put
into us by regeneration, viz., the possibility of being of value to God. He
does not come on the line of tempting us to sin, but on the line of shifting
the point of view, and only the Spirit of God can detect this as a
temptation of the devil.
Temptation means the test by an alien power of the possessions held by a
personality. This makes the temptation of Our Lord explainable. After Jesus
in His baptism had accepted the vocation of bearing away the sin of the
world, He was immediately put by God’s Spirit into the testing machine of
the devil; but He did not tire. He went through the temptation “without
sin,” and retained the possessions of His personality intact.
J C Philpot
Devotional for May 8 from Daily Words for Zion's Wayfarers
- Hebrews 4:15
Our gracious Lord experienced temptation in every shape and form, for the
word of truth declares that "in all points he was tempted like as we are,
yet without sin." I wish to speak very cautiously upon this subject, for
upon a point so difficult and so mysterious there is great risk of speaking
amiss. So long as we keep strictly within the language of the Scripture we
are safe, but the moment that we draw inferences from the word without
special guidance by the Spirit of truth, we may greatly err. You may think
then, sometimes, that your temptations are such as our gracious Lord never
could have been tempted by; but that word of the Apostle decides the
question, "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
It is a solemn mystery which I cannot explain, how temptation in every
point, shape, and form could assail the holy soul of the immaculate
Redeemer. I fully believe it. I see the grace and wisdom of it, and my faith
acquiesces in it as most blessed truth. But I cannot understand it. I know
also and believe from the testimony of the word and that of my own
conscience, that whatever temptations he was assailed with, not one of them
could or did sully, stain, or spot his holy humanity. That was absolutely
and perfectly a pure, unfallen, immortal nature, able to die by a voluntary
act, but having in itself no seeds of sickness, mortality, or death. And yet
I read that, though thus possessed of a holy, pure, and spotless humanity,
in everlasting union with his own eternal Deity, in all points he was
tempted like as we are.
cannot explain the mystery--I do not wish to do so. I receive it as a
mystery, in the same way as I receive that great mystery of godliness, "God
manifested in the flesh." But still I bless God that he was tempted in all
points like as we are; for it makes him such a sympathizing High Priest with
his poor, exercised, tried, tempted family here below. I have sometimes
compared the temptations which beat upon the soul of the Lord to the waves
of the sea that dash themselves against a pure, white marble rock. The rock
may feel the shock of the wave; but it is neither moved by it nor sullied.
It still stands unmoved, immovable in all its original firmness; it still
shines in all the brightness of the pure, glittering marble when the waves
recede and the sun breaks forth on its face. So none of the temptations with
which the Lord was assailed moved the Rock of ages, or sullied the purity,
holiness, and perfection of the spotless Lamb of God. (Daily Words for
J C Philpot - Our infirmities - Hebrews 4:15
The child of God, spiritually taught and convinced, is deeply sensible of
his infirmities. Yes, that he is encompassed with infirmities—that he is
nothing else but infirmities. And therefore the great High Priest to whom he
comes as a burdened sinner—to whom he has recourse in the depth of his
extremity—and at whose feet he falls overwhelmed with a sense of his
helplessness, sin, misery, and guilt—is so suitable to him as one able to
sympathize with his infirmities.
We would, if left to our own conceptions, naturally imagine that Jesus is
too holy to look down in compassion on a filthy, guilty wretch like
ourselves. Surely, surely, He will spurn us from His feet. Surely, surely,
His holy eyes cannot look upon us in our blood, guilt, filth, wretchedness,
misery and shame. Surely, surely, He cannot bestow one heart's thought—one
moment's sympathy—or feel one spark of love towards those who are so unlike
Him. Nature, sense, and reason would thus argue, "I must be holy, perfectly
holy—for Jesus to love—I must be pure, perfectly pure—spotless and sinless,
for Jesus to think of. But that I, a sinful, guilty, defiled wretch—that I,
encompassed with infirmities—that I, whose heart is a cage of unclean
birds—that I, stained and polluted with a thousand iniquities—that I can
have any inheritance in Him—or that He can have any love or compassion
towards me—nature, sense, reason, and human religion in all its shapes and
forms, revolts from the idea."
It is as though Jesus specially address Himself to the poor, burdened child
of God who feels his infirmities, who cannot boast of his own wisdom,
strength, righteousness, and consistency—but is all weakness and
helplessness. It seems as if He would address Himself to the case of such a
helpless wretch—and pour a sweet cordial into his bleeding conscience. We,
the children of God—we, who each know our own plague and our own sore—we,
who carry about with us day by day a body of sin and death, that makes us
lament, sigh, and groan—we, who know painfully what it is to be encompassed
with infirmities—we, who come to His feet as being nothing and having
nothing but sin and woe—we do not have a High Priest who is unable to
sympathize with our infirmities, but One who carries in His bosom that
sympathizing, merciful, feeling, tender, and compassionate heart
J C Philpot's Devotional - We need a high priest - Hebrews
4:15, Hebrews 8:1
We need a high priest, not merely one who offered a sacrifice upon the
cross—not merely one who died and rose again—but one who now lives at the
right hand of God on our behalf—and one with a tender, merciful, and
compassionate heart, with whom we can carry on from time to time sacred
communion—whom we can view with believing eyes as suitable to our case, and
compassionating our wants and woes—in whom we can hope with expecting
hearts, as one who will not turn away from us—and whom we can love, not only
for His intrinsic beauty and blessedness, but as full of pity towards us.
We need a friend at the right hand of God at the present moment—an
omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and yet a compassionate and loving
Mediator between God and us—an interceding High Priest, Surety, and
Representative in our nature in the courts of heaven, who can show mercy and
compassion to us now upon earth—whose heart is touched with tenderness—whose
affections melt with love!
Our needs make us feel this. Our sins and sorrows give us perpetual errands
to the throne. This valley of tears is ever before our eyes, and thorns and
briars are perpetually springing up in it that rip and tear our flesh. We
need a real friend. Have you not sometimes tossed to and fro upon your weary
couch, and almost cried aloud, "O that I had a friend!" You may have
received bitter blows from one whom you regarded as a real friend—and you
have been cruelly deceived. You feel now you have no one to take care of you
or love you, and whom you can love in return—and your heart sighs for a
friend who shall be a friend indeed. The widow, the orphan, the friendless,
the deserted one, all keenly and deeply feel this.
But if grace has touched your heart, you feel that though all men forsake
you, there is the friend of sinners—a brother born for adversity—a friend
who loves at all times—who will never leave or forsake you. And how it
cheers the troubled mind and supports the weary spirit to feel that there is
a friend to whom we may go—whose eyes are ever open to see—whose ears are
ever unclosed to hear—whose heart is ever touched with a feeling of pity and
compassion towards us!
But we need this friend to be almighty, for no other can suit our case—he
must be a divine friend. For who but God can see us wherever we are? What
but a divine eye can read our thoughts? What but a divine ear can hear our
petitions? And what but a divine hand can stretch itself forth and deliver?
Thus the Deity of Christ is no dry, barren speculation—no mere Bible
truth—but an experience wrought powerfully into a believer's inmost soul.
Happy soul! happy season! when you can say, "This is my Beloved—and this is
my Friend!" Thus the very desires of the soul instinctively teach us that a
friend, to be a friend, must be a heavenly friend—that His heart and hand
must be divine—or they are not the heart and hand for us. This friend, whose
bitterest reproach on earth was that He was the friend of sinners—is the
blessed Jesus, our great high priest in the courts above. We find Him at
times to be very merciful, full of pity, and very compassionate. And I am
sure that we need all the compassion of His loving bosom; for we are
continually in states of mind when nothing but His pure mercy can suit, when
nothing but His rich and boundless compassion is adapted to our case.
THE SYMPATHY OF JESUS
"This happiness Christ gives to all His--that as a Savior He once suffered
for them, and that as a Friend He always suffers with them." –South, 1633.
0 Sirs! there is in Jesus something proportionable to all the straits,
necessities, and desires of His poor people." –Thomas Brooks, 1635.
"Jesus is the great sympathetic nerve of the Church, over which all the
oppressions and sufferings of His people distinctly pass. Surveying this
scene of overtoiled labor, and sleepless anxiety, and wasting solicitude, in
which mortals are embroiled, the voice of Jesus--the Friend of man--the
tender Sympathizer with human woe, is heard rising in tones of the kindest
The Rock Christ--the Rock of Deity--the Rock high above the lower
valley--mantled in clouds, as if veiled with cherub's wings; inaccessible to
human footstep--its glorious summits the privileged home of angels. What
affinity can there be between this Mighty God and puny man--between
Omnipotence and weakness--Deity and dust?
Affinity, yes more than affinity there is! That Rock, whose top, like the
Patriarch's ladder, reaches to heaven, has its base on the earth. The Great
Redeemer, as we have already seen, combines the attributes of Godhead with
the attributes and characteristics of a true and veritable humanity. To one
of the most beautiful features of that humanity--the divine Sympathy of
Jesus--this new Rock-cleft introduces us.
Among the heart's most sacred and hallowed emotions, none is surely more
hallowed than Sympathy. In these dependent natures of ours, who, in the
season of need has not longed for it--and when it comes, has not welcomed it
like the presence of a ministering angel? Others working with us, feeling
for us--sharing our toils, helping us to carry our burdens; entering into
our hopes, our joys, our sorrows; to see the responsive tear glistening in
the eye--all this is a mighty strengthener and sustainer amid the
vicissitudes of chequered life.
The lonely fisherman on the stormy sea has his midnight of weariness, and it
may be of peril; is charmed, as he glances towards the light gleaming in the
hut on the shore, and thinks of the wakeful vigils of the loving hearts
within. The soldier in his camp under the starry heavens, thousands of miles
intervening between him and his native soil, is cheered by the very tread of
the sentinel, or the breathing of the slumbering forms around him--or he
remembers the far-off home and those whose sympathetic spirits are with
him--and the thought is like cold water to a thirsty soul. The martyr at the
stake has been often nerved for endurance by the whisper of "Courage,
brother!" from the fellow-victim at his side. How the Great Apostle in his
Roman dungeon--when he was "such an one as Paul the aged" was cheered by the
visits of congenial friends, such as Timothy and Onesiphorus! How touchingly
does the illustrious captive invoke God's richest benedictions on the latter
and on his household, for "often refreshing him and not being ashamed of his
If human sympathy be thus gladdening and grateful, what must be the
pure--exalted--sinless--unselfish Sympathy emanating from the heart of the
Great Brother-Man? It is of this, we shall now speak; and taking the words
which head this chapter to lead our thoughts, let us consider these two
points embraced in them--The sympathy of Jesus, the Great High Priest of His
Church; and the one exceptional characteristic here mentioned, that, "Though
in all points tempted as we are"--it was "Yet without sin."
Genuine Sympathy requires that there be an identity, or at all events a
similarity of nature, between him who sympathizes and the object of
The holy Angel, when he sees the children of fallen humanity in sorrow, may
pity; but he cannot sympathize with them. Why? Because he never himself shed
a tear; his nature never felt pang of trial, or assault of temptation. We
see the worm writhing on the ground--we know it is in agony--suffering pain.
We pity it--but we cannot sympathize with it. Why? because it is in a
different scale of being.
Even in the case of the human family, in their condolence with one
another--the finer elements of sympathy are lacking, unless they have passed
through the same school of experience. Look at the BEGGAR on the street--the
man or woman in ragged tatters, with half-naked children in their arms,
singing for a livelihood from door to door. Who, in the majority of
instances, are found most ready to respond to the appeal for support?
Observation will prove, that it is not the rich, not even the middle class;
most frequently it is the poor themselves. We have often marked such charity
willingly doled out by the laborer, returning from his place of toil at
meal-hour, in workman's attire--one who perhaps himself had known the bitter
blast of adversity--what it is to have closed factory doors and silent
shuttles, and at whose blackened fires grim poverty once sat--his sympathy
arises out of identity of experience with the sufferers.
The BEREAVED tell the story of their swept and desolated home to a friend--a
friend too, it may be, full to overflowing with natural feeling. He may
listen with heartfelt emotion to all they have to say--but he has never laid
a loved one in the grave--death has never invaded his dwelling--the
overwhelming wave of bereavement has never left traces of desolation on his
soul. Another comes in. He may not have the same natural strong emotions or
sensibilities. But he has consigned treasure after treasure to "the narrow
house"--he has himself waded through the deep waters--the woes of others
have been traced and chiseled in his own heart of hearts; and consequently
the very deeps of his being are stirred. More than one endorsed letter has
been sent, in recent years, by our beloved Queen, to those in high places
who have been called to exchange crowns and coronets for weeds of mourning.
These, under any circumstances, would have been a grateful and prized
expression of royal condolence. But how much more touchingly and tenderly
such utterances came home to those bleeding hearts, when the writing, within
its deep border, was known to be blotted with the tears of kindred
The same remark may be made with reference to PREACHING. How often do we
hear trial dwelt upon in our pulpits by the lips of youth--young (and
nevertheless faithful) servants of their heavenly Master, who expatiate on
the deathbed, the grave, the broken heart, the wilderness-world, earth
"vanity and vexation of spirit." But yet (say as they will), they have only
adopted the phraseology of others--they speak from no experience--they
believe it all to be true, but they have never felt it to be true. Their
words therefore come home with little power; they may even grate upon the
ear, as being, in the lips of the declaimers, unnatural and inappropriate.
But bring some aged, venerable man--some old veteran in the school of trial,
whose memory and soul are ploughed and furrowed with deep scars; whose
friends in the unseen world number as many as in this--Listen to him, as he
pours oil and wine into the mourner's bosom! How pulse beats responsive to
pulse, and heart to heart. He has been "touched with a fellow-feeling," for
he has been in all respects tried even as they. He has been in the furnace
himself; the arrow of comfort and sympathy comes feathered from his own
bosom; and when sorrow and trial are the theme of his preaching, he speaks
feelingly, because he feels deeply.
All this has its loftiest exemplification in the sublime sympathy of the Son
of God. He is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" Why? Because "He
has been tempted in every way, just as we are." His is a deep, yearning,
real sympathy arising out of His true and real humanity. His was not an
angel-life. He was not, as many falsely picture Him, half Angel, half
God--looking down on a fallen world from the far distant heights of His
heavenly throne. But He descended, and walked in the midst of it, pitching
His tent (as we have seen) among its families--"He did not take on Himself
the nature of Angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham." The Great
Physician lived in the world's hospital. He did not write out His cures in
His remote dwelling in the skies, refusing to come into personal contact
with the patients. He walked its every ward. With His own hand He felt the
fevered pulses; His own eyes gazed on the sufferer's tears. He stood not by
the fiery furnace as a spectator, but there was one in it "like the Son of
To leave us the less doubt as to His capacity for entering into the feelings
and sorrows of His people; note His own longing after sympathy. In the
Garden of Gethsemane He could not pray the prayer of His agony without
it--"Sit here, while I go and pray yonder." How cherished to Him was the
family home of Bethany, just because He could there pour out the tale of His
own sorrows in the ears of congenial human friends. Even at the last scene
of all, how sustained He was by human presence! "Now there stood by the
cross of Jesus, His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary, the wife of
Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene." Oh blessed thought! He knows our frame; for He
had that frame Himself. "Behold the Man!" Every heart-throb you feel evokes
a kindred pulsation in the bosom of the Prince of Sufferers; for "He that
sanctifies, and those who are sanctified, are all of one (nature)."
But let us advert to one or two special characteristics.
(1.) It is a PRESENT sympathy. He IS touched with a feeling of our
infirmities. "I know their sorrows"--not, 'I have known them once, but have
now forgotten them in My state of glorification; I once bore this frame of
yours, but the human nature is merged in the divine.' No. "I AM He who
"Though now ascended up on high,
He bends on earth a brother's eye;
Partaker of the human name,
He knows the frailty of our frame.
"Our fellow-sufferer yet retains
A fellow-feeling of our pains;
And still remembers in the skies
His tears, His agonies, and cries."
(2.) Another characteristic is that of INTENSITY. Relationship is one
of the elements which generates and intensifies sympathy. A man feels for
the sufferings of a fellow-man--but if that sufferer be a relative,
connected by ties of blood or affection, how much deeper the emotion.
A stranger standing on the pier, seeing a child or youth struggling in the
waves, would feel an uncontrollable impulse to rush to its rescue. If a
swimmer, he would plunge into the sea, and cleaving his way through the
surge, would make every effort to snatch the child from a watery grave. But
what would be his feelings in comparison with those of her, who, from the
same spot, beheld in that drowning one the child of her bosom? The pity of
the former would be coldness itself in comparison with her combined emotions
of anguish and tenderness.
The dwellers in the wild valley of Dauphiny, who saw the eagle bearing the
infant in its talons to the lofty rock, were moved with horror at the scene,
and made several brave efforts to effect a rescue. But it was the mother
alone, whose love bore her with fleet foot from crag to crag, until reaching
the perilous crag, she was in time to clasp the living captive to her bosom,
and say--"This my child was dead and is alive again, it was lost and is
found." Such is the intensity and tenderness of the love and sympathy of
Jesus, the "living Kinsman"--He who is Parent, Friend, Brother, all in one.
"Lord, behold he whom You love is sick"--"Like as a father pities his
children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him"--"As one whom his mother
comforts, so will I comfort you."
(3.) The sympathy of Christ is a COMPREHENSIVE and PARTICULAR sympathy--embracing
not only all His Church but every individual member of it. It takes in the
whole range of human infirmities; outward troubles, inward perplexities,
unspoken griefs with which a stranger dare not meddle. No trial, no pang, no
tear, escapes His eye. With a microscopic power "He knows our frame, He
remembers that we are dust," as if we stood alone in the world, and
individually engrossed all His solicitudes. A grain of sand, almost
imperceptible, affects the tender organ of sight. This is the Bible emblem
of the divine-human sympathy--"He that touches you, touches the pupil of His
How varied were the methods by which Jesus, when on earth, expressed His
sympathetic love and thoughtful compassion! Not to rehearse familiar
instances already given, see how, in order to dispel their misgivings, He
joins the two disconsolate followers on the way to Emmaus, how He appoints a
special meeting to clear up the doubts of Thomas. His last earthly thought
on the cross is providing a home for a mother and a disciple--"Woman, behold
your Son!--Son, behold your Mother!"
(4.) The sympathy of the Divine Redeemer was ACTIVE--not a mere
emotion evaporating in sentimental feeling; the casket without the jewel.
There are those who can be touched by reading the pages of a romance, who
shed tears over the columns of a newspaper; yet who, though thus able to
indulge in fictitious griefs, stretch out no hand of substantial support to
the needy; who, like Priest and Levite in the parable, can see a wounded
fellow-being, and leave him half dead.
Not so Christ--He is the world's good Samaritan, binding up the wounds of
aching humanity. He was sent to "heal the brokenhearted;" and nobly did He
fulfill His commission--"Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I GO that I may
awake him out of sleep." The Divine Consoler never mocked the children of
sorrow with a stone when they asked for bread--saying, in the cold
heartlessness of the mere sentimentalist, "Depart in peace, be warmed and
filled." He "went about doing good."
(5.) His was, moreover, an ABIDING sympathy. The world's sympathy is
often short-lived. It cannot penetrate the depths and recesses of the
smitten heart. It cannot make allowances for intense grief. It offers its
tribute of condolence at the moment; but if the heart-wounds remain
unhealed, it has its own harsh verdict on inordinate sorrow. The ripples in
the water where some treasured bark has gone down, have closed again; the
world's vessels cross and recross the spot, but no vestige, no legend of the
catastrophe is left on the unstable element. Sorrowful anniversaries come
back, but they are all unnoted, save by the bereft one, who has learned to
lock up these sacred griefs and to weep alone. There is ONE, abiding,
unchanging Sympathizer--the Immutable Savior! The moss may gather over the
tombstone, and almost obliterate the lettering--but no corroding hand of
time or of years–
"Can e'er efface us from His heart,
Or make His love decay."
The sympathy of the dearest earthly friend may be evanescent; brother may be
estranged from brother, sister from sister--friend from friend. But "there
is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother."
We can do little more than notice, in closing, the 'exceptional clause' in
the Apostle's statement, that this Great High Priest, touched with the
feeling of our infirmities, and tempted in all points even as we are, was
"yet without sin."
Does not this one sentence, however, neutralize, or at least render much
inappropriate and inapplicable, of what we have already said? If perfectly
sinless, how could He be tempted? and if not tempted, how could He feel? If
perfectly sinless, how could He enter into the most poignant part of our
woes, the assaults of corruption, the wiles of the Great Adversary?
We must be careful to guard with jealousy this precious jewel in the
Savior's humanity, His "IMPECCABILITY." He was "holy, harmless, undefiled,
separate from sinners." He could utter the unanswerable challenge, "Who of
you convinces Me of sin?" There was no affinity in His nature with sin or
temptation. Apply the lighted torch to the loaded cannon, it will at once
give out its voice of thunder because loaded with the explosive element.
But, apply the fuse to that same piece of artillery in which the fulminating
ingredients are not; it will remain mute and harmless as the rocks and
stones around--and the timid bird can nestle safely in its barrel.
So it was with the sinless nature of Christ. Temptation, in His case, was
the lighted torch applied to the uncharged, unloaded cannon. Ignition was
impossible; for affinity there was none between the Tempted and the Tempter.
But though incapable of sin, and incapable of temptation in the sense of
being overcome by it, He was not incapable of suffering by it. "He SUFFERED,
being tempted." The very holiness of His nature--the very recoil of His
spotless soul from evil--made the presence of sin, and of temptation, the
cause of unutterable anguish. And these same refined sensibilities impart to
Him now, a livelier and acuter sympathy for those who are tempted; just as
the purer the glass, or the brighter the metal, the more visibly are they
sullied if breathed upon.
Though the Prince of this world came and found nothing in Him--though no
device could drag Him from His steadfastness--though the sinless One rolled
back wave on wave of temptation, and sent the Adversary away, thwarted among
his legions of darkness; did He not feel, with a shrinking and sensitiveness
all His own, that Tempter's presence and power? Hear the testimony and
exclamation of His own lips--"Now is My soul troubled, and what shall I say?
Father, save Me from this hour, but for this cause I came unto this hour."
When He was standing in meek, silent majesty in Pilate's Judgment-Hall--the
Lamb speechless before His shearers--Incarnate Truth in the midst of error,
impiety, and blasphemy--or on the cross, while listening to the cruel taunt
and ribald jest of the passers-by--did He feel nothing? Though breathed in
silence, here is His prophetic experience–
"My enemies surround Me like a herd of bulls;
fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed Me in!
Like roaring lions attacking their prey,
they come at Me with open mouths.
My life is poured out like water,
and all My bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
melting within Me.
My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of My mouth.
You have laid Me in the dust and left me for dead.
My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
an evil gang closes in on Me.
They have pierced My hands and feet.
I can count every bone in My body.
My enemies stare at Me and gloat.
They divide My clothes among themselves
and throw dice for My garments.
O Lord, do not stay away!
You are my strength; come quickly to My aid!
Rescue Me from a violent death;
spare My precious life from these dogs.
Snatch Me from the lions' jaws,
and from the horns of these wild oxen."
Believe it--it is not a sinful nature, or sinful practice, that makes us
feel a deeper sympathy with our fellow-sinners. As it has been well
observed, when David was living in scandalous and unrepented of sin--when
his conscience was blunted, and prayer restrained before God; then he had no
sympathy--no mercy for the cruel author of a hypothetical case of violence
and wrong. When Nathan told him the story-parable about the ewe-lamb--"The
man that has done this," said David, "shall surely die." Sin hardens the
heart; blunts the sensibilities. It is the highest and purest specimens of
humanity who are the kindest, best, most tender. What, then, must it be with
the Great Ideal of all excellence; the sinless God-man Mediator?
Yes! if I wish a true, perfect sympathizer, I look to Him, who, while He had
(and He has at this moment) a real humanity, is, at the same time, "the Holy
One of God"--"tempted," "yet without sin;" and exult in the Prophet's words
of comfort--all the more because of His infinite purity--"A Man shall be as
an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of
water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."
Reader, do you know what it is to take refuge in this glorious Rock-cleft,
the Sympathy of Jesus? There are crisis-hours in our lives when more
especially we need strong support--when, like Jacob at Bethel, we are all
alone in a desolate place--the sun of our earthly happiness set, and our
summer friends gone. Or like John, as he wandered in Patmos, the sole
survivor of the Apostolic band, old fellow-disciples and companions
removed--like a tree left solitary in the forest. These are the times when
the Savior delights to come, showing us the ladder which connects the pillow
of stones and the weary sleeper with the heights of heaven--or, as in the
case of the lonely exile of the Aegean Sea, raising us from our prostrate
condition, and whispering in our ears His own gentle accents of reassuring
peace! It is when the tempest is fiercest, we know the preciousness of such
"When my heart is
lead me to THE ROCK THAT IS HIGHER THAN I!"
MacDuff. Clefts of the Rock)
F B Meyer in The Call and Challenge of the Unseen.
THE FIERY ORDEAL OF TEMPTATION
He 2:9, 10
WHAT is God doing at this moment? He may be creating new worlds; may be
working up into new and beautiful shapes what we should account as waste
products; or may be preparing to unveil the new heavens and the new earth.
But there is one thing of which we may be sure: He is bringing many sons
unto glory! In order to help these to the uttermost, the Son of God was
tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. It was real temptation,
for He suffered being tempted; but being perfected through the terrible
ordeal, He has become the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
Let us learn His talisman of victory!
This bringing of many sons unto glory is a long and difficult process, for
(1) It is necessary that we should be created as free agents, able to say
"No" as well as "Yes."
(2) We have to choose between the material world, which is so present and
very attractive to our senses, and the eternal, spiritual, and unseen. But
the choice is inevitable if we are to really know things. We can only know a
thing by contrast with its opposite:
(3) There is a realm of evil spirits constantly regarding us with envious
hatred, and bent on seducing us from the paths of goodness and obedience.
They are adepts at their art.
If it be asked why we are placed in circumstances so perilous, so trying,
the answer, so far as we can formulate it, is that we are being tested with
a view to the great ministries awaiting us in the next life. We are to be
priests and kings! There are vast spaces in the universe that may have to be
evangelized or ruled or influenced for righteousness. It may be that
important spheres of ministry are needing those to fill them who have
learned the secret of victory over materialism on the one hand, and over the
power of Satan on the other. We know that there was war in heaven before
Satan and his angels were cast down to earth, and there may be another, and
yet another. Therefore earth may be the school, the training-ground, the
testing-place for the servants and soldiers of the hereafter. This thought
need not be in conflict with, the ideals of rest and worship which we are
wont to associate with the future life. Eternity will give opportunities for
all I But, if it became Him of whom and through whom are all things to make
the Captain of their salvation perfect through the suffering of temptation,
it stands to reason that His comrades and soldiers must pass through the
same, that they may become more than conquerors, and, having overcome, may
sit with Him on His throne, as He overcame and is set down with His Father
on His throne.
The first temptation on record is that of our first parents in Eden. It is a
masterpiece of psychology
The experience of all after-time has added nothing to this marvellous
1. Temptation is more formidable when we are alone for Solitude is full of
peril, unless it is full of Christ!
2. Some outward object, or some fancy of the mind, attracts our attention.
It may be an apple, a face, a gratification, the lure of popularity, or
money. The longer we look at it the stronger the fascination grows. Some
birds are mesmerized by the fixed gaze of their foe at the foot of the tree.
The longer we gaze at something forbidden, the stronger its mesmeric power.
While we continue to look, the tempter covers the walls of imagery with more
definite and attractive colors, and his ideals imperiously demand
realization in act. Our only hope is to tear ourselves away from those
basilisk eyes; to hasten from the haunted chamber; to escape, as Joseph did
in the house of Potiphar.
3. If we linger, many thoughts will gather to ply us--all of them suggested
by the tempter, who speaks through the voice of our own soul. These
suggestions will question the love and wisdom which have forbidden. "Perhaps
we have placed an exaggerated interpretation on our limitations and
prohibitions. Are they not rather arbitrary? Would it not be good to know
evil just once, that it might be avoided ever after? Besides, is it not
necessary to know evil in order to realize good? Perhaps it would be better
to satisfy the inner craving for satisfaction by one single act; then the
hungry pack of wolves would at least be silenced! After all, is it not
probable that if one were to know the forbidden thing it would be so much
easier to warn others?" Such are the reasonings in which the tempted shelter
themselves, not realizing that the only certain way of knowing evil is not
by committing, but by resisting it.
4. Finally, we take the forbidden step, eat the/or-bidden fruit; the garment
of light which veiled our nakedness drops off; the tempter runs laughing
down the forest glade; a shadow falls on the sunshine, and a cold blast
whistles in the air. Our conscience curses us, and we die, i.e. we cease to
correspond to our proper environments, which are God, purity, and obedience.
Eve ought to have dropped that apple like a burning coal, and hurried from
the spot; but, no; she lingered, ate, and gave to "her husband; so sin
entered into the world; and sin opened the door to pain, travail, sorrow,
the loss of purity, the loss of God's holy fellowship in the cool of the
day, the fad-hag of the garden, and the reign of death and the grave.
The Temptation of
1. It came after the descent of the Spirit as a dove. We may always
expect deep experience of the tempter to follow close on the highest moments
of spiritual exaltation. Where you have mountains you must look for valleys!
2. He was led of the Spirit to be tempted; clearly, then, temptation is
not sin. A holy nature might go through hell itself, assailed by clouds
of demons, and come out on the farther side untainted. So long as the waves
of evil break on the outward bulwarks of the spirit they are innocuous.
Jesus was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin.
3. The sword of the Spirit and the shield, against which the darts of
evil fall blunted to the ground, are the words of the ever-blessed God, and
the upward glances of a steadfast faith. Remember how Jesus said, "it is
written "; "it is written again." He is also the Pioneer and Perfection of
4. Each temptation which He overcame seemed to give Him power in the very
sphere in which it had sought His overthrow.
He was tempted to use His power to satisfy His own hunger; but, having
refused to use it selfishly, He was able to feed five thousand; and four
thousand men, besides women and children.
He was tempted to cast Himself from the wing of the temple to the dizzy
depth below, in order to attract attention to Himself; but having refused,
He was able to descend into Hades, and then ascend to the Father's throne;
to lay down His life and take it again for a world of sinners.
He was tempted to adopt Satan's method of gaining adherents by pandering to
their passions; but He refused, and adopted the opposite policy of falling
into the ground to die, of treading the winepress alone, of insisting that
it is not by yielding to passion, but by self-denial, self-sacrifice, and
the Cross that salvation is alone to be obtained. Therefore, a great
multitude, which no man can number, have washed their robes and made them
white in His blood, and stand before the throne.
Having, therefore, met temptation in the arena, and mastered it in its
threefold spheres--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the
pride of life--Jesus is able to succor them that are being tempted; and if
they should fail He is able to understand, because He has gone every step of
the way Himself, and is well acquainted with its perils. He can easily trace
the lost sheep on the mountains, because He has The Fiery Ordeal of
Temptation marked every pitfall and the lair of every enemy. He has looked
over the cliff-brink to the bottom, where those who have missed the track
"in the cloudy and dark day" may be lying; and when He has found them He
brings them home on His shoulder rejoicing.
We all have to pass through the wilderness of temptation, the stones of
which blister our feet, and the air is like a sirocco breath in our faces.
1. All God's sons are tempted. As we have seen, we only know light by
darkness, sweet by bitter, health by disease, good by evil resisted and
Oh, where is the sea?" the fishes said,
As they swam through the crystal waters blue!
They had never been out of it, and .so were in ignorance of that which had
always been their element.
2. The pressure of temptation is strictly limited. When Satan
approached God with regard to Job, he was on two occasions restricted to a
fixed barrier, beyond which he might not go. In the case of Peter also, when
he obtained permission to approach him, he could only go so far as to sift
him as wheat; he might rid him of chaff, but not hurt anything essential.
Remember also that glorious announcement "There hath no temptation taken you
but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be
tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way
of escape, that ye may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13).
3. As you live near God the temptation gets deeper down in your nature. You
are aware of it in subtler forms and disguises. It attacks motives rather
than the outward habits and actions.
One summer afternoon, when I came down to the Auditorium at Northfield,
Massachusetts, I found Mr. Moody and his brother on the platform, and
between them a young apple tree, just digged up and brought from the
neighboring orchard. There were about a thousand people in the audience.
When I reached the platform the following dialogue took place:
Mr. Moody to his brother: "What have you here?" "An apple tree," was the
reply. "Was it always an apple tree?"
"Oh no, it was a forest sapling, but we have inserted an apple graft."
Mr. Moody to me: "What does that make you think of?"
"You and I were forest saplings," said I, "with no hope of bearing fruit,
but the Jesus-nature has been grafted into us by the Holy Spirit."
To his brother: "Does the forest sapling give you trouble?"
"Why, yes," said the gardener. "It is always sending out shoots under the
graft, which drain off the sap."
"What do you do with them?"
"We pinch them off with our finger and thumb; but they are always coming out
lower down the tree."
Then he turned to me and asked if there was anything like it in the
spiritual life, to which I replied: "It is a parable of our experience. The
old self-life is always sending out its shoots, and we can have no mercy on
them; but if we deal with the more superficial sins on the surface of our
life, as we get older we realize their deeper appeals, and to the end of
life shall be more and more aware of their sinister power. The quick
sensitiveness of age must not be ignored or overlooked. It may be as strong
a shoot in the old forest sapling as the manifestations of passion in
earlier life. Old men, for instance, may be jealous of young ones, and quick
to take offence if there are symptoms of their being put aside."
4. Temptation is not in itself sin, but we cannot say, as our Saviour could,
"The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." We cannot
appropriate those last words. We know that all the inner gunpowder magazines
are not emptied. Therefore it is just as well, after a severe time of
testing, as the demons leave us, to ask ourselves if there has been some
subtle response in the depths of our nature it may be forgiven. We must not
risk the loss of ship or cargo because the combustion is so slow and so deep
in the hold.
5. In the hour of temptation affirm your union with your all-victorious and
exalted Saviour! Stand in His victory! You are part of" His mystical Body;
take your rightful position! God has set Him at His own right hand in the
heavenlies; be sure to come down on your foe from the heights of the throne.
It is always easier to fight down from the mountain slope than up from the
lowland valleys. You can be more than a conqueror through Him that loved
you; but abide in Him.
6. Always ask the Saviour to hold the door on the inside. Satan will burst
it open against your feeble strength; but when Jesus stands within all hell
will be foiled. Though ten thousand demons are at you, in your patience
possess your soul!
7. One other point is of immense importance. Be sure to claim the opposite
grace from Christ. The fact that an attack is being made at a certain
position in your fortifications proves that you are weakest there. When
therefore the tempter advances to the attack, and you are aware of his
strategy, take occasion to claim an accession of Christ's counterbalancing
strength. When tempted to quick temper, "Thy patience, Lord!" To harsh
judgment, "Thy gentleness, Lord!" To impurity, "Thy purity, Lord!"
By all hells hosts withstood,
We all hews hosts o'erthrow;
And conquering ,till by Jesus" blood,
We on to victory go.
Sometimes temptation will come upon us in the hatred and opposition of man,
and we shall be strongly tempted to use force against force, strength
against strength, and to employ weapons of flesh and blood. This is not the
best. The raging foe is best encountered by the quiet faith and courage
which enable a man to go boldly forward, not yielding, not daunted, not
striking back. Hand the conflict over to the Captain of your salvation. It
is for you simply to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Love the truth more than all, and go on in the mighty power of God, as good
soldiers of Jesus Christ; in nothing daunted by your adversaries, but
witnessing a good confession, whether man will bear or forbear. "Greater is
he who is in you than he that is in the world."
It may be that this earth on which we find ourselves is the Marathon or the
Waterloo of the universe. We are as villagers who were born on the site and
are implicated in the issues of the war. We are not merely spectators but
soldiers, and whether in single combat or in the advance of the whole line,
it is for us to play a noble part. Full often in the history of war the
achievements of a single soldier have changed the menace of defeat into the
shout of victory. Think of David's conflict with Goliath; of the three that
held the bridge in the brave days of old; and of the Guards at Waterloo!
From their high seats the overcomers, who in their mortal life fought in the
great conflict for the victory of righteousness and truth, are watching us.
Are they disappointed at our handling of the matter? Are we worthy to call
ourselves of their lineage, or to be named in the same category? Fight
worthily of them, whether in private secret combat, or in the line of
advance, that you may not be ashamed at the grand review!
Fight first against the wicked spirits that antagonize your own inner life.
Repeat the exploits of David's mighties: of Benaiah, who slew a lion in a
pit in time of snow; of the three who broke through the Philistines' lines
and drew water from Bethlehem's well for their king; of Amasai and his host,
the least of whom was equal to a hundred. Every lonely victory gained in
your closet and in your most secret sacred hour is hastening the victory of
the entire Church. Listen! Are not those the notes of the advancing
conquering host? Are not the armies of heaven already thronging around the
Victor on His white horse?
It is high time to awake out of sleep I The perfecting of God's purpose is
at hand! The return of the Jews to Palestine; the budding of the fig tree;
the bankruptcy of politicians and statesmen; the threatened overthrow of
European civilization; the rise of Bolshevism; the new grouping of the
nations for war, notwithstanding the appeals of the League of Nations; the
awful havoc of Spiritism; the waning of love; all these are signs that we
stand at the junction of two ages. The one is dying in the sky, tinting it
with the sunset; the other is breaking in the East, and the cirrus cloudlets
are beginning to burn. Let us then put off the works of darkness and put on
the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life, that when He shall
come in His glorious majesty to receive the kingdom of the world, we may
rise to the life immortal, through Him who liveth and reigneth with the
Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, blessed for evermore!
Fight the good fight with all thy might,
Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.
Andrew Murray - Chapter 35 in The Holiest of All...
A HIGH PRIEST,
ABLE TO SYMPATHISE.
MAY God in His mercy give us a true insight into the glory of what is
offered us in these words--even this, that our High Priest, whom we have in
heaven, is one who is able to sympathise with us, because He knows, from
personal experience, exactly what we feel. Yes, that God might give us
courage to draw nigh to Him, He has placed upon the throne of heaven one out
of our own midst, of whom we can be certain that, because He Himself lived
on earth as man, He understands us perfectly, is prepared to have patience
with our weakness, and to give us just the help we need. It was to effect
this that God sent His Son to become Man, and as Man perfected Him through
suffering. That not one single feeble soul should be afraid to draw nigh to
the great God, or in drawing nigh should doubt as to whether God is not too
great and holy fully to understand, or to bear with his weakness. Jesus, the
tried and tempted One, has been placed upon the throne as our High Priest.
God gives us a glimpse into the heart of our compassionate, sympathising
For we have not a high priest who is not able to sympathise with our
weaknesses. The writer uses the two negatives to indicate how common the
thought is which he wishes to combat. A rich king, who lives every day in
luxury, can he, even though he hear of it,--can he fully realise what it
means for the poor sick man, from year to year, never to know where his
daily bread is to come from? Hardly. And God, the glorious and ever-blessed,
can He truly feel what a poor sinner experiences in his daily struggle with
the weakness and temptations of the flesh? God be praised! Jesus knows, and
is able to sympathise, He is one who hath been in all things tempted like as
we are, yet without sin.
In all things! The thought of Jesus as a sympathising High Priest, is
ordinarily applied to those who are in circumstances of trial and suffering.
But the truth has a far deeper meaning and application, It has special
reference to the temptation which meets the soul in the desire to live
wholly for God. Jesus suffered, being tempted: it was the temptation to
refuse the Father's will that caused His deepest suffering. As the believer,
who seeks in all things to do the will of God, understands this, the truth
of the sympathising High Priest becomes doubly precious.
What is the ordinary experience of those who set themselves with their whole
heart to live for God? It happens very often that it is only then they begin
to find out how sinful they are. They are continually disappointed in their
purpose to obey God's will. They feel deeply ashamed at the thought of how
often, even in things that appear little and easy, they fail entirely in
keeping a good conscience and in pleasing God. At times it is as if the more
they hear of the rest of God and the life of faith, the fainter the hope of
attaining it becomes, At times they are ready to give up all in despair: a
life in the rest of God is not for them.
What comfort and strength comes at such a time to a soul, when it sees that
Jesus is able to sympathise and to succour, because He has Himself been thus
tempted. Or did it not become so dark in His soul, that He had to wrestle
and to cry, "If it be possible ?" and " Why hast thou forsaken Me ?" He,
too, had to trust God in the dark. He, too, in the hour of death had to let
go His spirit, and commit it, in the darkness of death, into God's keeping.
He knew what it was to walk in darkness and see no light. And when a man
feels utterly helpless and in despair, Jesus can sympathise with him; He was
tempted in all things like as we are. If we would but rest in the assurance
that He understands it all, that He feels for us with a sympathy, in which
the infinite love of God and the tenderness of a fellow-sufferer are
combined, and is able to succour him, we should soon reach the rest of God.
Trusting Jesus would bring us into it.
Holy brethren partakers of a heavenly calling! would you be strong to hold
fast your confession, and know in full the power of your Redeemer God to
save; listen to-day to the voice of the Holy Spirit: Jesus was in all things
tempted just as you are. And why? that He might be able to help you. His
being able to sympathise has no other purpose than that He should be able to
succour. Let the one word be the food of your faith; the other will be its
fruit, your blessed experience. Just think of God giving His Son to come and
pass through all the temptations that come to you, that He might be able to
sympathise, and then lifting Him up to the throne of omnipotence that He
might be able to succour, and say if you have not reason to trust Him fully.
And let the faith of the blessed High Priest in His infinite and tender
sympathy be the foundation of a friendship and a fellowship in which we are
sure to experience that He is able to save completely.
In all things tempted like as we are, yet without sin. How blessed the two
truths so wonderfully joined together, the perfect sinlessness and the
perfect sympathy of Jesus. They might appear inconsistent, for how can
perfect sinlessness have perfect sympathy with the altogether sinful? Praise
God! temptation is the link. He was tempted like as we are! He suffered
being tempted! Though He conquered and we failed, He knows what temptation
is, and is able to sympathise, and to succour, and so to make us conquerors
1. Some time ago I asked a young lady who had come from Keswick, and spoke
of her having been a happy Christian for year's before, and having found
such a wonderful change in her experience, how she would describe the
difference between what she had known before and now enjoyed. Her answer was
ready at once: "Oh, it is the personal friendship of Jesus!" And here is one
of the gates that lead into this blessed friendship; He became a Man just
that I might learn to trust His gentle, sympathising kindness.
2. Study well the three ables of this Epistle...
Jesus able to
Able to succor,
Able to save completely
And claim all.
3. Tempted like as we are. He was made like to us in temptation, that we
might become like Him in victory. This He will accomplish in us. Oh, let us
consider Jesus, who suffered being tempted who experienced what temptation
is, who resisted and overcame it and brought nought to the tempter, who now
lives as High Priest to succour the tempted and give the victory--let us
consider Jesus, the ever-present Deliverer: He will lead us in triumph
through every foe.
THE TENDERNESS OF JESUS.
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, JUNE 8TH, 1890,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our
infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without
sin.” — Hebrews 4:15.
Beloved, we have a High Priest. All that Israel had under the law we still
retain; only we have the substance, of which they had only the shadow. “We
have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the
tabernacle”: we have a sacrifice, which, being once offered, for ever
avails; we have “one greater than the temple,” and he is to us the
mercy-seat and the High Priest. Take it for granted that all the blessings
of the law remain under the gospel. Christ has restored that which he took
not away; but he has not taken away one single possible blessing of the law;
on the contrary, he has secured all to his people. I look to the Old
Testament, and I see certain blessings appended to the covenant of works,
and I say to myself by faith, “Those blessings are mine, for I have kept
the covenant of works in the person of my Covenant Head and Surety. Every
blessing which is promised to perfect obedience belongs to me, since I
present to God a perfect obedience in the person of my great Representative,
the Lord Jesus Christ.” Every real spiritual boon which Israel had, you
have as a Christian.
Note, next, not only do we read that there is a High Priest, but in the
fourteenth verse we read, “We have a high priest.” It would be a small
matter to us to know that such and such blessings existed; the great point
is to know by faith that we personally possess them. What is the great High
Priest to me unless he is mine? What is a. Savior but a word to tantalize my
despairing spirit, until I can say that this Savior is mine? Every blessing
of the covenant is prized in proportion as it is had: “We have a High
Priest.” I pray you, never talk of the blessings and doctrines of grace as
matters apart from personal possession, but seek habitually to enjoy and
experience them. That was a grand exclamation of Thomas, “My Lord, and my
God”; and this is a sweet word for the saints — “We have a High Priest.”
Beloved, come boldly to the throne, for you have a High Priest. Grasp firmly
by faith the choice favors which your interest in the Lord Jesus secures to
It is precious to reflect that Jesus, as High Priest, is still ours, though,
according to the text, he “is passed into the heavens.” He does not forget
us now that he has passed through the lower heavens into the heaven of
heavens, where he reigns supreme in his Father’s glory. He is still touched
with a feeling of our infirmities. Though he has left behind him all pain,
and suffering, and infirmity, he retains to the full the fellow-feeling
which his life of humiliation has developed in him. “The man is near of kin
unto us,” and no difference of situation or condition has changed his
kinship, or the boundless love which goes with it. Our Joseph, though Lord
of all Egypt, is our brother still; and beneath the vestments of a king,
there beats the heart of love. Think of our High Priest as not having laid
aside that breastplate of his on which our names are enjewelled, nor the
“two onyx stones, set in ouches of gold,” which he wore upon his
shoulders, inscribed in the self-same manner. On his heart and on his
shoulder our exalted High Priest bears all his people: his heart and his arm
are both engaged for them: his love and his power are engrossed by them. Our
Lord carries in his pierced hands, and feet, and side, the memorials of his
redeemed, as it is written, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my
hands.” We have in him who has passed into the heavens as truly merciful a
High Priest as if he were still on this side the veil, ministering as in the
day of his humiliation.
Put those things together, and read them experimentally, each believer for
himself. We have a High Priest: we have him now; and while he is beyond the
heavens, in the glory of glories, he is still ours, in all tenderness
exercising his grace and power towards us.
Observe here that the apostle delights to dwell upon the majesty and glory
of our High Priest. What does he say? “Seeing then that we have a great
High Priest,” as if Aaron and all his sons were little personages compared
with him. In Jesus, the Son of God, we have “a great High Priest.” The
long succeeding line of priests called of God to stand before him in the
holy place on earth, have all passed away; but we have “a great High
Priest,” seeing he never dies. These men were all faulty; but we have a
“great High Priest,” who is absolutely perfect. These men did but humbly
represent him, as in a dew-drop the sun may be reflected; but he is the true
High Priest between God and man, and therefore the epithet “great“ is put
before his name as it could not be before any other.
He is “the great High Priest,” for he has passed, not within a material
veil into some inner sanctuary encompassed with curtains, but into the
heavens, where God dwelleth. His name is Jesus. There is his manhood: he was
born of a woman to save his people from their sins. But we read further,
“Jesus, the Son of God.” There is his Deity. He is the Only-begotten of
the Father: as glorious in his Godhead as he is gracious in his manhood.
Paul delights to dwell upon these points of glory. But when he has done so,
it seems to occur to him that when we consider the greatness of our High
Priest some poor trembling sinners may be afraid to draw nigh to him; and
the apostle ever has a longing eye towards drawing souls to Jesus.
Therefore, he falls back upon our Lord’s tenderness. Great as he is, our
High Priest is not one who “cannot be touched with the feeling of our
infirmities.” He puts a negative on that fear which might naturally arise
in trembling bosoms. This morning, being myself more than usually compassed
with infirmities, I desire to speak, as a weak and suffering preacher, of
that High Priest who is full of compassion: and my longing is that any who
are low in spirit, faint, despondent, and even out of the way, may take
heart to approach the Lord Jesus. Let no man be afraid of him who is the
embodiment of gentleness and compassion. Though conscious of your own
infirmities, you may feel free to come to him, who will not break the
bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. I want to speak so tenderly that
even the despairing may look up, and may feel a drawing towards our beloved
Master who is so graciously touched with a feeling of our infirmities.
I. So I am going to begin my sermon by saying of our blessed Lord, He Has
Assumed A Very Tender Office.
If the office of high priest had been fully
carried out, as it ought to have been, it would have been one of the most
tenderly helpful that could have been devised. A king may render great aid
to the unhappy; but, on the other hand, he is a terror to evil-doers: a high
priest is in the highest sense “ordained for men,” and he is the friend
and succourer of the most wretched.
It was intended, first, that by the high priest God should commune with men.
That needs a person of great tenderness. A mind that is capable of listening
to God, and understanding, in a measure, what he teaches, had need be very
tender, so as to interpret the lofty sense into the lowly language of
humanity. If the man is to come from among the infinites down to the
ignorance and narrow capacities of mortal men, he had need be tender as a
nurse to her children. Great philosophers have not always been great
teachers: their very profundity has prevented their translating their great
thoughts into the speech of common minds. There is a possibility of knowing
so much that the knowledge becomes crowded up, and there remains no possible
gate for the orderly going out of such a multitude of thoughts. Great
knowledge needs great patience if it would instruct the ignorant. The great
loaves of wisdom must be broken, and crumbed into a basin of milk for the
children. How few remember the words, “Let the children first be filled”!
Now, the High Priest had to be a man who could commune with God, and hearken
to the sacred oracle; and then he was bound to come out to commonplace-men
of the wilderness, or men of the farm, and tell them what he had heard in
secret from the infinite God. He must mediate, and allow his mouth to be
God’s mouth to the people — for “the priest’s lips should keep knowledge.”
What he had grasped from the Lord he must so put that the people could grasp
it and act upon it. This is what our Lord has done in the tenderest manner.
He reveals the Father. The things of God which he knoweth he makes known
unto us by his Holy Spirit, as we are able to bear them. We are to learn of
him. Some say that they will go from nature up to nature’s God; they will do
no such thing — the steps are much too steep for their feeble climbing; they
fall into some such abyss of absurdity as evolution, and come not nigh to
God. You have not to go from Jesus Christ to God, for he himself is God.
“In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are
complete in him.” Come, then, and learn of the great High Priest. His
office itself is a compassionate one, and you may learn all of God from him
the more readily because he is meek and lowly of heart, and will count it no
drudgery to teach you the very A B C of divine truth.
But a high priest took the other side also: he was to communicate with God
from men. Here, also, he needed the tenderest spirit to rule his faculties
and to move his affections. He must needs sit down and hear all the
trembling petitions of troubled mothers who had come from the utmost end of
Israel laden with their domestic burdens; he must listen to all the
complaints of the oppressed, the woes of the afflicted, the trials of the
poor, the perplexities of the distracted; and then, as a man of God, he was
ordained to take all these things in prayer before the Host High, and in
fitter language to present the requests of the broken in heart. What a
tender office! How few could carry it out! Even some well-meaning ministers
do not seem able to enter into the struggles of a seeking sinner, or into
the conflicts of a tempted soul. Those who go to them that they may enjoy
their intercessions are disappointed. Our High Priest is quite at home with
mourners, and enters into their case as a good physician understands the
symptoms of his patients. When we tell our Lord the story of our inward
grief, he understands it better than we do. He rightly reads our case, and
then wisely presents it before the Majesty on high, pleading his sacrifice,
that the Lord may deal graciously with us. Beloved, this is what Jesus
Christ will do for all who desire to speak with God. He is the
“Interpreter, one of a thousand,” by whom our sighs will be reported to
heaven. If you wish to communicate your needs to the great Father, who is
able to help in time of need, here is the ambassador between earth and
heaven who can plead the cause of your soul at that throne from which succor
ever comes. Is it not gracious on our Lord’s part to undertake so tender an
office for those who need it so greatly, and have no other way of access to
the God of grace?
But if I understand the high priest’s office aright, he had many things to
do which come under this general description, but which might not suggest
themselves, if you did not have the items set before you. The high priest
was one who had to deal with sin and judgment for the people. We read in
Exodus 28:29, “Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel
upon his heart before the Lord continually.” In consequence, he was called
upon to hear confessions of sin, and pleadings for pardon. Many came to him
and acknowledged known transgressions, or wished for aid in discovering sins
of ignorance. As God’s representative, he judged the errors of those who
came to offer sacrifice for their sins, and helped them to deal rightly in
the things of God. This is a very tender post to occupy. No mere man is
fitted to hear, as a rule, the confessions of all sorts of people, and
certainly, he should not seek to do so. Yet the man whom God calls to feed
his flock is forced, at times, to enter into the soul-conflicts of his
fellow-men, and to hear the mournful story of their wanderings; and he needs
great tenderness in so doing. We have a High Priest into whose ear we may
pour all the confessions of our penitence without fear. Go and do so. It is
a wonderful easement to the mind to tell Jesus all. Men who have consciences
that tear them to pieces will find perfect repose follow upon a full pouring
out of their soul before the Lord Jesus. Our merciful High Priest will never
make a harsh observation, nor ask a rasping question, nor pronounce a
crushing sentence. Go to him only, for there is none like him. He will come
so near to you, that you shall unburden your soul at his feet.
No doubt the high priest was resorted to, that he might console the
sorrowful. It must have been a great relief for those who were of a
sorrowful spirit, to go unto the sanctuary of the Lord, and sit at the feet
of a man of God, who could remind the stricken one of the promises made to
meet such sorrow. Only to tell the story was helpful. Mourners often get
more comfort from telling their griefs than they do from the remarks of
those to whom they unbosom themselves. Go to Jesus, dear friend, if a sharp
grief is now gnawing at your heart. If it be a trouble which you could not
tell to your father or your husband, go to Jesus with it. That holy woman,
Hannah, when she sat in the court of the Lord’s house, got but little at
first from Eli: she was telling her Lord her secret, and the aged priest
thought that she was drunken, because her lips were moving, and she spake
not aloud. He rebuked her roughly. But when she explained herself, then he
bade her go in peace, for her prayer would be granted her; and she went away
no more sad. Jesus will make no mistake as to your meaning, dear friend,
even though you should be as one drunken with sorrow. Go to your chamber all
alone, tell Jesus your trouble, and he will meet it in the fullness of his
compassion and wisdom. Through him the Comforter shall come to you, and your
sorrow shall be turned into joy. Try it. I cannot preach to you this morning
with any power of words; but words are not wanted if you will put everything
to the test — which I tell you concerning the tender-hearted Savior. Hasten
to lay Rabahakeh’s letter before your Lord. Pour out the wormwood and the
gall before him: he knows their bitterness, and he will surely make them to
be swallowed up in victory. This is the purpose of his office, and he will
not fail therein.
The high priest would hear, also, the desire and wishes of the people. When
men in Israel had some great longing, some overwhelming desire, they not
only prayed in private, but they would make a journey up to the temple to
ask the high priest to present their petitions before the Lord. Hannah only
told Eli her heart’s longing after it had been gratified; for she could not
have summoned courage to mention so special a desire to a man who had so
harshly judged her. She had evidently gone to Shiloh to make petition for a
child, since her husband’s other wife had been cruel to her because of her
barrenness. She told Eli that the Lord had heard her, and then she consulted
him as to the dedication of her son to the Lord. My friend, you may have
some very peculiar, delicate desire as to spiritual things that only God and
your own soul may know; but fear not to mention it to your tender High
Priest, who will know your meaning, and deal graciously with you.
It was the high priest’s business to instruct and to reprove the people. To
instruct is delightful; but to reprove is difficult. Only a tender Spirit
can wisely utter rebuke. Israel’s high priest needed to be meek as Moses in
his rebukes of the erring. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us our faults in
tones of love. His rebukes never break the heart. He never upbraids in
bitterness, though he does so in faithfulness. Oh, the tenderness of Christ!
I feel my subject deeply, but I cannot speak it as I would. He has been most
gracious in correcting me. I know his word is true: “As many as I love, I
rebuke and chasten.” We can take anything from Jesus: his hands make the
bitter sweet. There are men whom you would shun in the hour of your
wounding, even though you believe that they would do their best to help you;
for you do not feel that you could reveal your heart to them, nor feel happy
to be under obligation to them. Their kindness is hard and cold; their
counsel is without the sweetening of fellow-feeling. They are as keen as a
sword, and as cutting. It may be, they are so much above us that we cannot
reach up to them, nor expect them to reach down to us. But there are other
men, blessed among their fellows, who seem to be like havens for ships: you
rejoice to cast anchor under their lee. You feel, “I could tell that man
anything. I know that he would have patience with me, and pity for me, and
that his heart would go out towards me.” Now, beloved, you will often be
disappointed if you select a man or woman to be your confidante; but if you
will resort to the Lord Jesus, whom God has commissioned to be a High Priest
for this very end and purpose, you will find him just the friend you need.
He loves the troubled, for “in all their affliction he was afflicted.” He
is very careful of the feebleminded, and of the little ones; for is it not
written — “He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his
bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young”? When circumstances
are peculiarly trying, Jesus is peculiarly tender. When we are grieved, he
is gentle. Did you ever hear any of his people say of their Lord, that he is
overbearing? Did his spouse, in the song, ever say that her Beloved had a
rough side to his hand, or a cold place in his heart? He can and does chide,
for his love is wise; but he is very pitiful, and his love knows no limit.
His heart is made of tenderness, and his soul melteth for love of his
chosen. We adore our High Priest, not only for the greatness of his merit,
but for the sweetness of his mercy.
I wish I could fitly speak of him. But this much I must and will say — Come
to him, and rest in him; for he calls you. He is near at all times, and in
all places, and you can come to him while you sit in the pew, or when you
walk by the way. Come, ye that labor and are heavy laden, and lay your
burdens at his feet. Come, ye whose souls sink down within you under a sense
of sin, come to him who, as your great High Priest, has offered a
guilt-removing sacrifice. He sits at the door of the house of mercy: he
waiteth to be gracious. This is my first head.
II. Now, secondly, as our Lord Jesus has a tender office, so, next, He Has A
“We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with
the feeling of our infirmities.” Note that it is not said, “touched by,”
but touched with. Many a man can be touched by the sorrow of another, but he
is not touched with that sorrow. He has feeling, but not fellow-feeling. He
pities the sorrowing, but he does not sorrow with them. How many of the rich
are sorry for the poor; but they were never poor themselves, so they may be
touched by the woe of poverty, but they are not touched with a
fellow-feeling for it. Our Lord is touched with a feeling of our
infirmities. You are touched, and he is touched, at the same time. A pang
shoots through my heart: that pang has been felt by my Lord also. A grief
has stirred the waters of my spirit, and the spirit of the great High Priest
has moved in harmony therewith. They say, but I know not that it is true,
that when the strings of one harp are touched, if there be another harp in
the room, it gently responds in unison, though not touched by any hand;
assuredly it is so with the believer and his Lord. Touch any one of his
members, and you touch the Head of the spiritual body. Your present trouble
is upon the heart of the well-beloved.
He, in his mensure, feels afresh
What every member bears.
It is not merely true that he is apprised of our infirmities, since the Lord
has said, “I know their sorrows”; but he “is touched with the feeling of
our infirmities.” Hold that thought! It is a great matter that our God
should note the trials of his people, that his condescending omniscience
should concern itself with their every-day distresses; but this word goes
further: he feels with his people: is “touched with the feeling of our
infirmities.” The sense of feeling is more intense, vivid, and acute than
the sense of sight. It is one thing to see pain, but another thing to be
touched with the feeling of it. Treasure up this view of your Lord’s
sympathy, for it may be a great support in the hour of agony, and a grand
restorative in the day of weakness.
Note again, “The feeling of our infirmities.” Whose infirmities? Does not
“our” mean yours and mine? Jesus is touched with the feeling of your
infirmities and mine. You, my venerable brother, and you, my younger sister;
you who have come hither from a new-made grave, and you that will return to
a bed shortly to be emptied of your dearest one; you that are slandered, and
you that are sick; you that can scarce hold up your head for sadness, and
you that are distracted with fear: he is “touched with a feeling of our
infirmities.” I do not know how you feel it, but the text draws me very
near to all of you who are under infirmities even as I am. We nestle
together in that little word, “our.” We meet in the hospital ward of that
other word, “infirmities.” The best of all is, that Jesus meets us all
there, and is touched with the feeling of the infirmities, not only of
renowned divines in their pulpits, and of great saints in their closets, but
with “our” infirmities — even ours, who are “less than the least of all
Note well that word “infirmities” — “touched with the feeling of our
If it had only said sorrows, there would have been a sound of
the sublime about it; but he stoops to “infirmities.” He is not only
touched with the feeling of the heroic endurance of the martyrs, but he
sympathizes with those of you who are no heroes, but can only plead, — “the
spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” While you are entreating
the Lord thrice to take away the thorn in the flesh he is sympathizing with
you. Is it not well that it does not say, touched with the feeling of our
patience? our self-denial, our valor? but “with a feeling of our
infirmities”; that is, our weakness, our littleness, the points in which we
are not strong nor happy. Our pain, our depression, our trembling, our
sensitiveness; he is touched with these, though he falls not into the sin
which too often comes of them. Hold fast this truth, for it may greatly tend
to your consolation another day. Jesus is touched, not with a feeling of
your strength, but of your infirmity. Down here, poor, feeble nothings
affect the heart of their great High Priest on high, who is crowned with
glory and honor. As the mother feels with the weakness of her babe, so does
Jesus feel with the poorest, saddest, and weakest of his chosen.
How comes this about, brethren? Let us think of it a while! Our Lord has a
tender nature. Some people are not sympathetic, and never will be; their
spirit is not generous. We are all made of clay; but some clay is stiffer
and more gritty than another; and very hard grit it is in some cases. Some
men have no more feeling than granite. They will say about the collection
to-day, “I shall not give anything to the hospitals. Let the people take
care of themselves. If they were more thrifty they would have a little laid
by for a rainy day, and would not need to have hospitals provided for
them.” This gentleman can supply wagon-loads of the same sort of hard
material. I know you, my friend, I have known you, too, a long time. I was
going to say, “I would be happy to attend your funeral”; but I will not
say so, lest it seem that I am hardening myself under your influence; and
besides, there are so many of your order, that one more or less is of no
great consequence. You know the people who are always grizzling against
charity, and finding a shilling’s-worth of reasons why they should not give
a penny. Such people will not willingly put anything into the box: but as it
will come round to them, possibly they will do so for fear of being known.
Jesus our Lord is tender by nature. Amid the bliss of heaven he foresaw the
miseries of earth, and resolved to leave his glory that he might come here
to rescue man. His innate tenderness brought him from the throne to the
manger, from the manger to the cross.
Our Lord is not only tender of nature, but quick of understanding as to the
infirmities of men. Want of sense often prevents men being sensitive and
sympathetic. If you have never suffered under disease, you need a little
imagination to realize it, so as to be touched with the feeling of it. I
noticed a very able address delivered by Mr. Hutchinson before the Lord
Mayor last Friday, in which he advises a person who mourns his lack of
sympathy to go for a week to his usual city vocation with a black patch over
one eye, or wearing a wooden leg. “If this does not effect the business,”
he says, “let him choose some leisure day in the country in bright spring,
and resolutely for twenty-four hours keep a bandage firmly placed over both
eyes. His organization is, I fear, in this direction, well-nigh hopeless, if
next morning he does not feel inclined to send a liberal donation to some
hospital, that has for its mission the prevention of blindness.” I have no
doubt that improvable persons might be all the better for some such attempt
to gain fellow-feeling. The same doctor thinks that the wearing of a truss,
or a spinal apparatus, for one day might be a help to tenderness. I will not
urge these modes of cure; but the principle is good, and it might be tried
in other directions. Suppose the squire of the parish, who thinks ten or
twelve shillings abundant wages for a week, should say to his lady, “We
have always said that our agricultural laborers have quite enough money to
live upon; let us try their fare. We will leave this house for a week and
take one of the old cottages in the village; and live, all of us, on the
wage we pay our men.” What a capital school for social economy! How well
would some people know the value of our silver currency, and of the copper
coinage also! Only we should like members of parliament to have a longer
experience than one week, lest it might be a pleasant change from feasting
to fasting. Say six months for the honorable member! This might foster
sympathy. Our blessed Lord had real experience; and, beside that, the
faculty of being able to put himself into the place of sufferers, and so to
be “acquainted with grief.” His quick understanding made him realize, as
High Priest, the sorrows of his people.
Too many people are so wrapped up in their own grief that they have no room
in their souls for sympathy. Do you not know them? The first thing when they
rise in the morning, is the dreadful story of the night they have passed.
Ah, dear! and they have not quite eaten a hearty breakfast, before their
usual pain is somewhere or other coming over them. They must have the
special care and pity of the whole household. All the day long the one great
business is to keep everybody aware of how much the great sufferer is
enduring. It is this person’s patent right to monopolize all the sympathy
which the market can supply, and then there will be none to spare for the
rest of the afflicted. If you are greatly taken up with self, there is not
enough of you to run over to anybody else. How different this from our Lord,
who never cried, “Have pity upon me! Have pity upon me, O my friends!” He
is described as “enduring the cross, despising the shame.” So strong was
he in love, that, though he saved others, himself he could not save; though
he succoured the afflicted, none succoured him.
Men who are wrapped up in their own glories are not sympathetic. Is it not a
fine thing to spend life in contemplating one’s own magnificence? Those who
are amazed at their own greatness have no thought to spare for the
suffering. “No,” says the man, “the masses must obey the laws of supply
and demand, and get on as well as they can. Let them do as I have done. I
might have been as poor as they are, if I had shown as little push and
enterprise as they do.” The gentleman talks on a great scale, and he has no
sympathy for the small woes of common life. His sympathy is wanted at home;
and his charity begins there, and is so satisfied with its beginning that it
never goes any further. Our Lord is at the opposite pole from all this. He
never glorified himself: he “made himself of no reputation, and took upon
him the form of a servant”; thus displaying the tenderness of his heart.
Let me say, once more, our Lord is tender to us without any effort; not only
because of the reasons I have mentioned, but because he has made our cause
his own. We are his friends; and does not a friend act tenderly to a friend?
We are more than that, we are married to him; and shall not a husband be
tender to his spouse? More than that, “we are members of his body, of his
flesh, and of his bones”; and shall not the head feel every pain of the
members? It must be so. Jesus has so identified himself with his own
redeemed, that he must evermore be in living, loving, lasting sympathy with
III. I must now notice very briefly, in the third place, that our Lord
Had A Tender Training.
Hear what he says of it. He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet
Beloved, our Lord was tried as we are; that is one meaning of the passage.
As to all manner of bodily ills, he was subject to them all. Hungry, weary,
faint, without a place whereon to lay his head, he was tried in all the
points to which poverty exposes its victims. “Himself took our infirmities,
and bare our sicknesses.” Even to the deathsweat and the cry, “I thirst!”
Jesus has gone along our pathway of pain and grief. No step of it has been
Our Lord has been tried mentally. There is never an exceeding heaviness, nor
a sore amazement, nor a wound of treachery, nor a stab of ingratitude, of
which he did not feel the like. The sharpest arrows in the quiver of anguish
have been shot at his dear heart. “Oh,” says one, “I do not think anybody
has been tried as I have been by cruel unkindness.” Say not so, for Jesus
was forsaken of all, and betrayed by the friend in whom he trusted.
As to spiritual distress, our Lord has been there also. Where any sinless
foot could go, he has gone. The abyss has heard him cry, “My God, my God,
why hast thou forsaken me?” Tried in all points from above and from below,
from without and from within, he can sympathize with every form of
“Like as we are.” Who are meant by the “we”? That again is like the
“our”: it means you and me. Jesus Christ passed through a training similar
to ours. The discipline of life for all the children is much the same. The
first-born is tried as the rest of the household are tried.
But the text says, “tempted,” and that bears a darker meaning than
“tried.” Our Lord could never have fallen the victim of temptation, but
through life he was the object of it. He could never have been so tempted as
that the sin of a temptation could spot his soul. Far from it. Yet remember
that in the wilderness he was tempted to unbelief. The evil one said, “If
thou be the Son of God.” Most of us know how he can hiss that “if” into
our ear. “If thou be the Son of God.” Upon our Lord that “if” fell
painfully but harmlessly. Then came the temptation to help himself and
anticipate the providence of God by selfish action: “Command that these
stones be made bread.” We, too, have had this rash act suggested to us. The
tempter has said, “You could get out of your difficulties by doing a wrong
thing — do it. It is not a very wrong thing either; indeed, it is
questionable whether it might not be justifiable under the circumstances. In
vain will you wait for the Lord; put out your own hand and provide for
yourself. The way of faith in God is slow, and you are in pressing need.”
Our Lord came just there. When no bread in the house is made the background
of a great temptation, remember that our Lord has undergone the counterpart
of that temptation.
Next, the Lord Jesus was tempted to presumption. Set on the pinnacle of the
temple, he heard a voice saying, “If thou be the Son of God cast thyself
down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over
thee, to keep thee.” Are you haunted by a similar suggestion to presume? Is
it suggested that you quit your old standing and try the new notions, or
that you speculate in business, or that you profess to understand what God
has never taught you? Resist earnestly. Ah, dear friends! your Lord knows
all about this, and as he escaped that temptation, you shall do the same.
Then the fiend — how often I have wondered at him! — dared to say to Christ,
“All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”
Picture the Lord of angels, with all the royalty of heaven shining on his
brow, and the black fiend daring to say, “Fall down and worship me.” It
may be that a like temptation is coming home to you: live for gold, live for
fame, live for pleasure: in some form or other, worship the devil and
renounce faith in God. “Worship me,” says the prince of evil: “take to
the new doctrines, practice the current worldlinesses, leave the Word of God
for the wisdom of the philosophers”: in some such form will the temptation
come; but even though the fiend could fulfill his promise, and all the world
should be ours, we are bound to resist unto the death, and we are encouraged
to do so by the fact that we are upon the old ground where our Redeemer
fought and conquered. He can enter into the distress which this temptation
is causing you; for he has felt the same. How the Lord Jesus must have
started back with horror from the suggestions of the devil! He never
entertained them for an instant; but the mere passing of those temptations
over the drum of his ear, and the apprehension of his mind, must have caused
him the sharpest wounding; for he hated sin with immeasurable hate.
Beloved, our Lord has endured so much of temptation that He will be tender
towards you this morning, “touched with the feeling of your infirmities,”
because tempted at all points as you are. Even though temptation follows you
as the serpent which biteth at the horses’ heels, your Lord knows it and
will deliver you.
IV. I am happy to come to my last point, through divine aid. Our Lord Has A
As I read the verse — “In all points tempted like as we
are, yet without sin,” I thought I heard you say, “But that is just the
pinch of the matter. He cannot sympathize with me in sin, and that is my
great trouble.” Brother, do you wish that your Lord had become a sinner
like yourself? Abhor the idea! It would be blasphemy if understood and
indulged. You see at once that you could not wish anything of the kind. 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. It needs perfectness of heart to lay self all aside,
and to be touched with a feeling of the infirmities of others.
Hearken again: do you not think that sympathy in sin would be a poisonous
sweet? A child, for instance, has done wrong, and he has been wisely
chastened by his father; I have known cases in which a foolish mother has
sympathized with the child. This may seem affectionate, but it is wickedly
injurious to the child. Such conduct would lead the child to love the evil
which it is needful he should hate. Have you not felt yourself that, in
unbelieving moments, it would have been a great evil for a Christian brother
to have petted you in your unbelief; and that it was far better for you to
have heard a bracing word of upbraiding? We ought not to wish for sympathy
in wrong. Sympathy in sin is conspiracy in crime. We must show sympathy with
sinners, but not with their sins. If, then, you dream that our Lord Jesus
would have derived any gracious power to sympathize with us from himself
sinning, you greatly err. Such sympathy, had it been possible, would have
been to the last degree injurious to us. Inasmuch as he had no sin, we can
drink in his words of comfort without fear. His oil and wine will bring no
evil to our wounds. His holy experience comforts us, and runs us into no
risk. It is a blessed thing for a sinner to have the sympathies of one who
never sinned. Rejoice, ye people of God; rejoice in this, that the sinless
One has perfect sympathy with you in your infirmities. He sympathizes all
the more graciously because he is without sin.
I have done when I have said this — if our Lord was thus sympathetic, let us
be tender to our fellow-men. Let us not restrain our tenderer feelings, but
encourage them. Love is the brightest of the graces, and most sweetly adorns
the gospel. Love to the sorrowing, the suffering, the needy, is a charming
flower, which grows in the garden of a renewed heart. Cultivate it! Make
your love practical! Love the poor, not in word only, but in actual gifts to
them! Love the sick, and help them to a cure! To-day I cannot conceive of
you as thinking of the sick poor of London without wishing that you could
house them all, relieve them all with medical skill, and then send them for
a little into the country, or by the seaside, to gather strength. It is a
painful fact that our great hospitals have so many beds unoccupied, while
patients are in need of them! As a governor of St. Thomas’s Hospital, I have
seen, from time to time, how the endowments have decreased in value through
the agricultural depression and the lowering of rents. Surely London is rich
enough to make up the deficit of £100,000. To do this the collections must
be, at least, doubled. Will you allow the poor to pine in their narrow
rooms? Shall they perish for lack of surgical care and medical help? Do you
call yourselves followers of the tender Jesus? Do you hope to be saved
through his compassion? On this Hospital Sunday I charge rich Christians to
delay no longer, but to be touched with the feeling of the sufferings of
those who are made of one flesh with them. Let all of us do our best. I will
not insult you by pleading with you as though you were unwilling. You are
eager to give for his dear sake who sympathizes with you so tenderly, and
helps you so graciously. Let the collection be made at once.