CONSIDER JESUS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
Click chart to enlarge
Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Hebrews - Charles Swindoll - Chart on right
Hebrews 2:18: For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering] (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Centenary Translation: For inasmuch as he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is also able instantly to succor those who are tempted, he is also able instantly to succor those who are tempted.
ESV: For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Jewish Bible: For since he himself suffered death when he was put to the test, he is able to help those who are being tested now.
KJV: For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
Mace NT: for having himself stood the test of sufferings, he is capable of being moved to relieve those who undergo such tryals.
Modern Language: For because He Himself suffered in being tempted, He is able to bring aid to those who are tempted.
NLT: Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.
Phillips: For by virtue of his own suffering under temptation he is able to help those who are exposed to temptation. (Phillips: Touchstone)
TLB: For since he himself has now been through suffering and temptation, he knows what it is like when we suffer and are tempted, and he is wonderfully able to help us.
Wuest: For in that which He suffered, having Himself been tempted, He is able to run to the cry of those who are being tempted and bring them aid.
Weymouth: For inasmuch as He has Himself felt the pain of temptation and trial, He is also able instantly to help those who are tempted and tried.
FOR SINCE HE HIMSELF WAS TEMPTED: en ho gar peponthen (3SRAI) autos peirastheis (APPMSN):
- Hebrews 2 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
The Greek reads more literally (specifically the literal word order) "for in that He suffered, Himself being tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted." (Young's literal translation)
For (gar) is a term of explanation. Wherever you encounter a "for" used as a term of explanation, pause a moment to ponder the text - a practice which counters our tendency toward "passive" reading! As you query the test with the 5W/H'S, you will be amazed at how wonderfully the Holy Spirit comes alongside to give you insights that you had never seen before in passages you may have read a hundred times! As you engage in "active" reading, you are actually in a sense beginning to meditate on the passage, a lost discipline in our fast paced, hi tech society, but a discipline that our Father promises to richly reward (cp Joshua 1:8-note, Ps 1:1-note, Ps 1:2-note, Ps 1:3-note).
Most of the times when we encounter a for as a term of explanation, we will be forced to the preceding context, usually the immediately preceding passage. However, in the present context, the "for" indicates that what follows can explain how Jesus' being made like His brethren in all things has made Him a merciful and faithful High Priest for us.
Spurgeon - I must not omit to mention the particular use here made by the Spirit of that word himself. It is not only in that He suffered being tempted, but you see that He Himself has suffered being tempted. That word is sometimes used to make passages emphatic: “Who himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Pet 2:24). We read again and again of Jesus Christ Himself, as if to show that the matters referred to were really, truly, personally, actually His. He Himself has suffered. All that there was in Him, that made up Himself, suffered being tempted.
He Himself was tempted - Notice that the very fact that Jesus COULD be tempted serves to authenticate His Humanity! Why can we say this with such assurance? Because of James clear statement regarding temptation of Deity...
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. (James 1:13-note)
Hendriksen sums up some of the major temptations of Jesus - Jesus experienced hunger when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, thirst when he asked the woman at Jacob's well for water, weariness when he slept while the storm raged on the Sea of Galilee, and sorrow when he wept at the grave of Lazarus. (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. NT Commentary Set. Baker Book)
Tempted (3985) (peirazo from the noun peira = test from peíro = perforate, pierce through to test durability of things) is a morally neutral word simply meaning to test. It carries with it the idea of being "pierced through." (John Phillips) Temptations and trials are two sides of the same coin -- whether the testing is for a good (Heb 11:17) or evil (Mt 4:1, James 1:14-note) purpose depends on the intent of the one giving the test. When the scriptural context clearly indicates the testing is an enticement to evil, peirazo is most frequently translated by a form of the English tempt, which carries that negative connotation. Trials may come from God or under His permissive will from Satan (Job 1:8, 12), or may be the result of our own wrong doing. Solicitations to do evil come from the world, the flesh and the devil.
The aorist tense points to the fact that Jesus "having been tempted" is a past completed action and represents a historical event.
As an aside, we do well to study and meditate on the wilderness temptation of Jesus to discern how He defeated the devil's temptations which were surely as intense as a temptation could be. We know from Php 2:5-8+ that Jesus had previously "emptied" Himself of His divine prerogatives. Matthew and Luke teach that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit (Mt 4:1, Lk 4:1+) into the wilderness where He was tempted, so clearly Jesus was in the will of the Father (Jn 4:34, 5:19, 30, 6:40, 8:28, 49, 14:10, Mt 26:39, Heb 10:7-9). Luke adds that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit (Lk 4:1+, cf Luke 4:14+). And both Matthew and Luke's account record that Jesus refuted Satan's temptations with the "sword" of the Word of God (Eph 6:17+), specifically quoting from Deuteronomy. So what pattern does Jesus give us regarding how we too can experience victory over temptation? (1) He was in the will of His Father. (2) He was filled with the Spirit, controlled by the Spirit and as Luke 4:14+ adds empowered by (dunamis = enabled by) the Spirit (cf Acts 10:38+). In short, Jesus depended NOT His divine power, but on the will of His Father, the Word of Truth and the Spirit of Truth to defeat the devil. We do well to imitate His pattern for victory over temptation! (See discussion of association of filled with the Spirit and filled with the Word - Ephesians 5:18+)
- The Holy Spirit-Walking Like Jesus Walked!
- Word Study on "Temptation" = peirasmos
- James 1:14 - exposition on temptation
- See discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands
- Chart Comparing Filled with His Spirit/Richly Indwelt with His Word
Jesus was tempted or "put to the test" so to speak, but He did not give in to the temptation and fall into sin. Jesus "passed the test!"
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Heb 4:15+)
Paul explains that now as our Great High Priest...
Christ Jesus is He Who died, yes, rather Who was raised, Who is at the right hand of God, Who also intercedes for us (present tense = He is constantly interceding on our behalf and so is always ready to come to the aid upon hearing our cry for help!). (Ro 8:34+)
Christ did not have each temptation we have but experienced every kind of temptation a person can have. He has met our sorrows. He has faced our temptations. He knows exactly what help we need; and He can come to our aid immediately when we cry out for help!
Wuest comments that peirazo "referred first to the action of putting someone to the test to see what good or evil is in the one tested, and second, because so many broke down under the test and committed sin, the word came to mean a “solicitation to do evil.” Both meanings are in view here. Our Lord in His incarnation as the Last Adam, was put to the test and was also solicited to do evil (Mt 4:1-11 "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.")."
Tests come into the life of every believer. Whether the tests becomes a proof of righteousness (not that passing the test in any way earns righteousness) or an inducement to evil depends on our response. If we resist in dependence on the power of the Spirit (cp walk by the Spirit - Gal 5:16-note), the test proves our faithfulness. If we do not resist in His power (or try to resist by relying on our own "power"), the test becomes a solicitation to sin. The Bible uses peirazo in both ways. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert!
John MacArthur - The genuineness of Christ’s humanity is demonstrated by the fact that He was subject to temptation. By experiencing temptation, Jesus became fully capable of understanding and sympathizing with His human brethren (cf. He 4:15-note). He felt the full force of temptation. Though we often yield to temptation before we feel its full force, Jesus resisted temptation even when the greatest enticement for yielding had become evident (cf. Lk 4:1–13). Jesus felt everything we will ever feel—and more. For example, He felt temptation to a degree that we could not possibly experience. Most of us never know the full. degree of resistible temptation, simply because we usually succumb long before that degree is reached. But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation that came to Him. And He was victorious in every trial. (MacArthur, John: Hebrews. Moody Press)
Spurgeon clarifies several basic truths regarding temptation...
(1) Temptation to sin is no sin.
(2) Temptation does not show any displeasure on God's part:
(3) Temptation really implies no doubt of your being a son of God.
(4) Temptation need not lead to any evil consequences in any case.
(5) Do not make it any cause of complaint that you are tempted.
(6) Far from your hearts be the idea that any temptation should lead you to despair. Jesus triumphed, and so shall you.
Philip Hughes addresses an objection to Hebrews 2:18 - Some have objected that only by the experience of sin could Christ have evinced full fellow feeling with fallen mankind; but for the incarnate Son to have succumbed to temptation, while it would certainly have meant his becoming a fellow sinner, would also have meant his failure and defeat, with the consequence that he would have been disqualified for the fulfilment of his high-priestly office (cf. Heb 5:8-10) and unable to come to our aid and lead us in the way of victory. It is a fallacy also to imagine that the fact that he did not fall into sin means that he knows less about temptation than those who have given in to it; for his conquest of temptation, while ensuring his sinlessness, in fact increased rather than diminished his fellow feeling, since he knows the full force of temptation in a manner that we who have not withstood it to the end cannot know it. What good would another who has failed be to us? It is precisely because we have been defeated that we need the assistance of him who is the victor. "Sympathy with the sinner in his trial," writes Westcott, "does not depend on the experience of sin but on the experience of the strength of the temptation to sin which only the sinless can know in its full intensity. He who falls yields before the last strain." The help, moreover, which Christ offers to him who is struggling in the midst of temptation is offered not merely as man to man, but as Redeemer to sinner. (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews - Philip Edgbumbe Hughes)
Illustration - Testing the Bridge - As the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West. Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, "Are you trying to break this bridge?" "No," the builder replied, "I'm trying to prove that the bridge won't break." In the same way, the temptations Jesus faced weren't designed to see if He would sin, but to prove that He couldn't.
IN THAT WHICH HE HAS SUFFERED: en ho gar autos peponthen (3SRAI):
- He 4:15-note; He 4:16-note; He 5:2-note, He 5:7,8,9-note; By the Devil = Mt 4:1-10; In the Garden of Gethsemane = Mt 26:37-39; Lk 22:53
- Hebrews 2 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
He (Himself) is emphatic. Contrary to what might have been expected, He suffered.
O Saviour Christ, Thou too art man;
Thou hast been troubled, tempted, tried;
Thy kind but searching glance can scan
The very wounds that shame would hide.
Suffered (3958) (pascho) means to feel or bear what is painful, disagreeable or distressing, either to the body or mind. We suffer pain of body; we suffer grief of mind. It means to be affected by something from without. It means to undergo an experience, usually difficult, and normally with the implication of physical or psychological suffering.
Christ’s suffering included temptation. He experienced the lure of sin, but He never surrendered Himself to it. He knows what it is like to be tempted, so He knows how to assist those who are being tempted.
Suffered is in the perfect tense which emphasizes that although the temptation Christ suffered in the flesh is a thing of the past, its effect is permanent, in the sense that the effect of His compassion and understanding remains to aid us in our own temptations.
Spurgeon - Many persons are tempted, but do not suffer in being tempted. When ungodly men are tempted, the bait is to their taste, and they swallow it greedily. Temptation is a pleasure to them; indeed, they sometimes tempt the devil to tempt them. They are drawn aside of their own lusts and enticed; so that temptation, instead of being suffering to them, becomes a horrible source of pleasure. But good men suffer when they are tempted, and the better they are the more they suffer. Our Lord Jesus Christ enters into this trying experience very fully. His suffering through being tempted must have been much greater than any suffering that the purest-hearted believer can know, seeing that He is more pure than any one of us. He could not yield to temptation, but He did suffer from it. He did not suffer from it morally; He was too pure for that. But He did suffer from it mentally because of His purity. His mind was grieved, and vexed, and troubled by the temptation that He had to bear. We especially see this when we find Him in the garden. There He showed His grief when He sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground. In many other ways He endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, such multiplied temptations, that it is said, and truly said, by the Holy Ghost in this verse, that He “suffered” being tempted.
HOW DID JESUS OVERCOME
Warren Wiersbe reminds us of a truth we often overlook about how Jesus suffered temptations - It is important to note that Jesus faced the enemy as Man, not as the Son of God. His first word was, "Man shall not live by bread alone." We must not think that Jesus used His divine powers to overcome the enemy, because that is just what the enemy wanted Him to do! Jesus used the spiritual resources that are available to us today: the power of the Holy Spirit of God (Matt. 4:1, Ed: Jesus had emptied Himself of His divine "prerogatives" and as man was fully dependent on the Spirit - Lk 4:1 = led by and filled with the Spirit, cp our experience > Gal 5:18, Ro 8:14, Eph 5:18, and began ministry in the power of the Spirit = Luke 4:14 - compare our experience > Acts 1:8, Col 1:29 where "His power" = power of the Holy Spirit Who indwells all believers!, etc), and the power of the Word of God ("It is written"). Jesus had nothing in His nature that would give Satan a foothold (John 14:30), but His temptations were real just the same. Temptation involves the will, and Jesus came to do the Father's will (Heb. 10:1-9) (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament. 1989. Victor)
The first Adam was tempted in a beautiful Garden and failed. The Last Adam was tempted in a dangerous wilderness (Mark 1:13) and succeeded. (Ibid)
We have the Spirit within us, the Saviour above us, and the Word before us! What tremendous resources for peace! (Ibid)
Alexander Whyte notes that "We shall never understand anything of our Lord's preaching and ministry unless we continually keep in mind what exactly and exclusively His errand was in this world.
A T Robertson summarizes Jesus' suffering noting that "The temptation to escape the shame of the Cross was early and repeatedly presented to Christ, by Satan in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-11), by Peter in the spirit of Satan (Mt 16:22, 23.), in Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-39) and caused intense suffering to Jesus ("And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground." Lk 22:44; Heb 5:8)." (Word Pictures in the New Testament)
Constable - "As our priest Jesus Christ can help us because He has undergone the same trials we experience (in body, mind, and emotions) and has emerged victorious. The testing in view is temptation to depart from God’s will, specifically apostasy. The picture is of an older brother helping his younger brothers navigate the pitfalls of growing up successfully. That is the role a priest plays. (Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible)
Illustration of the great truth that Jesus Who Suffered as a Man is thus "Able to come to our aid" - 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!"
Crippled and 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)
The moral of this illustration is that Jesus is able to help because He understands. He is like the young lad, who was able to sympathize with the crippled pup because he had been crippled.
C H Spurgeon writes - It is a common-place thought, and yet it tastes like nectar to the weary heart—Jesus was tempted as I am. You have heard that truth many times: have you grasped it? He was tempted to the very same sins into which we fall. Do not dissociate Jesus from our common manhood. It is a dark room which you are going through, but Jesus went through it before. It is a sharp fight which you are waging, but Jesus has stood foot to foot with the same enemy. Let us be of good cheer, Christ has borne the load before us, and the blood-stained footsteps of the King of glory may be seen along the road which we traverse at this hour. There is something sweeter yet—Jesus was tempted, but Jesus never sinned. Then, my soul, it is not needful for thee to sin, for Jesus was a man, and if one man endured these temptations and sinned not, then in His power (The indwelling Spirit of Christ's power!) his members may also cease from sin.
Some beginners in the divine life think that they cannot be tempted without sinning, but they mistake; there is no sin in being tempted, but there is sin in yielding to temptation. Herein is comfort for the sorely tempted ones. There is still more to encourage them if they reflect that the Lord Jesus, though tempted, gloriously triumphed, and as He overcame, so surely shall His followers also, for Jesus is the representative Man for His people; the Head has triumphed, and the members share in the victory. Fears are needless, for Christ is with us, armed for our defense. Our place of safety is the bosom of the Saviour. Perhaps we are tempted just now, in order to drive us nearer to Him.
Blessed be any wind that blows us into the port of our Saviour’s love!
Happy wounds, which make us seek the beloved Physician.
Ye tempted ones, come to your tempted Saviour, for He can be touched with a feeling of your infirmities, and will succor every tried and tempted one. (Morning and Evening)
SATIATED FISH - We had everything set .for the first bass fishing expedition of the year. We had exotic new lures that we knew would be irresistible to those big six-pounders lurking beneath the surface of our favorite fishing lake. We would tempt them with Sassy Shads, brightly colored new Hula Poppers, buzz baits, a "killer" red flatfish with a black stripe, and a white double spinner with long bright streamers. And, if all else failed, we had some fresh Canadian crawlers. Out at dawn, we hit all the best spots with our assortment of delectable temptations. But nothing happened. We worked the shore. We cast along the weeds. We tried every lure in the tackle box—even the crawlers. Finally we gave up. Heading back to the cabin, we concluded,
"The fish just aren't hungry."
Satan has a whole "tackle box" of alluring devices he uses to tempt us. Some are gaudy and exotic, easy to spot—yet oh, so tempting. Others whet our appetites in quiet and subtle ways, appearing harm-less until the hook is set. Whatever the temptation, we can best resist if we do not let our thoughts dwell on evil but on things that are true, noble, just, pure, and lovely (Php 4:8-note). With mental discipline and the help of the Holy Spirit (Ed: I would place the emphasis of the power of the Spirit over "mental discipline!"), we can keep our hearts full of goodness. Then, in frustration, Satan will have to say, "They just aren't hungry."—D. C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved) (Ed: While reading the Word of God is not a talisman against temptation, the Word alone satisfies the deepest needs of our soul and thereby with the Spirit's enablement can fend off devilish temptations to gratify our greeds.)
Every step away from the devil
leads us one step closer to God.
Sympathy the Fruit of Suffering - Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden, in the midst of the suffering caused by his complaint, said to his physician, "Tell me, doctor, are there any who suffer as much as I do?" "Yes, your highness," replied the doctor; "I have a patient afflicted with the same disease, and lying on a bed of straw." "On straw!" cried Leopold. With a trembling hand he rang the bell, and ordered his servants to have the best bed in the castle taken to the sick man, as well as all other necessaries.
HE IS ABLE TO COME TO THE AID: dunatai (3SPPI) toiz peirazomenois (PPPMPD) boethesai (AAN):
- Jn 10:29; Phil 3:21
- Hebrews 2 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
HE IS ABLE!
He is able - A W Pink writes that this phrase "implies both a fitness and willingness to do a thing. Christ is both competent and ready to undertake for His people" William Barclay adds "Because he sympathizes Jesus can really help. He has met our sorrows; he has faced our temptations. As a result he knows exactly what help we need; and he can give it."
Spurgeon - He lays Himself out to help those that are tempted, and therefore He does not hide Himself from them, nor pass them by on the other side. What an example is this for us! He devotes Himself to this divine business of comforting all who mourn. He is Lord of all, yet makes Himself the servant of the weakest. Whatever He may do with the strongest, He helps “those who are tempted.” He does not throw up the business in disgust. He does not grow cross or angry with them because they are so foolish as to give way to idle fears. He does not tell them that it is all their nerves, and that they are stupid and silly, and ought to shake themselves out of such nonsense. I have often heard people talk in that fashion, and I have half wished that they had felt a little twinge of depression themselves, just to put them into a more tender humor. The Lord Jesus never overdrives a lame sheep, but He sets the bone, and carries the sheep on His shoulders, so tenderly compassionate is He.
Read the He is able statements in - He 7:25-note; Ro 16:25-note, Ep 3:20-note, 2Ti 1:12-note; Jude 1:24. Indeed, He is Able! Hallelujah! (Study these other passages on divine enablement and be encouraged that you serve a mighty God Who is able! Acts 20:32 Mt 3:9, Mt 9:28, Mt 10:28, Ro 4:21, Ro 11:23, Ro 14:4, 2Co 9:8, He 11:19-note, Jas 1:21-note, Jas 4:12, cp Acts 20:32-note). In short, Jesus is able, because He understands temptation, having been tempted with an intensity we cannot even imagine and yet not once caving in to the easy, deceptively gratifying way out! And so Jesus is able to come to our aid, because He understands what we are experiencing when we are being tempted.
Boice comments that the words He is able are..
especially important, for they are a way of talking about God's sovereignty. Some years ago I prepared a special series of Sunday evening messages for Tenth Presbyterian Church titled "The God Who Is Able." They were based on seven Bible verses in which the words God is able (or their close equivalents) occurred. The titles were:
"Able to Save" (Heb. 7:25),
"Able to Keep" (2 Tim. 1:12),
"Grace Abounding" (2 Cor. 9:8),
"Able to Help in Temptation" (Heb. 2:18),
"How to Grow Spiritually" (Eph. 3:20),
"God Is No Quitter" (Jude 24), and
"Able to Raise Our Bodies" (Phil. 3:21).
There were so many relevant verses that I didn't even use this text from Romans. My point was that God "is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us," as Paul told the Ephesians (Eph. 3:20). For that is where it all begins and ends. We saw that when we studied the doxology at the end of Romans 11: "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen" (Ro 11:36). (Romans 4 Volumes - James Montgomery Boice)
Alexander Maclaren explains Christ's ability to feel compassion when His brethren suffer temptations...
Comfort drops but coldly from lips that have never uttered a sigh or a groan; and for our poor human hearts it is not enough to have a merciful God far off in the heavens. We need a Christ who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities ere we can come boldly to the Throne of Grace, assured of there finding grace in time of need. (What Behooved Christ)
Touched with a sympathy within,
He knows our feeble frame;
He knows what sore temptations mean,
For he has felt the same.
(Play With Joy We Meditate the Grace)
Able (1410) (dunamai- see also related word dunamis) means to have power, whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources through a state of mind or favorable circumstances. To be capable, to have the ability. Dunamai implies both a fitness and willingness to do a thing. Christ is both competent and ready to undertake for His people. If we have not, it is because we ask not.
Able is in the present tense indicating that Jesus is continually able to help the tempted because he has perfect sympathy with them. Stated another way, present tense speaks of the fact that "being able" is always true of Jesus.
Robertson notes that "He is able" "strikes the heart of it all. Christ’s power to help is due not merely to his deity as God’s Son, but also to his humanity without which he could not sympathize with us (He 4:15)." (Word Pictures in the New Testament)
Expositor's Bible Commentary writes that "The words "he is able" are important and mean more than "he helps." Only he who suffers can help in this way. Jesus went all the way for us. He was not only ready to suffer, but he actually did suffer." ((Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament. Zondervan Publishing)
Kent Hughes helps us see how Jesus can really know how difficult temptation can be - Think of it this way—which bridge has undergone the greatest stress, the one that collapses under its first load of traffic, or the one that bears the same traffic morning and evening, year after year? (Hughes, R. K. Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul. Volume 1. Crossway Books; Volume 2)
Jesus is a "bridge"
Who is continuously able.
Jamieson - Not only as God He knows our trials, but also as man He knows them by experimental feeling. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. Critical and explanatory commentary)
KJV Study Bible - How much easier it is to help someone when we ourselves have gone through similar trials! Christ as Man has fully suffered the greatest of trials and so can ably comfort (cf. 2 Cor. 1:3–5). These suffering Jews needed to hear that Christ had suffered as they were suffering.
Barnes - This does not mean that he would not have had “power” to assist others if he had not gone through these sufferings, but that he is now qualified to sympathize with them from the fact that he has endured like trials. The idea is, that one who has himself been called to suffer is able to sympathize with those who suffer; one who has been tempted, is able to sympathize with those who are tempted in like manner. One who has been sick is qualified to sympathize with the sick; one who has lost a child, can sympathize with him who follows his beloved son or daughter to the grave; one who has had some strong temptation to sin urged upon himself can sympathize with those who are now tempted; one who has never been sick, or who has never buried a friend, or been tempted, is poorly qualified to impart consolation in such scenes. Hence, it is that ministers of the gospel are often - like their Master - much persecuted and afflicted, that they may be able to assist others. Hence, they are called to part with the children of their love; or to endure long and painful sicknesses, or to pass through scenes of poverty and want, that they may sympathize with the most humble and afflicted of their flock. (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible)
C H Spurgeon commenting on "He is able" notes that Jesus
"(1) has the right, acquired by His suffering, to enter in among sufferers, and deal with them.
(2) He has also the disposition to succor them. He obtained that tender temper through suffering, by being Himself tempted.
(3) And then He has the special ability. Our Blessed Master, having lived a life of suffering, understands the condition of a sufferer so well that He knows how to make a bed for him."....
In this we note His pity, that He should give Himself up to this business of succoring them that are tempted. He lays Himself out to succor them that are tempted, and therefore He does not hide Himself from them, nor pass them by on the other side. What an example is this for us! He devotes Himself to this Divine business of comforting all such as mourn. He is Lord of all, yet makes Himself the servant of the weakest. Whatever He may do with the strongest, He succors " them that are tempted." He does not throw up the business in disgust; He does not grow cross or angry with them because they are so foolish as to give way to idle fears. (The Biblical Illustrator)
The fact that God is "able" is illustrated in God's rhetorical question in the face of Sarah's failure to bear Abraham a son, Jehovah stating
"Is anything too difficult for the Lord? (the expected answer of course is "no") At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Ge 18:14)
Later in Hebrews the writer in reference to Jesus reminds his tested readers that
"Hence, also, He is able (priests were never able to save even temporarily) to save (present tense = continually save = see following note) forever (KJV is more accurate = "uttermost" - to final perfection or completeness) those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Heb 7:25-note)
Here "salvation" appears to be referring primarily to sanctification (present tense salvation) rather than justification (past tense salvation). To state it another way "save forever" refers to Jesus' saving work in the sense that He is bringing about God's desired end, conformity to the image of His Son and ultimately glorification (future tense salvation).
Paul writes Timothy that as a preacher, an apostle and a teacher he had suffered and yet his firm declaration remained
"I am not ashamed; for I know (knowing with certainty) Whom I have believed (perfect tense = began in the past and has continuing effect or result, speaks of permanence) and I am convinced (perfect tense = a settled persuasion regarding the matter, a fixed and immovable position) that He is able (literally = is powerful enough) to guard (military term = soldier on watch accountable with his life to protect that entrusted to his care) what I have entrusted (“my deposit” as in a bank, the bank of heaven which no burglar can break) to Him until that day." (See note 2 Timothy 1:12)
Jude emphasizes God's inherent ability to act on our behalf writing the great benediction
"Now to Him Who is able (present tense = continually able) to keep (guard = soldier on watch accountable with his life to protect that entrusted to his care) you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 1:24, 25)
Paul states that God's enablement working for and in and through believers is unlimited and beyond our comprehension writing
Now to Him Who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (See notes Ephesians 3:20; Ephesians 3:21)
Spurgeon writes that...
this is the reason why he suffered, and why he became a man capable of suffering, that he might be able to succor the tempted. It was for this that Christ left heaven, for this he was born of the virgin, for this he lived for this he died, that he might be “able to succor them that are tempted.”
Glory be to his holy name for ever and ever! Amen.
Jesus, Who pass'd the angels by,
Assumed our flesh to bleed and die;
And still He makes it His abode;
As man, He fills the throne of God.
Our next of Kin, our Brother now,
Is He to Whom the angels bow;
They join with us to praise His Name,
But we the nearest interest claim.
Jesus comes running to the cry of His brethren which is beautifully pictured by a parent who responds without hesitation to the cry of their child crying out in distress!
Come to the aid (997) (boetheo [word study] from boé = at a shout or cry as for aid or help [only NT use = Jas 5:4="outcry", the cry of the oppressed] + théo = to run) means literally to run on hearing a cry from one (in need or danger) to give help, relief, aid and/or assistance to someone. To hurry or hasten to the help of someone who is oppressed or in need of assistance. To bring or furnish aid. To assist by supplying what is needed.
TDNT - Boetheo "is often used of the physician...and cf. also the healings of Jesus (Mk. 9:22, 24; Mt. 15:25). Similarly in Ac. 16:9; Rev. 12:16. Of God as the One who helps it is used only at 2 Cor. 6:2, quoting Isa. 49:8. It is used of help in religious need at Mk. 9:24; Heb. 2:18. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament – Volume I)
Gary Hill's discussion gives us a good feeling for the meaning of this great Greek verb - boēthéō (from 995 boē, "intense exclamation" and theō, "run") – properly, run to meet an urgent distress-call (cry for help); deliver help by quickly responding to an urgent need (intense distress). boētheō ("supply urgently needed help") means to give immediate aid – in time for a pressing need, i.e. "to run, on a call to help" (TDNT, 1:628). Boētheō was originally a military word, responding to a critical, urgent need (MM). Boētheō is also used in Homeric Greek (800-900 BC) for responding to a war-cry. (ED: A GREAT DESCRIPTION FOR BELOVED WE ARE DAILY IN AN ONGOING SPIRITUAL WAR WHETHER WE KNOW IT OR NOT!) (The Discovery Bible) (Bold added)
THOUGHT - Dr Hill's description begs the question - What is my response when I am tempted (and we are always being tempted to one degree or another - cf 1 Peter 2:11 where "wage war" is present tense = continuously, James 1:14) Which direction do I go when I tempted? Do I run toward the temptation? Do I flee from the temptation (cf 1 Cor 6:18)? Do I cry out for urgent help from Jesus Who was tempted in the same way and yet did not sin and Who is ever able to run to my aid when I am tempted? May God grant us the desire and the power to cry out to Jesus when we are sorely tempted to sin against our Father (cf Ge 39:9). Amen. But remember even though we "cry out" our part is not just passive and to "let go, let God," but more like "Let God and let's go (flee from the temptation)!" And remember that with the temptation comes the way of escape, but we must (energized by the Spirit) choose to run through the way of escape.
Hendriksen - The word "help" is very meaningful and touching. In the original it consists of two smaller words: a cry and run. In any context in which this word is used it is an earnest and moving request that the Lord, or whoever the potential helper happens to be, may rush toward the person who is in need, and may help him. (New Testament Commentary Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark )
Mills writes that boethéo "denotes a loud, ringing cry for help, thus emphasizing the desperate, helpless state of the supplicant." (The Acts of the Apostles. 3E Ministries)
Moulton and Milligan have identified the noun help (boetheia) and the verb to help (boetheo) repeatedly recurring at the end of petitions in Greek secular writings (papyri)
SPIRITUAL HELP FROM
THE GREAT PHYSICIAN!
Secular Greek often used boetheo in the description of a physician according to Kittel (TDNT). It is interesting that the Gospels uses of boetheo in situations where individuals address Jesus (the Great Physician) in a sense "interceding" with Him to come to the aid of loved ones who are demon possessed. Thus the sense in those passages is to provide spiritual help and healing. In Paul's vision of the man of Macedonia, the man appealed to him "Come over to Macedonia and help (aorist imperative) us" clearly a call to bring the soul healing/saving Gospel to Europe! Jesus sent help in this case in the form of a His man on the scene, the Apostle Paul! Paul also alludes to the saving help of the Gospel in 2Cor 6:2. In short, we see that most of the NT uses boetheo are in the context of individuals in need of spiritual help, even as is true of Hebrews 2:18.
Boethéo means to relieve - the verb relieve in English means to free, wholly or partially, from pain, grief, want, anxiety, care, toil, trouble, burden, oppression or any thing that is considered to be an evil; to ease of any thing that pains the body or distresses the mind.
JESUS THE SAVIOR
SUCCORS SUFFERING SAINTS
Jesus became a Man of SORROW
that He might become
The One Who able to SUCCOR
Boetheo means to succor (KJV reads "He is able to succor them that are tempted") which is a word you may not be too familiar with, but which means literally to run to or run to support hence, to help or relieve when in difficulty, want or distress; to assist and deliver from suffering; as, to succor a besieged city; to succor prisoners. (succor is derived from Latin succurrere = to run up, run to help, from sub- = up + currere to run). (See below for more discussion of this aspect of Jesus' help to the helpless)
Boetheo - 8x in 8v and rendered (NAS) as - come to the aid, 1; come to...aid, 1; help, 4; helped, 2. Boetheo is used 78 times in the Septuagint translation - e.g., in Ps 121:1 "where does my help come from?" and Ps 124:8 "Our help is in the Name of the LORD." See also 1Sa 7:12, Ps 28:7, 37:40, 40:13, 44:26, 46:5, 54:4, 70:5, 79:9, 86:17, 94:17, 109:26, 119:86, 175.
Matthew 15:25 But she came and began to bow down (proskuneo = verb translated "worship" in Mt 15:25KJV!) before (Jesus), saying, “Lord, help (present imperative in context signifying a petition not a demand) me!”
Wuest: And having come, she fell upon her knees and touched her forehead to the ground in profound reverence before Him, saying, Sir, be helping (Ed: picking up on the present tense) me.
Comment: The Canaanite woman pleaded with Jesus to help her demon-possessed daughter, and in so doing we see her desperation, her persistence and faith (Read context = Mt 15:21-28, especially Mt 15:28), her humility, her submission (her posture of worship), her dependence and her bold confidence (help is in the imperative mood - where the imperative expresses a petition, not a command) in Jesus.
THOUGHT - Would it be that more of God's children had this Gentile woman's desperate, dependent attitude and like her we would not hesitate to cry out for Jesus to come to our aid when we find ourselves drowning in the dire straits of temptation and in great need of His assistance! Do you really believe Jesus will come running to your aid and has the power to overcome your temptations? Do you cry out when you are being tempted ( Caveat : I am assuming you have not gone somewhere, done something or looked at something that has aroused the flesh and the fires of temptation and that is the pathogenesis of your current strong temptation!)
Mark 9:22 "It (the demon) has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity (verb form splagchnizomai derived from splagchnon) on us and help (aorist imperative) us!"
Comment: Do not miss the association - His great pity for us precedes His matchless help for us! The aorist imperative is a petition that seeks instant help! "Now not later please" is the idea!
Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help (present imperative) my unbelief."
Hendriksen comments on "help" in present imperative: "Continue moment by moment and day by day to come to my aid, so that I may overcome my unbelief."
Acts 16:9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help (aorist imperative) us."
Comment: The man of Macedonia in using the plural for himself speaks for Europe, and his cry for help Europe’s need of Christ. Paul recognized a divine summons in the vision.
Kent Hughes helps us understand the picture of the verb boethéo remarking that: This was one of the great turning points of history, and we should thank God for it, for as a result the gospel has come to us in the West. Nothing makes a person strong like hearing someone cry for help! You can be walking down the street completely fatigued so that you would like to lie down on the curb and go to sleep, but then you hear a cry—someone is in trouble!—and you completely forget your weariness. Paul and his associates moved forward in the power of Christ’s strength. (Hughes, R. K.. Acts: The Church Afire. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books) (Bolding added)
Acts 21:28 (Context = Acts 21:27-29) Unbelieving Jews from Asia who were in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost "upon seeing (Paul) in the temple (of Herod), began to stir up all the multitude and laid hands on him, (then they began continually) crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid (see boetheo below)(present imperative)!
Comment - (boethéo - Acting as though Paul had committed an act of blasphemy, they called for help in dealing with it - a vivid picture of the meaning of running to the aid of one who cries out for aid!). This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people, and the Law, and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place. For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. -29)
2 Corinthians 6:2 for He says, "AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU." ("I ran to your cry and brought you aid" = Wuest) Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (now is a propitious, favorably disposed, epochal season)," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION "--
Comment: Paul is addressing the Corinthians, saved (who were not living in grace) and/or unsaved (who had never received grace) warning them not to receive the grace of God in vain. He quotes the Septuagint (Greek of the Hebrew OT) of Isa 49:8.
Revelation 12:16-note But the earth helped the woman (Metaphor for Israel), and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.
The cognate (related) noun boetheia is used in Hebrews in the exhortation
Let us therefore (based on the truth of Heb 4:14-note, Heb 4:15-note) draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16-note)
Comment on "time of need": Greek adjective eukairos (eu = well, good + kairos = opportunity) = seasonable, timely, opportune, at the right time, well-timed, in season, timely. Mk 6:21 = only other NT use. BDAG = "in our lit. only pert. to time that is considered a favorable occasion for some event or circumstance, well-timed, suitable." A T Robertson = well-timed help, help in the nick of time, before too late.
Vincent on "time of need": Lit. for seasonable help, or help in good time; before it is too late; while there is still time to seek God’s rest. Others, however, explain, when it is needed; or, before temptation leads to sin.
Ryrie comments: His grace comes when we come in our time of need, and not until. (Ryrie Study Bible)
The Lord is my Helper [boethos - the One Who responds to my call for help], I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?
Comment: This is the only NT uses of Boēthós which is common (45 uses) in the Septuagint (Lxx), the first use describing the wife as a man's helper (Ge 2:18). The writer of Hebrews uses boethos to describe the Lord as poised and ready to run to the relief of His tempted/afflicted children. When? When they cry out for His assistance. Crying out reflects humility, a sense of dependence, a laying aside of self-reliance, that dangerous tendency we all "run to". One has to make a choice to cry out to Jesus! Are you too proud or too self sufficient to cry out?
HELP FROM ANGELS
HELP FROM JESUS
Warren Wiersbe makes a distinction between the help angels give and the help given by our merciful and faithful High Priest, Who "stands ready to help us! He was tempted when He was on earth, but no temptation ever conquered Him. Because He has defeated every enemy, He is able to give us the grace that we need to overcome temptation. The word “succour” (boethéo "Come to the aid") literally means “to run to the cry of a child.” It means “to bring help when it is needed.” Angels are able to serve us (Heb 1:14-note), but they are not able to succor us in our times of temptation. Only Jesus Christ can do that, and He can do it because He became a man and suffered and died. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor) (Bolding added)
Kenneth Wuest commenting on Hebrews 2:18 says "How precious to know that when we are being tempted, the Lord Jesus always stands ready, eager to run to our cry and bring us aid.'
Philip Hughes - The help that he brings is twofold: in the first place, forgiveness of sins, the annulment of past defeats, and, in the second place, the power (his power) to fight and overcome temptation. His own conquest of temptation means for the Christian that the dominion of sin over him has been broken (Ro 6:14-note). These two realities, forgiveness and power, are present in the passage before us. (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews - Philip Edgbumbe Hughes)
A W Pink adds that we need to "Remember Who He is, the God-man. Remember the experiences through which He passed! He, too, has been in the place of trial: He, too, was tempted—to distrust, to despondency, to destroy Himself. Yes, He was tempted “in all points like as we are, sin excepted.” Remember His present position, sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high! How blessed then to know that He is “able” both to enter, sympathetically, into our sufferings and sorrows, and that He has power to “succor.” (Pink, A W: An Exposition of Hebrews)
As Man, a man of sorrows,
Thou hast suffered every woe,
And though enthroned in glory now,
Canst pity all Thy saints below.
KJV Study Bible - How much easier it is to help someone when we ourselves have gone through similar trials! Christ as Man has fully suffered the greatest of trials and so can ably comfort. These suffering Jews needed to hear that Christ had suffered as they were suffering." (Bolding added. King James Version Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
As Paul reminds us
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ." (2 Co 1:3-5)
MacArthur - Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows where we hurt, where we are weak, and where we are tempted. He is the God we can go to not only for salvation but for sympathy." (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word Pub)
Wiersbe - Now He is a merciful and faithful High Priest; we can depend on Him! He is able to succor us when we come to Him for aid. The word succor means “to run when called for” and was used of physicians. Christ runs to our aid when we call Him! (Wiersbe, W. W. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)
Matthew Poole - This is the most powerful preservative against despair, and the firmest ground of hope and comfort, that ever believing, penitent sinners could desire or have."
Adam Clarke - "There are three things," says Dr. Owen, "of which tempted believers do stand in need: 1. Strength to withstand their temptations; 2. Consolations to support their spirits under them; 3. Seasonable deliverance from them. Unto these is the succour afforded by our High Priest suited; and it is variously administered to them: 1. By his word or promises; 2. By his Spirit; (and, that, 1. By communicating to them supplies of grace or spiritual strength; 2. Strong consolation; 3. By rebuking their tempters and temptations; ) and 3. By his providence disposing of all things to their good and advantage in the issue." Those who are peculiarly tempted and severely tried, have an especial interest in, and claim upon Christ. They, particularly, may go with boldness to the throne of grace, where they shall assuredly obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Were the rest of the Scripture silent on this subject, this verse might be an ample support for every tempted soul."
Although the word boetheo is not used, Matthew gives us a blessed illustration of Jesus' succoring or coming to the aid of one in need recording the story of Peter walking on the water
"but seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt 14:30, 31)
Comment: Jesus' response is a vivid picture of what He will do for us beloved. And what was the condition? He cried out and so too must we. It is a humbling thing to cry out in need to another but God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. If a man or woman is willing to humble themselves in the presence of the Lord, he will lift them up!
E. A. Thomson has this quote in regarding the succor provided by our Savior Who has suffered slings similar to His saints...
If ever I fall into a surgeon’s hands with broken bones, give me one whose own bones have been broken.” How can those who have never known what illness is, enter with the tenderness of a perfect fellowship into the chambers of the sick? or how can those who have never known a want understand with a matter-of-fact experience the anxieties of the poor and needy? (The Biblical Illustrator)
The writer's point is this - Jesus is the Great Physician Who knows! He is able. He is ready to come to your cry for aid. Cry out beloved. His is the same One today Who yesterday said...
Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke, I make the rivers a wilderness... (Isa 50:2)
Later in Isaiah He answers declaring
Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short that it cannot save. Neither is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. (Isa 59:1)
In a similar statement W. Gouge writes that
It is found by experience that childbearing women are more pitiful (Ed: mercy filled) to others in their travails than such women as are barren. The like may be said of such as are afflicted with any painful malady. (Ed: Point? Jesus is mercy filled [Heb 2:17-note, Heb 4:16-note], because His cup of trials and temptations suffered was filled to the brim beloved!) (The Biblical Illustrator)
Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes concerning "JESUS SUCCORING.
He is able to succor them that are tempted. In this we note His pity (mercy), that He should give Himself up to this business of succoring them that are tempted. He lays Himself out to succor them that are tempted, and therefore He does not hide Himself from them, nor pass them by on the other side. What an example is this for us! He devotes Himself to this Divine business of comforting all such as mourn. He is Lord of all, yet makes Himself the servant of the weakest. Whatever He may do with the strongest, He succors “them that are tempted.” He does not throw up the business in disgust; He does not grow cross or angry with them because they are so foolish as to give way to idle fears." (The Biblical Illustrator)
Spurgeon goes on to discuss Jesus' "methods of succoring them that are tempted" listing out four areas as follows
(1) Usually by giving a sense of His sympathy.
(2) Sometimes by suggesting precious truths, which are the sweet antidote for the poison of sorrow.
(3) Sometimes He succors His people by inwardly strengthening them. (Ed: Cp Eph 3:16 where the Spirit of Christ is the One through Whom Christ strengthens.)
(4) I have known the Lord bless His people by making them very weak. The next best thing to being strong in the Lord is to be extremely weak in yourself. They go together, but sometimes they are divided in experience. It is grand to feel, “I will not struggle any more; I will give all up, and lie passive in the Lord’s hand." Spurgeon then draws his discussion to a conclusion asking two questions "Where else can you go?. Where better can you go?" (The Biblical Illustrator)
Jeremy Irons asks
Now shall I tell you how our Lord “is able to succor” you? It is just simply by revealing Himself. “I am thy salvation”; “It is I; be not afraid.” It comforts, it cheers, it upholds. Just observe what encouragement here is for faith to the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having Himself “suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.” He has the fulness of grace; “all power is given to Him in heaven and in earth” (Mt 28:18); it is in His own hands, and He is “full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14) “He is able to succor them that are tempted.” “Well,” say you,” is He willing?” Suppose I reverse the question: Are you willing that He should? or are you looking somewhere else for succor? Are you willing that He should do it in His own way?" (The Biblical Illustrator)
G. Lawson writes regarding our Savior's ability to succor His brethren that
The saying is, “None so merciful as those who have been miserable”; and they who have not only known misery, bat felt it, are most powerfully inclined, not only to inward compassion, but to the real relieving of others miserable. And this was a contrivance of the profound wisdom of that God, who is infinitely knowing and merciful, to find a way how to feel misery and be merciful another way. This was by His Word assuming flesh, that in that flesh He might be tempted violently and suffer most grievously; and all this that He might be more merciful and effectually succor sinful man." (The Biblical Illustrator)
W. F. Adeney writes that Christ is able to succor
By His knowledge and sympathy He can give just such grace as is needed. Pathology must precede therapeutics. The diagnosis of disease is the first duty of the physician, and it is the most difficult; when that is successfully accomplished, the prescription follows almost as a matter of course. (The Biblical Illustrator)
W. A. Bridge asks
"HOW DOTH HE SUCCOR those that are tempted in the day and time of their temptation?
1. Christ succors tempted souls before the temptation comes sometimes, by a special manifestation of Himself, His love and fulness, to them. Again, He succors before the temptation by filling the heart with the Holy Ghost. When the vessel is filled with one liquor, it keeps out another.
2. He succors also under temptation by opening the eyes of him that is tempted to see that it is but a temptation. A temptation is half-cured when a man knows that it is but a temptation: when a man’s eyes are open to see the tempter and the temptation. Therefore men are so hardly cured, because they are hardly persuaded that it is a temptation. When they see that, then they say, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Christ opens their eyes. Again, He succors under temptation, by letting fall some glimpse of His love, some love-look upon a tempted soul. And so, when Peter was in the high priest’s hall, Christ looks upon him, and he went out and wept bitterly.
3. After temptation He succors: by filling the heart with joy unspeakable and full of glory; by sending the angels to minister: as when the devil left Christ, had tempted Him and left Him, then came the angels and ministered to Him. Every way — before temptation, and in temptation, and after temptation — the Lord Jesus Christ is a succoring Christ to tempted souls. He was a Man of Sorrows that He might be a God of succors; His heart is full of succors." (The Biblical Illustrator)
DOES YOUR FRAME
Unger has an interesting note on ancient ships...
The imperfection of the build, and the tendency to strain the seams, led to taking on board “helps” (Gk. boetheia), cables or chains (apparatus for securing a leaking vessel), that in case of necessity could be passed around the hull, at right angles to its length and made tight—a process called frapping in the English navy.
Luke uses the noun boetheia in his description of the storm tossed ship in (Acts 27:17), writing that
after they had hoisted (the lifeboat) up, they used supporting cables (boetheia) in undergirding the ship and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the sea anchor, and so let themselves be driven along."
Comment: In Acts 27:17 "boetheia" refers specifically a rope or chain for frapping a vessel to keep the beams from separating. Frapping (derived from Mid French [fraper] to draw tight as with ropes or cables) means a lashing binding a thing tightly or binding things together.
In nautical terms, this procedure of passing ropes under the ship to hold it together is termed frapping. Frap is a nautical term that means to draw tight, to lash down or together. So in the midst of the storm in Acts 27 the sailors wrapped cables around the ship’s hull and winched them tight. Thus supported, the ship would be better able to withstand the severe pounding of wind and sea.
THOUGHT - Beloved, do you see the word picture inherent in the Biblical use of (verb - boethéo, noun - boetheia) in other verses? From time to time all saints encounter unexpected storms with potentially destructive wind and waves and find themselves in desperate need of our great Captain, Jesus, to batten down the hatches, sending His help that we might be able to endure the stormy trial or temptation, emerging on the other side of the "storm" intact, even unscathed! That's supernatural! That's what happens when we cry out for the Savior's succoring!
Beloved Jesus is able to run to your aid
when He hears your cry for His help.
Perhaps right now you need to take a moment and like the Canaanite woman above (click), bow down in worship (even singing the hymn below), reminding yourself that your Helper Jesus is truly ready, able and willing to run to your assistance no matter the "size or shape" of your test or temptation.
WHAT A FRIEND
WE HAVE IN JESUS
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there
OF WHO ARE TEMPTED: toiz peirazomenois (PPPMPD):
- 1Cor 10:13; 2Cor 12:7, 8, 9, 10; 2Pet 2:9; Revelation 3:10
- Hebrews 2 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
You say what does that mean? Well, first let me mention that the Bible is full of what I would call "divine passives" which means the effect on the subject comes from an external source, in the case of the divine passive, the effect is from God. For example, Acts 16:6 says that Paul, Silas and Timothy "passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia." The words "having been forbidden" are in the passive voice and clearly the Source of this effect (forbidding the missionaries) is the Holy Spirit. Now, in the present passage, are tempted is present tense, passive voice and so more literally (and more realistically - because temptation is ever present) it says we are being continually tempted! Who cannot identify with that truth? So from where does the temptation emanate? While it could be our fallen flesh (James 1:14+), alternatively (or additionally) it could be from our fallen foe, a fallen angel (the devil's minions cf "being tempted by the devil" in Lk 4:2+). In either case, the sense of the passive voice is the antithesis of the "divine passive" and hence my designation as a "devilish passive." Make sense?
A T Robertson rightly taking note of the context of the entire letter says "These Jewish Christians were daily tempted to give up Christ, to apostatize from Christianity. Jesus understands himself ([autos]) their predicament and is able to help them to be faithful.
F B Meyer comments on those who are (continuously being) tempted rightly noting that...
Within that circle we all stand. Each is tempted in subtler, if not in grosser, forms; in extraordinary, if not in ordinary, ways. You have been trying, oh, so hard, to be good; but have met with some sudden gust, and been overcome. Tempted to despair! Tempted to yield to Potiphar's wife! Tempted to become a brute! No lawn without the fowler's snare! No day without its sorrow! No night without its noisome pestilence! No rose without its thorn! Do we not need succor? Certainly; and he is able to succor the tempted, because he has suffered the very worst that temptation can do. Not that there was ever one symptom or thought of yielding; yet suffering to the point of extreme anguish, beneath the test. O sufferers, tempted ones, desolate and not comforted, lean your heads against the breast of the God-Man, whose feet have trodden each inch of your thorny path; and whose experiences of the power of evil well qualify him to strengthen you to stand, to lift you up if you have fallen, to speak such words as will heal the ache of the freshly gaping wound. If he were impassive, and had never wept or fought in the Garden shadows, or cried out forsaken on the cross, we had not felt him so near as we can do now in all hours of bitter grief. O matchless Saviour, on whom God our Father has laid our help, we can dispense with human sympathy, with priestly help, with the solace and stay of many a holy service; but thou art indispensable to us, in thy life, and death, and resurrection, and brotherhood, and sympathizing intercession at the throne of God! (Click F B Meyer's note from The Way into the Holiest)
Whether the test is for a good (as it proved to be in Heb 11:17) 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 study of similar word dokimazo)
Peirazo is a morally neutral word that means try, to prove in either a good or bad sense, and so to tempt or test by soliciting to sin. Note that "tempted" is in the present tense (continuous activity or action) and passive voice (exerted on subject from an outside source or force = the world, the flesh and the devil - but in the case of believers actually includes an "inside force" in a sense - his or her own lusts that have base camp in the old nature inherited from Adam and still resident in our physical bodies) and is therefore more accurately translated "are continuously being tempted". The fact that this is the reality in all of our lives is another reason believers should not get up each morning and leave home without putting on their "work clothes", the full armor of God (e.g., Eph 6:11ff, Ro 13:12-14, 2Cor 10:3-5) and without the proper mindset that they are living sacrifices, who must constantly choose not to be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewal of their mind. (Ro 12:1-2, Ro 6:11-13, 16, 19)
God gives a blessed promise to all who are being tempted that
"No temptation (or test - this Gk word has no negative connotation) has overtaken you but such as is common to man (characteristic of mankind, i.e., no one is superhuman and immune to temptations - they are part of every person's experience) and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able (i.e., we sin because we want to, not because the devil made us for no temptation is stronger than our spiritual resources), but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Co 10:13+)
Take comfort in the fact that God is faithful and trustworthy. Note that “the way out” is always presented right along with the temptation. The definite article (“the” in English and in Greek) with both “temptation” and “way of escape” points to a specific way of escape (i.e., there is only one way) available in each temptation. Note also that we escape temptation not by getting out of it but by passing through it, God seeing us through by enabling us to endure or bear up under.
Believers can trust Christ to help us survive suffering and overcome temptation.
THOUGHT - Beloved, what trial or temptation are you facing right now that you need Christ to face with you? When you are suffering, facing seemingly insurmountable trials and temptations, run to the Lord for His strength and His patience. He understands your needs and is ever able to come to your aid upon hearing your cry of distress.
"His heart is made of tenderness,
His soul is fill'd with love.
"Touched with a sympathy within,
He knows our feeble frame;
He knows what sore temptations mean,
For he has felt the same.
"Then let our humble faith address
His mercy and his power;
We shall obtain delivering grace,
In every trying hour."
John MacDuff (in Palms of Elim) has these devotional thoughts...
THE SYMPATHY OF JESUS
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose"—"Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:18
There can be no more gracious whisper from the leaves of the Heavenly Palm than this. What a magnitude of comfort to every sorrowing one, the simple declaration, "He Himself suffered when He was tempted!" Jesus the Incarnate God, "the Living Kinsman" (Job 19:25), had a mysterious identity of experience with His suffering, and with His tempted people; so that nothing can happen to the members but what has happened to the Head. They can feel that no sorrow shades their souls but the same darkened His. "As He is," so are they "in this world" (1 John 4:17). He Himself—the thorn-crowned King—knows every thorn which pierces them, every pang of spirit and pang of body. The loss of beloved friends, the treachery of false ones, temptation to distrust God's providence, to pervert and misapply His Word, to question the wisdom and reason of His dealings, the forecastings of a dark and troubled future; yes, the saddest and most intolerable woe that can crush and overbear the soul—the sense of Divine desertion—the withdrawal of the countenance of His Heavenly Father. Oh, the unutterable solace in the darkest hour of earthly suffering, to look up to the Brother in our nature—the "prevailing Prince" who has "power with God," and to say, "He Himself suffered when He was tempted!"
When we first contemplate this amazing theme, the identity of experience seems to be partial and incomplete. Jesus, we are led to say, was never 'tempted' as we have been. Temptations might assail, but they could never overcome His sinless, spotless, uncontaminated humanity. He never could know, therefore, the sorest part of these our struggles, when through its own weakness the soul has at last to succumb to the hurricane, and is haunted with the terrors of remorse!
Yes! but let us remember it was the very fact of the Infinite purity of the tempted One which imparted, in His case, the saddest element to temptation. How inconceivable the recoil of the refined and exquisite sensibilities of His holy nature from the presence of sin. And, with these unchanged human sensibilities in His glorified state, how deeply must He still sympathize with the case of His assaulted people! How tenderly must He feel for every wound of His soldiers, seeing that He, the Captain of their salvation, was Himself "made perfect through sufferings."
Afflicted believer! rejoice that sorrow and suffering have (if the expression dare be used) assimilated Christ with you, and you with Christ, in this your trial-hour. With what a divine significance, augmented and intensified by subsequent experience, can He say, "I know your sorrows." If you are bleeding under some peculiarly heavy infliction of the rod, ready to say in the bitterness of your grief, "No one knows, no one can gauge the depth of my anguish," THE SYMPATHY OF JESUS can—He does! "He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust." With reverence we say it, God—the Omnipotent, Omniscient God—cannot, with all infinitude of His nature, sympathize. He can compassionate; but He cannot sympathize in the way of feeling with us. Sympathy requires, as its two conditions, identity of nature and identity of experience. "We have such an High Priest;" One who is said to be (not touched with our infirmities), but "touched with the feeling of our infirmities."
Our beautiful motto-verse gives more comfort still. The words affirm not merely that Christ has identity of experience—a passive sympathy with His tried people—He is also the helper of the tempted, "He is able to support those who are tempted."
If He is summoning any of us to difficult and perplexing duty, or exacting from us some heavy sacrifice, or even apparently placing us in the way of peril and temptation, He will not allow the burden to crush, or the temptation to overcome, or the fiery trial to consume. He will keep us in the crucible as long, but no longer than He sees to be absolutely needful to test our faith and purify Christian graces. All that concerns us and ours is in His hands.
Oh, as we see the Angels of Tribulation with their sevenfold vials issuing forth from the gate of heaven (see note Revelation 15:7)—how blessed to know that they are marshaled, commissioned by the great Lord of Angels, the once suffering but now exalted Redeemer! In Zechariah's vision (Zech 1:8) of "the man on the red horse"—behind Him were angels and providences—the "black and speckled white horses." But He is between them, ordering, regulating, appointing, all that befalls His people, trusting their persons and fortunes not even to an angel's care, without His own guidance, sanction, and direction.
And when the last hour arrives (which, however varied be our other experiences, we must all encounter), is it not here that His sympathy—the sympathy of fellow-feeling—is most of all valued? He can endorse even this closing experience with the words, "I know it." To the living Christian in his season of affliction, He can say, "I am He who lives." But to the dying Christian He can add, "I am He who was dead." "I know well, through the memories of My cross and passion, the conflict of that final struggle-hour! I know, what it is, O Believer, to die! And because I know this, I can make Palms of comfort to spring up and overshadow you on the brink of Jordan as well as in the wilderness! Fear not to pass what I have passed! Feel amid these buffeting billows that they have swept over Me. And with the thought of Me as your Precursor, and of My deathless exalted sympathy, sing, as you plunge into the stream, "Behold, the Ark of the covenant of the Lord of the whole earth passes over before me into Jordan!" (Joshua 3:11).
"As often, with worn and weary feet,
We tread earth's rugged valley o'er,
The thought, how comforting and sweet!
Christ walked this toilsome path before!
Our needs and weaknesses He knows,
From life's first dawning to its close.
"Just such as I, this earth He trod,
With every human ill but sin;
And though indeed the very God,
As I am now, so He has been.
My God, my Savior, look on me
With pity, love, and sympathy!"
"Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart."
John MacDuff in The Pillar in the Night has these devotional thoughts on Jesus...
THE GREAT SYMPATHIZER
"The Lord went before them by night in a pillar of... fire." - Ex 13:21
"For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to support those who are tempted."—Heb. 2:18.
"I know their sorrows."—Ex 3: 7.
"In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."—John 16:33.
He suffered! Sorrowing one, what a gleam of the Pillar-cloud is this!
He suffered! What are all your most agonizing afflictions compared with what He endured for You!
He suffered—poverty, weariness, privation, hunger, thirst, grief, and the minor other ills that flesh is heir to. These, however, were but the surface-heavings of the deeper depths of woe—the assaults of men and the malignity of devils, cruel innuendoes, savage indignities; the loss or desertion of beloved friends; the treachery of trusted associates: that, also, in the case of a nature sensitively strung alike physically and spiritually. "Reproach," said He, "has broken My heart."
He suffered more profoundly still. There was a mystery of anguish in Gethsemane which mortal tongue cannot tell, or imagination conceive. No wonder it is described with an emphasis belonging to no other—"THE Agony." Its undefined dreadfulness is worded in the Greek Litany by "Your sufferings known and unknown." What mean these drops of blood oozing from His brow? What means the thrice-uttered prayer, in a paroxysm of woe, "Let this cup pass from Me"? (Matt. 26:39). What means the climax and consummation of all, when the very sun, in the words of Jeremy Taylor, "put on sackcloth, as if ashamed to confront the spectacle of its expiring Creator": when the wail was evoked from parched and dying lips—the bitterest cry that ever rose from earth to heaven—"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me"?
He suffered. Of Him alone could the words be said—"All Your waves and Your billows have gone over me." Well may He have addressed the question, first to His disciples and then to His suffering children of all ages—"Can you drink of the cup which I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" With an intense pathos of which the afflicted patriarch knew nothing, He could make the appeal to a whole world of weepers, "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O you, my friends, for the hand of God has touched me!" (Job 19:21).
He suffered. But the lesson from these sufferings for you and for me is to watch how, in this melancholy gloom, shone the Pillar of Fire! See His perfect and profound resignation! He takes the cup, whatever that mystic emblem may mean, with trembling hand. Humanity in its weakness, rather humanity in its very strength, utters an "If it be possible"—the prayer of His suffering children still—"let it pass." But it is only for the moment. The bitter chalice is drained to the dregs. Three times He recedes from the edge of the abyss and its "horror of great darkness." But it is a momentary recoil—no more. He plunges in! Self-surrender, heroic obedience, unmurmuring submission can go no farther. His own will is now, as ever, submerged in the Divine—"Not as I will, but as You will." He ceases not in the prolonged conflict until He could utter the cry waited for by all time, and which sends its prolonged echoes through eternity—"It is finished!"
Though we have selected the closing hour of all, He was, during the entire period of His earthly life, "the Faithful and True Martyr" (see note Revelation 1:5). Well may a writer speak of "the fascination of that mournful life-story, so infinite in its pathos and so profound in its wisdom, the most touching of scenes, and the most impressive of tragedies…the loving and gracious Man of Sorrows, listening to every plaint of weakness, and helping every troubled heart to bear its burden, even while on His own there rested the burden of a world's salvation" (Present Day Religion).
Reader, I know not what the circumstances of your suffering are. More than probable they may be identical in kind, though not in degree, with those of your suffering Lord.
(1) They may be physical. As was noted at greater length in a previous chapter, it is only those conversant with a couch of lingering pain who can testify to the reality. The sudden close of the windows, long open to the cheering light of day; the drawn blinds; the tossing from side to side in the hopeless battle with wakefulness—opiates giving, at the best, transient moments of relief—only to renew the pitiless struggle: "Saying in the morning, 'Would God it were evening!' and in the evening, 'Would God it were morning!'"
That pain—that physical pain—on the Cross, He suffered! There were, as I have just said, other reasons of infinitely more tremendous significance which convulsed His soul. But one reason for His being subjected to the pangs of an agonized body, undoubtedly was, that He might impart to every child of anguish His own experimental exalted sympathy. In our hours of prostration, weakness, and weariness—when in their prolonged vigils we may be tempted at times "to faint when we are rebuked of Him," the whisper trembling on parched lips—"Why all this discipline of pain? Why this cruel cross to bear? Where is the wisdom? Where is the love?"—we may think of a Divine fellow-sufferer subjected without any mitigation—(for the very anodyne offered was refused)—to the intensest bodily torture. "Consider Him that endured…lest you be weary and faint in your minds" (see note Hebrews 12:3).
(2) Your sufferings may be mental. Harassment, unkindness, ingratitude, the barbed shafts of malice and slander, all the more grievous to bear if sent winged from the quiver of a friend. It may be anxiety about a beloved relative, the subject of slow disease, around whose couch the too ominous shadows are gathering—"life balanced in a breath." It may be the agony of bereavement, when the long alternations of hope and fear have ended—the vacant niche in your heart—the vacant chair in your home—the cherished name on the gravestone. Or, it may be, in your own case, wasting disease too surely pointing to the fatal termination—this involving the severance of holiest ties, and leaving dear ones solitary and alone to do battle with adversity. These and many such, though varying in their outer form and complexion, your great suffering Master knew in their fullest measure. Yes, inclusive of the last-mentioned; when, Himself racked in agony, He had that agony intensified by the sight of a fond mother jostled amid the crowd that surged around, and made sport of His dying moments; the sword too truly piercing her own heart, as the nails were lacerating the Body at whose feet she crouched.
The refrain of the present meditation is, He suffered; and because He suffered, says the Apostle in our motto-verse, "He is able to support." We have quoted more than once, as suggested by the name of this book, the words which emanated from the Jehovah of the Pillar-cloud, the opening syllables in that drama of the Exodus and the desert; let them be repeated in their most appropriate form here: "I have seen, I have seen the affliction of My people, for I know their sorrows." His whole life, from Bethlehem's manger to Calvary's cross, formed an empathetic commentary and fulfillment. He knew—He knows, every heart-throb of His suffering Israel in every age. He is no god or demi-god of Pagan mythology, who lives in unsympathetic isolation amid the clouds of Olympus, all in ignorance of the travail of a sin-stricken, woe-worn world. From deepest experience He is cognizant of every pang that rends the soul. If one of earth's kingdoms is the Kingdom of Sorrow, He is its King. The crown on His head was a crown of thorns, and, being so, the scepter in His hand is the scepter of kingly sympathy.
It is recorded of Alexander the Great, that he touched with his crown a wounded soldier in the ranks, and that at the touch there were the tinglings of new life. It is so in a diviner, heavenly sense. Christ touches our wounds with His double crown—the crown of thorns as the Human Sympathizer, and the crown of glory as Head over all. It is the thorn-crown which forms the special theme of our present meditation. I always like the conjunction of the two clauses in the familiar Litany—"Pitifully behold the sorrows of our hearts…O Son of David, have mercy upon us!" It was the Lord of the Pillar-cloud, the God-Man, of whom it is touchingly said, "So He was their Savior. In all their afflictions He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them, and He bore them, and carried them all the days of old" (Isaiah 63:8, 9). "It is Christ alone," beautifully says Pere Didon, in his Life of Jesus, "who teaches the joy of suffering, because it is He alone who pours into the soul a Divine life which no pain can overwhelm; which trial only strengthens, and which can despise death, because it permits us to face it with the fullness of immortal hope."
My brother, trust this Great Sympathizer, "who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross." Conquer as He conquered, by a noble submission and self-surrender to the will of your Father in heaven. While you take trial for granted as a part of His appointed discipline, hear the Lord of sorrow encouraging you from His own example and victory—"In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
We read of Him that "being in an agony He prayed the more earnestly." "Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard (as it has been rendered) because of His reverent submission" (Heb. 5:7). Is not that saying impressive—"He became obedient unto death"? It was a gradual effort requiring Divine self-sacrifice. But it was given, and the triumph was assured. Let this, also, afflicted one, be the sanctified result, in your case, of the Cup which the same Father has put into your hands. "Be more courageous," are the words of Francis de Sales, "in your trials, cherish them carefully, and thank God for vouchsafing to give you ever so small a share in His dear Son's cross."
"Rejoice inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy."
Our Best Help: For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.—Hebrews 2:18
One important area in which God helps us from the beginning of the year to the end of the year is that of temptation. Recently, a friend of mine, who is a clergyman of the Church of England, wrote to me and included this verse about temptation, Hebrews 2:18. This man is a venerable clergyman, who has always shown me the most constant and affectionate regard. This text is dear to this aged servant of the Lord because of his deep experience of both affliction and deliverance. Through these experiences he has learned his need of solid, substantial food, fit for the veteran warriors of the cross. Having been tempted these many years, my friend finds that as his natural strength decays, he needs to cast himself more and more upon the tenderness of the Redeemer’s love. And he is led to look more fully to Him who is his only help in the day of trouble, finding consolation alone in the person of Christ Jesus the Lord. Hebrews 2:18 is a staff for old age to lean on in the rough places of the way. It is a sword with which the strong man may fight in all hours of conflict. It is a shield with which youth may cover itself in the time of peril. And it is a royal chariot in which spiritual babes may ride in safety. There is something here for every one of us, as Solomon put it: “A portion to seven, and also to eight” (Eccl. 11:2). If we consider the Great Prophet and High Priest of our profession—Jesus Christ—as being tempted in all points (Heb. 4:15), we will not grow weary or faint in our minds. No, we will prepare to run in our future journey, and like Elijah we will go in the strength of this meat for many days to come (1 Kings 19:8).
You that are tempted—and I suppose most readers would fall into this category—read what I have tried to explain about your temptations and the temptations of Jesus. For Jesus, having known your trials, is able to help you at all times.
CHRIST WAS TEMPTED
Our first point is this: many souls are tempted—even Christ was tempted. All the heirs of heaven have carried this burden. All true gold must feel the fire. All wheat must be threshed. All diamonds must be cut. All saints must endure temptation.
Saints are tempted from every direction. It is like Christ’s parable about the house built on the rock. The Bible says,
The rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. (Matt. 7:25)
The descending rain may represent temptations from above. The floods pouring their devastating torrents over the land may denote the trials that spring from the world. And the howling winds may typify those mysterious influences of evil that issue from the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).
Now, whether we shudder at the descending rain, fear the uprising flood, or are amazed at the mysterious energy of the winds, we should remember that our blessed Lord “was in all points tempted like as we are” (Heb. 4:15). This is to be our consolation: nothing has happened to the members of Christ’s body that has not happened to Christ, the Head.
Tempted by God
Beloved friends, it is possible that we may be tempted by God. I know it is written that “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13). Yet, I read in Scripture, “It came to pass...that God did tempt Abraham” (Gen. 22:1). Also, part of the prayer that we are taught to offer before God is, “Lead us not into temptation” (Matt. 6:13). This verse clearly implies that God does lead into temptation, or why else would we be taught to entreat Him not to do so?
In one sense of the term tempt, a pure and holy God can have no share, but in another sense He does tempt His people. The temptation that comes from God is altogether that of trial. God’s trials are not meant for evil like Satan’s temptations, but they are trials meant to prove and strengthen our graces. All at once, God’s trials illustrate the power of divine grace, test the genuineness of our virtues, and strengthen our character.
You remember that Abraham was tried and tested by God when he was bidden to go to a mountain that God would show him, there to offer up his son Isaac. (See Genesis 22:1–2.) You and I may have a similar experience. God may call us in the path of obedience to a great and singular sacrifice. The desire of our eyes may be demanded of us in an hour. Or, He may summon us to a duty far surpassing all our strength; and we may be tempted by the weight of the responsibility, like Jonah, to flee from the presence of the Lord (Jonah 1:3).
We do not know which temptations we will face until we come to them; but, beloved, whatever they may be, our Great High Priest has felt them all. His Father called Him to a work of the most terrific kind. He “laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). He ordained Him as the second Adam, the bearer of the curse, the destroyer of death, and the conqueror of hell. Jesus was the seed of the woman, doomed to be wounded in the heel but elected to bruise the Serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). Our Lord was appointed to toil at the loom, and there, with ever-flying shuttle, to weave a perfect garment of righteousness for all His people (Isa. 61:10).
Now, beloved, this was a strong and mighty testing of Jesus’ character. It is impossible that we could ever be thrust into a refiner’s fire as hot as the one that tried this purest gold. No one else could be in the crucible so long or subjected to a heat so hot as that which was endured by Christ Jesus. If, then, the trial is sent directly from our heavenly Father, we may solace ourselves with this reflection: “In that [Christ] himself hath suffered being tempted [of God], he is able to succour them that are [likewise] tempted” (Heb. 2:18).
But, dear friends, our God tries us not only directly, but indirectly. Everything is under the Lord’s control of providence. Everything that happens to us is meted out by His decree and settled by His purpose. We know that nothing can happen to us unless it is written in the secret book of providential predestination. Consequently, all the trials resulting from circumstances can be traced at once to the great First Cause. Out of the golden gate of God’s ordinance, the armies of trial march forth in array. No shower falls from the threatening cloud unless God permits it; every drop has its orders before it hastens to the earth.
Consider poverty, for instance. So many people are made to feel its pinching necessities. They shiver in the cold for lack of clothes. They are hungry and thirsty. They are homeless, friendless, despised. This is a temptation from God, but Christ suffered the same: “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). When He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was hungry, and it was then that He was tempted of the Devil. (See Matthew 4:2–3.)
It is not only the scant table and the ragged garment that invite temptation, for all providences are doors to trial. Even our mercies, like roses, have their thorns. Men may be drowned in seas of prosperity as well as in rivers of affliction. Our mountains are not too high, and our valleys are not too low, for temptation to travel. Where can we go to get away from temptations? What wind is strong enough to carry us away from them? Everywhere, above and beneath, we are troubled and surrounded by dangers. Now, since all these trials are overseen and directed by the great Lord of providence, we may look at them all as temptations that come from Him.
Christ suffered every kind of temptation. Let us choose the special one of sickness. Sickness is a strong temptation to impatience, rebellion, and murmuring, but He “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matt. 8:17). His appearance was marred more than that of any man (Isa. 52:14) because His soul was sorely vexed and, consequently, His body was greatly tormented.
Bereavement, too, is such a trial to the tender heart! You arrows of death, you kill, but you wound with wounds worse than death. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) because His friend Lazarus slept in the tomb. That great loss taught Jesus to sympathize with the widow in her loss, with the orphan in his fatherless estate, and with the friend whose acquaintance has been thrust into darkness. Nothing can come from God to the sons of men unless the same thing or a similar thing also happened to the Lord Jesus Christ. Herein let us wrap the warm cloak of consolation around ourselves, since Christ was tempted like we are.
Tempted by Men
We are tempted more often by men than by God. God tries us now and then, but our fellowmen every day. Our foes are in our own household and among our own friends. Out of mistaken kindness, they would often lead us to prefer our own ease to the service of God. Links of love have made chains of iron for saints. It is hard to ride to heaven over our own flesh and blood. Relatives and acquaintances may greatly hinder the young disciple.
This, however, is no novelty to our Lord. You know how He had to say to Peter, well-beloved disciple though he was, “Get thee behind me, Satan...thou savourest not the things that be of God” (Matt. 16:23). Poor, ignorant human friendship tried to keep Jesus back from the cross. It would have made Him miss His great purpose for being fashioned as a man, and it would have robbed Him of all the honor that only shame and death could win Him.
Not only true friends, but also false friends attempt our ruin. Treason creeps like a snake in the grass; and falsehood, like an adder, bites the horse’s heels (Gen. 49:17). If treachery assaults us, let us remember how Jesus was betrayed: “He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me” (John 13:18). “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Ps. 41:9). What should be done to you, false tongue? Eternal silence rest on you! And yet, you have spent your venom on my Lord; why should I marvel if you try your worst on me?
We are tempted by friends, and we are often assailed by enemies. Enemies will waylay us with subtle questions, seeking to trap us by our words. Oh, cunning devices of a generation of vipers! They did the same to Christ. The Sadducee, the Pharisee, the lawyer—each one had his riddle. And each one was answered—answered gloriously—by the Great Teacher, who cannot be trapped.
You and I are sometimes asked strange questions. Doctrines are set in controversy with other doctrines. Texts of Scripture are made to clash with other texts of Scripture. We hardly know how to reply to these things. Let us retire into the secret chamber of this great fact: in this point, also, Christ was tempted.
When Jesus’ foes could not prevail against Him with questions, they slandered His character. They called Him “a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matt. 11:19). He became the song of the drunkard, and their reproach broke His heart.
This may happen to us. People may accuse us of the very thing of which we are the most innocent. Our good deeds may be misrepresented, our motives misinterpreted, our words misreported, and our actions misconstrued. In this, also, we may shelter ourselves beneath the eagle wings of this great truth: our glorious Head has suffered, and, having been tempted, He can give us aid.
However, His foes did even more than this. When they found Him in an agony of pain, they taunted Him to his face (Matt. 27:39–40). Pointing with the finger, they mocked His nakedness. Thrusting out the tongue, they jeered at His claims. They hissed out that diabolical temptation: “If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” (Matt. 27:42).
How often the sons of men have mocked us and then accused us in like manner. They have caught us in some unhappy moment—when our spirits were broken, when our circumstances were unhappy—and then they have said, “Now where is your God? If you are what you profess to be, prove it.” They ask us to prove our faith by a sinful action, which they know would destroy our characters—some rash deed that would be contrary to our profession of faith. Here, too, we may remember that, having been tempted, our High Priest is able to help those who are tempted.
Moreover, remember that there are temptations that come from neither friends nor foes, but from those with whom we are compelled to mix in ordinary society. Jesus ate at a Pharisee’s table, even though most Pharisees reeked with infectious pride. He sat with the publicans, even though their characters were contagious with impurity. But, whether it was in one difficult place or another, the Great Physician walked through the midst of moral plagues and leprosies unharmed. He associated with sinners but was not a sinner. He touched disease but was not diseased Himself. He could enter into the chambers of evil, but evil could not find a chamber in Him.
You and I are thrown by our daily duties into constant contact with evil. It is impossible, I suppose, to walk among men without being tempted by them. Men who have no preconceived plan to betray us, entice us to evil and corrupt our good manners simply by the force of their ordinary behavior. We may cry, “Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!” (Ps. 120:5). However, we may remember that our great Leader sojourned here, too; and being here, He was tempted even as we are (Heb. 4:15).
Tempted by Satan
Dear friends, we will not complete the list of temptations if we forget that a vast host, and those of a most violent nature, can only be ascribed to satanic influence. Satan’s temptations are usually threefold, for Christ’s threefold temptation in the wilderness, if I read it right, was a true picture of all the temptations that Satan uses against God’s people. The first temptation of Satan is usually made against our faith. When our Lord was hungry, Satan came to Him and said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matt. 4:3). Here it was, that devilish “if,” that cunning suggestion that He was not God’s Son, coupled with the enticement to commit a selfish act to prove that He was the Son.
Ah, how often Satan tempts us to unbelief! “God has forsaken you,” he says. “God has no love for you. Your experience has been a delusion. Your profession of faith is a falsehood. All your hopes will fail you. You are only a poor, miserable fool. There is no truth in religion. If there is, why are you in this trouble? Why not do as you like, live as you want, and enjoy yourself?” Ah, foul fiend, how craftily you spread your net, but it is all in vain, for Jesus has passed through and broken the snare.
Dear reader, beware of intermeddling with divine providence. Satan tempts many believers to run before the guiding cloud, to carve their own fortunes, to build their own houses, to steer their own ships. Trouble will surely befall all who yield to this temptation. Beware of becoming the keepers of your own souls, for evil will soon overtake you. Ah, when you are thus tempted by Satan and your adoption seems to be in jeopardy and your experience appears to melt, fly at once to the Good Shepherd. Remember this: “In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18).
The next foul temptation of Satan with Christ was not to unbelief, but to the very opposite—presumption. “Cast thyself down” (Matt. 4:6), he said, as he poised the Savior on the pinnacle of the temple. Even so, he whispers to some of us, “You are a child of God; you know that. Therefore, you are safe to live as you like. ’Cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee’ (Luke 4:9–10).”
Oh, that foul temptation! It leads many an antinomian by the nose, and he is like “an ox [going] to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks” (Prov. 7:22). For many an antinomian will say, “I am safe; therefore, I may indulge my lusts with impunity.”
You see, the Devil tries to use the doctrine of election or the great truth of the final perseverance of the saints to tempt you to soil your purity. He tries to use the mercy and love of God to tempt you to stain your innocency. However, you who know better, when you are thus tempted, console yourselves with the fact that Christ was tempted in this way, too, and He is able to help you even here.
The final temptation of Christ in the wilderness was that of idolatry. Actually, ambition was the temptation, but idolatry was the end at which the tempter aimed. “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matt. 4:9). The old Serpent will suggest to us, “I will make you rich if you will only venture upon that one dishonest transaction. You will be famous; only tell that one lie. You will be perfectly at ease; only wink at one small evil. All these things will I give you if you will make me lord of your heart.” Ah, then it will be a noble thing if you can look up to Him who endured this temptation and bid the fiend depart with, “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10). Then, Satan will leave you, and angels will minister to you as they did to the tempted One of old.
Tempted in All Positions
Not only are we tempted from all directions, but we are tempted in all positions. No man is too lowly for the arrows of hell; no man is too elevated for the arrows of hell. Poverty has its dangers: “Lest I be poor, and steal” (Prov. 30:9). Christ knew these dangers. Contempt has its aggravated temptations. To be despised often makes men bitter; it often exasperates them into savage selfishness and wolfish revenge. Our Great Prophet knew from experience the temptations of contempt.
It is no small trial to be filled with pain. When all the strings of our personhood are strained and twisted, it is little wonder if they make a sour note. Christ endured the greatest amount of physical pain, especially upon the cross. And on the cross, where all the rivers of human agony met in one deep lake within His heart, He bore all that it was possible for the human frame to bear. Here, then, without limit, He learned the ills of pain.
Turn the picture around: Christ knew the temptations of riches. You may say, “How?” He had opportunities to be rich. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus would have been glad to give Him their substance. The honorable women who ministered to Him would have grudged Him nothing. There were many opportunities to make Himself a king. He could have become famous and great like other teachers and earned a high salary. However, knowing the temptations of wealth, He also overcame them.
The temptations of ease—and these are not small—Christ readily escaped. There always would have been a comfortable home for Him at Bethany. There were many disciples who would have felt highly honored to find for Him the softest couch ever made. But, He who came not to enjoy but to endure spurned all, but not without knowing the temptation.
He learned, too, the trials of honor, popularity, and applause. “Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna,” said the multitudes in the streets of Jerusalem, as palm branches were strewn in the way and He rode in triumph over the garments of His disciples. (See Matthew 21:6–9.) But, experiencing all this, He was still meek and lowly, and in Him was no sin (1 Pet. 2:21–22). When you are cast down or lifted up, when you are put into the strangest of positions, remember that Christ has made a pilgrimage over the least trodden of our paths and is therefore able to help them that are tempted.
Tempted at All Ages
Further, let me remark that every age has its temptations. Even children, if believers, will discover that there are peculiar snares for them. Christ knew these. It was no small temptation to a twelve-year-old boy to be found sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and answering their questions. It would have caused pride in most boys, and yet Jesus went down to Nazareth and was subject to His parents (Luke 2:51).
It says in Luke 2:52 that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” It would be dangerous to grow in favor with God and man if the word God were not included. To grow in favor constantly with men would be too much of a temptation for most teenagers. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth; for youth, when honored and esteemed, is too apt to grow self-conceited, vain, and disobedient.
When a young man knows that he will become something great someday, it is not easy to keep him balanced. Suppose that he is born to an estate and knows that when he grows up he will be lord and master and will be popular with everybody. Why, he is apt to be very wayward and self-willed. Now, there were prophecies that went before concerning Mary’s son. They pointed Him out as King of the Jews (Matt. 2:1–2) and a mighty one in Israel. Yet, I do not find that the holy child Jesus was ever lured by His coming greatness into any evil actions. So, teenage believers, you who are like Samuels and Timothys, you can look to Christ and know that He can help you.
It is unnecessary for me to repeat the various afflictions that beat upon Jesus in His full manhood. You who today bear the burden and heat of the day will find an example here. Old age, also, does not need to look elsewhere, for we may view our Redeemer with admiration as He went up to Jerusalem to die. His last moments were obviously near at hand; He knew the temptations of an expected death. He saw death more clearly than any of you, even if your temples are covered with white hair. Yet, whether in life or in death, on Tabor’s summit or on the banks of the river of death, He is still the same—tempted ever, but never sinning; tried always, but never found failing. O Lord, You are able to help those who are tempted. Help us!
I do not need to write more about this. Perhaps I have not mentioned your particular trial, but it may be included in one of the general descriptions. Whatever your trial may be, it cannot be so rare that it is not included somewhere in the temptations of our Lord Jesus Christ. I, therefore, now turn to the second topic of this chapter.
My second point is that as the tempted often suffer, Christ also suffered. Notice, our text does not say, “In that He Himself has also been tempted, He is able to help them that are tempted.” It is better than that. The text tells us that Christ suffered: “In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Temptation, even when overcome, brings to the true child of God a great deal of suffering.
The Shock of Sin
This suffering consists of two or three things. It lies, mainly, in the shock that sin gives to the sensitive, regenerate nature. A man who is clothed in armor may walk through tearing thorns and brambles without being hurt; but if he takes off his armor and attempts the same journey, how sadly he will be cut and torn. Sin, to the man who is used to it, is no suffering. Being tempted causes him no pain. In fact, temptation frequently yields pleasure to the sinner. To look at the bait is sweet to the fish that plans to swallow it before long. But the child of God, who is spiritually new and alive, shudders at the very thought of sin. He cannot look at sin without abhorrence and without being alarmed at the possibility of falling into an abominable crime.
Now, dear friends, in this case Christ indeed has experience, and it far surpasses ours. His hatred of sin must have been much deeper than ours. A word of blasphemy, a sinful deed, must have cut Him to His very heart. We cannot even comprehend the wretchedness that Jesus must have endured in merely being on earth among the ungodly. For infinite purity to dwell among sinners must be something like the best educated, the most pure, the most amiable person being condemned to live in a den of burglars, blasphemers, and filthy wretches. That man’s life would be misery. No whip or chain would be needed. Merely associating with such people would be pain and torment enough. So, the Lord Jesus must have suffered a vast amount of woe just by being near to sin.
The Dread of Temptation
Suffering, too, comes to the people of God from the dread of a temptation. Dread arises in our hearts as the shadow of the temptation falls upon us, announcing its soon arrival. At times there is more dread in the prospect of a trial than there is in the trial itself. We feel a thousand temptations in fearing one.
Christ knew this. What an awful dread came over Him in the black night of Gethsemane! It was not the cup—it was the fear of drinking it. He cried, “Let this cup pass from me” (Matt. 26:39). He knew how black, how foul, how fiery its contents were; and it was the dread of drinking it that bowed Him to the ground until He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). When you have a similar overwhelming pressure on your spirit in the prospect of a trial, fly to the loving heart of your sympathizing Lord, for He has suffered all this.
The Source of Temptation
Temptation also causes suffering because of its source. Have you ever felt that you would not have minded the temptation if it had not come from where it did? “Oh,” you say, “to think that my own friend, my dearly beloved friend, should tempt me!” Perhaps you are a teenager, and you have said, “I think I could bear anything but my father’s frown or my mother’s sneer.” Perhaps you are a husband, and you have said, “My thorn in the flesh is too sharp, for it is an ungodly wife.” Or, you are a wife (and this is more frequently the case), and you think there is no temptation like yours, because it is your husband who assaults your religion and who speaks evil of your good.
It makes all the difference where the temptation comes from. If some scoundrel mocks us, we think it honor; but when it is an honored companion, we feel his taunt. A friend can cut under our armor and stab us the more dangerously.
Ah, but the Man of Sorrows knew all this, since it was one of the chosen twelve who betrayed Him. Moreover, “it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief” (Isa. 53:10). To find God to be in arms against us is a huge affliction. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?...My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) is the very emphasis of woe. Jesus surely has suffered your griefs, regardless of their source.
The Fear of Dishonoring God
I have no doubt, too, that a portion of the suffering of temptation lies in the fact that God’s name and honor are often involved in our temptation.Those of us who are in the public eye are sometimes slandered. When the slander is merely against our own personal character, against our modes of speech or habit, we can receive it gratefully and thankfully, blessing God that He has counted us worthy to suffer for His name’s sake (Acts 5:41). However, sometimes the attack is very plainly not against us, but against God. People say things that make us cry with the psalmist David, “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law” (Ps. 119:53).
When direct blasphemies are uttered against the person of Christ, or against the doctrine of His holy Gospel, my heart has been very heavy because I have thought, “If I have opened this dog’s mouth against myself, it does not matter; but if I have made him roar against God, then how will I answer, and what will I say?” This has often been the bitterness of it: “If I fall, God’s cause is stained. If I slip through the vehemence of this assault, then one of the gates of the church will be carried off by storm. Harm comes not just to me, but to many of the Israel of God.” David says this about grieving the saints: “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me” (Ps. 73:16).
Jesus had to suffer for God, for it is written, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me” (Rom. 15:3). He was made the target for those arrows that were really shot at God, and so He felt this bitterness of sympathy with His ill-used God.
I cannot, of course, be specific enough to hit on the precise sorrow that you, beloved believer in Christ, are enduring as the result of temptation. But, whatever phase your sorrow may have assumed, this should always be your comfort: Jesus suffered in temptation. He did not merely know temptation as you sometimes have known it, when it has hit you and fallen harmless to the ground, but it festered in His flesh. It did not make Him sin, but it made Him suffer. It did not make Him err, but it caused Him to mourn. Oh, child of God, I do not know a deeper well of purer consolation than this: “He himself hath suffered being tempted” (Heb. 2:18).
CHRIST HELPS THE TEMPTED
Now for the third and last point. Those who are tempted have great need of help; and Christ, having been tempted Himself, is able to help them. Of course, Christ is able to help the tempted because Christ is God. Even if He had never endured any temptation, He would still be able to help the tempted because He is God. However, we are now speaking in our text of Christ as a high priest; we are to regard Him in His complex character as God-man. For Christ is not only God, but man, and not only man, but God. The Christos, the Anointed One, the High Priest of our profession, is, in His complex character, able to help them that are tempted.
Because He Was Tempted
How can He help us? Why, first, the very fact that He was tempted has help in it for us. If we had to walk through the darkness alone, we would know the very extremity of misery. But, having a companion, we have comfort; having such a companion, we have joy.
Darkness surrounds me, and the path is miry, and I sink in it and can find no foothold. But, I plunge onward, desperately set on reaching my journey’s end. It worries me that I am alone. I can see nothing, but suddenly I hear a voice that says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (Ps. 23:4). I cry out, “Who is there?” and an answer comes back to me: “I, ’the faithful and true witness’ (Rev. 3:14), the ’Alpha and Omega’ (Rev. 1:8), the sufferer who was ’despised and rejected of men’ (Isa. 53:3), I lead the way.” Then, at once, light surrounds me, and there is a rock beneath my feet. If Christ my Lord has been here, then the way must be safe and must lead to the desired end. The very fact that He has suffered, then, consoles His people.
Because He Was Not Destroyed
But, further, the fact that He has suffered without being destroyed is inestimably comforting to us. Think about a block of ore just ready to be put into the furnace. Suppose that block of ore could look into the flames and could see the blast as it blows the coals to a vehement heat. If that ore could speak, it would say, “Ah, how awful that I should ever be put into such a blazing furnace as that! I will be burnt up! I will be melted with the slag! I will be utterly consumed!” But, suppose another lump all bright and glistening could lie by its side and say, “No, no, you are just like I was, but I went through the fire and lost nothing. See how bright I am! See how I have survived all the flames!” Why, that piece of ore would anticipate, rather than dread, being exposed to the purifying heat. It would anticipate coming out all bright and lustrous like its companion.
I see You, Son of Mary, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh (Gen. 2:23). You have felt the flames, but You are not destroyed. There is no smell of fire on You. Your heel has been bruised, but You have broken the Serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). There is no scar, nor spot, nor injury in You. You have survived the conflict. Therefore, I, bearing Your name, purchased with Your blood (Acts 20:28), and as dear to God as You are dear to Him, I will survive the conflict, too. I will tread the coals with confidence and bear the heat with patience. Christ’s conquest gives me comfort, for I will conquer, too.
Because He Was a Great Gainer
Please remember, too, that Christ, in going through the suffering of temptation, not only did not lose anything, but He gained much. Through suffering, He was a great gainer. It is written that it pleased God “to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10). It was through His suffering that He obtained the mediatory glory that now crowns His head. If He had never carried the cross, He would have never worn that crown. (It is a transcendently bright and glorious crown that He now wears as King in Zion and as leader of His people, whom He has redeemed by blood.) Had He not carried the cross, He would still have been God over all and blessed forever; however, He could never have been extolled as the God-man Mediator unless He had been obedient even unto death (Phil. 2:8). Therefore, He was a gainer by His suffering.
Glory be to His name, we get comfort from this, too! For we also will be gainers by our temptations. We will come up out of Egypt enriched, as it is written, “He brought them forth also with silver and gold” (Ps. 105:37). Wewill come forth out of our trials with great treasures. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life” (James 1:12). The deeper our sorrows, the louder our song. The more terrible our toil, the sweeter our rest. The more bitter the wormwood, the more delightful the wine of consolation. We will have glory for our shame; we will have honor for our contempt; we will have songs for our sufferings; and we will have thrones for our tribulations.
Because He Sends His Grace to Help Us
Moreover, because Christ has suffered temptation, He is able to help us who are tempted by sending His grace to help us. He was always able to send grace; but now as God and man, He is able to send just the right grace at the right time and in the right place. A doctor may have all the drugs that can be gathered, but an abundance of medicine does not make him a qualified practitioner. If, however, he has gone himself and seen the case, then he knows just at what crisis of the disease a certain medicine is needed. The medications are good, but the wisdom to use the medications—this is even more precious.
Now, “it pleased the Father that in [Christ] should all fulness dwell” (Col. 1:19). But, where would the Son of Man earn His diploma and gain the skills to use the fullness correctly? Beloved, He won it by experience. He knows what sore temptations mean, for He has felt the same. You know, if we had comforting grace given to us at the wrong point in our temptation, it would tempt us more than help us. It is just like certain medicines: given to the patient at one period of the disease, they would worsen the malady, though the same medicine would cure him if administered a little later.
Now, Christ knows how to send His comfort in the nick of time. He gives His help exactly when it will not be a superfluity. He sends His joy when we will not spend it upon our own lusts. How does Hedo this? Why, He recollects His own experience; He has passed through it all. “There appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43). That angel came just when he was needed. Jesus knows when to send His angelic messenger to strengthen you, when to use the correcting rod, and when to refrain and say, “I have forgiven you. Go in peace.”
Because He Prays for Us
I will not write much more on this subject. Having suffered Himself, having been tempted, Christ knows how to help us by His prayers for us.There are some people whose prayers are of no use to us because they do not know what to ask for. Christ is the intercessor for His people; He has success in His intercession; but how does He know what to ask for? How can He know this better than by His own trials? He has suffered temptation.
You hear some believers pray with such power, such unction, such fervor. Why? Part of the reason is that they pray from experience—they pray out of their own lives; they just tell the great deep waters over which they themselves sail. Now, the prayer of our Great High Priest in heaven is wonderfully comprehensive. It is drawn from His own life, and it takes in every sorrow and every pang that ever rent a human heart, because He Himself has suffered temptation. I know you feel safe in committing your case into the hand of such an intercessor, for He knows the precise mercy for which to ask. And, when He asks for it, He knows how to word it so that the mercy will surely come at the right time.
Ah, dear friends, it is not in my power to bring out the depth that lies in my text. However, I am certain of this: when He causes you to go through the deep waters, when you are made to pass through furnace after furnace, you will never need a better support or provision than my text: “In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Hang this text up in your house; read it every day; take it before God in prayer every time you bend your knee. You will find it to be like the widow’s cruse of oil, which did not go dry, and like her handful of meal, which did not run out (1 Kings 17:16). It will sustain you as much a year from now as it does when you begin to feed on it today.
Will my text not suit the awakened sinner as well as the saint? Perhaps you are a timid soul that cannot say that you are saved. Yet, here is a loophole of comfort for you, you poor troubled one who is not yet able to get a hold of Jesus: “He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Go and tell Him you are tempted—tempted, perhaps, to despair, tempted to self-destruction, tempted to go back to your old sins, tempted to think that Christ cannot save you. Go and tell Him that He Himself has suffered temptation and that He is able to help you. Believe that He will, and He will, for you can never believe in the love and goodness of my Lord too much. He will be better than your faith to you. If you can trust Him with all your heart to save you, He will do it. If you believe He is able to put away your sin, He will do it. Only honor Him by attributing to Him a good character of grace; you cannot give Him too good a name.
Trust Him, He will not deceive you,
Though you hardly on Him lean;
He will never, never leave you,
Nor will let you quite leave Him.
Receive, then, the blessing. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God our Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you forever. Amen and Amen. Spurgeon, C. H. Power in the Blood
In promise (Ge 3:15) and in fact (Mt. 4:1) the Saviour's work from the very first is associated with the tempted ; and put His mission in any words you will, you cannot hide the link which unites Christ unto the tempted, and the tempted unto Christ. Wherefore did we need a Saviour, if not because we were overborne with evil, and of ourselves had not strength enough to cope with it ? A Christ who could not help me in my temptations would be no Saviour to me. He might startle me with revelations, astonish me by works, amaze me with power, awe with holiness, instruct me by teaching ; but if in the infirmity of my moral weakness He could not stand by my side, put His shoulder to my shoulder, and help me to fight the daily battle of my daily life, whatever else He might be to me, He could never be my Saviour; for it is only as we are made strong to resist and overcome temptation that we can be saved (Ed: I interpret this as a reference to "present tense salvation" - progressive sanctification - see Three Tenses of Salvation).
This relation of Christianity to the tempted is, in fact, one of the secrets of its hold upon the human heart. To be a Christian at all we must start from the consciousness of weakness (Ed: Amen! To experience victory in times of hot temptation, we must jettison all hopes of help from self, consciously, volitionally casting off all vestiges of "self-reliance" which is the "antagonistic antithesis" of faith/trust/belief! cp 2Cor 5:7-note); and the religion of Christ is the religion of the strong, only by being first the religion of the weak. Christ is the Helper of the
tempted, by sympathy learned in the endurance of the same temptations from which He came to save. Some things can only be learned by experience (cp Heb 5:8-note). Sympathy is one. There were some things which were not Christ's to know, until like us, by bitter human experience. He had learned them for Himself. He shared our experience of temptation in its full completeness. Wherever we are tempted, so was He (Heb 4:15-note)— through the senses, the appetite, the reason, the imagination, the affection, the ambition, the will — tempted wherever there seemed a point of vantage for the tempter.
The three temptations on the threshold
of His public work were representative.
They were representative of temptations in His unrecorded history, of the number and intensity of which we can form no idea. We cannot too fully accept the great doctrine of the completeness of our Lord's humanity. By sympathy, learned through the temptations of a common human experience, Christ is the Helper of the tempted.
But sympathy does not seem enough ; we want strength. Will this sympathy of Christ bring us strength? It will. The sphere of sympathy is spiritual, and within that sphere there is nowhere to be found such strength as that which comes from sympathy. Its power is electric. Men, naturally cowards, by sympathy have been made brave, and there is no trial of human suffering which sympathy has not enabled men and women courageously to bear. Amongst the world's regenerating influences there is none for a moment comparable to the sympathy of Christ. For the sympathy of the strong helps always to strengthen the weak. If I wanted to strengthen a morally weak man, I would link him with a man as strong as he was weak, quite sure that the companionship would act on him like a tonic (cp Pr 27:17), or be to him like the sweet, fresh breath of mountain air'. And thus it is that Christ, in His great sinless strength, is the Helper of the tempted. Let this be no empty doctrine to you, no mere point of theology, or article in a creed, void of. all reality and force (Ed: Doctrine always precedes Duty! Belief in truth about Jesus' Humanity, will undergird and enable Behavior in accord with that truth!). Let it be a living truth, as vital as your own heart's blood. It will nerve you (Ed: innervate, energize you) for mastery over the infirmities of your nature. It will inspire you to resist the evils of an evil world. And it will help you to victories of faith and love, to conquests of conscience, and of character like unto your Lord's (Ed: Cp 1Cor 11:1, 1Peter 2:21, 1John 2:6). — Johnson Barker LL.B.
The reality of our Lord's human experiences is constantly enforced by the apostles. In the early days of the Church there was a tendency to present the Divinity of Christ in such a way as to imperil the truth of His real, flesh and blood, humanity. It was thought derogatory to a Divine Saviour to represent Him as sharing the common woes of the human lot. But unless we see worthily our Lord's veritable humanity, it must be impossible for us to understand how
He can be a power of redemption to us.
He is our Saviour
only through His manhood.
I. Moral beings can only learn through experience. — A moral being is not intellectual only. He has a further sphere of feeling and emotion. He is a being with a will, which can be influenced by his mind, but is much more influenced by principles and feelings. And experience alone affects the feelings. See how a moral being is made, and is developed. Life does it ; experience does it : learning can do but a little of it. Christ could not have taken rank with us as a moral being if He had not shared the experience which makes us moral beings. "In all points tempted like as we are."
II. Moral beings get power to help one another only through a common experience. — It is somewhat strikingly said of Tennyson that he had no experience of vice, and so all the sins in his poetry are human frailties. It is constantly observed that the best religious workers in any class of society are persons belonging to the class who have full experience of the class. If Christ was to gain moral power to help man, He must have the experience of man, of all that is essential to man, not of all that is accidental to sin. The experience of man's conflicts was essential, but not the experience of man's defeats. It is not essential to man to fail in the moral struggle. Illustrate from man's moral power to (1) sympathize with ; (2) to strengthen; (3) to advise; (4) to deliver, his brother. He can only do it out of experience. This must be true of Christ as the typical moral Helper of humanity. (The Preacher's complete homiletical commentary)
"Let this mind (present tense) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." —Php 2:5
Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan!"—Mt 4:10.
There is an dreadful intensity of meaning in the words, as applied to Jesus, "He suffered, being tempted!" (Heb 2:18) Though incapable of sin, there was, in the refined sensibilities of His holy nature, that which made temptation unspeakably fearful. What must it have been to confront the Arch-traitor?—to stand face to face with the foe of His throne, and His universe? But the "prince of this world" came, and found "nothing in Him." Billow after billow of Satanic violence spent their fury, in vain, on the Living Rock!
Reader! you have still the same malignant enemy to contend with; assailing you in a thousand insidious forms; astonishingly adapting his assaults to your circumstances, your temperament, your mental bias, your master passion! There is no place, where "Satan's seat" is not; The whole world lies in the Wicked one.—(1John 5:19) He has his whispers for the ear of childhood; hoary age is not inaccessible to his wiles. "All this will I give you"—is still his bribe to deny Jesus and to "mind earthly things." He will meet you in the crowd; he will follow you to the solitude; his is a sleepless vigilance!
Are you bold in repelling him as your Master was? Are you ready with the retort to every foul suggestion, "Away from me, Satan!" Cultivate a tender sensitiveness about sin. The finest barometers are the most sensitive. Whatever be your besetting frailty—whatever bitter or baleful passion you are conscious aspires to the mastery—watch it, crucify it, "Nail it to your Lord's cross." You may despise "the day of small things"—the Great Adversary does not. He knows the power of littles—that little by little consumes and eats out the vigor of the soul. And once the downwards movement in the spiritual life begins, who can predict where it may end?—the going on "from weakness to weakness," instead of "from strength to strength." Make no compromises; never join in the ungodly amusement, or venture on the questionable path, with the plea, "It does me no harm." The Israelites, on entering Canaan, instead of obeying the Divine injunction of extirpating their enemies, made a hollow truce with them.—What was the result? Years upon years of tedious warfare. "They were scourges in their sides and thorns in their eyes!" It is quaintly, but truthfully said by an old writer, "Sin indulged, in the conscience, is like Jonah in the ship, which causes such a tempest, that the conscience is like a troubled sea, whose waters cannot rest."—(Thomas Brooks.)
"Keep," then, "your heart with all diligence," (or as it is in the forcible original Hebrew, "keep your heart above all keeping,") "for out of it are the issues of life" (Pr 4:23-note). Let this ever be our preservative against temptation,
"How would Jesus have acted here? Would He not have recoiled, like the sensitive plant, from the remotest contact with sin? Can I think of dishonoring Him by tampering with His enemy—incurring from His own lips the bitter reflection of injured love, 'I am wounded in the house of my friends'?"
He tells us the secret of our preservation and safety,
"Simon! Simon! Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not!" (Luke 22:31,32)
"Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind." (1Peter 4:1)