An Empathetic High Priest
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Two similar English words are often confused: sympathize and empathize. Sympathize means to express sympathy based on agreement; empathize means to express understanding based on experience. You can sympathize with someone without having personal experience with their plight. But empathy is stronger—it means, “I understand because I’ve been there myself.”
Recommended Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16
Jesus was capable of both, of course. But many find it surprising to learn that His capacity to express empathy (concern, care) for our situations in life is based on the fact that He, in His humanity, has a deep level of shared human experience. When we suffer and are tempted to yield to poor choices, we can remember that “He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). And because He suffered as we suffer, “He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
Because He is our great High Priest who identifies with our human conditions, we can approach Him boldly in prayer with confidence of receiving grace and mercy to help (Hebrews 4:15-16).
If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne
God has a profound grand purpose in both the suffering of his Son and your suffering. Paul says that Jesus not only incapacitated death through the cross, but he illuminates, shows the way to life and immortality through both his resurrection and our sharing of the Good News (1:10). Where the certainty and nature of life after death was once shrouded in darkness, Christ’s post-resurrection appearances proved the reality of a “forever life” beyond the grave. Gladly we struggle, even endure persecution and suffering, to light up our world with the assured truth that where there is death, there is the promise of life to come, where there is hopelessness, there is the hope of a grand new world where all will be right.
Before God formed the galaxies or fashioned one planet. Before he spoke creation into being, God was thinking of you. God chose to reach out to you! Yes, he knew we would engage in wrongdoing and fall prey to every imaginable form of destructive thinking, destructive habits, and destructive relationships. But right then, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit designed a master plan to save and deliver the whole of creation from the coming devastation of sin.