“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
What brings you comfort when you are suffering or going through stressful and difficult times? Although well-meaning friends may assure you that everything will be all right, the person who truly comforts is the one who puts an arm around your shoulder and says, “I’m familiar with the pain you are feeling, I know it hurts, and I will walk with you all the way.”
The term empathize expresses the compassion of one who does not simply see suffering from the outside, but who enters into the suffering and makes it his or her own. Jesus, our High Priest,
involves Himself in our suffering in this way. The writer of Hebrews writes, “Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26).
Weakness is used in the Bible to describe such things as physical illness, financial need, and any other human limitation. To be sure, Jesus experienced human weariness, confusion, disappointment, and intense sorrow and pain, which we are reminded of during this season of Lent. We can go to Him with everything because He has experienced everything that we have faced, are facing now, or will face in future.
My wife and I recently experienced a miscarriage. Although Jesus, being a man, was never pregnant or ever lost a child in that way, we are comforted by the fact that Jesus is intimately familiar with loss and can empathize with our grief and struggle. In fact, the Bible tells us Jesus wept when he lost some of his closest friends. So, if anyone gets it, it is Jesus, and He understands the heartache, pain, and difficulties we face in the various seasons of our lives. “For this reason Jesus had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18).
The best news of all is that we know how the story ends. It doesn’t end with sorrow and pain at the cross, and thank God it doesn’t. For three days later, when all hope seemed lost, the tombstone was rolled away and Jesus was resurrected bringing life from death, beauty from ashes, hope from despair, and light from darkness. This does not change the reality of our circumstances or make all of our problems go away, but it gives us confident hope and assurance to face each step knowing that we are not alone.
So, as we continue walking with Jesus the long and weary road toward the cross, I invite you to pause for a moment. May you accept the invitation to sit down with Jesus and be still—somewhere away from the noisy crowds of your daily life—and listen, receive, and be filled with hope, satisfaction, assurance, and strength that only He alone can provide. If Jesus asked you, “What’s your greatest weakness or struggle, your deepest pain, right now?” how would you answer? Would you even know how to put your weakness and pain into words, or would you hope he can read your eyes, your posture, your silence? Would you be afraid to speak because you’re not sure what might come out, and you’re not sure if Jesus could handle your anger, your tears, or your fears?
Because of the truth of Jesus Christ, our compassionate High Priest, we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” as quoted above. We can approach Him confidently about anything—our needs, concerns, hopes, dreams, and our desires—knowing that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and is working all things together for our good and for His glory (Romans 8:28).
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
In the hope and victory of Jesus Christ, our High Priest,