Before he saved me, I didn’t picture Jesus as having much empathy toward me. I thought of him as distant or indifferent. After all, he had a universe to run. I didn’t know he cared about me personally, much less loved me. But after he opened my blind eyes, one day I found out he was deeply sympathetic to my struggles.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (HEB 4:15)
When someone’s been through the same thing we have, it’s much more meaningful when they give us their sympathy than someone who’s never experienced it. My wife has endured depression and anxiety in varying degrees, sometimes extreme, for many years, so she’s deeply sympathetic to those who suffer in the same ways. I’ve never suffered that particular way. I believe people are suffering terribly, and I seek to empathize, but I can’t comfort them the way Kristi can. The Bible says we are to put on compassion, so I try to imagine their pain, I try to weep with those who weep, but I have to say at times, “I can’t even imagine how horrible this must be for you.” But Kristi can say, “I know what it’s like. I’ve been there.”
Jesus can sympathize with us completely because no matter what we’re experiencing, he’s been there. First, he is able to sympathize with our WEAKNESSES, for he was weak in his human nature. He got hungry, tired and thirsty. He needed sleep and rest. He knew loneliness. He suffered unbelievable physical pain.
Jesus can also sympathize with us when we are TEMPTED – he is “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He was tempted in EVERY RESPECT by Satan himself, who threw his worst at him. None of us have probably ever known Satan’s worst temptations. Jesus was tempted to pride, envy, lust, to love the world, to fear man. He was tempted to anger, to laziness, to be impatient with people – you name it. He was tempted to feel sorry for himself when he was lonely. He was tempted to unbelief. He was tempted to give up. Can you imagine how Jesus was tempted when he told his disciples he was going to be betrayed, tortured, mocked, and crucified and they started arguing about who was the greatest?
Jesus not only sympathizes, but he can do something about our situation.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (16)
So often somebody tells me about a hard time they are going through and I may be sympathetic but often I can’t do anything about it. I can pray for them, but I can’t change their situation. I can’t lift their burden or heal them or take their sadness or provide all they need. I might be able to help a little, but I can’t change their whole situation. If I found someone under a massive tree that had fallen in the forest, I’d feel horrible for them, but couldn’t lift it off. This is why Jesus is a GREAT high priest. He’s not only sympathetic, but he can DO SOMETHING about our situation – he can save, heal, provide and strengthen.
First, look where Jesus is. He is on “the throne of grace.” Charles Spurgeon says:
“It is a throne set up on purpose for the dispensation of grace; a throne from which every utterance is an utterance of grace; the scepter that is stretched out from it is the scepter of grace; the decrees proclaimed from it our purposes of grace; the gifts that are scattered down it’s golden steps are gifts of grace; and he that sits upon the throne is grace itself.”
Jesus, our great high priest, is waiting and longing to help us.
Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you…(Isaiah 30:18 NASB)
What do we receive at his throne? MERCY and GRACE TO HELP in time of need.
Mercy is NOT GETTING what we DO deserve. We should be punished for our sins but at the throne of grace we find mercy. And grace is GETTING what we DON’T deserve – Blessings, strength, power, help, joy. We can be confident Jesus will give us “grace to help in time of need.”
24 hours a day, we can draw run to our great high priest, knowing he’s infinitely sympathetic and infinitely able to do something about our struggles. Jesus has mercy for our failures and grace for our weaknesses and temptations. And he never tires of our requests. We can’t ask too much or too often. So run to your great high priest today. He longs to be gracious to you.