We Have A Great High Priest (Part 2)
Continuing our series of short meditations on the High Priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus brings us to verse 15 of Hebrews 4. It’s worth reading two or three times: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
The double negative (‘we have not which cannot’) is dramatic. The writer is emphatically stating that we do have a High Priest which can… He can what? Be ‘touched’ or ‘sympathise’ with our ‘infirmities’. To be ‘touched’ means to ‘suffer with another person’ or ‘to enter into another’s experience and feel the heartache yourself’. The Hebrews’ need of strength came from the intense persecution they were experiencing. Take note! The Lord Jesus entered into the weakness these believers were experiencing and felt it as His own. Likewise with us!
This persecution was a ‘point of temptation’ or better, ‘trial’. We must understand that the believer experiences two types of temptations. One is internal, when our own thoughts and hearts give rise to sin (James 1.14). The other is external, when Satan seeks to attack from without (Luke 4.2). The Lord Jesus could never be tempted from within as there was and is no principle of sin in Him. He could only be tested from without. That is why the writer adds ‘yet without sin’, that is, in every class of temptation He was tested, except in relation to indwelling sin. Albert Leckie once said: These temptations (from without) are not unholy, but holy temptations (e.g. reproach, poverty, hunger, thirst, rejection, bereavement). He has passed all that way before us. He cannot sympathise with our sins, only our infirmities.
Thus, the Great High Priest knew exactly the persecution the Hebrews were experiencing and sought to minister much needed mercy and grace to them in their hour of need. What is more, the Lord Jesus is better able to sympathise than anyone else as He has experienced temptation to its bitter end. He resisted unto blood, something which the Hebrews were potentially being called to experience themselves (Hebrews 12.4).
The Hebrews were being made a spectacle, reviled and persecuted for their faith in Christ and rejection of Judaism. The false professors amongst them were wavering under the strain, being tempted to go back to their Jewish roots and renounce Christ and Christianity. Our problems, weaknesses and infirmities may seem insignificant in comparison, but, praise God, we have a Great High Priest who knows and cares. Are you feeling your weakness today? Commit the matter to Him before the throne of grace.
Daniel Rudge is in fellowship with the assembly that meets in Bracknell Gospel Hall (UK) and with his wife is commended to full time preaching and teaching of the Word of God.