“He is Able To Sympathize” – Article by Erik Raymond (The Ordinary Pastor)


Hebrews 4.15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses

Often times, particularly during tough times, we struggle with the thoughts that people do not understand what we are going through. I cannot count how many times I have heard people say, “But you don’t understand what I am going through!” The good thing for us who are Christians is that we don’t necessarily have to understand or identify with what each person is going through in order to help or to be consoled.

Why? Because Jesus does.

This is so good, so rich and so life changing!! In God’s infinite wisdom and design he has organized things to exalt his Son. Within this context we have Christ’s sympathy and compassion exalted. There is nothing that anyone has gone through, are currently going through, or will go through that Jesus cannot relate to, sympathize with or encourage his children in. Jesus is so gloriously and marvelously sufficient!!

When I read a passage like the one above I am driven to the gospels to analyze the context of some of the days within the context of Christ’s earthly ministry. I am left with an open mouth and enriched praise when I consider that Jesus was under no obligation to become a man and deal with the junk that comes as a result of our sin in this fallen world. He did this because he loves his Father. Jesus is loving his Father as he is loving his sheep.

Consider this small sampling of what Jesus went through:

He was homeless (Matt. 8.20)

His family thought he was crazy (Matt. 12.46; Mk. 3.21; Jn. 7.5)

His best friends turned their back on him (Matt. 26.56)

One of his closest confidants sold him to be killed for pocket change (Matt. 26.46-50)

He stood face to face with the devil and endured all of his demonic tricks (Luke 4.1-13)

He dealt with death (Jn. 11.1-45)

He endured gossip and slander (Matt. 12.24; Jn. 8.52)

He endured suffering for righteousness’ sake (Jn. 15.20)

He was shamed publicly (Mk. 14.65)

He endured periods of hunger (Mk. 11.12ff)

He received criticism of his ministry (Jn. 5; Matt. 12)

His theology was mocked (pick a verse!!)

His message was rejected (pick a verse!!)

His preaching was critiqued (Luke 4 & pick a verse!!)

His disciples didn’t “get it” (again..)

He endured complete and utter separation from God so that you would never, ever, ever have to!!

Matthew 27:46 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”

Hebrews 12:2-3 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

It seems to me that Jesus is qualified to sympathize, to understand, to provide encouragement, and to be depended on. Jesus is to be valued by his followers.

Is not the incarnation of the Son of God and his corresponding trials while here not comforting to the wounded heart?

Is not Jesus not more esteemed when we are debased?

Jesus is a better Savior than we think him to be.

Note the text in Hebrews 4, our high priest is able to sympathize with us. Therefore to ignore his consolation is to devalue his incarnation. Run to Jesus with your wounded heart and encourage others to do the same; for he is exalted in his children’s weakness.

Author: lifecoach4God

I am the Lead Pastor of Marin Bible Church (Bay Area), born and raised in Huntington Beach, Ca., and currently living in Novato, California. I am married to my best friend of 30 years - Dana - and have five adult children; and seven grand children. I have been a Teaching Pastor for over thirty years. I was privileged to study at Multnomah University (B.S. - 1988); Talbot School of Theology (M.Div. - 1991); Westminster Theological Seminary & Northwest Graduate School (D. Min. - 2003). I founded Vertical Living Ministries in 2008 with the goal of encouraging Christian Disciples and Leaders to be more intentionally Christ-Centered in how they live by bringing glory to God in nine key areas of life: (1) Intimacy with God, (2) marriage, (3) family, (4) friendship, (5) vocationally/ministry , (6) emotional and physical health, (7) stewardship of resources, (8) discipleship, and (9) mentoring.

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