Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us begin by putting this verse in the positive instead of the negative. I do not think this will violate this verse but will perhaps bring more clarity. “For we do have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, since He was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.’ This book of Hebrews was written specifically to possibly two camps of Jews in my opinion. First of all it was written to a Jew that was on the fence concerning Jesus Christ being THE Messiah (Priest, King, and Prophet) as foretold in the Old Testament writings. They were fully Jewish in the sense that they obeyed and followed the Law of Moses but would not cross over into faith in Jesus the Christ. The second possible group of Jews reading this could have been Jews that did embrace and believe that Jesus was the Messiah (Priest, King, and Prophet) but due to extreme persecution perhaps, they wanted to revert backwards to outwardly embrace the religion of Judaism and its governing laws and requirements so as to escape persecution and/or death.
Today, in this age of Grace, the meaning of this verse has great significance, assurance, and promise for both Jew and Gentile. The role of the High Priest functioned in the tabernacle or Temple as the go-between of a Holy God and a sinful people. Aaron, the older brother of Moses, was the first High Priest to have this role in serving God in the tabernacle (Exodus 28, 29). Therefore beginning with Aaron as the High Priest he would enter the Holiest of Holies on the Day of Atonement once a year and sprinkle sacrificial animal blood on the Mercy Seat and the peoples’ sins would be covered for another year. And every year following this would take place. But Jesus was not a descendant of Levi nor a descendant of Aaron’s priesthood. Jesus was the great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, the priest of the God Most High (Genesis 14:18) who represented all of mankind. And by Jesus’ own sacrificial blood shed on the Cross was atonement made for all mankind and He entered not the earthly tabernacle but the Heavenly tabernacle and presence of God as the great High Priest and the only go-between for God and Man. After His resurrection, Jesus the Son of God passed through the heavens as the great High Priest and is sitting at the Right hand of the Father (Heb 4:14).
Jesus being fully God and fully man (“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily…” Col 2:9), is therefore able to sympathize with our weaknesses. The word ‘sympathize’ in the Greek means to ‘have sympathy, compassion, and pity for someone – to share the feelings and understand the sentiments of what a person is going through’. Wow! May that alone bring you comfort in your understanding of how Jesus personally views you and the struggles you face each day in this fallen world. To further the point, Jesus as the great High Priest sympathizes with our weaknesses. With ‘our’ weaknesses. We all have them. We are all in the same boat when it comes to having weaknesses. No matter how lovely or holy someone you know appears to be, underneath the surface they struggle just like you do. This word ‘weaknesses’ is a Greek word that is much broader than our understanding of being weak, as opposed to strong. It is the ‘incapacity or sickness or disease within, that prevents us from doing what we desire’. Romans 16:9a says, “I speak in human terms because of the ‘weakness’ (the incapacity to do what is right) of your flesh’. This same Greek word is also translated as ‘infirmities’ twelve times, primarily speaking of the physical weakness, sickness, disease, and incapacity we might have. John 5:5 says “Now a certain man who was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years…” Jesus told this man with this physical infirmity to ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ Paul writes in II Cor 12:10 “Therefore I take pleasure in my infirmities…..for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Take pleasure in our infirmities? Wait a second. This must be a misprint. No, it is not. Paul understood the reality of Jesus as the great High Priest who is sitting at the Right hand of the Father at this very moment (Heb 8:1). Paul understood that Jesus does accurately sympathize with our weaknesses and infirmities as human beings and our daily struggles of temptation because Jesus Himself lived on this earth with a complete human nature just like yours, yet without that human nature being diseased by sin. In every way, Jesus’ humanity correlates to our own experiences. YOU are not alone. As a believer, be reminded of this amazing truth of our Lord and Savior. HE is the great High Priest sitting next to God the Father. He knows and understands everything you go though. Because of His compassion, mercy, and grace, you can tap into His grace to help in time of need. What a glorious High Priest and Savior we have!
Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc.
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