In Hebrew 4:15, the author begins to describe the character and temperament of our great high priest Jesus. The purpose is to encourage us in our times of temptation. And in the context of this letter, the author is especially addressing the times where we are tempted to renounce our faith (i.e., Peter’s denials) or hide our faith (Joseph of Arimathea).
The first characteristic of Jesus is that He is able to sympathize with us. This speaks to an intimate connection one has with another so that whatever affects the one similarly affects the other. Jesus is able to experience pain jointly with us. Our exalted High Priest suffers together with His people. It expresses the feeling of what others feel so that one can respond with sensitivity to the need. Think for a moment with me about how different it would be for us if our God was incapable of expressing sympathy. Where would that leave us? But praise God that is not nor ever will be our reality! No, our God is not distant, aloof, or cold toward us in any way. He loves. He cares. What affects our life, touches His heart. This is the reality that we abide in each day. Shouldn’t this truth drive us and draw us more and more to our Savior Jesus? This is the reason the Son of God left the glory and worship of heaven and took upon Himself human flesh.
The author reminds us that Jesus understands our weaknesses as mortal human beings. In fact, most of the time God understands our weaknesses way more than we are willing to acknowledge them. Otherwise, every believer around the world would be living every moment of the day in humble dependence upon God.
As God our Creator, Jesus perfectly understands being human; but so that we would understand how much He understands our condition, Jesus became one of us. For two very powerful reasons, Jesus being God, but also being man, we can never rightfully say God doesn’t understand. He most certainly does understand. And He does to a level and degree greater than we could ever imagine.
A story is told of a farmer who lived on the outskirts of town. He had just relaxed on the front porch when a neighbor boy came by on his bike. The boy noted a sign “Puppies for Sale. The boy got off his bike and said to the farmer, “How much is one of your puppies?”
The farmer said, “Twenty-five dollars.”
The boy’s face dropped. “Well, sir, could I at least see them anyway?”
The farmer whistled, and in a moment the mother dog came bounding around the corner of the house followed by four cute puppies. At last another pup came dragging one leg behind. “What’s the matter with that puppy?” the boy asked.
“Well, son, that puppy is crippled. We took her to the vet and the doctor took an x-ray. The pup was born without a hip joint and that leg will never be right.” To the farmer’s amazement, the boy dropped his bike, reached for his pocket and took out 50 cents.
“Please mister,” the boy pleaded, “I want to buy that pup. I’ll pay you 50 cents every week until the twenty-five dollars is paid. Honest, I will mister.”
The farmer replied, “But son, you don’t seem to understand. That pup will never, never be able to run or jump. That pup is going to be crippled forever. Why in the world would you want such a pup as that?”
The boy paused for a moment, then reached down and pulled up his pant leg, exposing an iron brace holding a twisted leg in place. The boy answered, “Mister that pup is going to need someone who understand him to help him in life!”
My fellow believers … never forget – Jesus understands!