When you, like the apostle Peter, do exactly what you swore to God you would never do, when you are frustrated and sickened by your inconsistency, you have someone in heaven who understands exactly what you are going through. His name is Jesus! Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

Historian William Barklay notes that this idea of a God who identified and sympathized with our weaknesses was a brand-new idea. To the Jews, God was Holy—He was a cut above, He was different than we are.

The stoics, the highest of all the Greek thinkers, said that the primary attribute of God was apathy. That word “apathy” reminds me of the junior high school English teacher who was writing vocabulary words on the blackboard and spelled out—
a -- p -- a -- t -- h -- y. 

One of the students, looking at the word said to his friend “Apathy…what does that mean?” 

His friend shrugged his shoulders and answered, “Who cares.”

That’s how the Stoics looked at God. He did not care. He could not be moved by our suffering. They argued that if you could feel the pain of someone else then it meant that person had control over you and you were weaker than they. Therefore, it is impossible for God to feel anything for us since that would mean our actions affected Him in some way.

On the other hand, the Epicureans said that God existed in between heaven and earth in a state of perfect happiness. He was not even aware of what was happening to us.

Thus, the Jews believed in a God who was so superior that He was detached from his creatures. The Stoics believed in a God who had no feeling and the Epicureans in a God who was unaware of what was happening to his creatures. 

But the Bible teaches that God is sympathetic with our weaknesses. He offers unlimited understanding when we blow it. How?

The writer of Hebrews notes Jesus was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” The Greek word “periasmos” means to be tested or tempted. It holds the idea of enduring a difficult situation. Satan’s goal is to entice us to sin, God’s goal in a difficult situation is to strengthen us.

The point here is that some of Jesus’ difficulties came from Satan and were an attempt to entice Jesus to sin. Other difficulties Jesus faced were the result of living 
as a human being in a sin-infected world. 

• Have you ever been bombarded with the relentless attacks of Satan? 
• Have you ever been overcome with sadness over the loss of a loved one? 
• Have you ever been betrayed by someone you trusted? 
• Have you ever been rejected by someone you deeply loved? 
• Have you ever wondered where your next meal was coming from?

Jesus has experienced all of that and more, much more. Philip Yancey has written:

“During that wrinkle in time known as the Incarnation, God experienced what it is like to be a human being. In thirty-three years on earth, God’s Son learned about poverty and about family squabbles and social rejection and verbal abuse and betrayal. He learned too about pain. What it feels like to have an accuser leave the red imprint of his fingers on your face. What it feels like to have a whip, studded with metal, lashed across your back. What it feels like to have a crude iron spike pounded through muscle, tendon, and bone. On earth, God’s Son learned all of that.”

And that is what allows Him to be sympathetic. That word, “sympathetic,” comes from two Greek words—“pathos” which means “to feel or suffer,” and “syn” which means “with.” Jesus is a sympathetic High Priest because He has suffered with us.

Jesus experienced the whole range of human experience without any sin. The question always arises, “Could Jesus have sinned”? 

• When He was tempted in the wilderness, could he have given in? 
• When He was the Garden of Gethsemane, He could have rebelled against God’s plan and said, “Not Your will, but My will be done.”

Interesting question! Most theologians I know say it was impossible for Jesus to have sinned. God and sin don’t mix. People’s response to that is usually, “Well, then, Jesus’ tests and temptations weren’t real if there was no possibility of sinning.”

But let me suggest another way of looking at it. If indeed Jesus could not have sinned, that meant He experienced more temptation, more pain, more suffering than any of us have ever endured.

Imagine the difference between a pebble and a large boulder in the middle of a raging sea. The pebble is quickly moved away, but only a boulder that cannot be moved feels the full brunt of the raging sea.

Or another way of illustrating it. All of us have a certain threshold of pain beyond which our nervous system shuts down and we black out. Thus, there is a level of pain we will never experience because of that God-imposed limit.

It is the same way with temptation and testing. There is a point at which all of us, regardless of how spiritual, will give into temptation and testing. Your threshold may be greater than mine, but at some point, you will give in. Thus, there is a level of testing and temptation you will never experience.

But Jesus had no such limitations. He felt the full brunt of Satan’s attacks and yet endured it without giving in. The fact that He did not yield did not qualify Him to be a perfect sin sacrifice—He already was that— but His temptation qualified Him to be our perfect and sympathetic High Priest.

• If you come and tell me that you have no job and your children are hungry and as a result you are tempted to rob a convenience store, there is no way I can understand that because I have never been in that position. Instead, I tell you not to steal.

• If you tell your priest that you caught your mate committing adultery and you are filled with bitterness, he can express sympathy, but he cannot truly sympathize with you because he will never experience that. Because he has never married. Instead, he can only tell you to forgive.

• If you tell your best friend you are doubting the existence of God because you have lost a child, he can be truly sorry, but have no idea what you are feeling because he has never experienced that. Instead, he can only tell you to have faith.

But when you come before Jesus the Perfect High Priest, He says, “I understand. I have been there. I forgive you!”

Someone has said that to know all is to forgive all. Jesus knows all and thus He offers unlimited understanding, unconditional forgiveness, and continual compassion.

Welcome to First Baptist Dallas! Our mission is to transform the world with God's Word...one life at a time. We are a church with a legacy that is built on the Bible, and we continue that legacy today. With multiple service times and options, as well as age group Sunday School classes, we have something for everyone. Join us on Sundays in person or online beginning at 9:15am.
Address :
1707 San Jacinto,
Dallas,
TX - 75201
United States.
Tel : 214-969-0111