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. NKJV
BLOOD WORKTonight I want to look at a phrase from this marvellous verse from Hebrews. Here is how it is translated in numerous different versions of the Bible, saying that our Jesus is not a High Priest…..
NKJV who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses
KJV which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;MESSAGE who is out of touch with our reality.AMP who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation,CJB unable to empathize with our weaknesses;BBE who is not able to be touched by the feelings of our feeble flesh;WEUST who is not able to enter experientially into a fellow feeling with our infirmities,
Got it? Good. Now taking these verses and looking at how the word for ‘infirmities’ is used and translated elsewhere in the New Testament, we can say that Jesus then, has an extended sympathetic, compassionate, reaching and touching empathy for our sickness, disease, malady, infirmity, and any other weakness that can be described by an impotent feebleness, caused by genetic mishap, organic failure, viral infection or the demonization of evil spirits! Why does our Great High Priest have this kind of all-reaching empathy and understanding of our gross maladies? Because, He was, in ALL points, tested as we are yet without sin.
Now it seems as though I might be saying, indeed, that the verse might be saying that there is nothing that touches us that He has not been touched by and tested by. Yet how could that be? Jesus was born a sinless individual, He thought no sin, He did no sin, IN Him was NO SIN. Now I believe that means that there was in Him, no place for sickness at all. I would go further and say that if Christ had not been crucified, He would have reached male physical maturity and then lived forever! Christ was never sick, Christ was never dying. Christ our King never took the journey into decrepit old age, 'sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything' and frankly, never could. How then could Jesus possibly have been touched by any one of our infirmities? How can our Great High Priest be so touched even now?
Now some folks would say that this verse is actually talking about Him being tempted as we are. He feels then, our temptations to sin. Yet was Christ ever tempted as we are? He had no original sin within Him, He had no fed and still hungry monster craving the fruits of unrighteous desires of every kind. When temptation was placed before Him there was no black beast within Him that leapt like a ravenous animal, its spittled neck, red with sores as it strained the leash in an attempt to bite and devour. How could Christ be tempted like we are?
Christ as a youngster had all the cuts and bruises of a growing child I am sure. Maybe He even stubbed his toe now and again but even that is possibly debatable? However, I cannot see Jesus with the measles or the Chicken Pox or Mono or any other infection come to that. How then is our High Priest touched then with the feelings of our infirmities? How can Christ be tempted as we are? To these serious questions, I would say but two things:-
First that in the passion of Christ, begun in the garden of Gethsemane, it was great sweaty drops of blood that mirrored for us, the terrible and titanic tragedy of the ages that was shortly to be placed upon Him. It is Luke the physician who is the only Gospel writer to take note of this sweating of blood and it is another physician, Dr. Frederick Zugibe (Chief Medical Examiner of Rockland County, New York) who talks about ‘hematohidrosis.’ Describing it, he says that “Around the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form. Under the pressure of great stress, the vessels constrict. Then as the anxiety passes, the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture. The blood goes into the sweat glands. As the sweat glands are producing a lot of sweat, it pushes the blood to the surface - coming out as droplets of blood mixed with sweat.” My goodness friends, the very thought of what was about to come upon Him, the sound of the dragging weight of all our screaming sins, coming toward Him on the Cross made the sweet Jesus sweat blood! Just the thoughtful trepidation of all the felt guilt, the full experience of the consequence of crimes unimaginable, the consequence of amputative loss, of eye poked-out vision, of dreams ran aground on great sharp rocks of disappointment, of cancer robbed organs, of all the crippling incurables and of the womb-formed genetic twisted, pharmaceutically induced, knitting needle-poked malady and madness of every kind, even the sins of the whole world, from Adam onwards and even to the end of time, which were shortly to be placed upon Him. Made him sweat. Somewhere in the darkness of the Cross, this my Saviour, tasted all. I suppose at any time on the Cross, He could have climbed off it, He could have pursued not the Father’s will. However, He didn’t draw back from our disaster. He drank the cup of damnation to the very dregs. There was nothing He did not touch and taste of the consequences of our sin. Nothing.
Secondly, I believe that Jesus was more tempted than we ever could be. I believe that Jesus was more tested than we ever could be. Oswald Chambers in his thought for this day comes at this verse tonight from an additional angle, which is also correct. He says, “Our Lord’s temptations and ours are in different realms until we are born again and become His brothers. The temptations of Jesus are not those of a mere man, but the temptations of God as Man. Through regeneration, the Son of God is formed in us (see Galatians 4:19), and in our physical life He has the same setting that He had on earth. Satan does not tempt us just to make us do wrong things— he tempts us to make us lose what God has put into us through regeneration, namely, the possibility of being of value to God.” I like that.
In any event may I echo this most marvellous conclusion…
Listen:- Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NKJV
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Shakespeare | As You Like It