Jesus sympathizes with us in our human predicament because he was fully human yet without sin. He knows the draw of the pride of life, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes. He was tempted in all of these areas yet He remained without sin. He knows the full force of temptation which none of us ever feel. I think it was C.S. Lewis who said: you don’t feel the full force of the wind by turning your back to it, you only feel it when you face it head on. Jesus faced our situation fully head on. I think this is the main point of the next verse. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Adam didn’t feel the force. Abraham didn’t feel the force. Noah didn’t feel the force, Moses didn’t feel the force! Aaron, the priest, didn’t feel the full force of the wind. Jesus is the only one who faced the wind head on and never flinched. We have all flinched. But the point of this verse is that Jesus knows our pain. He isn’t a god who is far off like the gods of Greece and Rome. He is a loving God, who cares so much about us that he feels our pains along with us. According to the Oxford Companion to Music, “If two tuning–forks of the same pitch be placed in position for sounding and one of them be set in vibration, the other will take up the vibrations sympathetically; the first fork is then a generator of sound and the second a resonator.” Hughes quotes this and adds, “His instrument, so to speak, was the same as ours. It is a fact that if you have two pianos in the same room and a note is struck on one, the same note will gently respond on the other, though not touched by another’s hand. This is called ‘sympathetic resonance.’ Christ’s instrument was just like ours in every way. And hear this! He took that instrument, that body, to Heaven with him. It is his priestly body. And when a chord is struck in the weakness of our human instrument, it resonates in his![1]

The Law written on stone tablets gives no mercy and has no grace. It is inscribed on stone and can’t be changed. The religious leaders and Judaizers that caused Jesus such trouble, and trouble for Paul and others who put Jesus above all such things, had no sympathy for the hurting. Jesus healed a man blind from birth. The religious leaders accused him of violating the Sabbath. They had no concern for the life-long pain of the healed. Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead and the religious leaders wanted them both executed for some violation of their laws. They had no compassion or sympathy for them. Moses, his law, the priesthood, and even the Temple itself, cannot feel you! It demands that we be stoned to death for our adulteries. It calls for blood! Jesus is so much more important than everything else! He poured out His blood for you and me.

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul, vol. 1, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 130.