Called for Sympathy

Hebrews 4:15-16 (HCSB)
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”

This portion of scripture recently jumped out at me. The writer of the Book of Hebrews is encouraging the reader by pointing out an important characteristic of Jesus Christ…

His perfectly proven, sympathetic nature.

Because of this, we (Christians) who possess “weakness,” are to “…approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”

What is being said here is that because of Christ’s ability to demonstrate the highest level of commiseration, sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others (even in the face of ultimate testing), our confidence ought not wane in recognizing the privilege of what we have been presented with: full access to God, due to what He accomplished on the cross on our behalf. The writer is juxtaposing Christ, who is the divine HIGH PRIEST (who possesses a divine level of sympathy), with a mere earthly, humanly sympathetic, high priest (who could only temporally tend to the earthly temple of the time). Christ, because He is the “One,” brings what no other priest could ever even dream of providing.

…And we are the recipients of this giving, sympathetic God!

So then, how should this influence how we live?

Here is Peter, promoting the notion that we should also follow suit in practicing sympathy, for when we do we then fulfill our calling…

1 Peter 3:8-18 (HCSB)
“Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing.
For the one who wants to love life
and to see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit,
and he must turn away from evil
and do what is good.
He must seek peace and pursue it,
because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and His ears are open to their request.
But the face of the Lord is against
those who do what is evil.
And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all,
the righteous for the unrighteous,
that He might bring you to God,
after being put to death in the fleshly realm
but made alive in the spiritual realm.”

Godspeed, to the brethren!