Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
Along life’s journey, none of us can avoid worries, hardships, or heartache. When we’re hurt, discouraged, or grieving, we yearn for someone to understand what we’re going through. We may tell our troubles to friends or family, but sometimes they can’t fully understand. And although we may get some relief by telling them about our situation, we still feel a deep need in our heart.
At times like that, who can we turn to? We might think even the Lord Jesus can’t really understand. But He can! And we can be assured of this fact based on God’s Word.Today we’ll focus on a priceless verse in the Bible, Hebrews 2:17, with the notes in the New Testament Recovery Version. We’ll see that our dear Lord Jesus can genuinely understand and sympathize with us like no one else can. And He’s the only One who can meet our inner need.
Hebrews 2:17 says,
“Hence He should have been made like His brothers in all things that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Let’s look at three crucial phrases in this verse.
1. Made like His brothers in all things
What does it mean that Jesus was “made like His brothers in all things”? Note 1 in the New Testament Recovery Version says:
“The Son of God was made like us, His brothers, in that He partook of blood and flesh (v. 14). This was done for two purposes, one negative and the other positive. The negative purpose was to destroy for us the devil, who is in the flesh. The positive purpose is to be our merciful and faithful High Priest who has the human nature, that He may sympathize with us in all things.”
Hebrews 2:14 (referenced in the note) says,
“Since therefore the children have shared in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the devil.”
This verse tells us the Lord partook of blood and flesh so that through death He might destroy the devil. That was the negative purpose of His being made like us in all things.
But verse 17 speaks of the positive purpose for Jesus partaking of blood and flesh. This was so He could have the human nature. Since He possesses the human nature, Jesus can be our merciful and faithful High Priest who can sympathize with us in all the difficulties of human life. If Jesus didn’t have the human nature, how could He understand or sympathize with us human beings?
With this in mind, let’s consider the Lord’s life on earth.
Isaiah 53 is a great prophecy and revelation of Jesus in the Old Testament. It says that He would be a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. From being placed in a lowly feeding trough at his birth to enduring a humiliating and agonizing death on the cross, Jesus experienced untold suffering throughout His entire life. He grew up in a poor carpenter’s home in Nazareth, not in a trouble-free environment. He knew firsthand what physical hunger, thirst, weariness, and poverty were. He knew from personal experience what it was to be rejected, misunderstood, mocked, and slandered.
Yet at the same time, the Gospels reveal that Jesus cared deeply for the human beings He came to live among and minister to. His heart was fully concerned for all the sinners He met. He healed the sick, cleansed lepers, and gave sight to the blind. He spoke tender words of compassion to those who were forlorn and miserable.
Jesus cared for every kind of person, no matter how vile; this caused the people who didn’t appreciate Him to belittle Him by calling Him a “friend of sinners.” But how wonderful for all of us that He is indeed a friend of sinners! Jesus understood and sympathized with people’s problems, sadness, and distress. This is the kind of man He was when He lived on earth.
Because Jesus was made like us in all things, and because of all He experienced as a man, He can understand anything we may be going through, no matter how terrible or distressing. We can be sure that whatever painful situation we’re in, He shares in our feelings, sympathizes with us, and cares for us.
Now we’ll look at the second important phrase in Hebrews 2:17.
2. He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest
What do these words reveal about Jesus? Note 2 on High Priest explains:
“As the High Priest, Christ ministers God Himself and the riches of the divine life to us. As the God-man, He is more than fully qualified to be our High Priest. Here, merciful corresponds with His being a man; faithful corresponds with His being God.”
In the Old Testament, the high priest took care of God’s people, and Jesus is the fulfillment of this Old Testament picture. Jesus, our real High Priest, is both God and man. As a man made like us in all things, He’s merciful to us and able to understand us. We can come to Him and be assured that He sympathizes with us in our affliction.
What’s more, as God, Jesus is our faithful High Priest who ministers God Himself and the unlimited riches of the divine life into us. He faithfully ministers these divine riches to us to meet our need in our situation of suffering. We may not even know what we need, but our faithful High Priest knows. He ministers the riches of God into us to meet our need, whether it’s strength, love, hope, encouragement, endurance, or joy.
We come now to the third important phrase in this verse.
3. To make propitiation for the sins of the people
Maybe we feel like we can’t pour out what’s on our heart to Jesus because we’re afraid to come to Him. Perhaps we feel unworthy, or we’ve been away from Him for a while, or we’ve experienced failure in our Christian life. But we don’t need to stay far away from Him! The Lord made propitiation for our sins. Note 4 on propitiation says:
“Jesus made propitiation for our sins, thereby satisfying the demand of God’s righteousness and appeasing the relationship between God and us, that God may be peacefully gracious to us.”
It’s impossible for us to do anything to make our sinful situation right before God. But Jesus loved us to such an extent that He laid down His life for us. He resolved our problem of sin and met all the righteous demands of God through His death on the cross.
So if we’ve sinned, we need to repent—that is, turn back to God—and confess our sins to Him. When we turn to Him and confess our sins, we can enjoy His propitiation again and be forgiven and cleansed with His blood. This makes it possible for us to come to the Lord without fear.
Hebrews 2:17 is truly a marvelous verse! It shows us no matter what difficult situation we’re going through, we can be assured that Jesus understands us fully and sympathizes with us deeply.
How do we experience the sympathy and ministry of Jesus?
Now that we’ve looked at some verses and footnotes in the New Testament Recovery Version, let’s go on to see how we can practically come to the Lord Jesus to experience His sympathy and ministry:
- We should first realize that the Lord isn’t far away from us or hard for us to reach. When we were saved, Christ as the life-giving Spirit came to live in our spirit. He’s so close and accessible in our spirit; we can come to Him at any time.
- If our conscience makes us aware of any sins we’ve committed, we should confess them to remove any barrier between us and the Lord and be forgiven and washed in His blood. We can come to Him with confidence because He’s already made propitiation for our sins.
- We come to the Lord by turning our hearts to Him from everything else and exercising our spirit in prayer. It really helps if we open our mouth and pray audibly to the Lord. By speaking to Him in prayer, we can pour out what’s on our heart into the listening and loving ear of Jesus.
Many of us can testify that we’ve experienced the sympathy and ministry of Jesus, our High Priest. In the midst of our woes, as we uttered what was on our heart to Him in prayer, we had the sense He was listening intently to us, and we were soothed by His sympathy and tender care. Though our outward situation didn’t necessarily change, we were encouraged and enlivened. Jesus not only sympathized with us but also ministered something of God into our being, meeting our deepest need. Words just can’t express how wonderful this is.
We hope you’re encouraged by the words in Hebrews 2:17 and the notes in the New Testament Recovery Version. No matter what we’re going through, we can come to the Lord in prayer. We never have to wonder whether Jesus can understand. He always does, and He can truly meet our need.
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