Currently, during our weekly Sunday morning meetings, we’re studying the book of Matthew. This coming Sunday, one of our brothers is teaching from Matthew 4:1-11 concerning the temptation of Jesus. There are many things that can be said – and should be said – concerning the devil’s temptation of Jesus. But, as our family was talking about this passage this week, we began to talk about what it means to us that Jesus was tempted.
Along with the passage in Matthew, we read Hebrews 4:14-16 -
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)
If you read my blog regularly, you may remember that I commented on Hebrews 4:12 a few days ago in a post called “Sharper than any two-edged sword“. In that blog post, I suggested that Jesus (not the written Scriptures) was the living and active high priest who is sharper than any two-edged sword. As Hebrews 4-16 (above) tells us, there is even more to our high priest than being able to discern the heart of people.
First, we have a high priest (Jesus) who has been tempted. Thus, Jesus is able to sympathize with us when we face temptations. Jesus is not some aloof deity who does not understand the plight of men and does not care about the problems of men. This demonstrates that Jesus is completely different from the pantheon of Greek and Roman gods. They used humans for their pleasure and benefit, but did not actually care about them.
Second, even though our high priest was tempted, he did not yield to that temptation and thus did not sin. He overcame the temptation and remained faithful to God throughout the ordeals. This shows that Jesus is completely different from the Jewish priests. As the author of Hebrews points out later, the Jewish high priests were required to sacrifice on behalf of themselves and their own sins before they could sacrifice on behalf of the nation.
Third, the fact that we have a tempted but unsinning high priest should cause us to draw near. Why? Because Jesus does not accept us with judgment and condemnation. Instead, he accepts us with mercy and grace. Indeed, the author of Hebrews says that Jesus reigns on a “throne of grace”. This does not mean that our high priest condones our sin. Instead, Jesus mercifully forgives us of our sin and disobedience.
Finally, because our high priest offers us mercy and grace, we know that he is a “help in time of need”. Jesus does not offer advice in the context of temptation that is simply good or wise advice. He offers advice and help as the only one who has faced temptation and completely overcome that temptation without sin. Everyone else – including me – has failed when it comes to temptation. Yet, Jesus – our high priest – can offer true help in times of need, especially in times of temptation, because only he knows how to remain faithful in the face of temptation and only he has managed to live in obedience to God the Father in spite of temptations.
I don’t know if this short study will be helpful to anyone else, but God greatly encouraged me as my family talked about this passage and brought out these beautiful truths about our high priest, Jesus Christ. We can draw near to him in confidence, knowing that he will accept us with mercy and grace.