the weblog of Alan Knox

A sympathetic high priest

Posted by on Jan 30, 2008 in discipleship | 6 comments

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.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-31-2008

    Hi Alan–

    This post was an answer to prayer for me this evening. It seems so easy to lose sight of the truth that we do indeed have a savior Who is truly sympathetic and merciful. Sometimes, as I struggle to walk in faith, and lay aside sin, or just to deal with life in general, it seems that the message of so many Christian leaders, teachers, and authors can be boiled down to two words: “Try Harder.” But unless I am assured that Jesus is indeed ‘for’ me, even while I struggle with sin, I will lack the faith to go to Him for help, and that leaves me battling alone, and in the flesh. I asked God tonight to remind me of how much He cares for me. He did just that through this post.

    Kathy J

  2. 1-31-2008


    I’m glad that this post was helpful for you. Thank you for letting me know!


  3. 1-31-2008

    thank you alan,
    I’ve been riding pretty easy when it comes to temptation for the last few days but today and yesterday the temptation showed up again. I can feel it looming over my head. but praise God for a Savior who knows my struggles and gives me strength to overcome them. I needed this encouragement today.

  4. 1-31-2008


    Thanks for the comment. It is encouraging to me to hear that this post was helpful. What would we do without a merciful and graceful high priest?!


  5. 1-31-2008

    As I’ve been blogging thtough Matthew, I’ve really gotten a clearer picture in my own mind of what a loving, merciful Savior we have. I’ve just started chapter 4 and reading your entry in this was a great encouragement to me. His temptation (testing) and His reaction to it are an awesome example for us.

  6. 2-1-2008


    Thank you for the comment. I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts on Matthew.