For in that he himself hath suffered - The maxim on which this verse is founded is the following: A state of suffering disposes persons to be compassionate, and those who endure most afflictions are they who feel most for others. The apostle argues that, among other causes, it was necessary that Jesus Christ should partake of human nature, exposed to trials, persecutions, and various sufferings, that he might the better feel for and be led to succor those who are afflicted and sorely tried. This sentiment is well expressed by a Roman poet: -
Me quoque per multas similis fortuna labores
Jactatam hac demum voluit consistere terra:
Non ignara mali, miseris succurere disco.
Virg. Aen. i., v. 632.
"For I myself like you, have been distress'd,
Till heaven afforded me this place of rest;
Like you, an alien in a land unknown,
I learn to pity woes so like my own."
"There are three things," says Dr. Owen, "of which tempted believers do stand in need:
Unto these is the succor afforded by our High Priest suited; and it is variously administered to them:
For in that he himself - “Because” he has suffered, he is able to sympathize with sufferers.
Being tempted - Or, being “tried.” The Greek word used here is more general in its meaning than the English word “tempted.” It means to “put to the proof;” to try the nature or character of; and this may be done either:
(1)by subjecting a person to “afflictions” or “sufferings” that his true character may be tried - that it may be seen whether he has sincere piety and love to God; or.
(2)by allowing one to fall into “temptation,” properly so called - where some strong inducement to evil is presented to the mind, and where it becomes thus a “trial” of virtue.
The Saviour was subjected to both these in as severe a form as was ever presented to people. His sufferings surpassed all others; and the temptations of Satan (see Colossians 1:24; Philemon 3:10); and,
(2)they are thus enabled to be far more extensively useful.
Many a minister owes a large part of his usefulness to the fact that he has been much afflicted; and for those afflictions, therefore, he should unfeignedly thank God. The idea which is here expressed by the apostle - that one is enabled to sympathize with others from having himself suffered, was long since beautifully expressed by Virgil:
“Me quoque per multos similis fortuna labores,
Jactatam, hac demum voluit consistere terra.
Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.
Aeneid I. 628.
“For I myself like you have been distressed,
Till heaven afforded me this place of rest:
Like you, an alien in a land unknown,
I learn to pity woes so like my own.
Jesus is thus able to alleviate the sufferer. In all our temptations and trials let us remember:
(1) that he suffered more - infinitely more - than we can do, and that in all our sorrows we shall never reach what he endured. We enter no region of trial where he has not gone beyond us; we tread no dark and gloomy way where he has not gone before us.
(2) that he is to us “a brother,” for he “is not ashamed to call us brethren.” He had a nature like ours; he condescended to appear as one of our race, with all the innocent propensities and passions of a man. What matchless condescension! And what an honor for us to be permitted to address him as an “older brother,” and to know that he feels a deep sympathy in our woes!
(3) let us then, in all times of affliction, look to him. Go not, suffering Christian, to philosophy; attempt not to deaden your feelings by the art of the Stoic; but go at once to the Saviour - the great, sympathizing High Priest, who is able to succour you - and rest your burdens on him.
“His heart is made of tenderness,
His soul is filled with love.
“Touch‘d with a sympathy within,
He knows our feeble frame;
He knows what sore temptations mean,
For he has felt the same.
“Then let our humble faith address.
His mercy and his power;
We shall obtain delivering grace,
In every trying hour.”
The Saviour of the world had no controversy with Satan, who was expelled from heaven because he was no longer worthy of a place there. He who could influence the angels of God against their Supreme Ruler, and against His Son, their loved commander, and enlist their sympathy for himself, was capable of any deception. Four thousand years he had been warring against the government of God, and had lost none of his skill or power to tempt and deceive. 1SM 279.1
Because man fallen could not overcome Satan with his human strength, Christ came from the royal courts of heaven to help him with His human and divine strength combined. Christ knew that Adam in Eden, with his superior advantages, might have withstood the temptations of Satan, and conquered him. He also knew that it was not possible for man, out of Eden, separated from the light and love of God since the Fall, to resist the temptations of Satan in his own strength. In order to bring hope to man, and save him from complete ruin, He humbled Himself to take man's nature, that, with His divine power combined with the human, He might reach man where he is. He obtains for the fallen sons and daughters of Adam that strength which it is impossible for them to gain for themselves, that in His name they may overcome the temptations of Satan. 1SM 279.2
The exalted Son of God in assuming humanity draws Himself nearer to man by standing as the sinner's substitute. He identifies Himself with the sufferings and afflictions of men. He was tempted in all points as man is tempted, that He might know how to succor those who should be tempted. Christ overcame on the sinner's behalf. 1SM 279.3
Jacob, in the night vision, saw earth connected with heaven by a ladder reaching to the throne of God. He saw the angels of God, clothed with garments of heavenly brightness, passing down from heaven and up to heaven upon this shining ladder. The bottom of this ladder rested upon the earth, while the top of it reached to the highest heavens, and rested upon the throne of Jehovah. The brightness from the throne of God beamed down upon this ladder, and reflected a light of inexpressible glory upon the earth. 1SM 279.4Read in context »
For our sake Jesus emptied Himself of His glory; He clothed His divinity with humanity that He might touch humanity, that His personal presence might be among us, that we might know that He was acquainted with all our trials, and sympathized with our grief, that every son and daughter of Adam might understand that Jesus is the friend of sinners (The Signs of the Times, April 18, 1892). 7BC 927.1
Not Angelic but Human Nature—The Lord Jesus has made a great sacrifice in order to meet man where he is. He took not on Him the nature of angels. He did not come to save angels. It is the seed of Abraham that He is helping. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Christ helps humanity by taking human nature (Letter 97, 1898). 7BC 927.2
17 (Philippians 2:7, 8; Colossians 2:10; 2 Peter 1:4; see EGW on Hebrews 4:14-16). Christ Took Humanity Into Himself—By His obedience to all the commandments of God, Christ wrought out a redemption for man. This was not done by going out of Himself to another, but by taking humanity into Himself. Thus Christ gave to humanity an existence out of Himself. To bring humanity into Christ, to bring the fallen race into oneness with divinity, is the work of redemption. Christ took human nature that men might be one with Him as He is one with the Father, that God may love man as He loves His only-begotten Son, that men may be partakers of the divine nature, and be complete in Him (The Review and Herald, April 5, 1906). 7BC 927.3Read in context »
Incarnation—The Nature of Christ
[This article appeared in The Signs of the Times, June 9, 1898.]Read in context »
In Christ were united the human and the divine. His mission was to reconcile God and man, to unite the finite with the infinite. This was the only way in which fallen men could be exalted through the merits of the blood of Christ to be partakers of the divine nature. Taking human nature fitted Christ to understand man's trials and sorrows, and all the temptations wherewith he is beset. Angels who were unacquainted with sin could not sympathize with man in his peculiar trials. Christ condescended to take man's nature and was tempted in all points like as we, that He might know how to succor all who should be tempted. 2T 201.1
As the human was upon Him, He felt His need of strength from His Father. He had select places of prayer. He loved to hold communion with His Father in the solitude of the mountain. In this exercise His holy, human soul was strengthened for the duties and trials of the day. Our Saviour identifies Himself with our needs and weaknesses, in that He became a suppliant, a nightly petitioner, seeking from His Father fresh supplies of strength, to come forth invigorated and refreshed, braced for duty and trial. He is our example in all things. He is a brother in our infirmities, but not in possessing like passions. As the sinless One, His nature recoiled from evil. He endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin. His humanity made prayer a necessity and privilege. He required all the stronger divine support and comfort which His Father was ready to impart to Him, to Him who had, for the benefit of man, left the joys of heaven and chosen His home in a cold and thankless world. Christ found comfort and joy in communion with His Father. Here He could unburden His heart of the sorrows that were crushing Him. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. 2T 201.2
Through the day He labored earnestly to do good to others, to save men from destruction. He healed the sick, comforted the mourning, and brought cheerfulness and hope to the despairing. He brought the dead to life. After His work was finished for the day, He went forth, evening after evening, away from the confusion of the city, and His form was bowed in some retired grove in supplication to His Father. At times the bright beams of the moon shone upon His bowed form. And then again the clouds and darkness shut away all light. The dew and frost of night rested upon His head and beard while in the attitude of a suppliant. He frequently continued His petitions through the entire night. He is our example. If we could remember this, and imitate Him, we would be much stronger in God. 2T 202.1Read in context »