Jesus Sympathizes with Us in All Things

Woman reading Bible

Along life’s journey, no one can avoid worries, hardships, and heartache. When we’re hurt, discouraged, or grieving, we yearn for someone to understand what we’re going through. We may get some relief by opening up to friends or family, but sometimes they can’t fully understand. We still feel a deep need in our heart.

So who can we turn to? We may think Jesus can’t understand everything we’re going through. But He can! We can be assured of this fact based on God’s Word.

In fact, Hebrews 2:17 is a priceless verse in the Bible. It says:

“Hence He [Jesus] 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.”

Today we’ll focus on three crucial phrases from this verse with help from notes from 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 that He alone can meet our deep inward need.

1. “Made like His brothers in all things”

First, what does it mean that Jesus was made like His brothers in all things? Note 1 on Hebrews 2:17 in the Recovery Version explains:

“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.”

This note references Hebrews 2:14, which 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.”

Why did Jesus, the Son of God, partake of blood and flesh? For two reasons: to destroy the devil in the flesh through His death, and to become a genuine man with human nature who is able to sympathize with us.

With this in mind, let’s consider Jesus’ 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 manger at His birth to enduring a humiliating, agonizing death on the cross, Jesus experienced unimaginable suffering throughout His entire life. He grew up in a poor carpenter’s home in Nazareth, a despised region. He knew firsthand what hunger, thirst, weariness, and poverty were. He knew what it was to be rejected, misunderstood, mocked, and slandered. He experienced every facet of human life. As a man, He endured suffering we can’t even fathom. 

The Gospels reveal that Jesus cared deeply for the human beings He came to live among and minister to. He healed the sick, cleansed lepers, and gave sight to the blind. He taught the truth and 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 those 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! 

Because of what He experienced in His life on earth, Jesus can understand anything we’re going through, no matter how terrible or distressing. We can be sure that whatever situation we’re in, He shares in our feelings, sympathizes with us, and cares for us. All this is possible because He was made like us, His brothers, by partaking in blood and flesh.

2. “That He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest”

Now we’ll look at the second important phrase in Hebrews 2:17: that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest. Note 2 on High Priest in the Recovery Version 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 served God and made intercession on behalf of God’s people. The high priest in the Old Testament is a picture, and Jesus is the reality, the fulfillment of this 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. When we’re suffering, He ministers God Himself and the unlimited riches of the divine life into us to meet our need. We may not even know what we need, but our faithful High Priest knows and ministers strength, love, hope, encouragement, endurance, joy, and so much more.

Speaking of the kind of High Priest Jesus is for us, Hebrews 4:15-16 says:

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all respects like us, yet without sin. Let us therefore come forward with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace for timely help.”

How precious it is that Jesus is touched with the feeling of our weaknesses. We can come to our merciful, faithful High Priest with boldness, assured that we will receive mercy and find grace for timely help.

3. “To make propitiation for the sins of the people”

We come now to the third important phrase in Hebrews 2:17: to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

At some point, we’ve probably felt afraid to come to Jesus and pour out what’s on our heart to Him. Maybe we feel unworthy, or full of guilt that we’ve been away from Him for a while. Maybe we’ve experienced a failure in our Christian life.

But if this is our situation, we need to realize that the Lord made propitiation for our sins. Note 4 on propitiation in the Recovery Version explains:

“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 make our sinful condition right before God in and of ourselves. But Jesus loved us to such an extent that He laid down His life for us. He resolved our problem of sin by fulfilling all the righteous demands of God through His death on the cross. This was true when we first believed in Jesus and accepted Him as our Savior, and it’s also true when we’ve sinned after we’re saved.

Of course, if we’ve sinned, we need to repent—that is, turn back to God—and confess our sins to Him. By turning to Him and confessing our sins, we can enjoy His propitiation and be forgiven and cleansed with His blood. Then we can come to the Lord without any fear or lingering guilt.

Hebrews 2:17 is truly a marvelous verse that shows us Jesus was made like us in all things so He could truly understand us. He is our merciful and faithful High Priest who can sympathize with us and meet our inward need, and He is the One who made propitiation for us.  

No matter what difficult situation we’re going through, we can be assured that Jesus understands us fully and sympathizes with us deeply. And because He made propitiation for us, we can come to Him at any time.

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How do we experience the sympathy and ministry of Jesus?

Now let’s consider how we can experience the Lord sympathizing with and ministering to us in our daily lives.

First, we should realize that the Lord isn’t far away from us. When we were saved, Christ came to live in our spirit, our deepest part. He’s always available and accessible to us. Anytime, anywhere, in any situation, we can draw near to Him in our spirit. 

Second, when our conscience makes us aware we’ve committed a sin, we should confess that sin to the Lord so we can be forgiven and cleansed by His blood. This removes any barrier between us and the Lord so we can come to Him freely. 

Third, we can come to the Lord by fellowshipping with Him in prayer. It really helps to open our mouth and pray audibly to the Lord. We can speak freely to Him and pour out everything that’s on our heart to Him.

Many of us can testify that as we uttered what was on our heart to the Lord in prayer, we were soothed by His sympathy and tender care. Though our outward situation didn’t necessarily change, we were encouraged and enlivened because Jesus ministered something of God into our being, meeting our deepest need. Words can’t express how wonderful this experience 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 and experience the loving care of our merciful and faithful High Priest. If you live in the US, you can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here.