There is a huge difference between knowing about someone's experience and truly entering in to their experience. One of the fundamental characteristics of love is a willingness to enter in to the world of another person. Christmas reminds us that Jesus was willing to enter in. Hebrews 4:15 says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.”
Two very compelling words are used in that verse. Jesus is able to empathize. The original word used there literally means “to be touched by what has touched someone else.” This is more than pity. This is more than “I feel really bad for you.” This is a willingness to feel in to another person’s pain … to allow yourself to choose to take another person’s perspective and enter in to their situation. It’s this sense of compassion that moves someone to action.
The word “weakness” is a word that can be best understood as “the human condition.” What we see in Hebrews 4 is that Jesus really does understand what it means to live in a fallen world. He understands the struggles. He knows the temptations we face. He’s fully aware of the limitations of the human body and the difficulty of relationships and the complexity of family dynamics. He knows what it’s like to be betrayed and abused and alone and in physical pain. Isaiah 53 says that He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.
When Jesus took on flesh and blood, He allowed Himself to become fully aware of the human condition. He knows our struggles. He is not moved to condemn us but rather to have compassion on us … He is touched by what has touched us. Because of that, look at what we get to do: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)