For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are…
The doctrine of my text is, Able to save is also able to feel.
I. Take the wonderful consolation of the text. Look at the expressive word "TOUCHED"; but is it not a weak, poor, or cold word? No I touched! That is, His sympathy does not overwhelm His power. Too great sympathy is death to power; the Saviour knows, helps, heals. Touched! He is not possessed by our infirmities. He always possessed them. As He said, "I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again." Walk with me through an infirmary; let us step from bed to bed — we are able to see, not to save — alas, what spectacles are here! Can you walk from bed to bed? can you feel for all that and this? Then, would your hand be strong enough to minister the skill of the surgeon and the tenderness of the nurse? It is difficult to walk through this, and to be touched with tenderness, and not lose the skilfulness. Hence it is said of our Lord, "He was touched"; that is, He holds our infirmities; on the contrary they hold us — our infirmities do not overwhelm His power. "Touched by the feeling of our infirmities," He was untouched by the power of our infirmities. It was the last lesson necessary "to make Him a merciful and faithful High Priest"; it only proved His human ability to feel, and gives us confidence in His infinite ability to save.
II. EXTEND THIS ILLUSTRATION INTO DOCTRINE. And now from this shall we, after thus dwelling on the sympathy of the Saviour, proceed to see how it illustrates the principle of Divine Providence. The suffering of the world is the great mystery of the world; but what is the suffering of the world, compared with the greater mystery of the suffering of Christ? Can pure being know pain? Can God condition Himself in infirmity? Can eternity be touched by time? Well, Christ says, I cannot save you from suffering, but I can suffer for you; nay, I can attest Myself to your hearts as perpetually suffering with you.
III. LET US NARROW THE TEXT TO THE APPLICATION. I repeat, the doctrine of the text is, Able to save is able to feel. We find even among men that sympathy is more or less perfect as the holiness of the person is more or less so. There is no real sympathy among men of sensual, worldly, unspiritual life, unless we are to call the mere operations of natural instinct sympathy; it is not natural pity, it is consciousness, it differs little from our fellow-perception of heat and cold. Sin kills sympathy; as a man becomes infected with the power of evil, he ceases to sympathise with others, all his feelings centre in himself. Sin is self-centring; sinners put all worst constructions on each other's words and acts — they have no consideration, no forbearance. Sanctity and charity are one; gentleness, compassion, tenderness, ripens — personal holiness grows more and more mature, and sympathy becomes more perfect as repentance becomes more perfect. May I venture a word on thoughts beyond our probation? They only have true sympathy who are dead to themselves, they must most truly sympathise who are most free from the taints of evil. Now, does not this give light to the nature of His sympathy who was God of very God, was made Man that He might unite us wholly to Himself? Above and beyond all sympathy is that of our High Priest.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.