God is able. No surprise there. It’s what we believe. It’s what we declare. In a sense, it’s what we would expect of a God who is truly God.
He is able to speak creation into being (regardless of the mechanics). Able to direct the affairs of men, women, and nations. Able to heal, and even raise from the dead. After all, He is God.
He is able to know the thoughts and intents of the heart. Able to bring into light everything done in darkness. Able, when He determines the time, to bring justice to bear over all the earth. And yes, we believe, He is also able to make atonement for sin, fully and eternally, offering Himself in His Son as a once for all sacrifice on a Roman cross. Able to secure names in a Book of Life that will stand for eternity.
As God’s people we know it–God is able.
But what’s catalyzing the awe factor for me this morning, is chewing on the fact that He is also able to sympathize.
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)
Continuing Hebrew’s theme of Jesus being better, not only is Jesus the better prophet, able to speak to the hearts of men and women; better than the angels, able to minister to humans because He became human; and greater than Moses, the servant of the house, because He is the builder of the house; but the Son of God is also the better high priest. Better because He is able. Able to sympathize with our weaknesses.
Able to suffer and feel what we suffer and feel. As the old King James says, to be “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” Not just theoretically understanding our frailties because He’s aware of the fundamental properties of dust, but in touch with our realities because He experienced them in every respect, except for sin.
He was tempted, that is, He was tried, He was assayed, He entered the crucible of all that human experience encompasses. Not that He would be purified by knowing the heat of being human, but that He would be able to know at the deepest levels what we feel, and suffer, as if His own suffering, what we suffer, thus having a compassion founded on the most intimate of experience.
A better High Priest to advocate, mediate, and minister on our behalf . . . because He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.
And because He is able, we can with confidence draw near to His throne of grace. We can with surety know that there we will receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. And so, we’re exhorted, we can keep on keepin’ on–holding fast to our confession of faith . . . holding firmly to what we believe (NLT).
He is able to sympathize. Understands our weakness. Gets the suffering of our trials . . . the frustration of the flesh . . . the emptiness of our loss. Having experienced it all–all but the sin (MSG).
As I chewed on such inner-man-renewing truth this morning, an old hymn came to mind:
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks—
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
~ Frank E. Graeff (1901)
Oh, yes, He cares! Because He is able. Able to sympathize.
More evidence of His unfathomable grace. More reason to ascribe to Him indescribable glory.