THE GREAT HIGH PRIEST
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to
sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in
every way, just as we are—yet was without sin." Hebrews 4:15
Amid the whisperings from the fronds of these desert
Palms, we cannot be wrong in averring that there is one which has a music
all its own—pre-eminently valued and cherished.
The consciousness even of human sympathy is most
sacred, hallowed, and prized. In these dependent natures of ours, who, in
the season of need has not longed for it: and when it comes, has not
welcomed it like the presence of a ministering angel? Others working with
us, feeling for us—sharing our toils, helping us to carry our burdens;
entering into our hopes, our joys, our sorrows; to see the responsive tear
glistening in the eye—all this is a mighty strengthener and sustainer amid
the difficulties of checkered life. The martyr at the stake has been often
nerved for endurance by the whisper of "Courage, brother!" from the
fellow-victim at his side. How the Great Apostle in his Roman dungeon—when
he was "such an one as Paul the aged" was cheered by the visits of congenial
friends, such as Timothy and Onesiphorus! How touchingly does the
illustrious captive invoke God's richest benediction on the latter and on
his household, for "often refreshing him and not being ashamed of his
chain." On the other hand, how sad those circumstances when deprived of all
such support—when left to drift hopelessly away from human brotherhood, and
to be like a stranded vessel on life's lonely, inhospitable shore!
If human sympathy be thus gladdening and grateful,
what must be the pure—exalted—sinless—unselfish sympathy emanating from the
Great Brother-Man—the Heavenly Palm-Tree in the midst of the earthly
encampment—the sympathy of Jesus, the adorable High Priest of His Church?
"He was in all points tempted." His is a deep, yearning,
real sympathy, arising out of His true and real humanity. He came not with
an Angel-nature or an Angel-life. He was not, as many falsely picture Him,
half Angel, half God—looking down on a fallen world from the far-distant
heights of His heavenly throne. But He descended, and walked in the midst of
it, pitching His tent among its families—"He took not on Him the nature of
Angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham."
The Great Physician lived in the world's hospital. He did
not write out His cures in His remote dwelling in the skies, refusing to
come into personal contact with the patients. He walked its every ward. With
His own hand He felt the fevered pulses; His own eyes gazed on the
sufferer's tears. He stood not by the fiery furnace as a spectator, but
there was One in it "like the Son of God." He thought our thoughts. He wept
Yes, we repeat, that Great Being now in heaven, unseen,
invisible to mortal eye, so entered when on earth into the subtlest and
tenderest sensibilities of our emotional frames, that the heart of His
glorified humanity still thrills responsive to every pang in the souls of
the people. "In all their afflictions He was afflicted." "He knows their
frame," for He had that frame Himself. Every throb they feel, evokes a
kindred pulsation in the bosom of the Prince of Sufferers: "for He that
sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one" (nature). Though
changed in His outward estate from the Pilgrim Redeemer to that of
the exalted Priest and King, His sympathetic feelings know no change,
for He is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever."
"His," it has been well said by a thinker of modern days,
who struggled manfully upwards from skeptic doubt to embrace the truth as it
is in Jesus, "His is a sympathy like that of a parent for a child, which is
surely the deeper and the tenderer for being above the sphere of its little
passions and mistakes. Whose sympathy with a child is best and truest? that
of another child who has all the same follies and errors and petty interests
and cares, or that of a mother, who knows them all, but does not on her own
behalf share in them; who lives in them, and feels for them only through her
love?" Such is the sympathy of Jesus.
There are times when the blessed shade of this Palm is
specially needed. There are crisis-hours in our lives when we require, in no
ordinary way, strong support: when, like Jacob at Bethel, or John at Patmos,
we are all alone in a desolate place—the sun of our earthly happiness set:
beloved earthly friends vanished and gone. Then, when we may be giving vent
to the vain, hopeless wail of our smitten hearts, "Joseph is not and Simeon
is not," the despairing cry for support is answered, although not in
the sense perhaps we desired or longed for. The Savior Himself delights to
come, showing us the ladder which connects the pillow of stones and the
weary sleeper, with the heights of heaven. Or, as in the case of the lonely
exile of the Aegean sea, raising us from our prostrate condition, as He lays
His right hand upon us, and whispers in our ears His own gentle accents of
reassuring peace—"Fear not! I AM" (in My unchanging human sympathy as the
Elder Brother) "I am He who lives and was dead!"
"Then One, more fair than all the rest to see,
One to whom all the others bowed the knee,
Came to me gently, as I trembling lay,
And, 'Follow Me!' He said, 'This is the way.'
"At length to Him I raised my saddened heart;
He knew its sorrows, bid its doubts depart.
'Don't be afraid,' He said, 'but trust in Me,
My perfect love shall now be shown to thee.'
"And now henceforth my one desire shall be,
That He who knows me best should choose for me;
And so, whatever His love sees good to send,
I'll trust it's best, because He knows the end."
"The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to
know the word that sustains the weary."