The Sympathy of Jesus
by James Smith, 1861
Who does not know the value of sympathy? How sweet, in the season of trouble, is the presence of a friend, who with a loving heart, has experienced personally, the very affliction under which we groan. Many may desire to comfort us, and with the best intention may endeavor to do so — but for lack of experience, they are not qualified, and therefore fail.
Sympathy generally flows from suffering, and it is that which makes the sympathy of Christ so sweet, he has passed through the same sorrow before us. He not only became man — but a poor man; not only a poor man — but a persecuted man; not only a persecuted man — but a man of sorrows. How sweet the Apostle's representation of him, "For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to support those who are tempted." Hebrews 2:18.
The Savior's Experience.He was tempted or tried.
He was tried by his Father's command — to lay down his life for his sheep. John 10:18.
He was tried by his Father's providence — which arranged and brought to pass, all the sufferings he endured.
He was tried by poverty — having no home of his own in infancy, youth, or manhood. The endearments of one's own house were not for him. He had no where to lay his head.
He was tried by false friendships, and few things pierce deeper or wound us more, than when he who eats bread with us — lifts up his heel against us.
He was tried by the dullness of his disciples, who though he spoke so plainly, and wrought so wondrously — yet understood him not.
He was tried by bold and daring foes, the rabble and men high in office, soldiers and civilians, Jews and Gentiles — combined to oppose and persecute him.
He was tried by weariness, hunger, and thirst; but more especially by his bitter agonies in the garden, and on the cross. The pain, the shame, the degradation of his death, were dreadful. Every sense was insulted. Every limb was mangled. Every faculty of his soul was tortured. Heaven, earth, and Hell seemed to combine to bruise him, torment him, and put him to grief! Oh, Savior, yours was a life of sorrow, your was a death of agony! Was there ever sorrow, like unto your sorrow; or sufferings, like unto your sufferings? From your birth to your death, from your manger to your grave — your was a life of privation, self-denial, and pain!
But he was tempted by Satan, or solicited to do
In the desert, for forty restless days, and sleepless nights;
on the top of the mountain, or the pinnacle of the temple;
in the garden of Gethsemane;
and on the cross on Calvary
— he was plied with every temptation, that was likely under the circumstances to succeed, and lead him into sin. Threatenings were employed, and promises were made, to induce him to turn aside from the one straight path of obedience. He could say with an emphasis, "My soul is among lions; and I lie even among those who are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword!"
Precious Lord Jesus, how was your pure intellect assaulted with the vilest blasphemies, the foulest suggestions, and the most horrible solicitations! How was your true and loving heart plied with evil thoughts, pierced with fiery darts, and assaulted with all the battering rams of Hell! Well, well may it be said, "He suffered, being tempted."
The feelings of Jesus were most acute. His finely
balanced and highly cultivated mind, must have felt severely his association
with the lowest of human kind, and the most degraded of infernal beings. The
prince of light — in contact with the prince of darkness. The Holy One of
God — in conflict with the personification of every evil. His sufferings
were constant — day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year.
From friends and foes — from devils and from God. His life was a life of
trial — a life of faith — a life of obedience. In every way, and by every
agency, his integrity was tried — by faith in God, when everything was
calculated to generate doubt or unbelief, he had to walk — and the most
painful and flesh crucifying commands, he daily obeyed. To his Father's will
— he always deferred; according to covenant arrangements — he always walked;
and as predicted by the Prophets, he at length laid down his life. Blessed
Redeemer, whenever tempted to think much of my sufferings, may I think of
yours, and have fellowship with you as the suffering Savior of my soul!
The Result.He is able to support those who are tempted, or tried. He is fully qualified, as he knows in his personal experience, what trials and temptations are. He can have a fellow feeling with us — and he has. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He is at once a merciful and faithful High Priest. If our hearts are torn now — his was once, and he has a vivid remembrance of it. And as one, who has once suffered from a wound or disease, when he sees another suffering in the same way — remembers and seems to feel over again his sufferings, and therefore tries to soothe and cheer the sufferer, so does Jesus. He has the same human heart in Heaven, which he had here on earth. And still it is written, "In all their affliction, he is afflicted." Jesus remembers his own sufferings, when he sees ours, and is able to support, or ready to run to our help, strengthening us, and upholding us with the right hand of his righteousness.
He is merciful to the tempted. He takes their misery to heart; limits the power of the tempter; and faithful to his word, he makes a way for our escape. He deals faithfully with us, as well as mercifully: correcting our faults, reproving our follies, enforcing his precepts, exercising our graces, and then delivering our souls.
Temptation to Jesus, was a solemn reality. He felt it far more acutely than we do, or can. His temptations were so timed as to give them additional force and power — in hunger, in weakness, and in the hours of suffering — he was tried most. Having passed through trials and temptations himself, he lives to bring his people through. This is his work now. With this object, he intercedes above. To this end, he works by his providence, and overrules all for our good.
He who once sunk in the deep waters where there was no standing — sympathizes with us when he sees us sinking. He who exclaimed, "all your waves and your billows are gone over me," watches over us when the storm and tempest beats heavy upon us.
Believer, rejoice that your Savior is a tried Savior, one who knows all your sufferings, from his own bitter experience. Tempted soul, look up, Jesus, who is at God's right hand, was once tempted in all points like as you are — he can support you, call upon him and he will. Sinner, make this Savior your friend — and then in all your sorrows, griefs, and woes — in life and all its trials, and in death and all its agonies — you will have one to support, support, and deliver you!