An Empathetic High Priest
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:18
Two similar English words are often confused: sympathize and empathize. Sympathize means to express sympathy based on agreement; empathize means to express understanding based on experience. You can sympathize with someone without having personal experience with their plight. But empathy is stronger—it means, “I understand because I’ve been there myself.”
Jesus was capable of both, of course. But many find it surprising to learn that His capacity to express empathy (concern, care) for our situations in life is based on the fact that He, in His humanity, has a deep level of shared human experience. When we suffer and are tempted to yield to poor choices, we can remember that “He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). And because He suffered as we suffer, “He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
Because He is our great High Priest who identifies with our human conditions, we can approach Him boldly in prayer with confidence of receiving grace and mercy to help (Hebrews 4:15-16).
If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me. Robert Murray M’Cheyne
Lessons Learned in the Temptation of Jesus – Dr. Charles Stanley