According to the book of Hebrews, one of the key features of the OT priest was that they were subject to weakness. This was not a bug, but a feature. It meant that the priest could represent the people before God with sympathy and grace.

He [the priest] is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. (Hebrews 5:2)

Is this a point at which the OT system had an edge over the NT? Jesus is, in a myriad of ways, superior to the OT priests. He lives forever, he is sinless, he is God’s son, he is in the superior priestly line of Melchizedek and so on. But at this point—at the point of being able to sympathise with human weakness—was the OT system in its own way better? At least the OT priest knew what it was like to be us?

Turns out, no.

Hebrews 5:7-8
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered…

Jesus knew what it was like to be us, because he was one of us. He knew human experience from the inside. He knew what it was to be tempted, what it was to learn obedience, what it was to pray with tears. When God became man in Jesus, he never cheated. Not once.

We sometimes think of Jesus as a poorly written superhero character—one who has infinite powers and therefore will win any battle he faces. When we think like this, we end up believing that Jesus had “struggles” and “temptations”—but not really.

But he really did. He was tempted in every way (Hebrews 4:15). He went through puberty. He was tempted by the devil. He felt loneliness. He prayed to be spared his death. He learned about God by reading his Bible and going to synagogue. He learned obedience.

When God did humanity in Jesus, he went all in. He never cheated. Not once. Not ever.

The implications for us are fantastic! It means that Jesus, our man in heaven, is not just a great high priest, but is also a sympathetic high priest. As he intercedes for us before the Father, he knows what it’s like to be us. He knows human weakness from the inside. And so he is able to help us. Therefore, says the book of Hebrews, draw near to God in Christ. Come to him. You will find help in your time of need.

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