Sunday School Lessons

Compassionate Help

Have you ever had someone who was telling you how to do something, when you weren’t sure whether they had ever tried it themselves?  We might all be guilty of acting like “armchair quarterbacks” (or whatever you may call that, if you don’t follow American football), but it’s frustrating when someone tells us what to do – or how to feel – when they don’t really understand what is going on with our situation.

Continuing with the description of a high priestly role from the passage in the previous article, here are the first couple of verses from Hebrews 5 again:

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.
Hebrews 5:1‭-‬2 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/heb.5.1-2.NIV

Notice that the high priest has a role in instruction and correction.  Jesus – the ultimate High Priest – also did these same things.  (In addition, we have the Word of God, which is – as described in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – also “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”.)  In fact, “are going astray” in verse 2 might be better translated as “misguided” (NASB) or “are led astray” [Girdwood].  It’s one thing to help someone out when they are lost; it’s another thing to convince them that the person they are following is taking them down the wrong path.  Jesus was – and is – patient with us when we need help getting back onto the right path, whether our wandering is by our own choice, or our decision to follow the wrong leader.

While none of us is Jesus, and none of us has been chosen as the Messiah, if we have accepted Jesus’ command from the Great Commission to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), then both, 1) sharing good news with those who don’t know it and, 2) helping bring back those who are wandering sound to me like part of the process of making disciples.

As we have considered various aspects of Jesus’ role in God’s plan (in this article and the previous one), let’s consider one more: The high priests of the past (i.e., before Jesus) had a key limitation.  Being mere human beings, they had some level of ignorance themselves, and they had their own sins.  On the Day of Atonement, even Aaron first had to make a sacrifice “to make atonement for himself and his household”, before atoning for other sinful uncleanness (see Leviticus 16).

While Jesus didn’t sin, He was tempted (see Hebrews 2:14-18, Hebrews 4:14-16, Mark 1:12-13, Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13, Mark 1:12-13), and can empathize with our challenges in that respect.  This is something that the former high priests had in common with Jesus.  By remembering what they have in common with those that they served, these high priests could appreciate their shared struggles and limitations, and minister to them compassionately.

Centuries later, Jesus reminded us about taking the planks out of our own eyes before helping others with specks in their eyes (see Matthew 7:3-5, Luke 6:41-42).  Kind of like putting on your own oxygen mask first (before helping others), I think that we should be careful in judging others until we have first inspected and sought forgiveness for our own sins.  And, even then, Jesus’ words sound like helping someone remove a speck from their eye is for the other person’s benefit, not so that we can feel superior to them.  Even in instruction and correction, it is still appropriate to have an attitude of love and service for the other person.  Trying to understand a neighbor’s complete situation can also help us serve them better, even when we need to offer guidance.

In summary, Jesus was selected for a complex and unique role.  He is King and Lord.  He is high priest and intercessor.  He is a teacher and a perfect example of what it means to serve God and others.  He is gentle and empathetic to our struggles.  And, He is forever.

Inspired by His perpetual work (past, present, and future), may those of us who seek Him and/or follow Him accept all of the responsibilities that we share with Him, and live up to our own calling as best as we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  We have authority through Him.  We intercede on behalf of others.  We teach and serve, both to bless others and to help them do the same.  We humbly relate to others who struggle.  And, when the time comes, we will live forever with Jesus, and with those who have also made the same choice, once we have led them to Him.


From Sunday School lesson prepared for October 10, 2021

References:

  • The Lookout, October 10, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • The College Press Commentary, Hebrews, by Jim Girdwood and Peter Verkruyse.  College Press Publishing Company, © 1997.

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