“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize in our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” ~ Hebrews 4:15
What is the role of the priest? In the Old Testament, the priest was responsible for atoning for the sins of the people through committing sacrifices. It was a dirty job—that involved slaughtering animals, and following strict rules in how the sacrifice was conducted. Purity laws kept the priests busy as there were specific sins that had to be atoned for, as well as specific sacrifices that had to be given.
When Jesus died on the cross, resurrected, and ascended into heaven, the priestly sacrifices were no longer required. Jesus became the high priest, fulfilling a role which superseded the role of any priest before him. Before Jesus, priests had to atone for sin repeatedly, offering sacrifice after sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice, however, was enough to serve as an eternal atonement, covering all prior sins, as well as every sin that would occur in the future.
Even in his role as our high priest, Jesus sympathizes with us. It is one thing to sympathize with someone who is going through something that you have never experienced, and quite another to sympathize with one who has gone through what you have already experienced. This is what Jesus does for us. He has been tempted in every way, therefore he understands what it is to wrestle with temptation, inconveniences, and the tough times that life might throw at us. Knowing that he has already experienced the issues that I might talk to him about adds a certain level of intimacy to my conversations with him.
Yet, he was without sin. He withstood all temptation. His commitment to his call as the Savior of humankind would not let him fall into temptation. When tempted, he either responded with scripture, or he simply remained silent. This challenges my response to situations. How do I respond?
As my true companion, Jesus challenges me, and this is the role that any companion should play in our lives. As iron sharpens iron, so one person should sharpen another (Proverbs 27:17). As you consider Jesus as your True Companion, use your relationship with him to audit the relationships that you have with people. Do they sharpen you? Do they serve to challenge you by making you a better person than you already are? And finally, do you challenge the people that you are in relationship with? How are you making them better?