Hebrews 2:18

Wherefore in all things it behooved him, etc.


1. To make atonement for man as a sinner. "A High Priest... to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Various are the renderings of this clause. Revised Version, "to make propitiation;" Alford, "to make expiation;" Ebrard, and Stuart also, "to make atonement." Ebrard says, "Ἱλάσκεσθαι comes from ἵλαος Ιλαος denotes, not the internal disposition of God towards man, but the actual, positive expression and radiation of that feeling which first becomes again possible towards the redeemed; and ἱλάσκεσθαι means to make it again possible for God to be ἵλᾶος, i.e. to make a real atonement for real guilt." Whence arises this need of atonement? Not because God was indisposed to forgive and save man. It has been well said by Delitzsch, "As the Old Testament nowhere says that sacrifice propitiated God's wrath, lest it should be thought that sacrifice was an act by which, as such, man influenced God to show him grace; so also the New Testament never says that the sacrifice of Christ propitiated God's wrath, lest it may be thought that it was an act anticipatory of God's gracious purpose, which obtained, and, so to speak, forced from God, previously reluctant, without his own concurrence, grace instead of wrath." The death of Jesus Christ for us was the expression of the love of God towards us, and not its procuring cause. Why, then, was the sacrifice of the cross necessary to the forgiveness of our sin and the sanctification of our being?

(1) To maintain the majestic authority of God's Law. Obedience to law is an indispensable condition of moral well-being. Man cannot be saved except in harmony with it. The perfect obedience of our Lord, who was'" obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross," is the most striking and significant testimony "that the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."

(2) To meet the deep needs of man's spiritual nature. Man needs the removal of his alienation from God. His sins have separated between him and his God. He is alienated and an enemy in his mind by wicked works. And the death of the Only Begotten of the Father was necessary to reconcile him to God. That death was both "a response to the imperious claims of the eternal law of righteousness, and the final appeal of the Divine love to the conscience and affections of the human race. That appeal moves man's heart, and awakens within it love to God. Moreover, man needs the satisfaction of the instinct of right now awakened within him. The truly penitent soul, knowing that sin is rightly followed by suffering, and if persisted in leads to death, and, hating sin in itself, would fain suffer as an atonement for its sins and as a homage to goodness and truth. Such a penitent soul feels that without shedding of blood there is no remission." The awakened conscience cries out for atonement. Our Lord's death for sin, the voluntary surrender of his life upon the cross for us, meets this deep and urgent need of the religious heart.

2. To succor man as a sufferer. Man needs a High Priest who "is able to succor them that are tempted." The word "tempted" is used in two senses in the Bible.

(1) Tested, proved, with a good intent, as in the case of Abraham (Genesis 22:1). St. James also writes of temptations of this kind (James 1:2, 3).

(2) Tempted with evil intent, or solicitation to sin. In both these senses man is tempted. He is tried by suffering and sorrow, by physical pain and spiritual conflict. He is also assailed by subtle solicitations to sin. He requires a High Priest who will be able to help him in these trying experiences; one who will give him sympathy in his sorrows, inspire him with patience in his trials, and with spiritual discernment and strength in his temptations to sin. Such are the functions of our great High Priest.


1. He must share our nature in order that he might make atonement for us as sinners. The perfect obedience which our Lord rendered to the holy will of God, the painful sufferings which he patiently endured, and the terrible death which he voluntarily submitted to, could not have constituted an atonement for us had he not previously taken upon himself our nature. "Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren." It was morally necessary that he should share our nature if he would efficiently serve us as our High Priest.

2. He must share our trials in order that he might succor us in our sufferings. Our High Priest must be "merciful," so as to feel compassion for suffering and tempted men. He must be "faithful," so as to elicit and retain the confidence of those whom he represents before God. He must himself suffer temptation, that he may efficiently help the tempted. Both classes of temptation assailed him. He was tempted by satanic suggestion and argument and inducement. He was tried by severest physical pains, and by spiritual sorrows which grew into the great overwhelming agony. "A Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.... Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." Hence he is able to succor them that are tempted. He can not only feel for them, but with them. By his personal experience of our sufferings he has acquired the power of sympathy with us in them. "As God, he knows what is in us; but as man, he feels it also." "Sympathy," says Burke, "may be considered as a sort of substitution, by which we are put into the place of another man, and affected in many respects as he is affected." Thus our great High Priest sympathizes with his tried people. "In all their affliction he is afflicted." He succors as wall as sympathizes; he inspires with courage as well as regards with compassion; and in our weakness he makes us strong in himself "and in the power of his might." Having such a High Priest, let us trust him heartily and at all times. - W.J.

Himself hath suffered, being tempted.

1. They are tempted from all quarters.

2. They are tempted in all positions.

3. Every age has its temptations.

II. AS THE TEMPTED OFTEN SUFFER, CHRIST ALSO SUFFERED. Temptation, even when overcome, brings with it to the true child of God a great degree of suffering. The suffering consists in two or three things.

1. It lies, mainly, in the shock which sin gives to the sensitive, regenerate nature. A man who is clothed in armour may walk through the midst of tearing thorns and brambles without being hurt; but let the man be stripped of his garments, and how sadly will he be torn. Sin, to the man who is used to it, is no suffering; if he be tempted, it is no pain to him; in fact, frequently temptation yields pleasure to the sinner. To look at the bait is sweet to the fish which means to swallow it by and by. But to the child of God, who is new-made and quickened, the very thought of sin makes him shudder; he cannot look at it without detestation. Now, in this case, Christ indeed has fellowship, and far outruns us.

2. Suffering, too, arises to the people of God from a dread of the temptation when its shadow falls upon us ere it conies. At times there is more dread in the prospect of a trial than there is in the trial itself. We feel a thousand temptations in fearing one. Christ knew this. What an awful dread was that which came over Him in the black night of Gethsemane!

3. The suffering of temptation also lies often in the source of it. Have you not often felt that you would not mind the temptation if it had not come from where it did? "Oh!" say you, "to think that my own friend, my dearly beloved friend, should try me!" Ah! but the Man of Sorrows knew all this, since it was one of the chosen twelve who betrayed Him. And, besides, "it pleased the Father to bruise Him."

4. I have no doubt, too, that a portion of the sorrow and suffering of temptation may also lie in the fact that God's name and honour are often involved in our temptation.

III. THEY THAT ARE TEMPTED HAVE GREAT NEED OF SUCCOUR, AND CHRIST IS ABLE, HAVING HIMSELF BEEN TEMPTED, TO SUCCOUR THEM THAT ARE TEMPTED. Of course this is true of Christ as God. The Christos, the anointed One, the High Priest of our profession, is in His complex character able to succour them that are tempted. How?

1. Why, first, the very fact that He was tempted has some succour in it to us. If we had to walk through the darkness alone, we should know the very extremity of misery; but having a companion, we have comfort; having such a companion, we have joy.

2. But, further, the fact that He has suffered without being destroyed is inestimably comforting to us. If you could see a block of ore just ready to be put into the furnace, if that block of ore could look into the flames, and could mark the blast as it blows the coals to a vehement heat, if it could speak it would say, "Ah! woe is me that ever I should be put into such a blazing furnace as that! I shall be burnt up; I shall be melted with the slag; I shall be utterly consumed!" But suppose another lump, all bright and glistening, could lie by its side, and say, "No, no, you are just like I was, but I went through the fire and I lost nothing thereby; see how bright I am; how I have survived all the flames." Why, then, that piece of ore would rather anticipate than dread the season when it too should be exposed to the purifying heat, and come out, all bright and lustrous, like its companion.

3. And you will remember, too, that Christ, in going through the suffering of temptation, was not simply no loser, but He was a great gainer; for it is written, it pleased God "to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." It was through His suffering that He obtained the mediatorial glory which now crowns His head.

4. But more, in that Christ hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour us who are tempted by sending His grace to help us. He was always able to send grace, but now as God and man He is able to send just the right grace at the right time, and in the right place. You know a doctor may have all the drugs that can be gathered, but an abundance of medicine does not make him a qualified practitioner; if, however, he has been himself and seen the case, then he knows just at what crisis of the disease such and such a medicine is wanted. The stores are good, but the wisdom to use the stones — this is even more precious. Now it pleased the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell; but where should the Son of Man earn His diploma and gain the skill with which to use the fulness aright? Beloved, He won it by experience, b. Having suffered Himself, being tempted, Christ knows how to succour us by His prayers for us. There are some people whose prayers are of no use to us, because they do not know what to ask for us. Christ is the Intercessor for His people; He has prevalence in His intercession, but how shall He learn what to ask for? How can He know this better than by His own trials? He hath suffered, being tempted.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

We could not have a more unmistakable declaration than that respecting the reality of our Lord's temptations on earth. His conflict in the wilderness, and His agony in the garden, were not dramas acted on the stage of life by one who assumed our role, but facts in the real experience of One who was true to the core. His life was our life in its surroundings and in its conflicts, and therefore, when He ascended to heaven victorious over death, He appeared there for us as our representative, as a Man in whom, once and for ever, God's ideal of human nature was absolutely realised and fulfilled. Hence, in this passage, He is spoken of as our High Priest, who was taken from among the people; although being without sin, He was able to stand on their behalf as the holiest of all, nearer to God than they. From the wilderness to the Cross — nay, from the cradle to the Cross — Jesus suffered, being tempted.

I. Now the use we may make of that FOR OUR ENCOURAGEMENT appears in many forms.

1. For example, a tempted yet triumphant leader implies future victory for those who follow Him. It is not always easy to believe in the coming triumph of good over evil. There is a sort of backwater of temptation which some of us have experienced, which is more dangerous than the direct current of evil which we breasted so bravely at first. We seem to get the better of some sin; but then, when the strain of vigilance relaxes, a stream of evil tendency comes from another direction and takes us unawares. Thus some of our best moments have appeared afterwards to be the precursors of our worst; and it is at such a time that we lose heart and think of giving up the struggle, till we learn to look beyond ourselves to Him, who Himself suffered being tempted — who was content to fight with our weapons, and with them won the victory. Then the hope is aroused that even yet we shall come off more than conquerors, through Him that loved us.

2. Besides this, another difficulty of ours is swept away by the inflowing of our thought about this temptable yet victorious Saviour — namely, the difficulty that arises from the notion that the higher the life the freer it must be from assault. If that were true, Christ Jesus would never have been tempted at all. The wind blows strongest on the hill-tops. Our Lord was on loftier heights than we ever reach, yet from the beginning to the end of His career on earth " He Himself suffered, being tempted."

3. There is yet another message of comfort from this verse to tempted Christians — namely, that they may be quite sure of their Lord's sympathy. It is this which is specially insisted upon in the passage before us, and it was partly with a view to make Divine sympathy manifest and appreciable to us that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." I remember reading somewhere of a little child whose dead body was washed up on the shore during a gale. It was taken by loving, reverent hands, and buried amid the tears of strangers in the village churchyard. There was no clue to the birth, or to the name, or to the parentage of that little waif — it was just "somebody's darling," that was all; and when they put up a tombstone, they did not know what inscription to choose, till at last they thought of two words, which were carved on the marble slab — "God knows." Aye, and there is no wreck of your hopes, no struggle amid the blasts of temptation, about which you may not say to yourself "God knows," and the assurance of His sympathy will be to you as life from the dead.

II. Turning now from the encouragements which we may hope to gain from the truth here enunciated, let us try to look more closely into THE NATURE OF THESE TEMPTATIONS. About many of them we probably know nothing. They are out of our range, as in some respect Jesus Himself was. A sensualist cannot understand the more subtle suggestions of the Evil One, and ordinary Christians have no conception of Paul's consciousness of sin when he cried, "Of sinners I am the chief." Still more unsearchable are certain temptations which came to the Saviour of sinners — for they were too keen and subtle for us — just as there are sounds in the world which our gross hearing cannot catch, and sights our dull eyes cannot see. But though temptations are the more subtle in proportion to the holiness of the one who is tempted, and vary in form according to his circumstances and conditions, it may be taken as approximately true that the three avenues by which evil approaches human nature are summed up in these words: "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." This summary, indeed, is the revelation of the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth; and it is complete in itself.

1. Take an example or two of His own inward struggles to illustrate the first of these. No doubt Jesus was free from some of the baser and more animal suggestions of the adversary, but His physical frame laid Him open to others.(1) We read that after He had fasted forty days, He was hungry; and at once a temptation to supply His wants addressed itself to His weakness. Who of us would have hesitated to do what was thus suggested? Jesus did hesitate and decisively refused, because it would be using for self power which He had come on earth to use for others. But cannot our Lord understand, from that experience of His, those numberless temptations which address themselves now to such a sense of want in us? The miserable little starveling who lives like an Ishmael amid our boasted civilisation, seeing and smelling abundance of good things in shops, with only a pane of glass between his hunger and its satisfaction; the unfortunate man who is out of work because trade is bad or has changed its locality, and who comes home after a weary, useless, all-day tramp, to see a starving wife and pale, pinched children, till he curses the injustice which he cannot despise or defy; and the still more wretched woman left with children dependent on her, who even when in work cannot get them bread, and is tempted to do anything for food. These, whom we forget, Jesus remembers, while we, who never had a day without food in all our lives, cannot understand that conflict. He does understand the desperate temptation, and the glorious triumph over it.(2) But there are other temptations which assail us through the physical life. We read that Jesus was weary with His journey; that He slept heavily from sheer fatigue directly the boat set sail; and we find in the Gospels other indications that He shared our experiences of tiredness and weakness. Some of you are often oppressed by a sense of this. It not infrequently brings about spiritual depression, which you seem powerless to shake off. Tired ones, look up to your Lord! He knows all about this, and stands beside you in it; and it may be that in answer to your prayer He will give you such a sense of His presence that you will be able to say with Paul, "When I am weak, then am I strong. I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me."

2. There is a second set of temptations which our Lord well understands — I allude to those which come through the distastefulness of our surroundings. The patience of our Lord appears the more marvellous when we think of the absolute repulsiveness to His holy nature of much that He was in contact with every day.

3. Now, we are taught by our Lord's example that it is not always God's will that we should seek to escape uncongenial surroundings. Jesus could have done so at any moment; but although He sighed deeply in spirit and said, "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you, how long shall I suffer you," yet He did not leave the world, and would not leave it till His mission was fulfilled. It may be that you have to bear witness for Christ just where you are; that if you retreat from your post, no voice will there be uplifted for Him, and no life will silently check the growth and spread of evil.

4. We have not time now to speak at any length of other temptations which came to our Lord through His energies and capacities. Whenever you forego the opportunity you have to take a thing wrongly when it is easy to take it, you are in fellowship with Christ, who resisted that temptation victoriously over and over ,gain.

(A. Rowland, LL. B.)

I. We learn from these words ONE IMPORTANT END OF THE TEMPTATION OF OUR DIVINE REDEEMER. It was to give us an assurance of sympathy and aid under the pressure of such trials as we must all of us expect.

1. Now I am speaking only to those who believe in the Divinity of the Saviour, and that what He took upon Him was "human nature." Now, the nature which our Divine Redeemer took upon Him was not that nature which Adam had after his fall. It was not a nature in which the higher principles were in bondage, and from which the light of the Divine presence was withdrawn, but the original human nature which Adam had in the early days before his fatal disobedience.

2. The trials He underwent were the trials incident to such a nature. There are, you know, some circumstances which we cannot imagine to present temptation to any but a very badly constituted being. There are other circumstances which cause trial quite independently of such considerations, and others, again, which can be afflicting only in proportion to the completeness of the subordination of the rest of the principles to the conscience, and of the whole to Divine influence. For instance, to say that a man was severely tried by being placed in circumstances in which he would have to abstain from theft, would be to express a low opinion of him. But to say that he was severely tried by being placed in a position where he should do without food, would imply no such estimate of his character. Why not? Because it would be natural to him to desire food.

II. From what has been said, it will appear THAT OUR TRIALS RESEMBLE CHRIST'S, JUST IN THE SAME DEGREE THAT OUR NATURE RESEMBLES HIS. Our Divine Redeemer came to do very much more than save us from the punishment of sin. He came to save us from its power. He came to renew our nature by restoring to it what it had lost. We Christians are spoken of as "renewed in the spirit of our mind" — as "having put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." St. Paul exhorts the Colossians to the abandonment of certain sins on this distinct ground — "seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds," &c. Now, it is just in proportion to our progress towards this ideal of a Christian that our trials will resemble those of our Lord and Master. In a word, the trials of the serious are those which resemble Christ's. These trials are principally of two kinds. One kind is that which consists in the patient endurance of afflictions, which must, from the nature of the case, cause pain and sorrow — afflictions which no degree of holiness could prevent us from feeling while they last. In cases of this kind the Saviour's example certainly teaches us the power of endurance with which man is endowed. The other class of trials peculiar to the serious are those which address themselves to their zeal for the service of the Most High. In trials of this kind, where serious men fear, that they may be hindering, the spread, of God's dominion" among men — by not going with the times (as men say) in religious matters of doctrine or worship — the history of our Redeemer's temptation is peculiarly instructive. Every one of the proposals of Satan seemed for the glory of God and the furtherance of the ends the Redeemer had in view. To work a miracle was not merely to appease the pangs of hunger, but to prove Himself the Son of God. To cast Himself from a pinnacle of the temple was at once to give evidence of His reliance upon the Most High and to impress the assembled Jews with the belief that their Messiah had appeared among them, as they expected, from heaven, and had "suddenly," as was predicted, "come to His Temple." To secure the kingdoms of the world was an end which might for a moment seem to justify the use of almost any means. And yet it was in this proposal — the proposal to secure the greatest ends by the adoption of unlawful means — that the tempter was unmasked. In a word, we are supported by the remembrance of the Redeemer's trials in all cases where we have declined to" make the end sanctify the means? — where we have declined to "do evil that good may come." We are taught that when God has appointed means to an end, we cannot gain that end — His end — by other means; that when He has ordained a time, we must not — while acting in accordance with His regular appointments — be impatient of delay. We are taught to endure the constant taunts — the utterances of zeal without knowledge, or of thoughtlessness without either — to endure being called indifferent to our Master's cause! We are taught to hope on, and to be firm, amid all the clamorous calls to encourage disorder, ecclesiastical lawlessness, heresy, schism, to promote what we think wrong — or else, forsooth, see "sin triumphant and Jehovah conquered!" We are taught, I say, to reject the temptation, as we hear the voice of our Divine Redeemer saying to us through the record of His trials, "Be still, then, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen; and I will be exalted in the earth."

(J. C. Coghlan, D. D.)

The wind blows strongest on the hilltops. As you climb some mountain you may find that for a time you lose the breeze which hindered you lower down, because you are sheltered by the mountain itself; but when you have climbed higher, and peered over the jagged edge, you can hardly keep your feet or gain your breath, for the awful wind howls and screams across the ravine below to buffet you remorselessly. Our Lord was on loftier heights than we ever reach; yet from the beginning to the end of His career on earth "He Himself suffered, being tempted."

(A. Rowland, LL. B.)

Able to succour them that are tempted.

1. It was personal suffering.

2. It was positive and most painful suffering.

3. In all its reality, variety, and extent, it bore the special character of temptation.


1. This succour is accompanied with the truest sympathy. "If ever I fall into a surgeon's hands with broken bones," is a remark which has become almost proverbial, "give me one whose own bones have been broken." How can those who have never known what illness is enter with the tenderness of a perfect fellowship into the chambers of the sick? or how can those who have never known a want understand with a matter-of-fact experience the anxieties of the poor and needy?

2. This succour is imparted with the utmost promptitude.

3. This succour is conveyed in the form of actual deliverance or effective relief, or at least adequate support.

(E. A. Thomson.)


1. The feeling. It was a trying thing to Him even to dwell here among men. He suffered in being placed where He could be tempted.

2. The fact that He was tempted — tempted up to the suffering point.

3. The fruit. He was made perfect through His sufferings, and fitted for His solemn office of High Priest to His people.

(1)Temptation to sin is no sin.

(2)Temptation does not show any displeasure on God's part:

(3)Temptation really implies no doubt of your being a son of God.

(4)Temptation need not lead to any evil consequences in any case.

(5)Do not make it any cause of complaint that you are tempted.

(6)Far from your hearts be the idea that any temptation should lead you to despair. Jesus triumphed, and so shall you.

II. JESUS SUCCOURING. "He is able to succour them that are tempted."

1. In this we note His pity, that He should give Himself up to this business of succouring them that are tempted. He lays Himself out to succour them that are tempted, and therefore He does not hide Himself from them, nor pass them by on the other side. What an example is this for us! He devotes Himself to this Divine business of comforting all such as mourn. He is Lord of all, yet makes Himself the servant of the weakest. Whatever He may do with the strongest, He succours " them that are tempted." He does not throw up the business in disgust; He does not grow cross or angry with them because they are so foolish as to give way to idle fears.

2. The text treats of His fitness also.

(1)He has the right, acquired by His suffering, to enter in among sufferers, and deal with them.

(2)He has also the disposition to succour them. He obtained that tender temper through suffering, by being Himself tempted.

(3)And then He has the special ability. Our Blessed Master, having lived a life of suffering, understands the condition of a sufferer so well that He knows how to make a bed for him (Psalm 41:3).

3. His methods of succouring them that are tempted.

(1)Usually by giving a sense of His sympathy.

(2)Sometimes by suggesting precious truths, which are the sweet antidote for the poison of sorrow.

(3)Sometimes He succours His people by inwardly strengthening them.

(4)I have known the Lord bless His people by making them very weak. The next best thing to being strong in the Lord is to be extremely weak in yourself. They go together, but sometimes they are divided in experience. It is grand to feel, "I will not struggle any more; I will give all up, and lie passive in the Lord's hand."


1. Where else can you go?

2. Where better can you got

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. His sufferings were many and cruel, and such as never any did endure; yet His greatest sufferings were reserved to the last. And though He never sinned, yet He knew and felt the woeful consequences of sin, and the punishments it deserves.

2. He was tempted; .for no sooner was He baptized, and publicly initiated and declared in the sight of heaven and earth to be the Son of God, but Satan, the great enemy, set upon Him, and attempted His ruin; yea, all His sufferings, as from Satan, were temptations; and it is very likely he did assault Him most violently in the end. By both these He knew what a sad and woeful thing suffering for sin is. and how hard a thing it is to be tempted and not to sin, and how much such as being violently tempted do sin are to be pitied. For if He, who had the greatest power that ever was to overcome temptations, was hardly put to it, He could not be ignorant how dangerous man's condition is, and how easily a frail sinner may be foiled.

3. This suffering and temptation made Him more merciful and faithful, and able to succour. To succour is to do all things for the procuring the reconciliation of His people: and His ability to succour is His mercifulness and fidelity, whereby He is every way fitted, powerfully inclined, and effectually moved to succour them. To be able sometimes is to be fit, as Varinus observeth; and so it may be here taken. And the more fit, the more able. The saying is, "None so merciful as those who have been miserable"; and they who have not only known misery, bat felt it, are most powerfully inclined, not only to inward compassion, but to the real relieving of others miserable. And this was a contrivance of the profound wisdom of that God, who is infinitely knowing and merciful, to find a way how to feel misery and be merciful another way. This was by His Word assuming flesh, that in that flesh He might be tempted violently and suffer most grievously; and all this that He might be more merciful and effectually succour sinful man.

(G. Lawson.)

I. JESUS CHRIST IS ABLE TO SUCCOUR TEMPTED SOULS. I will say nothing of the great power that He hath with the Father, or in His own hands. He is able by conquest for to succour you that are tempted; He is able by conquest for to raise the siege that is laid against our souls; He hath beaten through the enemy — as now, if a town be besieged by an enemy, and the enemy abroad in the field, having an army in the field, if any one will come to raise the siege, they must fight through the army, they must beat through the army before they can raise the siege. Never a tempted soul but is thus besieged with temptation, closely begirt, and the devils were abroad in the field, were masters of the field till Christ came, and no man nor angel was able to beat through; but Jesus Christ beat up the quarters all along, beat through the enemy, cast out devils all along, overcame.

II. But you will say, We will grant Christ is able to succour tempted souls; but Is HE WILLING? Yes, He is infinitely willing to succour poor tempted souls. Our great succour lies in reconciliation with God the Father, as by comparing these two verses together doth appear. God the Father hath set Him forth to be a propitiation; it was the will of God the Father that Jesus Christ should come and make propitiation; it was His will. Now, look into the fortieth Psalm, and see what Christ saith concerning the will of the Father (Psalm 40:7). Again, it argues that He is very willing to succour poor tempted souls, because He was so willing to cure diseased bodies; when He was upon the earth He was willing to cure them, so willing, as though it did cost a miracle, yet He would do it.

III. But though He be able and willing, yet IT MAY BE HE IS NOT FAITHFUL. Yes, saith the former verse, faithful; merciful and faithful High Priest. Faithful in all His house as Moses was. What honest man will break his word, go contrary to his oath? He is sworn into this office of the High Priest. Yea, we have not only His promise and His oath, but the Father's bond for the Son's performance: "The seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head"; it shall bruise his heel; she shall break his head. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. This is the work that is in His hand, to succour tempted ones: it shall prosper in His hand.

IV. But suppose He is faithful, HOW DOTH HE SUCCOUR those that are tempted in the day and time of their temptation?

1. Christ succours tempted souls before the temptation comes sometimes, by a special manifestation of Himself, His love and fulness, to them. Again, He succours before the temptation by filling the heart with the Holy Ghost. When the vessel is filled with one liquor, it keeps out another.

2. He succours also under temptation by opening the eyes of him that is tempted to see that it is but a temptation. A temptation is half-cured when a man knows that it is but a temptation: when a man's eyes are open to see the tempter and the temptation. Therefore men are so hardly cured, because they are hardly persuaded that it is a temptation. When they see that, then they say, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Christ opens their eyes. Again, He succours under temptation, by letting fall some glimpse of His love, some love-look upon a tempted soul. And so, when Peter was in the high priest's hall, Christ looks upon him, and he went out and wept bitterly.

3. After temptation He succours: by filling the heart with joy unspeakable and full of glory; by sending the angels to minister: as when the devil left Christ, had tempted Him and left Him, then came the angels and ministered to Him. Every way — before temptation, and in temptation, and after temptation — the Lord Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ to tempted souls. He was a Man of Sorrows that He might be a God of succours; His heart is full of succours.


1. Whilst I stand upon this truth, methinks I hear a solemn and gracious invitation to all poor tempted souls to come unto Jesus Christ, to come for succour.(1) He will succour tempted sinners most when they are most tempted.(2) He will not only succour thus, but He will succour you that are tempted when you cannot succour yourselves; when your own thoughts cannot succour you, when your own thoughts dare not succour you, or when your own thoughts trample upon your evidences, and when your own thoughts shall make a mutiny in your hearts, and set all on fire: "In the multitude of my thoughts Thy Word comforts my soul."(3) He will not only succour thus, but He will succour poor tempted souls with a notwithstanding: notwithstanding all their failings and infirmities.

2. If this doctrine be true, what ground of strong consolation is here unto all the saints?

3. If Jesus Christ be a succouring Christ, then let us be succouring Christians. Shall the Lord Jesus Christ carry a poor tempted soul upon His shoulder, by way of succour, and shall I carry him upon my shoulder as a burden?

4. If the Lord Jesus Christ be a succouring Christ, then why should we yield unto our sins and to our temptations?

5. If there be a truth in this — Christ is a succouring Christ — let us all labour to answer Christ. It is the duty and the property of the people of God to observe what God is doing upon their hearts, and to help on that work. If Jesus Christ be succouring of any of your souls against your temptations, oh! help on the work; it is your duty to help it on, and to answer Him.

(W. Bridge, M. A.)

This effect following upon Christ's suffering, being tempted, namely, that He is fit and ready to succour others that are tempted, giveth evidence of an especial benefit of God's providence in suffering His only-begotten Son and also His adopted children to be so far tempted as to suffer thereby. By this means they are brought to afford mutual succour one to another in like case. Thus saith the apostle, "God comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (2 Corinthians 1:4). The Lord, to stir up the Israelites to succour strangers, rendereth this reason, "Ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 23:9) A like reason is rendered of showing mercy to servants (Deuteronomy 5:15). It is found by experience that childbearing women are more pitiful to others in their travails than such women as are barren. The like may be said of such as are afflicted with any painful malady. Much more humanity used to be shown in the city to such as are visited with the plague than in the country, because in the city more used to be infected therewith.

1. From hence it appears that it is expedient that ministers of God's Word be men of like passions with others (as the apostles say of themselves, Acts 14:15), that so they may more commiserate others. If ministers themselves had never been in a natural state, but always entire, they could not so pity others as now they do. The like may be said of magistrates, and of all that have power and authority over others.

2. God's wisdom is herein manifested, in that He suffers flesh to remain in the best, that thereby they may be moved the more to bear with others. Christ suffered Satan to sift Peter, that when he was converted he might strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:31, 32). This is a good use which saints may make of their slips.

3. Oh! how great is the inhumanity of such as, having tasted misery, and being delivered from the same, are hard-hearted to those that fall into the like misery and refuse to succour them; yea. rather deal hardly with them, and add to their affliction. This was it which Nehemiah upbraided to the Jews after their return from captivity (Nehemiah 5:7, &c). The like doth Jeremiah while the Jews were besieged (Jeremiah 34:18, &c.). The like may be upbraided to such as have power among us, in commonwealth, Church, or family.

4. For our parts, as God by His providence hath made us able and fit to succour others, let us herein show ourselves like unto Christ. Let us open our bowels to such as are in distress (note Galatians 6:1; Titus 3:3). Let all of all sorts — magistrates, ministers, masters, rich men, old men, men in health, and such as have been tempted or afflicted — learn to succour others.

(W. Gouge.)

I. THE HOLY SUFFERER HIMSELF. Who is He? It is the co-equal, co-eternal Son of the Father, assuming the nature of His brethren upon earth; a human nature in the covenant line, on purpose to bear our sins, and bring in everlasting salvation for our rejoicing. Our text holds forth His being "tempted," as a peculiar feature of His sufferings: "He suffered, being tempted"; and it may not be unprofitable if I advert to the temptations that He endured. Temptation, you know, was addressed to Him in a threefold form; and in all these we are called to tread in His steps. The first was care, the second was covetousness, and the third was presumption. Now, before I go to other parts of the subject, I think the prominent point of Christ's sufferings in consequence of temptation was its contrast to the holiness of His nature. The nearer a Christian lives to God, the more his soul thus aspires after spiritual and holy things, the more hateful and distressing is every temptation. And this, I think, is the only fair way of answering all objection upon the point: that the suffering in consequence of temptation arose from the contrast of temptation with holiness — the hatefulness of sin to the mind that is bent on the holiness of God. "He suffered, being tempted," because temptation was the very antipodes to the holiness of His nature. But we pass on to remark yet further upon His unparalleled sufferings; and whether we glance at the sufferings of His body or the sufferings of His soul, or unite them in one contemplation, we may utter the exclamation of the prophet, personating Christ, "Behold and see, all ye that pass by, if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow, which is done unto Me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted Me in the day of His fierce anger." Unparalleled sorrows were sustained by Christ. And oh! how did He suffer? We do not hear one word of complaint while He is suffering only from creatures; the malice of Pharisees He braves silently; the temptations of the devil He vanquishes with "Get thee hence"; but when He at length feels the curse of a broken law entering His very soul, then He opens His mouth: "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." "He suffered, being tempted." And all this as covenant Head, as the Representative of His Church; all this in His Suretyship character.

II. His EXERCISED FOLLOWERS. And really I am quite ashamed that you and I should make any complaints about it at all. It is true His people have to endure the malice of the same enemies now; but then they have an indemnity; they have a holy security that they cannot perish, that they shall none of them "be tempted above that they are able," and that "with the temptation also He will make a way of escape." Why, I wonder what they are to do without temptations, without trials. They are expressly designed for the purpose of calling out the graces of the Holy Spirit, and giving occasion for the triumphs of Christian experience, to the consummation of time. But look we, further, to the position of the real child of God when the tempter aims at the very same point that he did all along with Christ. "If Thou be the Son of God": if thy Christianity be real. I like, if he brings me an if, to meet him with one of God s shalls" and" wills" and they are always more powerful and impressive than "ifs." There are no "its" in Scripture respecting the children of God, except they be "ifs" of demonstration; they are all "shalls" and " wills" there. "I will be their God, and they shall be My people." If Jehovah has put a cry in your heart for mercy and pardon and peace wholly in Christ, under a consciousness of your need, be assured of this, that He will never abandon the work of His own hands. He will go on to be gracious. Now shall I tell you how our Lord "is able to succour" you? It is just simply by revealing Himself. "I am thy salvation"; "It is I; be not afraid." It comforts, it cheers, it upholds. Just observe what encouragement here is for faith to the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having Himself "suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted." He has the fulness of grace; "all power is given to Him in heaven and in earth"; it is in His own hands, and he is "full of grace and truth." "He is able to succour them that are tempted." "Well," say you," is He willing?" Suppose I reverse the question: Are you willing that He should? or are you looking somewhere else for succour? Are you willing that He should do it in His own way?

(J. Irons.)


1. He has seen the nature of the evil.

2. He has suffered from the assaults of temptation.


1. His sympathy is itself succour.

2. By His knowledge and sympathy He can give just such grace as is needed. Pathology must precede therapeutics. The diagnosis of disease is the first duty of the physician, and it is the most difficult; when that is successfully accomplished, the prescription follows almost as a matter of course.

3. His knowledge and sympathy encourage our trust.

III. BEING THUS ABLE TO SUCCOUR THE TEMPTED, CHRIST IS A FIT MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. This is not stated in the text, but it is the inference towards which the writer is leading us. And the connection of thought is apparent. The Mediator has a twofold relationship. He represents God to man and man to God as "Apostle" and as "High Priest" (Hebrews 3:1).

1. The ability to succour is, of course, of primary importance in the representative of God to man; for He comes not merely as an ambassador to declare the mind of God, but as a Saviour to redeem the world to God and preserve the redeemed from falling into further sin.

2. It is also important in the representative of man to God.

(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)

The Divine Son of God, before His incarnation in our flesh, was, in His own personal being, separate from the sons of men. He knew, He felt, as a Creator, all that we suffer. But one link was wanting to bind Him to us; in fact, a gulf of vast extent lay yet between us. He had not undergone these things — we had undergone them. No cry of suffering had ever arisen from Him; from man, every hour since the Fall had sent up its utterance of woe. This distinction no Divine knowledge can overstep; this gulf no tender love of the Creator for His creature can ever bridge over. Personal experience is the prerogative of personal being, with which none can intermeddle, and which God Himself infringes not. Ever since the dawn of thought its exercise has been enriching each one of us. Its fruits are our own, in a manner in which nought else is our own. Ask the poor victim of suffering and pain where lies the charm in that one face, pale and wan, and with no outward charm, which above all others he loves to see bending over his bed and ministering to him? Others bring gifts; she, it may be, can bring none: others speak many words of studied kindness; she, perhaps, speaks but little and seldom, but there is that in the calm usual face, the ordinary casual word, the help better and more precious, and more powerful, and more beloved than all on earth besides. Yes; because that face has known sorrow — that sympathy, flowing so still, comes from the deep fountains of personal suffering; because that one, having suffered, knows how to succour them that suffer. Thus, then, Christ's temptation was His training; and we have now to consider how it may be our help. The question for us is, How may we. dwelling in the midst of temptation day by day, make use of our Lord's temptation, as an element in His course for our redemption, to help us in our conflict? I would say, then, to the tempted, first — Strive to understand Christ; not in the self-sufficient, lower sense of the word " understand," but in its higher and humbler sense — to take in a living idea of the length and depth and breath and height of that marvellous sympathising humanity which Christ bears about Him How, as He did then. Watch it growing broader and deeper by sorrow and suffering and temptation; watch it taking into itself, as a great world-wide stream, all those lesser drops, those tributary rills, of thy sorrows and mine, thy surf-rings and mine, thy temptations and mine. Nay, more; follow in the wonderful gospel record day by day the onward course of the Son of God. Bear in mind who He was and whence He came. See the calm surface of the ocean of Divine love and Divine wisdom becoming ruffled by the disturbing forces of our troubled humanity, till at length His whole being is torn into the fierce waves of the tempest, and He cries, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," and claims the sympathy of those who were so unequal to console Him: " Tarry ye here and watch with Me." And all this for the very purpose that He might be touched with a feeling of thine infirmities — all this that He might in His present ascended state bear every temptation and suffering of every man on earth in His heart.

(Dean Alford.)

1. There is a vexing, corroding, afflictive disposition in every temptation, when it takes least, though it do not prevail. These fire-balls, fire-darts of Satan have a danger with them; though they do not burn down our spiritual building to the ground, there is somewhat of a suffering with them. Paul calls his buffetings a thorn, or a prick in the flesh, and therefore afflictive (see also Luke 22:31). Satan comes to meet us, and though we do not consent to him, yet a gracious heart cannot but look upon it as an affliction to be thus followed and hunted with a temptation. And the Holy Ghost alludes to ibis practice when He saith here in the text, Jesus Christ is able to succour. The word succour signifies such a succouring as brings in help unto those that cry out.

2. Doth God suffer His own children thus to suffer? Yes, and many times the best are most tempted; those that are most eminently godly are most foully assaulted. David, Job, Peter, Paul, and Christ Himself was. Yes, God doth not only suffer Satan to come and present evil objects before His servants, but suffers him to go so far as to solicit, to follow on his temptation. Yea, God doth not only suffer this, but at that very time when the saints have had most of God then they have suffered by the hand of temptation. When Paul had been taken up into the third heaven, then a messenger (Satan) was sent to buffet him. And would you know the reason? Good authors say that God suffers His own dear children to be tempted that they may be more enlightened. Temptation enlightens the tempted; thereby they are more experienced. God suffers His children thus to be tempted that they may be cleansed. These are God's scullions to make His golden pots of the sanctuary the brighter. God suffers His own children to be tempted that they may be conserved or kept: He preserves them from one sin by being tempted to another. And Paul says that he received that messenger of Satan twice, that he might not be exalted. God suffers His children to be tempted that their graces may be increased. As the fire is blown up by the wind of the bellows, and the strength of an argument draws out the strength of the answerer, so do these temptations draw out the strength of the tempted. God suffers His children to be tempted that they may be discovered to themselves and o, hers, what their sins and graces are. You do not know what the liquor is until the vessel be bored; then you know it. And the word that is here used for temptation originally signifies to bore, as a vessel is bored. God suffers His children to be tempted that occasionally they may be made more fit to receive the fulness of Christ as a Saviour. A man not tempted may receive the fulness of Christ as the head; but unless a man be tempted he is not fit to receive the fulness of Christ as a Saviour. Hereby they are made like unto Jesus Christ. Christ was made like to us, that He might be tempted: and we are tempted that we may be made like to Him.

3. But you will say, "If God's own people, His children, be sorely tempted, how is that true which you have in 1 John 5:18: "Whosoever is born of God sins not: he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not"? The devil toucheth him not; and if the devil does not so much as touch him, how can this be true that he suffers thus by the hand of his temptation? For answer hereunto ye must know that this word touching, in Scripture phrase, besides the literal sense, sometimes notes an hurting or harming of one. So in Psalm 105:15: "Touch not Mine anointed"; which is explained in the following words: "and do My prophets no harm." Again this same word touching, in Scripture phrase, sometimes notes communion; and so when the apostle forbids the Corinthians fellowship and communion with idolaters, saith he, "Be ye separate, and touch no unclean thing"; touching there noting communion and fellowship with them in their worship: do not in the least measure have any communion with them. So now, although it pleases God to suffer Satan thus to vex His children with temptation, yet notwithstanding they have not fellowship or communion with him.

(W. Bridge, M. A.)

Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden, in the midst of the suffering caused by his complaint, said to his physician, "Tell me, doctor, are there any who suffer as much as I do?" "Yes, your highness," replied the doctor; "I have a patient afflicted with the same disease, and lying on a bed of straw." "On straw!" cried Leopold. With a trembling hand he rang the bell, and ordered his servants to have the best bed in the castle taken to the sick man, as well as all other necessaries.

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