"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose"—

"Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:18

There can be no more gracious whisper from the leaves of the Heavenly Palm than this. What a magnitude of comfort to every sorrowing one, the simple declaration, "He Himself suffered when He was tempted!" Jesus the Incarnate God, "the Living Kinsman" (Job 19:25), had a mysterious identity of experience with His suffering, and with His tempted people; so that nothing can happen to the members but what has happened to the Head. They can feel that no sorrow shades their souls but the same darkened His. "As He is," so are they "in this world" (1 John 4:17). He Himself—the thorn-crowned King—knows every thorn which pierces them, every pang of spirit and pang of body. The loss of beloved friends, the treachery of false ones, temptation to distrust God's providence, to pervert and misapply His Word, to question the wisdom and reason of His dealings, the forecastings of a dark and troubled future; yes, the saddest and most intolerable woe that can crush and overbear the soul—the sense of Divine desertion—the withdrawal of the countenance of His Heavenly Father. Oh, the unutterable solace in the darkest hour of earthly suffering, to look up to the Brother in our nature—the "prevailing Prince" who has "power with God," and to say, "He Himself suffered when He was tempted!"

When we first contemplate this amazing theme, the identity of experience seems to be partial and incomplete. Jesus, we are led to say, was never 'tempted' as we have been. Temptations might assail, but they could never overcome His sinless, spotless, uncontaminated humanity. He never could know, therefore, the sorest part of these our struggles, when through its own weakness the soul has at last to succumb to the hurricane, and is haunted with the terrors of remorse!

Yes! but let us remember it was the very fact of the Infinite purity of the tempted One which imparted, in His case, the saddest element to temptation. How inconceivable the recoil of the refined and exquisite sensibilities of His holy nature from the presence of sin. And, with these unchanged human sensibilities in His glorified state, how deeply must He still sympathize with the case of His assaulted people! How tenderly must He feel for every wound of His soldiers, seeing that He, the Captain of their salvation, was Himself "made perfect through sufferings."

Afflicted believer! rejoice that sorrow and suffering have (if the expression dare be used) assimilated Christ with you, and you with Christ, in this your trial-hour. With what a divine significance, augmented and intensified by subsequent experience, can He say, "I know your sorrows." If you are bleeding under some peculiarly heavy infliction of the rod, ready to say in the bitterness of your grief, "No one knows, no one can gauge the depth of my anguish," THE SYMPATHY OF JESUS can—He does! "He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust." With reverence we say it, God—the Omnipotent, Omniscient God—cannot, with all infinitude of His nature, sympathize. He can compassionate; but He cannot sympathize in the way of feeling with us. Sympathy requires, as its two conditions, identity of nature and identity of experience. "We have such an High Priest;" One who is said to be (not touched with our infirmities), but "touched with the feeling of our infirmities."

Our beautiful motto-verse gives more comfort still. The words affirm not merely that Christ has identity of experience—a passive sympathy with His tried people—He is also the helper of the tempted, "He is able to support those who are tempted."

If He is summoning any of us to difficult and perplexing duty, or exacting from us some heavy sacrifice, or even apparently placing us in the way of peril and temptation, He will not allow the burden to crush, or the temptation to overcome, or the fiery trial to consume. He will keep us in the crucible as long, but no longer than He sees to be absolutely needful to test our faith and purify Christian graces. All that concerns us and ours is in His hands.

Oh, as we see the Angels of Tribulation with their sevenfold vials issuing forth from the gate of heaven (Rev. 15:7)—how blessed to know that they are marshaled, commissioned by the great Lord of Angels, the once suffering but now exalted Redeemer! In Zechariah's vision (1:8) of "the man on the red horse"—behind Him were angels and providences—the "black and speckled white horses." But He is between them, ordering, regulating, appointing, all that befalls His people, trusting their persons and fortunes not even to an angel's care, without His own guidance, sanction, and direction.

And when the last hour arrives (which, however varied be our other experiences, we must all encounter), is it not here that His sympathy—the sympathy of fellow-feeling—is most of all valued? He can endorse even this closing experience with the words, "I know it." To the living Christian in his season of affliction, He can say, "I am He who lives." But to the dying Christian He can add, "I am He who was dead." "I know well, through the memories of My cross and passion, the conflict of that final struggle-hour! I know, what it is, O Believer, to die! And because I know this, I can make Palms of comfort to spring up and overshadow you on the brink of Jordan as well as in the wilderness! Fear not to pass what I have passed! Feel amid these buffeting billows that they have swept over Me. And with the thought of Me as your Precursor, and of My deathless exalted sympathy, sing, as you plunge into the stream, "Behold, the Ark of the covenant of the Lord of the whole earth passes over before me into Jordan!" (Joshua 3:11).

"As often, with worn and weary feet,
We tread earth's rugged valley o'er,
The thought, how comforting and sweet!
Christ walked this toilsome path before!
Our needs and weaknesses He knows,
From life's first dawning to its close.

"Just such as I, this earth He trod,
With every human ill but sin;
And though indeed the very God,
As I am now, so He has been.
My God, my Savior, look on me
With pity, love, and sympathy!"

"Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart."

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