“You see God did not choose angels to be made high priests; because, however benevolent they might be in their wishes, they could not be sympathetic. They could not understand the peculiar wants and trials of the men with whom they had to deal.
Ministers who of God are made to be a flame of fire could scarce commune familiarly with those who confess themselves to be as dust and ashes.
But the high priest was one of themselves. However dignified his office, he was still a man. He was one of whom we read that he could lose his wife, that he could lose his sons. He had to eat and to drink, to be sick and to suffer, just as the rest of the people did.
And all this was necessary that he might be able to enter into their feelings and represent those feelings before God, and that he might, when speaking to them for God, not speak as a superior, looking down upon them, but as one who sat by their side, “a brother born for adversity,” (Prov. 17:17) bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh.
Now this is peculiarly so in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is sympathetic above all. (Heb. 2:18) There is none so tender as He. He has learnt it by His sufferings; but He proves it by His continual condescension towards His suffering people.
My brethren, we that preach the gospel, you that teach it in the Sabbath-school– you will always find your greatest power lies in love. There is more eloquence in love than in all the words that the most clever rhetorician can ever put together.
We win upon men not so much by poetry and by artistic wording of sentences, as by the pouring out of a heart’s love that makes them feel that we would save them, that we would bless them, that we would, because we belong to them, regard them as brethren, and play a brother’s part, and lay ourselves out to benefit them.
Now, as it should be in the under-shepherds, so is it in that Great Shepherd of the sheep.
He abounds in tenderness, and though He has every other quality to make up a perfect high priest, though He is complete, and in nothing lacking, yet if I must mention one thing in which he far outshines us all, but in which we should all try to imitate him, it would be in His tender sympathy to those who are ignorant and out of the way, and to all those who are suffering and sorely distressed.”
–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Suffering Saviour’s Sympathy,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 33 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1887), 33: 409–410.