For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; Hebrews 4:15a
The child of God, spiritually taught and convinced, is deeply sensible of his infirmities. Yes, that he is encompassed with infirmities—that he is nothing else but infirmities. And therefore the great High Priest to whom he comes as a burdened sinner—to whom he has recourse in the depth of his extremity—and at whose feet he falls overwhelmed with a sense of his helplessness, sin, misery, and guilt—is so suitable to him as one able to sympathize with his infirmities. We would, if left to our own conceptions, naturally imagine that Jesus is too holy to look down in compassion on a filthy, guilty wretch like ourselves. Surely, surely, He will spurn us from His feet. Surely, surely, His holy eyes cannot look upon us in our blood—guilt—filth—wretchedness—misery—and shame. Surely, surely, He cannot bestow one heart’s thought—one moment’s sympathy—or feel one spark of love towards those who are so unlike Him. Nature, sense, and reason would thus argue, “I must be holy, perfectly holy—for Jesus to love—I must be pure, perfectly pure—spotless and sinless, for Jesus to think of. But that I, a sinful, guilty, defiled wretch—that I, encompassed with infirmities—that I, whose heart is a cage of unclean birds—that I, stained and polluted with a thousand iniquities—that I can have any inheritance in Him—or that He can have any love or compassion towards me—nature, sense, reason, and human religion in all its shapes and forms, revolts from the idea.”
It is as though Jesus specially address Himself to the poor, burdened child of God who feels his infirmities, who cannot boast of his own wisdom, strength, righteousness, and consistency—but is all weakness and helplessness. It seems as if He would address Himself to the case of such a helpless wretch—and pour a sweet cordial into his bleeding conscience. We, the children of God—we, who each know our own plague and our own sore—we, who carry about with us day by day a body of sin and death, that makes us lament, sigh, and groan—we, who know painfully what it is to be encompassed with infirmities—we, who come to His feet as being nothing and having nothing but sin and woe—we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our infirmities, but One who carries in His bosom that sympathizing, merciful, feeling, tender, and compassionate heart!
J. C. Philpot (1802 – 1869)