A High Priest with Compassion on the Ignorant

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The theme of a high priest is found in various places in the Scriptures. In both the Testaments, we can see references to a high priest, and yet in the book of Hebrews, we read of the Ultimate High Priest; Jesus Christ. After He came on the scene and finished His work of being the sacrifice for sin, once for all, He became the Author of eternal salvation. He ever liveth to make intercession for us, and His term of being a High Priest does not expire as did those of old who could not continue by reason of death.
In this article, we would like to look at a specific quality of our High Priest, the Lord Jesus. I do not know if all the Levitical high priests of the Old Covenant all had this characteristic. But our dear Lord Jesus certainly does stand out in this area. The specific area of our interest is that this High Priest has compassion on the ignorant and those who are turned out of the way. The context of this verse says, For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Then we go on to verse 16 and have the invitation to come boldly to the throne of grace so that we might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, which, in fact, is a daily experience for most of us. Furthermore, our High Priest, Jesus, was and still is the Friend of Sinners, the Good Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine and seeks for the one who has lost his way. Hebrews 5:2 says, who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
The meaning of ignorant is to not know (through lack of intelligence or information), something unknown, to be uninformed or unaware. A person who has not had a chance to learn or lacks knowledge may be ignorant but is not necessarily stupid. Although we may know some things about a certain trade, object, medical issue, or scientific reality, most of us could probably learn a lot more about it. There are some areas of life where we know nothing or almost nothing. I Corinthians 8:2 says, And if any man thinks that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. If in no other area this is true; it is true in our understanding of Biblical truth. The attributes of God and the realities of prophetic Scripture have a wealth of depth for our finite minds. The love of God and the plan of salvation are simple and yet so profound.
This High Priest with compassion cares about those who are turned out of the way. Some people do not know the right way and live wrong because of their ignorance. Others were in the right way and then turned aside for some reason. Some have been offended or were wounded by someone in strained relationships. Others may have become battle-weary and lost their way because of discouragement. Still others give in to false doctrines or are derailed by dominant personalities.
This High Priest is surrounded by infirmity. During His earthly ministry, Jesus certainly was. The songwriter said it well. “Thou to whom the sick and dying ever came nor came in vain, still with healing words replying to the wearied cry of pain. Hear us, Jesus, as we meet suppliants at Thy mercy-seat.” All of us are also prone to physical infirmity and spiritual sickness, for which we find ourselves dependent on our great High Priest.
In this article, we will endeavor to make a practical application to our High Priest’s example. Are we among those who have compassion on the ignorant and those who are turned out of the way? We will now address a few groups of people who would do well to possess this quality.
First of all, to parents: as babies are born or received by adoption into our homes, think of how ignorant they are, and what all they need to learn in the few years we have to teach them. Children need to be taught, line upon line, precept upon precept here a little there a little in the day by day experiences of life. Parents can teach a lot daily instruction and by example, whether in the kitchen, the garden, in the shop, or on the farm. Children should never be ridiculed for what they do not yet know, or be made fun of because of their limitations in learning the facts of life.
Even older siblings can learn this principle. How often has a 16-year-old learning to drive felt intimidated by an 18-year-old expert from the back seat of a family van as he speaks from his years of driving experiences? Suddenly it becomes hard for him to remember the blunders he may have made in learning to drive.
School teachers also need to keep this principle in mind as day by day they instruct the “ignorant” school children from 1st to 10th grade or beyond. Many school children have become discouraged and sometimes embittered by some “all-knowing” teacher wielding their educational finesse and academic expertise. Meanwhile, the student is floundering, burdened by the algebra, science mystery or literature logic, and even simpler things.
Missionaries also need to have compassion for the ignorant as they take the all things of the Gospel to people who do not know Bible truth. The love of God needs to constrain them as they, knowing the terror of the Lord, persuade men to repent and believe the Gospel. I have met people who never heard of a heaven or a hell until someone told them about it. In our world, there are so many who know almost nothing about the things of God, the Bible, the plan of salvation and many other things we may take for granted.
Employers and foremen on jobs and businesses also need this quality. The new employee is sometimes very clueless on some job skills that an experienced person in the trade handles with ease. It is easy for the one who does not know to feel out of line if explanations are not clear and procedures are not clearly defined. It is a blessing to work with compassionate people who help us get back on track if we become turned out of the way in our job.
This principle also has an application to church leaders and fellow members in the brotherhood. Some people may struggle in an area where we have found victory, yet we possibly struggle where another seems strong. Sometimes, a brother or sister may stumble in life’s journey because of a lack of understanding or ignorance. In reality, anyone who has a position of responsibility in life is surrounded by infirmity and has so many areas where we need to grow and improve. At the end of the day, compassion is stronger than ridicule.
However, there are a few thoughts we need to consider to counterbalance this concept, and most of them have applications in the above practical points. First of all, we need to correct foolishness, especially as we work with children, lovingly and compassionately. We also need to correct laziness. Commands need to be enforced, and standards need to be kept clear. We may not allow sin or ungodly behavior to prevail anywhere. Also, as we work with varying situations, we must maintain a Christlike spirit, as we pay attention to an individual’s limitations. May we all remember that we are dealing with people who have a never-dying soul. My prayer is that the compassion of our Great High Priest, and His love for those who are turned out of the way, pervade our homes, our congregations, our schools, our businesses and even our communities.