ὅθεν ὤφειλεν κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι, ἵνα ἐλεήμων γένηται καὶ πιστὸς ἀρχιερεὺς τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν, εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ: ἐν ᾧ γὰρ πέπονθεν αὐτὸς πειρασθείς, δύναται τοῖς πειραζομένοις βοηθῆσαι.
Translation: “Whence it behooved Him to be made like His brothers in all ways, so that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the things related to God (especially for propitiation with regard to the sins of the people). Since He has suffered, having been tempted, He is able to help those being tempted.”
Paul just finished telling us that it is not angels that Jesus helps, but rather the seed of Abraham, which is the covenant people of God. So, if Jesus is going to do that, then He needs to be made like us in every way. Of course, this does not mean that Jesus was sinful. He did not inherit our sinful nature. However, Jesus did take upon Himself the guilt of our sin. Our sin was reckoned to Christ, as if Christ had done it, even though He didn’t.
Some people might wonder just how much like us He is, if He never sinned. Can He really sympathize with our weaknesses if He has never sinned? The answer is yes. We have not resisted sin to the bitter end. Jesus has. Satan tried every trick in the book to get Jesus to sin. Jesus faced every single temptation known to mankind, and yet resisted successfully.
One big word in these verses is “propitiation.” The word means to appease someone. We have to be careful here. It is not as if God is some kind of homocidal maniac, and Jesus placated Him. After all, it was God the Father who sent Jesus into the world to bear the guilt of our sin (though only those who trust in Christ have this forgiveness). We were, however, children of wrath, as Paul says elsewhere. That wrath was diverted from us to Christ when Christ took our sins upon Himself on the tree. And so now Christ is our High Priest. He can sympathize with us, because He has suffered under temptation, and has taken the guilt of our sin away. Is Jesus your Great High Priest?