Blog Entries

Sermon of the Week: No. 1974, “The Suffering Saviour’s Sympathy”

Phillip Ort May 4, 2020

“For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” – Hebrews 2:18


For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the sympathy of the suffering Saviour was the best balm for any wound. Reflecting on his text, he recognized that is was “necessary” for the high priest to suffer so that he “might be able to enter into [the people’s] feelings and represent those feelings before God.” He must suffer as they suffer, grieve as they grieve, resist temptation as they resist temptation, and yet remain a kind and faithful shepherd of God’s sheep.


In Spurgeon’s view, if this was the case with the merely human high priest, how much the more must Christ excel as the Great High Priest in every way! Indeed, Spurgeon declared “[Jesus] is sympathetic above all. There is none so tender as he.” Furthermore, this sympathy was everlasting for while Jesus “learnt it by his sufferings” he unceasingly “proves it by his continual condescension towards his suffering people.” Christ’s sympathy with his people was not a one-and-done thing, rather it was the continual overflow of his sovereign, saving love.


In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon fixed his attention on “Jesus Suffering.” Here he focused on two key points, first the severity of Christ’s suffering when tempted, and second six inferences which follow from it. First, he reminded his congregation that “Many persons are tempted, but do not suffer when being tempted.” He explained, saying that when “ungodly men are tempted, the bait is to their taste, and they swallow it greedily.” Such are “drawn aside of their own lusts” and to them temptation “becomes a horrible source of pleasure.”


However, this was not the case with the Lord Jesus Christ. While even “good men suffer when they are tempted” Jesus entered “into this trying experience very fully.” Uncorrupted by original sin, “his suffering must have been much greater than any suffering that the purest-hearted believer can know.” The very thought of sin was infinitely revulsive to a conscience that could not be defiled.


Second, Spurgeon drew six inferences from Christ’s “suffering being tempted” to comfort and encourage believers. First, he noted that “temptation to sin is no sin.” In fact, it must “be no sin to be tempted” for “in [Jesus] was no sin, and yet he was tempted.” Second, the Christian could be assured that “temptation does not show any displeasure on God’s part.” Since God had “permitted his Only-begotten Son to be tempted,” the Son whom he always perfectly loved, it would therefore not “show displeasure on God’s part that he permits you to be tempted.”


Third, Spurgeon assured his hearers that “temptation really implies no doubt of your being a son of God: for the Son of God was tempted.” Fourth, he asserted that “temptation need not lead to any evil consequences in any case.” Since “Jesus was innocent in temptation” this meant that the believer too could resist “through [God’s]grace.” Fifth, Spurgeon counselled his people “do not make it any cause of complaint that you are tempted.” Since our great Master himself was tempted, we should not complain at bearing the same burden. Sixth, and finally, Spurgeon declared “Far from your hearts be the idea that any temptation should lead you to despair.” Here he reminded them that “Jesus did not despair.” Rather indeed, “Jesus triumphed,” and by God’s grace so could every believer.


In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon expounded upon “Jesus Succouring.” Spurgeon rejoiced in the support he received from his Lord, and noted four qualities which suited him to the task. First, he noted Christ’s “pity.” Indeed, while Christ was “Lord of all” he “yet makes himself the servant of the weakest.” In devoting himself to the “divine business of comforting all such as mourn” Spurgeon could only marvel “What an example this is for us!”


Second, Spurgeon noted Christ’s “fitness.” In Spurgeon’s view, “[Jesus is just the very person to succor them that are tempted” for “He has the right, acquired by his suffering, to enter in among sufferers, and deal with them.” Third, Christ possessed the necessary “disposition.” Jesus had obtained his “tender temper” through his own suffering and so had “the disposition to cheer those that are afflicted.” Fourth, Christ possessed the unique “ability” to comfort the distressed. Here Spurgeon simply reminded his congregation that Our Blessed Master, having lived a life of suffering understands the condition of a sufferer” and so knows how to provide the best comfort.


In the third, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon concluded by pleading “Jesus sought after.” Here Spurgeon invited all who could hear, saying “Let us seek him. Come, ye weary, heavy-laden, come to him who is able to succor you.” He urged them saying, “Do not wait until you have a little more faith, but come just as you are.” And to the unbeliever he pleaded “Come as a sinner if you cannot come as a saint….O perishing sinner! cry to the Saviour.” Indeed, whether for support or salvation all needed to come to Christ who “never did cast anyone out.”


Why you should take up and read:


For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the sympathy of the suffering Saviour was the best balm for any wound. He knew from experience that “[Jesus] is sympathetic above all” and that “There is none so tender as he.” In this sermon, Spurgeon sought to assure his hearers of the matchless sympathy of Jesus. For those seeking help for comfort in a time of need please take up and read.


Here is a link to the Sermon of the Week:

Phillip Ort serves as the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City while studying in The Residency Ph.D. program.