Why in all things it behooved him to be made like to his brothers…
I. Note, first of all, THE EMPHASIS OF THAT EXPRESSION "IT BEHOVED HIM TO BE MADE IN ALL THINGS LIKE UNTO HIS BRETHREN." And observe that the "all things" here, concerning which our Lord's likeness to mankind is predicated, are not the ordinary properties of human nature, but emphatically and specifically man's sorrows. That will appear, I think, if you notice that my text is regarded am being a consequence of our Lord's incarnation for the help of His fellows. "He laid not hold upon ante)s, blot He laid hold upon the seed of Abraham." Wherefore, "in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren." Now, if the likeness here be the possession of true manhood, then my text is mere tantology, and it would simply be saying, "He became a man, wherefore it behoved Him to become a man." The same conclusion is, I think, fairly to be deduced from the last words of our chapter, where the fact of His suffering being tempted, is stated as His preparation to help, and as His qualification as a merciful and faithful High Priest. That is to say, the " all things" of which our Lord became partaker like us His brethren, are here the whole mass — in all its variety of pressure and diversity of nauseousness and bitterness — the whole mass of human sorrow which ham ever made men's hearts bleed and men's eyes run. Christ, in His single Manhood, says the writer, gathered unto Himself every form of pain. All the miseries of all men forced themselves into, and filled His heart. You and I have but a drop given to us; He drank the whole cup. Our natures are not capable of sorrow as varied, as deep, as the sorrow of Jesus Christ; but for each of us surely the assurance comes with some subtle power of consolation and strength.
II. So that brings me to the next point suggested here, viz., OUR LORD'S VARIED, ALL-COMPREHENSIVE SORROW WAS A NECESSITY IMPOSED UPON HIM BY THE PURPOSE WHICH HE HAD IN VIEW. "He taketh hold, not of angels, but of the seed of Abraham"; and therefore He must have a hand like theirs, that can grasp theirs, and which theirs can grasp. Unless the Master had Himself been standing on the heaving surges, and Himself been subjected to the beating of the storm, He could not revive and hold up the sinking disciple. And so our Lord's bitter suffering, diffused through life and concentrated on the Cross, was no mere necessary result of His humanity; was not simply borne because, being a Teacher, He must stand to His principles whatever befell Him because of them; but it was a direct result of the purpose He had in view, that purpose being our redemption. Therefore to say, "It behoved Him to be made in all things like unto His brethren," is but to declare that Christ's sufferings were no matter of physical necessity, but a matter of moral obligation. We know not by what mysterious process the Son learned obedience by the things which He suffered, nor can we understand how it was that the High Priest who would never have become the High Priest had He not been merciful, became yet more merciful by His own experience of human sorrow. But this we know, that somehow the pity, the sympathy of Christ, was deepened by His own life; and we can feel that it is easier for men to lay hold of His sympathy when they think of His sufferings, and to be sure that because in all points He was tempted like as we are "He is able to succour them that are tempted." Comfort drops but coldly from lips that have never uttered a sigh or a groan; and for our poor human hearts it is not enough to have a merciful God far off in the heavens. We need a Christ that can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities ere we can come boldly to the Throne of Grace, assured of finding there grace in time of need.
III. Lastly, we have here THE SPECIFICATION OF THE MAIN PURPOSE OF OUR LORD'S SORROWS — "that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest." Christ's help is not merely the help of a wise Teacher. Men do not want only teaching. Their need goes far deeper than that. Christ is not the Helper whose help goes down to the depths and the roots of men's necessity, unless He is Priest as well as Prophet and King. He comes to do something as well as to say some. thing; comes to alter our relations to God, as well as to declare God's heart to us. And then, notice again how here we have Christ's priestly office extended over His whole life of suffering. The popular representations of the gospel, and the superficial grasp of it, which many good people have, are accustomed to draw broad line of demarcation between Christ's life and Christ's death, and to concentrate the whole of the sacrificial and expiatory character of His work in His death only. My text goes in the other direction. It says that all that long-drawn sorrow which ran through the whole life of Jesus Christ, whilst it culminated in His death, was His sacrifice for the sins of the world. For all sorrow, according to Scriptural teaching, is the fruit of sin; and the sinless Christ, who bore the sorrows which He had not earned, in bearing them bore them away.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
WEB: Therefore he was obligated in all things to be made like his brothers, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.