Questions From Readers
● In saying that Jesus was “tested,” does Hebrews 4:15 indicate that God was not sure whether his Son would be faithful?
No, for nothing in the Scriptures points to a view other than that Jehovah was certain that his Son would keep integrity. It is quite a different point that is being made at Hebrews 4:15, which reads: “For we have as high priest, not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin.”
Jehovah had foretold that, as the Messiah, his Son would keep integrity despite suffering. (Ps. 118:22; Isa. 53:3-7, 10-12) God had good reasons for confidence that his only-begotten Son, though remaining a free moral agent, would be faithful under test.
Through millenniums of association and experience with his Son, Jehovah came to know him as no one else did. (Matt. 11:27; John 10:14, 15) God was thoroughly familiar with his Son’s mental attitude and heart condition. (Rom. 15:5) For example, though the Word was the preeminent created one, he did not seek to be worshiped, as did the spirit creature who became Satan. (Phil. 2:5, 6) Unlike the lawless angels who rebelled before the Flood, the Son seeks always to please his Father. Hence, the apostle Paul applies to him the psalmist’s words, saying: “God is your throne forever, and the scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness. You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness.” (Heb. 1:8, 9; Ps. 45:6, 7) Moreover, he has always been interested in humans for their good. (Prov. 8:30, 31) And he repeatedly manifested his reliance on the Father, whose will he earnestly desired to do. (Jude 9; compare John 12:27, 28.) So even before Jesus was born as a human, Jehovah could be certain that he would keep integrity.
Some have asked: “What if Jesus had sinned?” But that actually is profitless speculation. It is contrary to the facts. The reality is that he did not sin. Jehovah’s confidence in him, reflecting God’s perfect knowledge and wisdom, was justified.
Hebrews 4:15 focuses our attention on Jesus’ qualification as heavenly High Priest. By becoming a perfect man equal to Adam and by proving faithful till death, Jesus served as the ransom. (Heb. 2:9) But also as a human he experienced the sort of trials and frustrations befalling humans striving to be faithful, including those to be taken to heaven as Jesus’ “brothers” and corulers. (Heb. 2:14-17) He experienced natural weariness and disappointments. Even more, he faced the tests of suffering and hardship. Paul could rightly say that Christ is “one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves.” Jesus was thereby perfected or made qualified for his role as a High Priest who can “sympathize with our weaknesses.” Though other high priests had to offer sacrifices for their own sins, Christ as High Priest is “without sin.” Still, through his becoming flesh and blood like us, he is “able to deal moderately” with us.—Heb. 4:15, 16; 5:1, 2, 8; 7:28.
Consequently, Hebrews 4:15 should encourage us. Instead of suggesting that God lacked confidence in his Son, it should build our confidence that humans can be faithful to Jehovah. And it should make us confident that in approaching Jehovah we have a tender, sympathetic and understanding High Priest serving in our behalf.