The high priest is able to deal gently with the ignorant and those who are misled since he himself is prone to weakness. (CEV)The high priest should have compassion for those who are ignorant of the faith and those who fall out of the faith because he also has wrestled with human weakness (The Voice)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. (KJV)
Hebrews 5:2 is an interesting verse insofar as it blends further understanding of Jesus, our great High Priest, and a vision of the type of person we ought strive to be, being Christ to our world.
Matthew Henry states:
1. He must be one that can have compassion on two sorts of persons:—(1.) On the ignorant, or those that are guilty of sins of ignorance. He must be one who can find in his heart to pity them, and intercede with God for them, one that is willing to instruct those that are dull of understanding. (2.) On those that are out of the way, out of the way of truth, duty, and happiness; and he must be one who has tenderness enough to lead them back from the by-paths of error, sin, and misery, into the right way: this will require great patience and compassion, even the compassion of a God.
2. He must also be compassed with infirmity; and so be able from himself feelingly to consider our frame, and to sympathize with us. Thus Christ was qualified. He took upon him our sinless infirmities; and this gives us great encouragement to apply ourselves to him under every affliction; for in all the afflictions of his people he is afflicted.
The website Think Theology offers a picture of Jesus, the Compassionate Healer:
NIV Mark 7:31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Jesus returns from His trip up north back to the shores of the sea of Galilee. They have not forgotten about Him (thanks likely to the proclamation of the Garasene demonaic, 5:19-20). The people there bring a man to him who is both unable to hear and defective in speech: “they begged Jesus to place his hand on him” (v. 32, NIV). Jesus takes the man aside, away from the crowd, apparently as a means of establishing personal relationship (because communication matters). The seemingly strange acts of putting His fingers in His ears and (especially) touching the man’s tongue with His saliva may have been an effort communicate with the deaf man (Hendriksen, NTC) and/or to communicate that the healing he was about to receive comes from Jesus (Lane, NICNT, on v. 33).
NOTE TO SELF: When praying for someone, you might want to take time to explain to them what you’re doing instead of just hot dogging it and knocking them over or whatever!
Jesus’ prayer to the Father (in heaven) on the man’s behalf results in his ears immediately being “opened” as well as him speaking clearly, without defect (v. 34-35). Jesus tells the crowd to “tell no one” (v. 36), but even He can’t stop people from talking about this astonishing miracle! Indeed, similar to the Leprous man healed in 1:45, their disobedience to Jesus’ charge keep their mouths shut is described as kerusso (preaching, or proclamation). The language describing their reaction (v. 37) is very strong (ekkplesson) – “astonished beyond measure” (ESV), “overwhelmed with amazement” (NIV). And their exclamation, reminiscent of Is. 35:5-6, is surely Messianic in significance.
He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak. (v. 37)
The disciples, though not mentioned explicitly here, continue to gain insights into who and what Jesus is. He is not only a powerful healer but a compassionate Messiah who identifies with the sick, and takes time out for single human soul to look him in the eye and communicate with him in a way that he can understand.
In a completely different article, Think Theology expresses the practical, application side of Hebrews 5:2 —
As humans we are filled with weakness, tempted, sinful. Jesus experienced this same weakness and temptation – “yet without sin” (4:15). By His overcoming of sin in the flesh (“tempted as we are”) we are set free from this bondage and able to draw near to God in intimacy with great confidence because His grace is so great and overwhelming (4:16).
If Jesus who is perfect, without sin, can deal gently with those who fail, how much more should we, fellow sinners, covered by His grace, extend this same grace to those who seem to not know any better, and fail again and again in their weak attempts to live for God? Why do we insist on taking honor for ourselves (v. 4) and placing ourselves above others in a spiritual hierarchy of “goodness” or maturity in the church of God? All are welcome at the King’s table. The tickets are bought and paid for by Jesus Himself “through what he suffered” (v. 8-9). Come to the Table. All who are weary, come. All who are weak. All who labor and are heavy laden, come. All who are weighed down with a heavy weight of sin, pain, shame, disgrace – Come to the Table of Grace. Come to the King’s Feast. Y’shua is our great and gracious host, come. It’s free!
Lord may I be a gracious host. May my hands be gentle, my words encouraging, my love sincere, my heart warm & accepting, quick to forgive, quick to repent. In Jesus’ name, come Holy Spirit form Your heart in me. Be glorified, O’ God,