Hebrews 5:1-4 (ESV)

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. [2] He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. [3] Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. [4] And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

The reason the high priests were able to be gentle with those they were working on the behalf of was because they themselves were “beset with weakness”. The author is making a comparison between the priests of the Old Covenant and Jesus Christ, the perfect great high priest. They were weak and Jesus came in weakness, suffering in all ways as we do without sin. But this concept of being able to help others because of one’s weakness is worth exploring a little bit.

Christians are called to bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another, lift up the weak and so on. Pastors, in particular, are expected to feed and heal and correct and chase after the sheep. The good pastor knows his sheep. The point being made in this fifth chapter of Hebrews is that the help is better when it comes from people that are weak themselves.

What a contrast to what our world calls for in its leaders. We want people in charge, people who no longer wrestle with sin and finances and anxiety. We do not mind if they wrestled in a former time, but we want our leaders to be able to say “this was my struggle” and never “this is my struggle.”

When do pastors become not weak? When in their lifetimes will they be able to say “I no longer struggle with sin. I beat it and you can beat it too”? Is that what the Bible teaches? No, it is not. It teaches that we have turned from sin and no longer live in it. It does not teach that we no longer sin at all.

The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace and that without a good daily dose of it there are no believers, pastors, elders, deacons and others, who will not fall into horrible life threatening, church destroying sin. What we need in leaders is not men who give the impression that sin used to be a problem, but men who can say “I am weak but He is strong. Today I did not fall because I was hiding in Him. I made use of the resources He provides so that I would remain faithful. I was in the Bible, I prayed, I enjoyed the fellowship of some other saints of God. Follow me as I follow Christ.”

People who go to their pastors for help and wisdom and counsel are better helped by a man who knows that he is weak; beset with weakness, and yet remains faithful and can say that faith has been his daily victory that has overcome the world’s pull on him today. The pressure that the contemporary church puts on its leaders to be more than common men is a travesty. Know that yours is a man with a calling form God to demonstrate the power of God to you on a daily basis.

His message from the Word is not “Through Jesus I overcame the world”. It is, rather, “Through Jesus, I am daily overcoming the world. Come and overcome it with me. I am weak, just like you. God is strong enough for all of us. Come and I will help you.” Only Jesus is not weak. Only Jesus never succumbed at all. Pray for your leaders today. They are at the front of the line taking the first of the shots from the evil one. The good ones want to defend their people. You shouldn’t follow him if he is not under attack from the enemy. But you also should not abandon him on the battlefield when in his work to defend his flock, he takes a blow. There are some sins that will disqualify him from being a pastor at all. But he will never be perfect. He is weak. He must hang on to the flawless Saviour and that is why he can help you.