89-year-old former President George H.W. Bush saw members of his secret service detail suddenly walking around baldheaded. Upon investigating, Mr. Bush learned that one of the agent’s son, Patrick, was being treated for leukemia. The 2-year-old has lost his hair, as is often the case with those undergoing cancer treatment. Bush was motivated by more than a feeling of solidarity. It was sympathy. He and Barbara lost their second child, Robin, at 4-years-old nearly 60 years ago (via AP story, Denver Post, 18A, 7/25/13).
What a beautiful gesture! President Bush is extraordinarily healthy for a man just over a decade from 100, he of the parachuting from planes to celebrate birthdays. He did what he did not because he was suffering, but because those for whom he cares are hurting. Most of us admire such commiseration.
The Bible depicts the Perfect Man, Jesus, as supreme in sympathy. The writer of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). He was made like us so He could be a merciful and faithful high priest (Heb. 2:17). He came in the likeness of men (Ph. 2:7) to feel what we feel and through the experience be “able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (cf. Heb. 2:18). He took on flesh, underwent the trials and experiences of humanity, and died all for our benefit. This takes on greater significance when we emphasize that He did so without sin, that He was raised from the dead. “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14-15).