Daily Devotion - Friday, March 18, 2016
17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. - Hebrews 2:17-18
It's hard to imagine what it was like for Jesus. He was so completely connected to God that he knew what God was like and did everything he could to show God's true nature to the world. Jesus, we Christians believe, was God incarnate (in the flesh). He was unlike any other human being as a result.
Through Jesus, God embraced humanity, and presumably all of the frailties of humanity with it. We know that Jesus grew tired and hungry. He often became frustrated with his disciples lack of faith, and sometimes became angry at the stubbornness of the religious elites of this day. He wept at the funeral of his friend out of sorrow and grief, and he felt great compassion for broken, sick and lost people.
But in our lectionary text for today, the writer of Hebrews highlights something very interesting. "Because [Jesus] himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Now the word here for "tempted" is a word that also means "tested," or "tried," which makes this an even more powerful statement.
Think about it for a moment. Jesus suffered, and struggled when things were difficult--when he was facing hard times, challenges, obstacles in his life. And because of this, those of us who choose to embrace a life in Jesus can know that when we are facing hard times, challenges and obstacles in life--he not only knows what it's like to be us, he knows how to help us.
Sometimes when I am suffering spiritually, emotionally and even physically through a particularly challenging season, my wife will recognize that I am being stretched too thin. The other day, she saw this happening and arranged for me to have some time alone. She took the boys with her to do something and created space so I could experience some peace, and gather myself.
The overwhelming sense of gratitude I felt when she did that didn't come entirely from the gesture itself--it came from the realization that I was known. Merideth not only knew from experience that I was enduring a moment of testing and temptation, she also knew me well enough to know what I needed to get through it.
This is why the incarnation, or Jesus as God "in the flesh," is so important for us. As the writer of Hebrews writes, not only does Jesus know what it's like to go through temptation and testing, he also knows what it's like to be us, and knows what we need to get through it.
May you experience the sense of joy and gratitude that comes from knowing and being known by Jesus. May you find during your times of testing and temptation that his presence is sustaining you, and guiding you to hope. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.