Hebrews 4:15 (NIV84)
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
I don’t know if you have ever had this happen to you: you share a deep personal struggle with a friend and he or she responds, “I know exactly what you’re going through.” After hearing a friend say this, my mouth might say, “Thanks,” but my thought response is probably something like this: “Really? Can YOU really KNOW exactly what I am going through?”
We doubt our friends when they say it. We doubt the politicians when they say it. (“I am an average Joe, just like you. I know what you’re going through.”) It just sounds so patronizing to a struggling soul. Can anyone really know what exactly what we are going through?
The answer is yes. Believe it or not, God knows. God does not just know this because He is omniscient. He knows it in a very personal way. Take a look at the verse again. Our high priest, Jesus, empathizes with us. He personally knows our human weaknesses and the temptations we face. God is not some distant deity, who sits enthroned in a galaxy far, far away, watching us from a distance and shaking his head at our foolishness. Instead, He is a God who entered His own creation to take His peoples’ place in all things, including facing temptation.
Think of all of the sins Jesus was tempted with as he grew up… disrespecting parents? Hurtful words? Pride? Cynicism? Apathy? Lust? Laziness? Procrastination? He faced it all! Just like we do. Therefore, he can empathize with us. He really knows what it’s like. This is an amazing thing.
However, what is even more amazing is that, unlike us, Jesus passed all of the tests! All of them! He did not sin. No pride. No laziness. No lust. Not even once. So his “I know” and “I understand” mean that much more to us. He is not merely empathizing; he is also forgiving. After we fall into temptation, He does not say, “Well, you will just have to try harder next time.” He says, “I have taken care of this. I faced this. I passed the test. Here is your grade: you are forgiven. Your grade is the same as my grade: perfect in God’s sight.”
Let that soak in for minute… And now, surrounded by God’s love and forgiveness, you might find that those temptations that we struggle with start to look at bit different. They are just not as tempting. Why not? Because Jesus has already faced them for us. He knows. He empathizes. He forgives.
PRAYER: Dear God who knows, we thank you that you are our perfect high priest. Help us to trust in you as we live our lives for you. Amen.