Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Does God understand us? How does God regard us when we struggle? When we’re discouraged? When we’re tempted? Hebrews 2:10-18 offers an encouraging answer to these questions.
As we saw in yesterday’s Reflection, the main point of Hebrews 2:10-18 is that the Incarnation makes salvation possible. Because Jesus was fully human, he was able to break the power of sin and death over human beings through his death on the cross.
The last verse of this passage offers yet another piece of good news: “Since [Jesus] himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested” (2:18). The Greek verb periazein is translated here as “to test.” It can also mean “to tempt,” and this translation is used in some translations (KJV, NIV). In fact, Jesus experienced both temptation (most notably in his encounter with Satan in the wilderness) and testing (most pointedly in his passion). Thus he knows what it’s like to be tempted to sin and he knows how it feels to be tested by suffering. (Photo: “The Temptation of Christ,” by one of my favorite painters, Jim Janknegt. See his website.)
This means that Jesus understands when we are tempted or tested. He knows the magnetic pull of sin, even though he was always able to resist it (Heb 4:15). And he knows how it feels to endure pain, rejection, and injustice. Thus, Jesus is able to help us when we’re struggling, not by standing apart from us and shouting orders from a safe distance, but by standing alongside us and offering his empathy as well as his wisdom.
Living Christmasly means being comforted and encouraged by the empathy of Jesus. When we live in light of the Incarnation, we will allow Jesus to help us we life’s difficulties and temptations threaten to defeat us.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When you are tempted, or when you are going through hard times, do you ever think that Jesus understands how you feel? What difference would it make in you life if you were to take seriously Hebrews 2:18?
PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, how I thank you today for experiencing human life. To be sure, you knew many of its joys. But you also knew its sorrows and struggles. Thus you know today how it feels when I am tempted to sin. You know how it feels to be discouraged and exhausted. Thank you for understanding my challenges and suffering.
Help me, dear Lord, when I am tempted. Give me strength to live a holy life that honors you.
Help me, dear Lord, when I am tested, when life is painful, when I wonder if you’re there for me. Give me the strength to hang onto you in all things.
All praise be to you, Jesus Christ, Word of God Incarnate, because you know what it’s like to be human. All praise be to you because you are able to help me when I need it most. Amen.
Today’s post is one of the Daily Reflections that I write for The High Calling of Our Daily Work (www.thehighcalling.org), a wonderful website about work and God. You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace.