“We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NIV).
A few years ago, one of the seventh graders in my Sunday school class had an aha moment. I don’t recall what our class was discussing, but someone said Jesus experienced all the same temptations and trials we face today. Granted, Jesus didn’t have internet access, automobiles, or smart phones. Yet, the nature of His difficulties, the mental and emotional stresses, and the human desires equaled ours. Andi’s head shot up, and with question marks shooting from her eyes, she said, “You mean Jesus went through puberty?”
Although the Bible clearly tells us Jesus was tempted just like the rest of us, we still find it easy to spiritualize His life on earth. Somehow, we think He was above all the nitty-gritty we face daily. In the Bible we read of Jesus in the manger, receiving gifts from the wise men, and impressing religious leaders with His questions as a child. The next thing we know, He’s made it to adulthood.
When Andi’s realization hit, I could almost see the light bulb over her head. She got it! Jesus lived with typical teenage struggles too.
Our Sympathetic Savior Suffered
Why wouldn’t He? After all, Jesus came as a helpless baby, needing someone to supply His every need. He grew up in the home of a common carpenter, so he probably withstood His fair share of childhood cuts, bumps, and bruises combined with daily dust and dirt. And, yes, Jesus braved puberty with all its ups and downs. While surrounded by a different time and tradition, Jesus has been there and done that. He understands and identifies with our daily dilemmas.
- When we get so physically, spiritually, and emotionally spent that our entire body quivers from exhaustion, remember Jesus felt that too. As He agonized in prayer the night before His crucifixion, His sweat poured like drops of blood.
- When exasperated at the actions or inactions of others, think of Jesus and the moneychangers in the temple. One word of caution: We need to follow Jesus’ example and Paul’s wisdom in Ephesians 4:26: “In your anger do not sin.”
- If sorrow engulfs us to the point we drop in desperation and despair, remember Jesus wept when His friend Lazarus died.
- If the unfairness of others overwhelms us, don’t forget that Jesus needed time alone after Herod had His cousin, John the Baptist, beheaded.
- Above all, when suffering hits us full force, picture Jesus on the cross, held there by our sins.
Our Sympathetic Savior Sustains
Anytime we feel alone and wonder who will understand or how we can continue, remember Jesus has already been there. He hears our cries and stands ready to walk with us through whatever we face. He will hold us up in our lowest moments. He offers hope when life seems hopeless. And He will celebrate with us when our hardships cease.
Jesus knows. Jesus cares. With His help, we shall endure.