"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Do you as a believer struggle with approaching the throne of grace? I know in my own life prayer does not come easily. Over the years God has graciously worked with me in this area. But God reminded me of this passage again this week in reading Jerry Bridges book Transforming Grace. I admit that often times I do not see Jesus as one who is able to sympathize with my weaknesses. I have in my mind only his divinity but fail to realize he took the form of a human in order to be our sympathetic High Priest.
Another wrong view I often have is thinking Jesus was tempted exactly as we are as humans. Did Jesus ever lose a wife to death? Did he ever lose a child to cancer? Did he struggle with pornography? I'm sure the list could go on but the list in not the point. In our finite minds we only look at our own experiences and ask, "Does Jesus even understand what I'm going through?" Fair question.
Maybe Jesus never exactly went through the trials and temptations that we experience but he experienced temptations and trials that we will never have to experience. Christ came as a man knowing his purpose was to die. We are born and know we will die because we have earned death by our sin. Christ was without sin yet he lived to die. He lived the life we could not live by perfectly obeying his Father therefore being the only One who could make atonement for our sins. But this did not come without temptation and trial.
We know from Scripture Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness but the greatest agony and temptation came at the hour before his death. In the garden Jesus prayed three times, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." This is the cup Jesus came to drink yet he struggled because he knew the agony ahead. The cup he was going to drink was the cup of his Father's wrath for the sins of the world. He is the atoning High Priest. He can sympathize with our weaknesses because he was tried and tempted as we are yet without sin.
This temptation in the garden and the trial of the cross is something we, as believers, will never experience. Christ lived the life we could not live and he died our death that we deserve. He experienced separation from his Father on the cross so that we may never have to have that experience ourselves. May we rejoice that our sympathetic High Priest took our sins upon the cross and has imputed his perfect righteousness to us so that we may be presented blameless before the Father. May we remember that through Christ we have access to the throne of grace. We may come to the Father through Christ and plead for his grace. This reality ought to stir in our hearts praise and adoration for the work accomplished in Christ Jesus.
Grace upon grace,