This week we are once again looking at the impact of God the Son becoming human. We have seen it was necessary that Jesus come as a human so that he could be our representative obedience, so that he could die the human death we need for our sin and also so that he could set an example for us to follow. Today I want to look at how Jesus being human allows him to sympathise more fully with our sufferings in temptation.
As humans in this world we constantly experience the temptation to sin. To resist these temptations requires great strength and often requires us to suffer so that we do not give into the temptation. By becoming a human Jesus has also personally experienced suffering in relation to temptation. This means that Jesus is able to sympathise and help us when we suffer in our temptations in a way that he would not have been able to if he had not become human. Hebrews speaks most clearly of this: ‘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’ (Hebrews 4:15). Hebrews 2:18 also says that this is all ‘because’ of his temptation as a human that he is able to help us: ‘Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18).
At first this may seem hard to understand as we do not want to say that Jesus acquired additional knowledge by becoming a man – an all-knowing God certainly knows everything there is to know, including about temptation. However Hebrews is speaking not so much of a growth in intellectual knowledge, rather that now Jesus is able to understand our temptations through an ability to recall a similar personal experience. Similar to a doctor who has experienced cancer can help a cancer patient in a way that another doctor, who may have read lots about cancer, cannot.
Therefore when we are tempted we can turn to a God who understands precisely what we are going through and is the best one to go to for help. This is what the very next verse in Hebrews 4 exhorts us to do: ‘Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16). Do you turn to God when you are tempted? Do you rejoice that your God loved you so much that he became man to help you as much as possible in your struggles?