For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (verses 17-18)
We often hear the admonition, “Walk a mile in their shoes,”urging us to enter into the experience of another before judging them too rashly. It’s good counsel.
These verses in Hebrews 2 are the divine equivalent, writ large. Jesus fully identified with us. He entered right in. But his identification was no “momentary taste,” being so much more than the journey of a mile. Rather, Jesus laid aside glory to enter our experience, embracing our humanity, becoming human himself. This was not an experience to slip on and off again, like a pair of shoes, but rather a life commitment to walk with us in our paths, becoming part of the same family, not being ashamed to call us sisters and brothers (verse 11). Full identification.
In so doing he cleared the way to fully embody his role as high priest before God. He is able to join hands with us even as he joins hands with the Father. He understands our experience from the inside out, even walking through the depths of temptation and the attendant suffering which flows from resistance to its pull and allure. His mercy towards us is deepened and expanded as a result. Perhaps this is what is meant when we’re told that the author of our salvation was made perfect through suffering (verse 11) – he is perfectly able to save.
The amazing outcome is that he not only brings us salvation, but also an “insider perspective” when it comes to temptation. “He is able to help those who are being tempted.” What a profound statement. He knows the experience. He really knows. And he’s endured the entire extent of the struggle, beginning to end. Whereas we often give in to temptation, experiencing only a portion of its power, Jesus pressed all the way through to the end, encountering the full force of enticement, suffering through each and every bout, yet remained unyielding. Praise his name.
As a result, when he extends mercy, he knows me. When he comes alongside, he understands the experience. He knows the struggle. He recognizes the deceitfulness of sin. He’s experienced temptation’s seductiveness. It’s not theory to him. He’s been there. It wasn’t a one-off experience. He’s endured.
What a merciful High Priest. What an amazing Saviour. Able to save. Able to help. All because he didn’t hold back – he entered right in.
Praise you, Lord Jesus, that you have fully entered our experience. You have become like us in every way. I personalize it, thanking you that you have fully identified with me. You know me. You know my experience.
And so I reach out to you, knowing you are able to help. I take hold of your outstretched hand.
Reflect: In what area of your life do you have most difficulty believing that Jesus knows and understands? Place it before him. Embrace the truth that he was “made like his brothers and sisters in every way.”Allow him to come alongside you, right there.