Do you ever wonder if God can truly relate to us? I mean, how can a perfect, almighty God who has never blown it understand the trauma, the trials, and the temptations of being human? How are we supposed to relate to Him? After all, He’s infinite, we are finite. He’s perfect, we are broken. He is all-powerful, we are weak. He is all knowing, and we are ignorant. Does God truly understand the agonizing struggles of being human? Does He know what it is like to suffer?Does He know what it is like to feel pain? I suggest to you that if God cannot relate to our human experience, He is not qualified to help us out in our time of need…If He doesn’t intimately know sorrow then He cannot supply us with the comfort that our souls so desperately ache for.
In an issue of Life magazine that I picked up a few years ago, kids across America were
asked, “What would you ask God if you could?” This is what they said:
What do you ask God for? Alicia 10 – To have a good life. I want to be a waitress and a pet shop helper.
- What makes God angry? Jesus 11 – “If we don’t respect Him.”
- What makes God happy? Bethany 10- “A cake might make Him happy?”
- When you were sick, how did you talk to God? Felicia 13 – “God, why’d you have to give me this pain? I didn’t do anything.
- One girl Kristen, age 11, took a picture of shadows and said, “This is a picture of shadows. God is like a shadow—-blurry—because nobody has a clear image of Him.”
Kristen’s description of God as a shadow is shared by many people and without a clear picture of God, it is easy to understand how people conclude that He is distant, unapproachable, and indifferent. What we need is a clear picture of God — we need a God who is not shadowy, but tangible…we need a God who intimately understands what it is like to be human. We need a God who is acquainted with sorrow and grief so that he can empathize with our weaknesses. We need a God who can help us in our time of need. We need a God who merciful and compassionate.…
Now, fast forward a few years to a Discovery Channel Series that you may be familiar with called “MAN vs. WILD”
Bear Grylls is the guy that says “I’ll show you how to survive if you were ever lost in the wilderness and how make it back to civilization.” He’s dropped off into some of the most dangerous and inhospitable wilderness areas around the world with nothing more than the clothes on his back and a pocket knife. The camera crew is present filming his adventures…but he receives no assistance from them.
What makes him credible is that he actually faces the wild. Imagine if he conducted the show from a warm, comfortable living room… not only would it be uninteresting, but he would be completely unbelievable.
Mark 1:12-13New King James Version (NKJV)
12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.
He is “The God Who Experiences”
The Spirit immediately drove Him out into the wilderness. The effect of Mark’s words make the temptation seem unsought and uncomfortable — and I think that’s the point. I don’t believe that Jesus was thinking, “Father, I’m so excited to do this and I can’t wait to suffer in the desert. I can’t wait to be tempted by Satan for forty days!” Jesus was human, and that is precisely what makes this time of testing so significant. Matthew and Luke’s account of these 40 days are more descriptive but they still only give us a glimpse into these 40 days…Imagine 40 days with Satan!
Jesus is ALL God, but we must never forget that He is also ALL man. He is the God-Man and these forty days of trial and temptation in the desert with Satan are going to be brutal. This is not going to be a picnic. The question that comes to mind is why? Why would God, the Spirit, drive His beloved Son into the wilderness to experience a time of cruel and intense temptation and suffering?
Why? —- Because of His great love for us! He drove His Son into danger and hardship for our sake:
- So that we would have a God who could identify with the human experience!
- So that we would have a God who could fully understand our weaknesses!
- Make no mistake, God drove Jesus into the desert and He did it for us.
Jesus is Emmanuel… which means, GOD WITH US! Jesus has flesh and blood. He is a person. He is not a distant God. He is not God far away — He is God with us! He has shared with us the heights as well as the depths of the human experience.
He is “The God Who Empathizes”
Jesus is qualified to relate to us in our time of need . He is qualified to carry our burdens. When He came to earth, He did not float around in a celestial bubble. No… He fully embraced the human experience. He knows what you are going through and what’s more, He understands. He knows unimaginable physical pain, unthinkable emotional despair, absolute loneliness, and He knows loss for He shared in our humanity. He even knows the wilderness of death…
- One of the very reasons Jesus became a man was so that He could die; in His divine state alone He was indestructible. He could not be killed but by clothing himself with flesh and blood He became vulnerable and mortal — So that through His death, He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil.
- Jesus was made like us in every way so that He could become our substitute. To die for the sins of man, He had to become a man. A human savior was necessary because human beings needed a propitiatory sacrifice. He became like us in every way with one exception…He never sinned. He lived a perfect life – the life that we could never live.
- Then Jesus, the Guiltless One, died for the guilty ones. He was punished on behalf of sinners. He absorbed the fullness of the Father’s wrath against sin. No one deserved suffering less, yet no one received it more.
- He also suffered when He was tempted. He is sympathetic, merciful and compassionate towards us.
Hebrews 2:18 – “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”
In His living Jesus becomes the Law Keeper for all those who despair of saving themselves and trust in Him because He satisfied the righteous requirements that the law demanded.
In His dying, Jesus becomes the Curse Bearer for all those who despair of saving themselves and trust in Him because He satisfied the punishment that the law demanded from sinners. Jesus bore our punishment, He performed our righteousness and He rose from the dead. When we receive Jesus as our Savior, all of His punishment and all of His righteousness are counted as ours.
The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus all work together to free us from what the writer of Hebrews calls bondage to fear of death. You see, what made death so horrifying was not just death itself … What made the wilderness of death so horrifying was the prospect of dying in our sins and facing the consequences of our treason – conscious, eternal, terrifying torment separated from the presence of God. But death no longer brings fear for those who follow Christ because when He rose from the dead, He defeated death and thereby removed fear. The writer of Hebrews says that when He conquered death, He delivered us from bondage and the fear of death.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Death is not loss for those who trust in Christ. It is GAIN- it is the doorway to paradise. Jesus’ time in the wilderness was no accident — it was carefully orchestrated by the Father. Just as the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness, God the Father drove Him to the cross. When our sins were placed on Christ, the Bible tells us that the holy eyes of God the Father could not look upon His Son, and Jesus cried out, “My God, my God…why have you forsaken me?” When Jesus, who knew no sin, became the substitute for sinners, God the Father abandoned His own Son and for a time, He forsook Him. The fellowship that Christ had known with the Father and the Spirit from eternity past was severed.
I’ve heard Jesus described as the most God-forsaken man that ever lived. Why would God subject His beloved Son to such horrific suffering and separation? Why? So that our sins could be removed — so that we could be brought to God. So that Jesus would be a Savior who could sympathize with broken people like you and me. God the Father forsook His Son so that those who trust in Him will never be forsaken. They will never be alone! God the Father subjected His Son to unimaginable hostilities so that the hostility between God and man could be brought to an end.
Jesus knows pain, He knows temptation and He knows suffering. He shared in our humanity. So… as we face the wilderness of life and death, Jesus is qualified to attend us, to comfort us, to relate to us – He cares, He knows, He understands. He is able to aid us.
The God-Man is empathetic. His hands are real hands. They are not ethereal. They are human hands — they have real scars. Scars that are not only a reminder of the penalty that sin required and not only a reminder of His love for us — but they are proof that He knows suffering. Those scars are proof that He faced the ultimate wilderness for us.
So, let us say thanks to Him for facing the wilderness of life and death on our behalf. Let us say thanks and recognize that He is qualified to aid us in our time of need. Let us transfer the weight of life’s burdens to the only shoulders that can carry them – His are real shoulders that carried a real cross…for us. O God Man, thank you…
President and Missions Coach
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