The Benefits of Jesus Being Like Us and Not Like Us
Reflections from Hebrews 4:14-16
The Bible clearly teaches, and church tradition affirms, that Jesus is fully human as well as being fully God. In today’s world, it is the deity of Christ that is normally assailed, but one of the earliest controversies in the church was in its assertion of the humanity of Jesus. John the Apostle may have been confronting an early form of Gnosticism when he writes: “This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God.” (1 John 4:2-3a). Apparently some false teachers were questioning Christ’s humanity, perhaps because of an incorrect view that the material world (and therefore the human body) was inherently evil.
Jesus had a human body that grew tired, and experienced hunger and thirst. He had the full range of human emotions: He was troubled, He marveled, and He wept. He slept. He had all the characteristics of humanity. He was born, and most convincingly, he died. All of these are attested in the Bible.
The Book of Hebrews says that Jesus shared in the flesh and blood of others, and through His death made atonement for the sins of humanity (see Hebrews 2:14-18). Later on in this epistle the author says: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”
A high priest is someone who represents people to God and intercedes for them. According to these verses, one of the great benefits of Jesus sharing our humanity is that He fully understands our temptations and trials. He endured these. There is no reason to believe that Jesus did not face temptations like sinful anger, lust, selfishness, or any variety of the wrongful enticements we face. Whatever you and your loved ones are facing today, you have a sympathetic high priest who can identify with you, and who intercedes for His people.
But you and I need something more than someone who can relate to us. The addict in the 12-step program needs not just another person enslaved by addiction, but someone who has experienced it and come out on the other side. We have something much greater than even this.
Though Jesus’ humanity guarantees that we have a sympathetic and merciful high priest (see vv. 15-16), we also have a great high priest who is much different than we are (praise God!). He is superior to Aaron or any Old Testament high priest because he serves in heaven rather than an earthly tabernacle, He has greater character, He has a better offering (His own life), and He is our great sovereign Savior! He alone has fully overcome sin and death! We can live with great boldness and confidence because we have welcomed access to the throne room of the King of the universe! Only a child dares to wake up the king in the middle of the night for a cup of water. We have been granted such access.
Therefore…let us hold fast to our confession of faith. Let us live with confidence knowing that the One who overcame trials and temptations can relate to us, intercedes for us, and grants us access to the throne of grace in our time of need. The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Heb 4:15–16.