Looking forward to the New Year, I invite you to reflect with me on two of my favorite Christmas verses.
“Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” (Hebrew 2;17,18)
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15, 16)
Suffering comes to everyone in a unique way. How much we suffer and are tested depends on the contrast between what we are accustomed to and what we are experiencing.
Take a moment and try to grasp what “normal” is like for Jesus. Contemplate the scale of creation and recall that all things came into being through him. Spend some time. Soak it in. It’s Christmas after all, what’s your hurry?
Now consider that Jesus Christ emptied himself of all of that (his divinity). How else could he truly suffer, be sincerely tempted, experience dependence on the Spirit, and learn through obedience the joy of faith transformed into reality? “…like his brothers and sisters in every respect… tested as we are.” He bled, got sick, felt powerful anger, horrible want, crushing disappointment, and profound sadness. “Born in a manger” does not even begin to capture what Jesus went through.
Christmas leads inevitably to Easter and the astounding gift of salvation. However, we do not need to wait to open the gift of God’s radical humility. Today, wrapped in the pain of human existence and failure, we can boldly approach the throne expecting only inexhaustible grace from a God who shares our suffering, understands our weakness, and cries our tears. Merry Christmas and happy New Year!