Thursday, March 24, 2016

One Who Knows the Pain of Living

     Have you ever been falsely accused, persecuted, hurt, misunderstood, condemned or gone through some physical suffering?  Living in this fallen world exposes us to all of the above at one time or another.  Even our brothers and sisters in Christ can inflict pain by letting us down; however, there is comfort in knowing that we have an advocate in Jesus Christ.
     As I was reading Scripture today, these verses stood out clearly:  "14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  Having a Savior who has undergone all the same emotions, temptations, hurt and physical pain that you and I will ever experience means we have a God who knows what it is like to be human.  The difference here is that Jesus never sinned.  Therefore, He is the perfect One to plead our case before His Father in heaven.  He knows
what it is that we face and fully identifies with our humanity.  I find comfort in that.  I also take joy in knowing that when I am going through hard places I have a Savior that fully understands.
     This is holy week and a time to reflect on all that Jesus did go through.  He faced Satan one on one in the wilderness while he fasted for 40 days.  Over and over again Satan tempted Him to give up and give in to sin, but Jesus succeeded in having complete victory by standing on the Word of God as given in Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11).  What were these temptations?  Satan tempted Him in his hunger to make bread from the stones.  He tempted Him to test and manipulate God by throwing Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple so the angels could save Him and finally, Satan tempted Jesus to take a shortcut to ruling over all the kingdoms of the world.  If our Savior would bow down to him, He would not have to face the cross, shed His blood and go through rejection.  All these temptations our Lord endured, but He never gave in to sin.
     Furthermore, we know that our Savior also experienced false accusations.  He was accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:24).  The Pharisees were looking for any excuse to discredit the true work of our Lord.  In order to do this, they claimed He could only work miracles by the power of Satan.  Their lies were turned back at them when Jesus rightly pointed out that a house divided cannot stand.  Again, He faced the accusations but did not sin in His response.
     Perhaps the greatest accusations came when Jesus was accused at his Kangaroo trial of blaspheming God.  False witnesses testified against Him to no avail (Mark 14:56).  Nothing was done correctly or consistently, yet the leaders of Israel sought to put Him to death.  Speak of injustice!  Again, we have a Savior who can fully identify with us when we face false accusations.
     One of the most painful times, though, came when Jesus was betrayed by one of His disciples with whom He had spent three years.  Even though He knew this must take place, the sting of betrayal and later, desertion of the Lord by His own disciples (most especially the denial of Peter three times) can only be described as an emotional bomb shell.  Being fully God and fully man, Jesus knows the range of emotions and heartache we suffer.
     Then, the final agony came when he was beaten and tortured on the cross until He died.  The power in this is that He suffered for us.  This, however is not the end of the story.  He rose and conquered death giving us the assurance that if we put our faith in Him, we also will live eternally and be raised from the dead.  What a Savior!
     There is no emotion, trial, hurt, pain or suffering that Jesus Christ has not experienced as He walked among us.  He is the perfect high priest of our souls.  He understands when no one else does.
This is why we can come to Him in complete confidence, and when we cannot go on, He gives us the strength to endure because He has overcome this world and all the pain in it!  The God of all grace made us, knows us, loves us and sent His Son to redeem us!
     Not only on Easter but throughout the days ahead, let us run into His arms because He is the perfect Shepherd of our souls.  In Him, we will find joy, grace, mercy, acceptance and understanding. He is our advocate in whom we can fully trust.  Therefore trust Him today!  Selah!

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