“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. “ Heb. 4:15-16
When Ornaments Go Missing!
Did you find everything you were looking for? Did everything get put up again this year? You found the ornaments, garland and lights? Nothing went missing? No little elves ran off with your decorations before you could put them on the tree?
Without fail, every year things go missing at our house. How many times have I had to run to CT or Zellers to buy yet another string of lights, and how many times has the tree ornament at the very top of the tree gone AWOL on me.
I have bought more replacement Christmas lights than I care to remember!
That’s what happens when you use things like Christmas ornaments and knickknacks only once a year. You put them away so good that you forget where you’ve put them.
The same thing happens with the manger scene. We haul it out once a year, dust off poor baby Jesus, polish up Mary and Joseph as we set it all up again, until a couple of weeks later it all gets put away again with the hope that next year we’ll find it exactly where we think we left it.
Then we wonder where did the angels go and “oh man, we’re missing one of the shepherds.”
As long as we never lose baby Jesus, right?
In fact, this idea of people hauling out the baby Jesus once a year, hoping to find him where he was put away last year, may actually be closer to the truth of how most of us are with Jesus.
You see, most people don’t know what to do with Jesus. To most He is like a bobblehead figure on a car dashboard, or a religious icon embroidered on jewelry and worn for good luck.
To others, he is a religious figure pressed into the pages of a family Bible that is kept for nostalgic reasons.
To others again, he is someone who lives in churches where people go to visit him a couple of times a year such as Christmas Eve or Easter Sunday.
To most Jesus is a historical figure or a religious icon and if you were to ask the average guy on the street if Jesus had anything to do with their daily lives most would stare at you blankly.
To the average guy on the street this idea that Jesus has input into their daily lives or struggles is absurd.
The notion that he would somehow be, as Johnny Cash wrote in his song “Personal Jesus”, my “own personal Jesus, someone to hear your prayers, someone to care” is a foreign idea to most.
Do you know what song I am talking about? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQcNiD0Z3MU
Most don’t see Jesus that way. Most see Jesus as a religious figure. They think he is someone or something that you would consider when feeling religious.
So, of course, Jesus is in the manger scene, and yes he should also be found on the cross. But between the manger and the cross, how could he possibly have anything to say or do with my daily life?
He’s not going to put bread and butter on my table, is he?
What does he have to do with the lousy report card my kid brought home, or the fight I had with my wife last night?
Jesus isn’t part of the squabbles with the neighbors, or the job that I no longer have, or whatever other issues I might be struggling with, right?
That is how most people would respond if you were to ask them how Jesus affects their every day life. They would look at you puzzled and with a shrug of the shoulders walk away.
What on earth could he possibly know about my everyday life? What could he know about the struggles of making ends meet, and the tension of living in the fast lane?
To many people, Jesus knows nothing about the struggles and concerns of everyday life; thus we reduce him to the level of a wooden icon in a manger scene, that you may or may not find once a year at Christmas time.
Bursting “Bobblehead Jesus” Bubble
So let me burst the bubble because he is anything but a dashboard bobblehead for good luck or a religious icon for seasonal festivities.
In fact, we’ve been bursting bubbles around here for the last couple of weeks.
We burst the bubble of Jesus as having no time to ever notice you, as we saw how he not only notices us from the corner of his eye but ends up making us the apple of his eye.
Then we also burst the bubble of Jesus as meek and mild who whitewashes things, as we saw him courageous enough to get under our skin and sometimes turn our lives upside down.
So why not burst a couple of more bubbles such as this plastic bobblehead notion of a Jesus who sits on car dashboards as good luck charms.
Do you know what I am talking about? Take a look at this:
This is so not who Jesus is. He is not a good luck charm or a religious icon.
Not only does he see you as the apple of his eye. Not only does he love you enough to get under your skin. Be he is also absolutely there for the struggles and issues of your everyday life.
He knows what you are going through. He’s been where you are. He knows exactly the stuff on your plate.
Not only because he is an incredibly caring individual, but more importantly because he has been where you are, walked in your moccasins and looked at life through your eyes.
It’s one thing to be a caring individual and to feel sympathy, but it’s another matter entirely to have walked in your moccasins and to have been precisely in the spot where you are.
I love the kind of people who spread cheer and goodwill and are warm and supportive by nature. I wish our world had more of these.
But then there are the kinds of people who support you out of the same experience; who have been where you have been and can walk in your shoes and can provide a depth of compassion and support that well wishers never can.
When we see Jesus feeling compassion for the misery of lepers, moved to tears at the loss of a brother by two sisters, or reach out to those who were rejected by others, it’s not only because he is a sympathetic person by nature but because he’s been there!
More Than a “Get Well” Card!
The level of care and support Jesus provides goes far beyond a “get well soon” card. He’s been there, he’s faced those issues and he fully understands you.
I love what it says in Heb. 4:15
“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in everyway just as we are.”
A high priest was always someone of the people and for the people. He was always going to be someone susceptible to the same things everyone else was.
If ever that’s been true, then it’s true of Jesus. That’s why Heb. 2:17 says:
“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.”
He was never parachuted in, but instead born into this world like everybody else.
His birth was just like everyone else’s birth. His vulnerability as a baby was the vulnerability of every baby. His need for protection and guidance by his parents was like any other child growing up.
Paul says that Jesus was “made in human likeness” (Phil 2:7), which points to being like us in every possible way except that he never gave in to sin.
That’s the essence of Heb. 4:15 where it talks about how Jesus is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses”, which means more than the sympathy cards of our day.
In the original language it literally means “to be touched with the same feelings”, literally to suffer alongside of, or to have suffered the same way!
“Jesus is not disqualified by his divine origin from sharing in his people’s troubles and sympathizing with their weakness. He endured every trial that they are likely to undergo.” F.F. Bruce
He faced the same issues as everybody else. No-one can claim
that times were simpler back then. If anything, it was more brutal, with far fewer filters in those days than ours.
Besides, problems are problems and struggles are struggles regardless of where you live.
The issues of Jesus’ day are the same ones people have always faced. including those we face which makes his ability to come alongside of us so incredibly meaningful.
Struggles Unlike Ever Seen
In fact, if anything, it goes deeper. He’s not only been where you’ve been but he’s been further.
There are two things you need to keep in mind that suggest that his struggles having gone beyond ours and that he’s been in places of hardship that we can never fathom.
“Tempted in every way just as we are – yet was without sin.” Heb. 4:15
He never gave in. The pressure to withstand would have been enormous! Who among us has withstood every struggle without feeling weak or caving in?
I bet most of us have given in at one point or another, and that our buttons were pushed to the point where we lost it – whatever losing it looks like for you.
In a moment of weakness somewhere we’ve lashed out, lost faith, or gave in. It’s human nature.
The longer you can endure the harder it gets until it becomes unbearable. So imagine the pressure of never giving in and temptations rising to incredible heights far beyond what we could bear. That was Jesus.
We think we’ve had it tough. so imagine how tough it must be to face temptations and trials without ever giving in?
“We give in before the temptation has fully spent itself; only he who does not yield knows its full force.” Leon Morris
That’s facing trouble on a totally different level
That’s totally out of our league! Who of us could ever say that Satan himself was troubling us?
We may think it and it may feel like it but it’s highly unlikely that all hell is breaking loose.
Honestly? Most of the tension and conflict we face we do so because we live in a broken down world without overt demonic activity.
This is a broken world and this is the reality of it. Nothing more.
But even if it were to be more and even if there is demonic oppression do you honestly think that Satan himself is knocking on your door?
Think about it for a moment. Satan is not omnipresent. He is not present everywhere at once. If he is at your house, then he’s not going to be at my house.
So do you honestly think that we are important enough that Lucifer himself would trouble us?
At worst, he might send a fourth rank little demon to torment us but more likely the trouble we face has more to do with the broken down world we live in.
So imagine the kind of tension, conflict, trials and temptations that Jesus faced when Satan himself directly engaged him where he was most vulnerable after forty days of fasting, namely with physical needs, divine destiny and the need to trust in God.
“For forty days he was tempted by Satan.” Luke 4:2
Lest you think that this was an isolated incident or just a one time occurrence, it says: “When the devil had finished all his tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13
You’ve got to believe there were many more opportune times, over the course of the next years of his ministry, where he would be harassed by Satan himself.
Your Own Personal Jesus!
Not only has he been where you’ve been, or where you ever might end up in your darkest moments, but also he’s been in places you will never be.
This makes him an incredibly helpful friend and brother, who knows all about our struggles and comes alongside of us in ways no one else will ever be able to.
Friends, he is our personal Jesus! As Johnny Cash wrote:
“Your own personal Jesus, someone to hear your prayers, someone to care.”
So you can take him into your homes, to our schools, to our workplaces, into our relationships, to our hospitals and even to our cemeteries.
He’s fully acquainted with the gamut of human experience and misery.
He understands pain, loss, grief; he understands conflict, tension and misunderstandings; he gets fear, worry and panic.
Everything – the gamut of human experience he is well acquainted with it!
Therefore, take him out of the manger and let him be more than a religious icon. Take him off the dashboards of your car, for he is more than a bobblehead talisman you carry around.
He is your own personal Savior. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He’s the one who will never leave you nor forsake you.
In fact, the passage in Hebrews where it talks about how Jesus is our compassionate and understanding Highpriest who is well acquainted with our infirmities, goes on to tell us to:
“… approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Heb. 4:16
We are to include Jesus in our everyday life. He is not to be a talisman or a religious icon. He is to be our own personal Savior.
So it says that we are to come with confidence, which by definition implies expectancy.
We are expecting Jesus to help us, and to do so in tangible ways.
Not only to sympathize with us, not only to sent us a get-well card, or give us a shoulder to cry on, but to help us.
He is there to send help, relief, answers and provision from heaven…..
“So that we might receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
That we might find help in our time of need. Help is what it says we will get. Help that is appropriate and timely, rooted in his mercy and grace!
I love the way Heb. 4:14-16 is translated in The Message:
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. “
Let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give!
Are you ready to do that today?
Scott Street MB Church invites you to write your reflections and thoughts about the weekly messages shared by lead Pastor Jurgen Rausch.