Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus, in his humanity, “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).” Because of this, the author says, Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.
I think it’s frequently assumed that Jesus doesn’t really understand temptation like we do, that his divine nature, somehow, blunted the force of the temptation of sin. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis makes a compelling argument that, quite the opposite, Jesus felt the force of temptation more intensely than any human ever has.
“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
Not only is Jesus able to sympathize with our weakness, He’s also able to do something about it. “Because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:18).” He doesn’t mean “help” as in, lend us a little assistance. He means “help” as in come to our rescue. Jesus has rescued us from sin in more than one sense. As the hymn Rock of Ages says:
Let the water and the blood
From Thy riven side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure
Cleanse me from its guilt and power
Randall Gruendyke will be preaching the third message in our Man of Sorrows series this Sunday, He Was Tempted. Kenny Clark will be leading our sung worship. Would you pray for each as they prepare? And ask the Lord to increase our desire to wage war against sin as God’s forgiven and beloved Spirit-filled children.
See you Sunday, Grace. Come hungry!
Song Link of the Week
Lord Have Mercy (For What We Have Done) by Matt Papa and Matt Boswell
For what You have done, Your life of love
You perfectly lived, we praise You
Though tempted and tried You fixed Your eyes
You finished the work God gave You