12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
So this text, this Hebrews 4 text has really meant a lot to me through the years. First of all it affirmation of the power of God’s word. That the Bible really is alive, and this is why actually what we are doing here is so important to come underneath the teaching of God’s word to hear from God. And we come expectant that we will be changed that we will be convicted that we will become more like Christ. Conviction and change is a good thing, we want to be changed, we want to please God, and we want to become more like Christ. That is where the gold of life is. But even more encouraging in this passage is just one thought that I want us to meditate on today, and that is, that our high priest, our savior Jesus, is totally able to sympathize with us, he in every respect became like us and in every respect he was tempted just as we are, just without sin. That when you really think about it, is an amazing thought. How deeply Christ can identify with us.
Over the past few weeks we have been talking about Communion with God, how do you know God and specifically how do you know the Triune God, how do you know the members of the Trinity in a personal way. How do you have Communion with the Father, with the Son, and with the Holy Spirit?
Last week Matt Robinson did an incredible job talking to us about the purchased Grace of Christ, what Christ did for us to redeem us from the curse of our sin, on the cross by becoming a curse for us. And when people meditate on Christ, very typically we think about the cross about the purchasing work of Christ. It is the crucifix that we think about, or think about the Apostles creed,
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.
So born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, but what about all of that stuff that he did in between.And this is the way that many people think about Jesus, He came, and then he died for our sins.
And thinking about the Purchased Grace of Christ is certainly not wrong, in fact it is very right, in fact it is the chief way in which we meditate on Jesus. He is our rescuer; he is the one who paid the price for our sins. He is the justifier who by the price of his life has redeemed us from the curse of our sin, and if you know him, if you have trusted in him, he restores our relationship with God.But, there is another way, a more personal way that you can know Jesus. He isn’t just a rescuer, he isn’t just the lifeguard that swam out to save you, he is your older brother who swam out to save you, he is a friend, he is a brother, he came not only to rescue you, he can came to identify with you, so that you might identify with him, he came to know you, so that you could know him.
His is a grace that is personal, and there is knowledge of the son that is personal.
So the Personal Grace of Christ.
So to begin with, something you have to understand when thinking about Jesus is that he became a man. Jesus, the second person of the trinity fully God, really and fully became a man. He was fully man.
Turn with me to Philippians 2.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus was so human that not only did he look like a human, act like a human. He experienced humanity to the point where he experienced greatest human tragedy, death.Now there has been a long debate on this. If Jesus became human as the text says, “He emptied himself” then how did he maintain his deity? If Jesus was fully man, then how could he continue to be fully God?A professor of mine at Southern Seminary Dr. Bruce Ware actually has a great statement on this; He said Jesus emptied himself by adding humanity. And he gave the example of a test drive. So, if you went to a car dealership and found a brand new beautiful car. Great paint job, perfect. And you wanted to take the car on a test drive and you took that car and went mudding and made a complete mess of the car. Covering the car in mud, and grass, and dirt. And then you brought the car back to the dealership and pulled it on the show room floor. Now you haven’t taken anything away from the car, but you have covered the glory of the car by adding mud and dirt, etc.In other words you have emptied the car of its glory by adding.
Well it is the same thing with Christ. When he became a man, he covered his deity in humanity and therefore he limited the manifestation of his deity. So though he was God he humbled himself to be found as a man. He emptied himself.That word for Empty is the Greek
KenoO. That is defined by Louw Nida to completely remove or eliminate elements of high status or rank by eliminating all privileges or prerogatives associated with such status or rank.
Jesus forsook his privileges. Jesus denied his status to become a man.
Now why was it so important for Jesus to become a man? Why did Jesus need to do this? Why couldn’t Jesus just come in the form of a man, why did he have to become a man? Why is the humanity of Christ so necessary, so important?
Jesus became a man so that he could fully identify with us. With you and with me, so that we could fully identify with him
John Owen calls this the personal grace of Christ. Turn with me to Hebrews 4
And there is so much here but we really only have time to look at verse 15
For we do not have a high priest this is referring to Jesus who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus has been tempted in every way just as we have, and I think the text is going a little further to say Jesus experienced life. Experienced life like we have, yet without sin.The grace of Christ is personal, Jesus understands us, he identifies us, and he has experienced what we have experienced.
You know whenever I meet someone that played football growing up. There is an immediate connection; there is an immediate cultural connection point. Why? Because we have experienced the same things and we can identify with one another.I know that they know what it is like to push that sled on Hot August Days, I know they understand what it means to run wind sprints until you feel like you can’t even breath, I know they know the thrill of victory and the agony of losing something that you have worked so hard for. Even though I may have never met that person there is an immediate identity because we have a common experience. It’s the same thing when I meet people, who went to school at Auburn, or people that have backpacked through Europe, or people that have raised children. They get the sleepless night, they get the excitement, and they get the dependent prayer. There is an immediate connection, because there is a shared experience, and we can identify with one another
You see this is where the humanity of Jesus is so important
Jesus can be our savior; Jesus can stand in our place on the cross because he can identify with us. His is a personal grace. He can be our substitute on the cross because he can identify with us. He can take on our guilt, and our sorrows, and our grief. He can take on our sin, because he has been tempted in every way just was we have. He can really die, paying the full penalty of death because he is a human, capable of death. You see the prophet Isaiah said, hundreds of many years before Jesus came. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he wascrushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.
Christ was able to be our substitute because he is able to identify with us.And he is able to be your savior because you can identify with him.
So I want to spend the rest of our time looking at this, how can we identify with Jesus? And I just want to give you 4 ways that come through in the Bible, And there are a lot more, this sermon started with 7 then it dropped to 5 and now its just four for time’s sake. But just study the Gospels, study the life of Christ and you will see this.
So first of all Jesus identifies with us physically John 1:14 – Jesus, the son of God, became flesh and lived among us.And of course nothing illustrates the physical identity of Jesus more than his birth. He didn’t just become flesh, he was a baby. It is just so amazing that God the Son would humble himself in this way.So Jesus really needed his mother to nurse him.Jesus who had never needed anything, who existed from eternity past independent of everything because he had covered himself in humanity really felt hunger and needed to be fed. Jesus really needed to be wrapped in swaddling cloths because he really was cold.
I kind of had this picture in my mind as a child that when Jesus was a kid like me playing baseball and being able to hit a homerun every time. But that was my 8 year old incorrect understanding of the incarnation.
Jesus was a little boy that really struck out, in the Nazareth little league game. He really fell down and skinned his knee. Jesus really needed his mother and his father to protect him.This is what the incarnation means, he really was a man. Physically he wasn’t even impressive.
The Prophet Isaiah also says in Isaiah 53:2
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
He had a physical body just like you and me. When he was in the Garden he was under such duress that he experienced a very rare condition call – Hematidrosis – where the body actually sweats blood. The body experiences such stress that the capillaries begin to burst and the body sweats blood.
Jesus really felt that whip; he really felt those nails driving through his hands and feet. And generally the cause of death with crucifixion was suffocation.Jesus who never needed anything, who created this Diatomic Gas called Oxygen, that humans must breath and without which we cannot live. Jesus who created Oxygen suffered to get it. His lungs were burning because he needed it.
Are any of you in physical pain? You do not have a high priest; you do not have a savior that doesn’t understand.No Jesus understands well.
He identifies with you physically, and you can identify with him.
He identifies with us mentally.
Luke 2:52 really is one of the most amazing verses in the entire Bible.
It says, and I want you to really listen to this. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
I want to focus on the first part of this verse. But have you ever thought about the second part, Jesus increased in favor with God.
In other words the Father’s love and favor for his Son, increased through his obedience and faithfulness on Earth.
But Jesus increased in Wisdom.
Now I know a lot of Christians when they think about Jesus, kind of have this picture in their minds that Jesus was laying in the manger the night that he was born was lying there and was thinking, “Oh I created these cows, I created the stars, I remember that” Again faulty understanding of the incarnation.Jesus was laying in the manger thinking, goo goo ga ga, whatever a baby thinks. He had the mind of an infant. He had covered his divinely perfect mind that knew everything, that had all knowledge, and all wisdom, and in His humility Jesus was willing to veil that in flesh with the mind of a baby.So, Jesus had to learn, Jesus had to learn how to talk. Mary and Joseph really were excited when Jesus started to form his first words.
Jesus really had to study the Bible and learn the truth that he had inspired to learn the history that he had written.
Jesus, now obviously, he was without sin, so he could understand God more fully, and he was being led by the Holy Spirit in all of this. But Jesus was fully human.So, there was a time when Jesus realized who he was. There was a time when Jesus realized that all of the prophecy that he was reading in the Hebrew scriptures was about Him, that he was the Messiah.
And furthermore, there was a day when Jesus was meditating on Psalm 22 My God, My God why have you forsaken me or Isaiah 53 that we just looked at and he realized what he was called to do. That he would be pierced for our transgression that he would have to die for sin of the world. That God his Father would forsake him, that he would be crushed for the iniquity of the world.
Jesus learned all of this. He can identify with you mentally, in knowledge and in wisdom.
Do you see how deep the incarnation really runs? As Charles Wesley wrote. Veiled in Flesh the Godhead see, Hail the Incarnate made man deity, please as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.
Jesus identifies with us mentally.
Thirdly, Jesus identifies with us relationally.Jesus was without sin,
But he still had to obey his mother; He still had to learn to live with his brothers. He understood the complexity of relationships and they weren’t always easy. There is an interesting account in John 7.Jesus’ brothers encourage him to go to Jerusalem so the whole world could see him and then the text says in verse 5 – For even His brothers did not believe in Him. And it is peculiar because his brothers are encouraging Jesus to go and then the text says well they didn’t believe Him.What does that mean?Jesus’ brothers were patronizing him. Jesus understood sibling fights.Jesus understood love. He loved his mother, he loved his disciples.When he saw Mary and Martha mourning the death of their brother and Jesus friend Lazarus, even though he knew, even though heknew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the grave, he still was moved to tears.
Because he really loved, he really cared, he understood relationships.
Jesus understands the complexities of our relationships because Jesus experienced relationships.Jesus identifies with us relationally.
It overjoyed him to be with his disciples on the last supper night, it crushed him to be betrayed. You know we talk a lot about the physical pain of Jesus on the Cross-, and it was excruciating. But what about the relational pain. These men that Jesus had poured his life into for three years and given everything to.We see Judas, even after Jesus had just washed his feet betraying Jesus. And we see Peter, the rock, the one that would stand by Jesus if all others failed denying Jesus three times.
We see the cross scene and we don’t know but the Bible certainly gives us every indication that only John was there, all the others at Jesus time of greatest need were no where to be found.
Have you ever been betrayed by someone that you loved and had sacrificed for? Have you ever been betrayed by someone that you thought you could always count on? See Jesus so identifies with you Don’t you see? This grace is so personal. We have a high priest that understands us.
Lastly Jesus identifies with us in temptation.
So here is the amazing thing about Christ is that he has been tempted. Just like you have been tempted. And the text says He has been tempted in every way just as we are. Now how is that so? Like how would Jesus be tempted to watch movies he shouldn’t be watching, or how would Jesus be tempted to waste time looking around on the internet, how was he tempted in every way just as we are?
Well a professor of mine from seminary Dr. Bruce Ware believed that what this is referring to is not every possible sin but every type of sin or every urge of sin. When you look at the fall in Genesis 3 there is an interesting verse right before Eve falls into sin. So you remember the Serpent is tempting the woman to eat of the forbidden fruit and in verse 6 of Genesis 3 we see this 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
So we see in this text Satan appealing to three urges in the woman, and when you get to the temptation of Christ in Matthew 4 or Luke 4 we see Satan appealing to this same three desires or urges.
The first is the
Hedonist Urge- the Woman saw that tree was good for food. This is the desire to have my appetites satisfied “my way.” So the big question. Are we going to let God satisfy our appetites or not or us satisfy them “our” way? Well, Jesus was tempted in this way. When Satan came to him into the wilderness and said, 3 “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” I mean after all if you are “the same in essence as the Father” do it your way.
4 But Jesus answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
The second Type of Temptation or Type of Urge is
The Covetous Urge – The Woman saw that the tree was a delight to the eyes. This can’t mean that the woman recognized the Tree’s beauty. God created a beautiful word that we are supposed to recognize. No, rather the temptation is that she sees that fruit now in a way she never has she wants it. It was forbidden, but Satan caused her to Covet. Everything is not ours, everything is not for us, this was the forbidden Tree.
And Satan brought this same kind of temptation against Christ.
Again from Matthew 4
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
This could be yours Jesus. But our sinless Savior replied “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ”
The last urge that Satan appeals to
Prideful Urge – The woman saw That the Tree was desirable to make her wise. She wants the recognition of being the wise one, the smart one, she was tired of just being the helper. Who want to be the helpmate of Adam, whatever that means and she becomes proud, she can be like God, the one that gets all the attention.
Satan tempted Jesus in this way we read in Matthew 4 verse 5
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Come on Jesus, show off man. It’s the Temple in the middle of the city everyone will see. But our sinless savior our great high priest replied. “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
We sin when one of the urges or one of these temptations gets the better of us. The Hedonistic Urge or failing to control our appetites, the Covetous urge or longing for things that are not ours, and the Prideful Urge this desire to be on top.
Jesus was tempted in every way or every category that we are tempted that we are tempted; Jesus tempting from Satan was extraordinarily more severe than any temptation that you or I have ever experienced. Satan knew what is at stake. And that if he can get Jesus to just sin once. If you have ever played the card game Spades against someone trying to go blind Nil I mean you just have to get them to win one trick and they lose everything. That is all Satan needed he just needed one sin from Jesus and He tempted him in every way.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We took a great group to Israel last week and if you have never been on that trip you really need to go. Because you see it. I mean you go to the Synagogue where Jesus grew up learning the Hebrew scriptures. You go to the sea where Jesus walked on water, you go to the shore where Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fish. You go to the hill where Jesus died.But there is one place in Israel that struck me in an unexpected way. And I will never forget it, when I first went there it was 2006 and the trip leader said we are going to St Peter Galicantu I had no idea where we were going or what that was but I got to the place. And St Peter Galicantu marks where the house of Caiphus would have been at the time of Christ, and archeologists have found at a jail at the bottom of where the house would have been a jail cell where Jesus would have stayed the night of his betrayal, the night of his arrest, the night before he went to the cross to pay for the sins of the whole world. Now there are a lot of sites in Israel that we don’t really know, we know that they are close, but not sure that this event happened right here. But this place with basically 100% certainty we know is the place. And you can in this jail cell and it is basically a pit, where Jesus as a prisoner would have been thrown through a little hole to fall on the rocky cell floor 15 feet below, and in the cold, and in the dark he would have sat there all night long. And sitting in that spot I can’t help but think what must have been going on in the mind of Christ that night.He left heaven, he left his Father’s thrown, he left all joy and all riches, and all comfort. And here he is, in a prison cell, humiliated, dirty, cold, and alone. What was he thinking about that night? And he knew, this is after Gethsemane; he knew that he was about to face the greatest weight of sin, the wrath of God for the sin of the whole world the following day. He came to identify with us, to be like us, to take on our very essence even our sin and he didn’t run from that, he ran to that. Jesus ran to you. And I like to think that on that night of terror Jesus was thinking about you, and you, and you and the joy of knowing you, and the joy of saving you, and the joy of loving you, and the joy of reigning with you in his eternal Kingdom… For the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame and is now seated at the right hand of the Father from where he is calling you, and to where he is calling you.
Jesus came to earth as a man. Incarnate made man. He understands us physically, he understands us mentally, he understands us relationally, and he understands our temptation. His grace is personal.Jesus became a man so that he could identify with you. But also so you could identify with Him.
The invitation of the incarnation is that you can know Jesus. Jesus the Son of God identifies with you and he so longs for you to identify with Him.