Ever have one of those moments?
You're reading the Bible, or singing a worship song, or listening to a sermon – and boom! Something leaps out and stuns your heart.
This happened to me on Sunday.
Right in the middle of a song, I saw these words…
And all of a sudden, I couldn't sing – overcome with feeling, tears flooded my eyes.
A simple truth, a profound Truth.
Something that I've known forever, and that I can read about in Scripture. A familiar concept – one that brings comfort and hope.
But, for some Holy Spirit reason, in this particular moment, I was blindsided by the impact of those mighty words:
Would you take a moment and ponder that, too?
Let it really sink into your soul.
There is nothing that ever happens to us in this life of which Jesus is not aware.
And He cares.
But you know, I think there's a difference between having sympathy for someone, and empathizing with them. I looked up the definitions to help make the distinction:
Sympathy: feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune
Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another
Sympathy is important.
To show pity for someone else's trials and suffering is crucial. But it's a more passive emotion. It's like watching a sad movie, and feeling sorry for the main character, but it might not be a situation that we have actually experienced.
Empathy is more.
It is the act of entering into someone else's trials and suffering. To understand because you've *been there.* For instance, I might sympathize with your broken arm, but I'll empathize with your dental problems.
Sympathy enables me to feel bad for your feelings. Empathy enables me to feel your feelings as if they're my own, because I've had them myself.
So, perhaps this is why those words – Jesus knows – hit me in a particular way on Sunday. Jesus doesn't just sympathize with me, He empathizes.
Since the presence of the Holy Spirit actually lives within me, does Jesus also actually experience my physical pain and my emotional angst? I think it's entirely possible.
We do know that when He physically walked this earth, He experienced all that it means to be human:
"This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do…" (Hebrews 4:15, NLT)
Wanting to really explore a little deeper what this really means, I consulted some commentaries. I think you'll enjoy what I read:
Matthew Henry – "In the sight of Infinite Wisdom, it was needful that the Saviour of men should be one who has the fellow-feeling which no being but a fellow-creature could possibly have; and therefore it was necessary he should have actual experience of all the effects of sin that could be separated from its actual guilt."
(Don't you love that – fellow-feeling of a fellow-creature?!)
Pulpit commentary – "That Christ, in his human nature, partook of all the original affections of humanity – hope, fear, desire, joy, grief, indignation, shrinking from suffering, and the like – is apparent, not only from his life, but also from the fact that his assumption of our humanity would have otherwise been incomplete."
(I loved the mention of Jesus "shrinking from suffering" – just like me!)
Gill's Exposition – "[He was] touched with the feeling of our infirmities; such as bodily diseases and wants, persecutions from men, and the temptations of Satan; under all which Christ sympathizes [empathizes] with his people; and which sympathy [empathy] of his arises from his knowledge and experience of these things, and the share he has had of them, and from that union there is between him and his people: and it is not a bare sympathy [empathy], but is attended with his assistance, support, and deliverance; and the consideration of it is of great comfort to the saints…"
(Note – His knowledge AND experience of these things.)
My friends, these are powerful thoughts.
This is empowering knowledge.
Let not the familiarity of these words diminish their impact.
The Sovereign and Almighty God of the Universe, sent His Son – who was also perfect, holy, omnipotent, completely God Himself – sent this Son, Jesus, into our world. Our world full of all that it means to be human.
Pain, suffering, temptation, disease, fear, rejection, exhaustion.
He went through it all – the small stuff (stubbed toes??) and the big stuff (injury and death).
Are you getting it???
Now, as I have further contemplated these life-changing words, I'm thinking about something else.
What would it be like if I actually pictured Jesus with me, in physical form, when I go through stuff? Actually right there, in person?
OK, so, I'm picturing Him in some cargo shorts, a T-shirt, and Birkenstock sandals. Oh, He's still got long hair and a beard, too. Piercing brown eyes.
Right now, He's sitting next to me on the couch.
But He's also going to enter into all my *stuff.*
Can you do that, too?
Picture Him with a cool washcloth on your forehead when you've got a fever. Or rubbing your neck when you've got a headache. Or giving you a thumb's up when you're sitting in that dentist chair. Or smiling at you when you come out of surgery. Or sitting by you when you get test results. Or patting your hand during chemotherapy. Or hugging you when you cry over the loss of a loved one.
Picture Him in whatever it is that you face.
Don't just know that He's there…
…picture Him there!
Create an actual visual!!
Close your eyes, and feel His hand, His arms, His smile, His shoulder, His heartbeat, His breath.
And know that every single thing you go through, no matter what…
I sigh with the blessing of this Truth.
And chuckle at the way Jesus brings it home to me – for just today I had a comment on last week's post (when I bemoaned my upcoming gum surgery and tooth repair), and this is part of what it said (Thanks, Nannette!):
"…know that JESUS KNOWS all we go through here on this earth."
Yup, she even capitalized the important part!!
Listen to Jesus, friends…
"My child, I have held your hand before it was even formed. I will hold it for eternity. I will never leave you nor forsake you. And I do indeed know what you're going through. I know what it feels like to be human. So, take heart, don't be afraid. I am here. And I have overcome."
OK, now I'm picturing hugging Him…
All of my life,
in every season,
You are still God.
Your eye is on the sparrow,
and You hold on to me.
This is another great song we sang on Sunday:
When my hope and strength is gone
You're the one who calls me on
You are the life
You are the fight
That's in my soul.
Oh, Your resurrection power
Burns like fire in my heart
When waters rise
I lift my eyes
Up to Your throne.
I will sing into the night
Christ is risen and on high
Greater is He
Living in me
Than in the world.
No surrender, no retreat
We are free and we're redeemed
We will declare
You are the hope.
We are more than conquerors, through Christ
You have overcome this world, this life
We will not bow to sin or to shame
We are defiant in Your name
You are the fire that cannot be tamed
You are the power in our veins
Our Lord, our God, our Conqueror.
Nothing is impossible
Every chain is breakable
With You, we are victorious.
You are stronger than our hearts
You are greater than the dark
With You, we are victorious.
(Rend Collective, "More Than Conquerors")
"He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief." (Isaiah 53:3, NLT)
"He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases." (Matthew 8:17, NIV)
(Isaiah 53:4, three ways):
"Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering…" (NIV)
"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…" (ESV)
"Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down." (NLT)
"Because God's children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested."
(Hebrews 2:14-18, NLT)
"…he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV)
"For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]." (Hebrews 4:15-16, AMP)
"For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." (2 Corinthians 1:5, NIV)
"For his Spirit joins with our spirit…In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later." (Romans 8:16-18, NLT)
Do you truly believe that no matter what you're going through, no matter what you're feeling, no matter what you're suffering - JESUS KNOWS?
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