After David was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 47 in November of 2010, I tried to empathize the best I could as he went through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Our world had turned completely upside down and I was struggling to process this disease and all the ramifications of it. I was trying to help him in his battle with cancer while feeling like I was waging my own emotional battle.
Then, three years later, I was sitting in the chemo chair after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I was finally able to experience some of those same effects he had been dealing with physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Now I could better empathize with my husband and the other patients in the treatment room. There is something very special about talking with someone who has been where you are. A bond is formed when you know they can relate to what you are going through.
This is what Jesus has done for us. He left heaven and came to earth to experience the things we live through in this life…love, joy, hope, but also pain, sorrow, rejection, and suffering. If He had not, I think we would feel disconnected from Him and doubt that He truly understands how we feel.
I think about the difference between seeing a game or concert on television verses experiencing it first hand. There is a huge difference! Yes, God has always and will always know everything about us, but Jesus left heaven to experience and feel what we feel. What a gift!
Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in ALL points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly (confidently) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
He understands what we are going through because He also lived here. You may say, “Well, He certainly has never been rejected by ______________ (fill in the blank).” Well, I beg to differ.
Matthew 25:40 says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
This passage is talking about when we help others, it is just like helping Jesus. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that when we hurt others, it is just like hurting Jesus? And when we are hurt, He is hurt? He feels our pain.
I John 4:20, 21 tells us, “If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
When people aren’t loving us, they aren’t loving God either. He knows how we feel. The same people that offend, reject, or hurt us are doing the same thing to God. We cannot have a good relationship with God in heaven while having bad relationships on earth.
Jesus didn’t have a home for much of His life on earth (Matthew 8:20), yet He is preparing mansions for those who believe in Him (John 14:2). He felt hunger (Matthew 4:2), yet He called Himself the Bread of Life and said we didn’t have to know spiritual hunger.
In John 6:33-35 Jesus said, “…my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world… I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”
Jesus was referring to us never being spiritually unfulfilled if we put our trust in Him….something much more important that physical food.
He suffered physically. He took the ultimate beating for you and me to pay for our sins. Isaiah 52:14 says, “As many were astonished at thee; his visage (appearance) was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:” He was then crucified for the sins of the world. “But God commendeth (demonstrated) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Yes, Jesus definitely knew physical pain!
Jesus chose to leave His home in heaven where He had always been worshiped by the angels and given the honor He deserved, to be born here on earth to be “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)
In Matthew 23:37 Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and you would not!” He knows the pain of rejection.
So knowing all this, we can confidently talk to God about any problem we have and know He relates and can understand what we are going through. Psalm 139 is one of my favorite Bible passages. It describes in detail God’s great love for us.
As Christmas draws near, may we draw close to not only this Saviour of the world, but a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
Have yourself a Merry little Christmas!