The book of Hebrews has provided some surprising comfort as I process my grief at losing Becky. I’ve long loved this book of the Bible because I am enthralled with the Old Testament and Hebrews ties the Old Testament and the New Testament together in the person of Jesus Christ. What I hadn’t fully realized is how much Hebrews displays Jesus as the suffering God fighting our battle with death.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 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 in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Heb 2:14-18
God in Jesus took on every aspect of humanity with the express purpose of being merciful and faithful on our behalf. He was tempted just like I am tempted and he withstood those temptations never giving in to the point of sin. This comforts me because I can look to Jesus when I’m tempted knowing that He knows the way out – he can be my guide.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Heb 4:14-16
Tempted in every way, just as we are — what a comfort. When in the midst of my grief over Becky’s death I find myself tempted to say to God “forget it” or “this isn’t worth it” or “where were you” I know that Jesus somehow understands. I find myself wondering if his struggle in the garden encompassed some of these thoughts? Was Jesus asking if there was another way to accomplish our salvation? Was He agonizing over the coming separation from Father God – the death of that relationship? Was He fighting the temptation to do it another way, a way that wouldn’t cause him to suffer death and separation and pain?
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” Heb 5:7-10
“He was heard. . .” – I’ve often wondered what that means since He did die, He did suffer. Jesus didn’t give in to temptation whatever form that took for Him in His last night on earth. He found the strength to endure and submit to what was set before Him. That strength came from His love for us – the ‘joy set before Him’ of our salvation and restored relationship (Hebrews 12:2&3). Again I find myself wondering if God gave Jesus a vision that night of what it would look like after death died and our souls were restored to right relationship with God – if that vision is what enabled Him to obey. I won’t know the answer to that question this side of eternity, but I know what I know – that there is no other God I would serve but this One who has walked where I’ve walked and can lead me through.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Heb 13:5