Glorious Empathy


Sherri Drury

Jesus was both man and God, both human and divine, both full of supernatural power and cloaked in human weakness, both humble servant and a victorious hero, both uniquely different from the rest of humanity and completely relatable to all of humanity. 

No one else has ever walked this line before. 

This reality is awe-producing. And it is a foundational belief that some have died for. And it is  a beautiful mystery that we cannot fully explain or fathom. 

Why is this so important and impactful to us — that the Son of God gave up his divine privileges to become fully human? 

Hebrews 4:15-16 holds the key. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 

Empathy is such an underrated quality. But God knows the immense comfort and life-saving power found in empathy. In essence, this is why Jesus came to the earth to begin with. And now God has a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation (Hebrews 4:15 AMPC).

This glorious empathy draws us to him. It’s easier to follow someone who has been through an assault, has survived without a “hit”, offers to show you the way and then walks beside you every step of the way. 

Some people question Hebrews 4:15 — was Jesus really tempted in every way. They ask– does He really understand the 21st century struggle with FOMO? Does Jesus really understand women who are driven to jealousy and insecurity in the modern culture of body shaming? Does He really understand sexual temptation in a world where impure images are a click away? Great questions! But I do believe that Jesus faced and can empathize with the root of every kind of temptation. 

Additionally, the Bible reassures us that Jesus’s empathy is real and deep. He didn’t just skip through his earthly life taking notes on what he saw, rather he suffered: Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrew 2:18) 

Because of Jesus, we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence — freely and boldly and fearlessly.  And there, we find grace and mercy. When we approach God’s throne, mercy is doled out to cover our failures. It’s easier to admit and express our failures in front of someone who knows how hard post-Eden-life can be! And at God’s throne, grace is also doled out to cover our soul-destitution. It’s easier to admit and express our neediness in front of someone who understands what strength and fortitude it takes to resist temptation. 

So let me ask you this: What temptation are you facing right now? What human emotion is overwhelming you right now? What is causing you to suffer right now? What is dragging you through sorrow right now? What area of weakness is plaguing you right now? 

Bring it to Jesus. Sit with Jesus today and commiserate with him. Be honest about your failures and your neediness. Be reminded and blessed that Jesus not only wonders about you or worries about you or feels burdened for you . . . he empathizes with you. And that makes all the difference.

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