Pastoring & Leadership

Jesus Can Relate: In Awe of Our Sympathetic God

The Witness

Recently, I did something I often regret. I read the comment section of an article on a secular website discussing Christianity. Most Internet savvy Christians have done it and most, like me, usually leave upset, angry, or rueful. If you follow religious blogs or articles at all, you are aware of the type of people that sometimes frequent them: the religious indignant that slam our faith by making absolute and outlandish statements in an attempt to make Christians out to be complete imbeciles.

I’m sure you’re expecting me to tell you that this particular blog was different. Well I’m not because it wasn’t. However, one comment stuck out to me. Amidst all of the arguing and attacking, a woman spoke up and endeavored to be the voice of reason. She said no one could really know if God was real or not. She went on to say that with all of the pain and suffering in the world, it is pointless to try and figure out if a God exists who may or may not care let alone relate and identify with our sad state as humans. Maybe he can. She didn’t know.

I would like to attend to her uncertainty, to which many can identify, as to whether or not God can relate to us. In other words, is God able to identify, sympathize, and understand what it means to be human? My short answer is yes and I believe only Christianity is able to respond adequately.

Our Demand

We as humans are particular and picky. We want things how we want them, the way we want them, and when we want them. We can be very demanding, especially when it comes to what type of friends we have and who gives us counsel or instruction, and understandably so.

There is nothing worse than a person with zero experience rashly offering advice as if they are the voice of authority in a situation they cannot relate to. We have all experienced this and if we’re honest, we are tempted to, as my family would say, “act ugly” with people who offer shallow and hasty advice. Why? Often we sense that the person does not appreciate the grimness or weight of our situation.

We want someone who gets it. We want people around us who have been where we have and experienced what we have gone through. At the very least, we want people who are willing to take the time and engage us. They don’t have to have the same family background, income, or education but will they take the time to listen?

The Christian doctrine of the incarnation, describes how God goes above and beyond through His son Jesus. Not only is He willing to listen, he leaves the throne of heaven and enters into our lowly condition. Still, He goes further.

His Arrival

Let me begin by saying doctrine is important. Really important. This is not an attempt to make it cool or trendy because, frankly, I don’t think it needs my help. Doctrine has always been indispensable and forever will be. False teachers that assert otherwise are wolves in sheep clothing.

1 John confirms my argument. There were false teachers claiming that Jesus did not come in the flesh. At the beginning of the letter, the Apostle John discredits the heresy (1 John 1:1-4). He explains that the Apostles heard, saw, and touched Jesus. John did not passively address this issue. Why? He knew what would be lost. He understood the gravity of this doctrine. He was well aware that ideas have consequences. Heresy and false doctrine do not drive man to God but away.

What would be lost? We would lose a God who is able to sympathize, relate, and identify with His creation. The same Apostle in the Gospel of John says that the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus was fully God and fully man. The Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck in his book Our Reasonable Faith says it best:

…Christ became very man and perfect man, like us in all things, sin excepted. He was infant, child, youth, and man, and He grew in wisdom and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:40 and 52). All this is not appearance and illusion merely… There was in Christ a gradual development, a progressive growth in body, in the powers of the soul, in favor with God and man… Even though he was in possession of the not-able-to-sin state of being, there was in Him, because of His weak human nature, the possibility of being tempted and of suffering and dying… He fought and He suffered, and in all this He clung fixedly to the word and the promise of God.

Try for a moment to ponder the implications of this reality. God, the Lord of the universe, leaves the throne of heaven and takes the form of a lowly servant uniting deity with flesh. Never before had He known what it meant to be hungry, tired, tempted, poor, and in agony to point where He sweats blood. He went through rejection, abuse, abandonment, betrayal, insults, cruelty, and denunciation. He knows what it means to be a human in this cold world. Therefore, one can only wonder why this King would become a lowly Servant.

His Provision

Earlier I mentioned that God goes further. If one reads enough Scripture and ponders the incarnation long enough, we quickly realize that Jesus, the God-man, entering into creation does not necessarily equal Gospel, or good news. Why? Truthfully, this could have been very bad news.

Imagine for a moment a rich man entering into the poor man’s situation. Whether this is good or bad all depends on the mission of the rich man, right? Why is he coming? Is he coming in judgment, condemnation, and to be served? Or is he coming in grace, mercy, and service?

Jesus’ mission was to save and serve. He did not come in judgment and condemnation (John 12:47, Mark 10:45). Instead, He who knew no sin became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). He enters into our messy situation, does what we are unable to do, takes the penalty for the chaos we created, and gives us the reward for the perfect life He lived. This is the Gospel. This is inconceivable love.

Like the commenter, we all desire to understood and engaged. We want a God who can relate. We have a high priest, in Jesus, who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and who in every way was tempted. Therefore, the Christian can approach Him boldly receiving mercy and help when we need it. We have confidence that he will deal gently with us because He can relate (Hebrews 4:15, 16; Hebrews 5:2).

In part 2 of this article, we will discuss how this profound truth, if applied, will be of huge service to race relations in America.

What are the implications of this doctrine in the life of the Christian, missions and mercy ministry?

What do you think are the implications of the incarnation when it comes to race relations in America?

Comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts!

3 thoughts on “Jesus Can Relate: In Awe of Our Sympathetic God

  1. Isaiah Tota

    Praise God! Amen Amen Amen!

  2. Phillip Michael Holmes

    Praise God bro! Thanks for responding! I love the Gospel and I pray others will as well. Grace to you bro!

  3. Andrew Russell

    “He enters into our messy situation, does what we are unable to do, takes the penalty for the chaos we created, and gives us the reward for the perfect life He lived. This is the Gospel. This is inconceivable love.” This quote really spoke to me today. Thank you for reminding me of the gospel and the freedom that comes with living in Christ.

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