15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15)
Those who are reading these devotionals may have noticed their irregularity. I had intended to do one each day, excepting Sundays, during Lent as my devotional practice. I have never been a very disciplined individual as my wife and old friends like Rick will attest. My schedule of traveling, almost constant meetings, and teaching have made this even more difficult. But that is why I decided to put it on the blog this year, to make myself publicly accountable.
My first post in Lent was musing about the choice of Matt. 6 for the Gospel reading on Ash Wednesday. Jesus’ challenge that we keep our piety private always seems to be in juxtaposition to our walking boldly out of the church with black smudges on our foreheads. And so my posts here could be criticized in the same manner. It seems to me, however, that these posts are more akin to a conversation in the community than praying at the street corner for although the internet is a public place I don’t believe (I know) that not many from the general stream of intertube users come down this particular capillary. I also hope that on some level my meditations might be helpful to others. I certainly have appreciated the occasional comments and reflections post by others.
When I think about it, however, this is really such a minor struggle. What Merlin Mann, were he a spiritual person, would call a “first world problem.” Hebrews tells us that Jesus’ humanity was a vital element and characteristic of his identity precisely because he knew “in every respect” our own temptations and trials and yet did not succumb to them. But really, I doubt if Jesus’ struggles were like mine, or most of you who might be reading this. Because most of us have not really known hunger or thirst in the way that Jesus did. Some of us might know the kind of hatred and rejection that he experienced, but most of us will thankfully never know the physical pain that he endured, even on a day to day basis, let alone in his final days.
We were made “in the image of God.” This is not the physical image, but that of creatures who can imagine, create, love, and rule. Yet God also became the very image of man and so knows what it means to be human, in all its experiences. Like a human high priest (Heb. 5:1-3) he could relate to our weaknesses and yet unlike them he was the son of God who was perfected and now continues to offer intercession for us.
This should, on a very simple level, reassure us that when we pray to Jesus he truly understands and knows our experience. It means that we should remember that he was human and so that as he taught us when we feed or clothe another we feed and clothe him. We should see the image of God and the eyes of the Savior in each person we meet.
But what else might it mean? Why did God become flesh? Why this unknowable unified-seperateness between the Father and the Son for the period of his human existence? I don’t know and I am eager for other thoughts, but I do know that the contemplation of such questions is itself is devotion.