Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sympathizing Savior

“For we do not have a High Priest 
who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, 
but was in all points tempted as we are, 
yet without sin.” 
(Hebrews 4:15)

A store owner was tacking a sign above his door that read "Puppies For Sale." Signs like that have a way of attracting small children and sure enough, a little boy appeared under the store owner's sign.

"How much are you going to sell the puppies for?" he asked.

The store owner replied, "Anywhere from $30 to $50."

The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change. "I have $2.37," he said. "Can I please look at them?"

The store owner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, "What's wrong with that little dog?"

The store owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn't have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame.

The little boy became excited. "That is the little puppy that I want to buy."

The store owner said, "No, you don't want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I'll just give him to you."

The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner's eyes, pointing his finger, and said, "I don't want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I'll pay full price. In fact, I'll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for."

The store owner countered, "You really don't want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies."

To this, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the store owner and softly replied, "Well, I don't run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!"

In addition to the examples we’ve seen the last couple of days, Luke is very intentional in his recording of circumstances that are particularly illustrative of the human sympathies of Jesus, not given in the other Gospels. The following are a few instances of such sympathies:

There is the scene with the widow of Nain (7:11-16), which is particular to Luke’s Gospel. In this transaction, Luke “notes some particulars which would naturally affect a tender human heart,” writes Andrew Jukes. “The young man who had died was ‘the only son of his mother,’ and ‘she was a widow;” for human sorrows and affections here are all noted. Then when Jesus saw her, ‘He had compassion on her;’ and when He had raised the youth, ‘He delivered him to his mother,’ as One, who having known a mother’s love, could truly feel with her.”

There are a number of instances that appear in Luke’s Gospel as well as in the other Gospels. However, Luke often inserts just a word or two of difference, and by doing so touches a human cord. All of which, is consistent to Luke’s overall motivation of presenting to us Jesus as a man. For example, the incident with Jarius’ daughter. Luke alone pulls the reader deep into the emotion of the father by letting us know that she was his “only” child (8:42). In another place, a father comes to Jesus and only Luke records the following words spoken by the father, “he is my only child” (9:38).

Jesus isn’t some spiritual guru, who feel out of the sky in a space capsule. He’s a man, born of a woman, in an obscure village, during underprivileged times, among a discriminated group of people. He was a baby, who became a boy, who increased in wisdom, strength and stature, not to mention favor with God and men. He became a man, fully acquainted with human tendency’s and temptations, yet without sin. He isn’t a High Priest hiding away somewhere until the next religious ritual needs to be fulfilled, rather He is a walking, talking, interacting with feelings kind of human, who can “sympathize with our weakness.”

Become a Dog?
Lying at your feet is your dog. Imagine, for the moment, that your dog and every dog is in deep distress. Some of us love dogs very much. If it would help all the dogs in the world to become like men, would you be willing to become a dog? Would you put down your human nature, leave your loved ones, your job, hobbies, your art and literature and music, and choose instead of the intimate communion with your beloved, the poor substitute of looking into the beloved’s face and wagging your tail, unable to smile or speak? Christ by becoming man limited the thing which to Him was the most precious thing in the world; his unhampered, unhindered communion with the Father.              --C. S. Lewis

Portraits of Jesus    

Can you think of some other ways in which Jesus sympathized with humanity?

Reflect on where Jesus was born, how he was born, the incidents that surrounded His birth, the city He grew up in, His physical appearance, and so forth.

Reflectively read and pray through the following passage. As you do, ask God to make you aware of how He knows exactly who you are, where you’re at, and what you need.

“For we do not have a High Priest 
who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, 
but was in all points tempted as we are, 
yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly 
to the throne of grace, 
that we may obtain mercy and find grace 
to help in time of need.” 
(Hebrews 4:15-16 NKJ)

“Now that we know what we have – Jesus, 
the great High Priest with ready access to God – 
let’s not let it slip through our fingers. 
We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, 
experienced it all – all but the sin.
So let’s walk right up to him and 
get what he is so ready to give. 
Take the mercy, accept the help.”
(Hebrews 4:15-16 Message)

The Son of God,
became the Son of Man;

So the Sons of Men,
could become Sons of God.

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