By Jody Bennett

Divine empathy


The other day I went to the dental hygienist for a clean and scale – one of my least favourite things. I had put off the appointment for an extra six months because the last time I went it was so unpleasant and made my teeth sore for days afterwards.

This time I got a different clinician and, although I braced for the worst, found the experience quite bearable.

"You are so gentle," I commented to her part way through.

"Thank you," she replied. "I also have sensitive teeth, so I know how it feels."

Wow! What a difference her empathy made! I made sure to make my next appointment with that hygienist who could identify with my dental situation and would treat me with compassion.

It made me think of how the Bible says Jesus "understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

In another passage it says Jesus was "made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since He H imself has gone through suffering and temptation, He is able to help us when we are being tempted." (Hebrews 2:17-18)

Isn't that comforting? God doesn't sit afar off, remotely, judging us for our behaviour without any sympathy for what we are going through or what motivates us. Jesus knows what it is to be hungry, to be disappointed, bereaved, tired, angry, bullied, slandered, hot and foot-sore. He was tempted sexually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Jesus understands ... and yet He lived without sinning once.

And, if we submit our lives to Him, He promises that every time we are in a tempting jam, He will make a way for us to escape. "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

That is the beauty of worshipping the God-man Jesus Christ. His humanity means He identifies fully and compassionately with us, but His divinity rescues us out of the quagmire of sin we are unable, in our humanity, to escape.

In the words of a song by Graham Kendrick, "Meekness and majesty/ Manhood and Deity/ In perfect harmony/ The Man who is God/ Lord of eternity/ Dwells in humanity ... Bow down and worship/ For this is your God."

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