In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1,12)
We’re the Same
One Dad, call him Bill Smith, tells this true story about his son Daniel: Daniel is an adult now, but when he was 5 years old, he loved me to dress like him. When Daniel wore blue jeans and an orange T-shirt, he asked me to wear jeans and matching shirt. When I did, Daniel eyed us both and said, “Look, Dad—we’re the same.” At a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game, we got matching red hats and Daniel commented, “We’re the same again.”
When I wrestled with him on the floor, Daniel didn’t like me to stand because I’m tall and tower over him. He liked it when I kneeled. When I was down at eye-level, Daniel put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Now, Dad—we’re the same.” He liked these everyday connections. One time, I scraped my elbow doing plumbing repairs and later that week, Daniel scraped his elbow playing. He pointed at my scab, then showed me his and remarked, “Hey, we’re the same again.”1
Daniel’s wanting to connect with his dad reminds me of our longing for the Lord Jesus. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) wrote that there is a God-shaped hole in the heart of every person which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by our Creator Lord, made known through Christ.
God the Holy Trinity, one God in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), is the one and only true and living God. He created and upholds everything that exists. The members of the Trinity have loved, enjoyed, and had fellowship with one another from eternity past, pre-history, before the beginning of time. The Trinity is the original Holy Family. But God the Son didn’t stay on His Heavenly throne. He was never aloof or apathetic in Old Testament times, but the Lord went the second mile 2,000 years ago to demonstrate that He is not detached, distant, or indifferent to our pains and problems. God the Son got down at eye-level with us when Christ was born in Bethlehem.
Jesus didn’t pretend to be human. He truly became like us, in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then Jesus could offer Himself as the sacrifice to take away the sins His people.2 Christ understands our ways and weaknesses, because He faced all the same troubles we do, yet Jesus never sinned.3 Over His thirty-three years on Earth, Christ experienced firsthand being tired, tempted, discouraged, disappointed, abused, and abandoned.
The Cross and Resurrection
As He was dying, Jesus prayed a lament: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”4 I believe that Christ was thinking about all of Psalm 22, even as He quoted only the first verse. The whole Psalm prophesied Jesus’ suffering and glory 700 years before Christ was born. Christ obeyed His Father as our representative and died in our place to ransom us. A hymn by William Darwood (1835–1914) says it this way:
O Jesus, Lord, how can it be, That You should give Your life for me,
To bear the cross and agony, In that dread hour on Calvary!
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Christ rose bodily from the grave and appeared to many eyewitnesses. And Jesus is still alive, never to die again. See 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Jesus’ resurrection brings us at least three important benefits:
- He gives us pardon and acceptance with God (justification)
- He raises us to newness of life and obedience (sanctification)
- He guarantees our future resurrection (glorification)
In this earthly life, along the way to Heaven, the Holy Spirit also gives Christ’s followers assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, and joy in Jesus. The Spirit gives us large doses of God’s grace and peace so that we persevere with Christ to the end. No one or no thing can pluck or snatch us out of God’s strong hands!
Our Temptation to Doubt
In hard times, we may feel, “Lord, you don’t understand what we’re going through. You have no idea how bad we’re hurting.” Christ responds, “Yes, I do.” He points to our wounds and then to His own and Jesus says, “Look—we’re the same. Me too. I entered your world and lived there, experiencing many, many sad times. I know how you feel and I will never forget it. I have been there and I am with you now as my Holy Spirit lives in you. I care and I can help you, so call on me.” This is what Jesus’ incarnation and ministry shows us. One praise song asserts:
You came from Heaven to earth to show the way.
From the earth to the cross my debt to pay.
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky.
Lord, I lift Your name on high.5
By Christ’s doing and dying, He made atonement for our sins and brought His followers into God’s holy family. Now God is our Father and Jesus is our Elder Brother. Now God the Spirit is our Counselor, Counselor, Adviser, Advocate, and Ally. He is our Helper, Strengthener, and Encourager who guides and protects Christ’s people through all life’s storms and will bring us safely home to Heaven, God’s paradise.
Jesus, God’s Son, came down to our level to raise us up to God, partly in this life and fully when He returns for us soon. And Christ promises that we shall see Him face to face and be with Him forever. What a Savior! What amazing love! What a day that will be!
Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Bill’s true story was suggested by Matt Proctor’s “Carols for Any Season of Suffering.” 2 Psalm 22:1; Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34. 3 Hebrews 4:15 4 Heb 2:17-18. 5 Rick Founds, “Lord, I Lift Your Name On High”