Christmas is a special time of year. It’s an opportunity to celebrate Jesus, the one who came to save people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Every holiday season tends to look different. Whether it’s the way we’re able to connect with each other, loved ones who have passed on, or children growing older, each Christmas season is unique. But the one constant is a God who took on flesh to live among us. But the story of Jesus didn’t start in a manger, and it didn’t end when he ascended from the earth. Being fully God and fully man, Jesus endured the cross, scorned its shame, and—in triumphing over death—took his place at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2). The author of Hebrews puts what the life of Christ means for us even thousands of years later into perspective.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV)
In this passage of scripture, we see how we can be hopeful, encouraged, and confident because of the life of a Savior who can empathize with our weakness.
Live a life full of hope in Jesus
Sin entered the world in the beginning through man, and with sin came death. We know that all have sinned (Romans 5:12). Now, “just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). He didn’t come to be served by those on earth, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Through his death on the cross, Jesus offered himself as a perfect, sinless sacrifice. And his resurrection three days later gives those who call on his name the hope of eternal life (John 3:16).
God rescued us from sin and made us alive with Christ. He saved us by grace and raised us with Christ, seating us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. He did this to show the extravagance of his grace for us, by overcoming death and pointing us toward what is to come. This new life gives us hope of what is to come—eternal life free of sin, death, and pain. Ultimately, Jesus restores our relationship with God, gives us knowledge of what is true, and offers a life that will never end.
Encouraged by a Savior who understands
When we think about God, it’s easy to think in abstract ways that create a chasm between us and God. While sin does create separation between us and God (Isaiah 59:2), he sent Jesus to break through that chasm in a way that only a true Savior could.
When on the earth after his birth, Jesus was “fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God,” and to atone for the sins of man (Hebrews 2:17). The author of Hebrews says that Jesus can “empathize with our weakness.” In his book New Morning Mercies, Paul David Tripp writes that the word translated to “weakness” is nearly untranslatable, but it can best be understood as “the human condition.”
Jesus has experienced all the struggles of being human—temptation (Luke 4:1-13), hunger (Mark 11:12), rejection (Mark 6), pain (John 19), and death (John 19:30). Through it all, he remained without sin and never lost sight of seeking and saving the lost (Luke 19:10). The Message translation of Philippians 2 perhaps says it best:
“When the time came, [Jesus] set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”
What an incredible gift Jesus is to the world—a Savior that knows us inside and out. He is a Savior that sees our struggles and says, “I understand.”
Confident that we can approach God with our prayers
Because of Jesus’ ability to empathize with us, we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, receive mercy, and find grace to help us in our time of need. When Jesus removed the chasm between us and God, he also removed any pretense that God doesn’t have interest in our prayers. In 1 John 5:14 (NIV), it says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
God hears us. He understands us. He can empathize with us. What’s more, Jesus stands in the gap for us, interceding and advocating on our behalf. We’re told in 1 John 2:1 that “we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” And Hebrews 7:25 echoes that “[Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
Christmas is a great time to reconnect with family and friends. Think about the conversations you have with those closest in your life. When you know that person has been through a similar experience, their empathy allows you to feel heard and can deepen your relationship with that person in a way that just isn’t possible with others who haven’t walked the same road as you. It’s the same with Jesus. He can understand pain, grief, and suffering. He has taken on death and overcome it.
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:9-10 NIV)
This Christmas, celebrate the birth of a child who was fully God and fully man. Celebrate the birth of a child who “lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death.” Celebrate a Savior who advocates for you before God as one who understands what you’re going through.