In Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird, lawyer Atticus Finch tells his children that “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Isn’t that what Jesus did? He became flesh and walked in our shoes.
In Hebrews 4:15-16, we read, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet 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.”
The writer tells the Hebrews, who were under persecution and tempted not to profess Christ, to hold firmly to their faith because Jesus, too, experienced their temptation. Imagine that: Jesus tempted to hide His faith, stay silent, protect Himself rather than speak up for God, to put His hope in the rituals of religion, or take the easy road.
And yet it’s because He experienced what it’s like to be human that He can empathise with us and that means we can approach the throne of grace – where He already is – with confidence. We have His righteousness, we are justified by His blood, but we also know He completely understands what we’re going through.
He doesn’t only say “I forgive you” or “I accept you” or “I love you”. He also says, “I understand, I know how you feel, I get it. I get you, I understand you. I understand what it’s like, I understand how irresistible the temptation is, I understand why you feel like this, I understand the pain, the fear, the hurt, the disappointment, the loss, the betrayal, the loneliness, the burden, the responsibility, the weariness, the stress, the worry, the longing, the heartbreak, the heartache, the embarrassment, the insecurity, the injustice, the shame … I know.”
We have an empathetic God. We don’t have to convince Him of our need; we simply bring it to Him to receive His mercy and find His grace.