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 4:15-16
This week we’ll be looking at the first temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness. First though, let’s get the bigger context.
Some people dismiss the temptations that Jesus experienced (they say, 'he was God, so it must have been no big deal'), but the author of Hebrews emphasizes multiple times that they were the real thing. Hebrews 4 makes it very clear that the temptations that Jesus faced were just as real as the temptations we experience and that these temptations very easily could have led into sin. So Jesus gets it – he knows how hard it is to resist temptation. He understands the pressure to cave in. He's faced the (false) promise of relief if we just give in. Jesus can empathize – meaning that his experience of temptation is just like ours.
And yet, he did not sin. The point here is not that he was somehow morally pure. The point is that he stayed connected to his Father, he remembered his core identity, and he chose to be who he truly was instead of adjusting himself, compromising himself or violating himself.
As we respond to Jesus’s call this week towards wholeness in the midst of facing temptations, I want to encourage you to use this simple tool each day as way of strengthening your connection with God. This is the prayer we closed our time with during the Sunday message, reflecting on Psalm 46:10 as a way to do what the verse above commands (approaching God’s throne to find grace).
Take about 30 seconds to reflect on each line of this bible verse. As you reflect on the first line, try to listen in to what God might be saying to you, and when you start to get distracted, say the second line. Focus on that second line, listening for the Spirit, until you get distracted and then re-center yourself by focusing on the third line, and so on. No need to rush through this, but you don’t get an award if you go long either! It’s just a simple form of opening yourself to God’s grace. So take some time and pray this, about 30 seconds in quiet for each line:
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know