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 4:15-16
This verse reminds us that Jesus is able to understand our weaknesses and our temptations, and yet He did not sin. Because of this, we can be confident as we approach God in our time of need. In God’s Presence we will find mercy and grace, not condemnation and judgement.
Inevitably, however, someone will read this passage and wonder, “How was Jesus tempted in every way, just as we are? I know we are to take this to mean He completely understands our situation, but what if Jesus was never in our situation? Jesus didn’t have to face infidelity, abusive parents, or addiction. He never had to parent a prodigal child or lose a child to cancer, stillbirth, or miscarriage. Jesus may have faced similar things, but He doesn’t REALLY know what it is like to go through what I am going through. He hasn’t faced the hardships, temptations, and weaknesses I face.”
Typically, then, there is a response about how God is omniscient and knows everything, and so Jesus does really know what we are going through. But omniscience in this case feels distant. It feels like a kind of knowing but not a full knowing because it’s not down in the muck of life. It feels, somehow, lofty and erudite but not intimate. We want God to have intimate knowledge of our experience, not aloof omniscience.
A couple weeks ago I was driving around the Baltimore beltway contemplating all of this, and the Lord revealed something to me. I felt the Lord say, “Mark, it’s not just that I am omniscient. I am all-knowing, and that would be enough to intimately understand you. But my love for you went even further. I have been dwelling in every believer in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, for over 2000 years. I have intimate, God-with-us knowledge of each moment of the life of every believer. From the time they gave their life to Jesus to the time that they died, I intimately experienced every moment, every thought, every hurt, every temptation with them.”
Let that sink in. Every Christian, all over the world, for over 2000 years. The Holy Spirit has intimate, firsthand, personal knowledge of every moment. If Jesus Christ is “God with us”(Matthew 1:23), then the Holy Spirit is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”(Colossians 1:27). That’s why the Holy Spirit’s nickname is “the Spirit of Christ”(Romans 8:9-10). And we know, “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God”(1 Corinthians 2:10). So the Holy Spirit has been the divine link–communicating the things of God to us but also the “things of us” to God.
We can be sure, there is no one who understands us better than God. He knows our weaknesses, our struggles, the hardships and temptations we face. He knows us not in a distant way, but in a way that is up close and personal. His omniscience is not aloof but intimate. He knows…in the deepest, most personal way. He knows.