JESUS UNDERSTANDS

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JESUS UNDERSTANDS

Whilst reminiscing about the good old days, a friend commented that he always found it difficult to learn math from this guy in our batch who was gifted in that subject. Try as he might, this friend of mine could never understand why the steps had to be done that way; whilst the gifted chap could never understand why my friend could never understand. And it is like that for us too when we are trying to break into a new industry. Old hands will never understand why we greenhorns take so long to master the basics; while we rookies will never understand a word of what the old-timers are saying.

There is a term in Geography for this divide. It is called ‘us’ and ‘other’. In fact, the implication of this term is so negative; it often is studied from the gaze of conflicting spatial use. And it is unfortunate that for some, this concept of ‘us’ and ‘other’ is even extrapolated to our relationship with our Father. We are here, and He is there; up in His ivory tower and on His high horse. No wonder the writers of Bruce Almighty had Bruce say that God is, “a mean kid sitting on an anthill with a magnifying glass, and I'm the ant. He could fix my life in five minutes if He wanted to, but he'd rather burn off my feelers and watch me squirm.”

But beloved, Jesus wants you to know that He is not in His ivory tower. He is not on His high horse. For whatever you have been through, are going through and will go through, He has been there and done that and He understands.

“Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.” Mark 1:12-13

Yes, this is a famous section of scripture. Many know it well. But what does this have to do with the trials that we are going through? Well, let us see.

First, we need to understand when it happened. What happened before the word ‘immediately’?

“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”” Mark 1:9-11

Jesus was driven into the wilderness to be tempted immediately after having our Father say to Him that He is well pleased with Jesus. Sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it? We listen to a powerful sermon on Sunday, or read some great devotional that tells us how much our Father loves us. And no sooner have we stepped out of church or closed the book, trials come assailing us; and we start crying ‘God, if you love me, why are you letting me go through this’, right? Hey, that was the first thing Jesus went through. Is it not comforting to know that when we cry out ‘God, if you love me, then why…’, Jesus hears, looks at us and say ‘Hey, I understand bro, been there, done that’.

“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”” Matthew 4:2-3

This is all too familiar as well. We have suffered hunger, we have suffered lack. We know what it is like to hunger and desire after the sustenance of this world, bread or otherwise. And is it not comforting to know that when we face lack, Jesus hears, looks at us and say ‘Hey, I understand bro, been there, done that.’

“Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’
and,
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:5-6

Now, for this, we have all been there. We find ourselves in a situation that is dire and we are trusting our Father with every ounce of faith we have that He will deliver, and when we confess our faith to those around us, they say in reply, ‘if your God is so great, let Him come save you now!’ Indeed, that happened twice to Jesus. Remember what He heard whilst hanging on the cross?

“Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Matthew 27:41-43

So again, when we face similar persecution, Jesus hears, looks at us and say ‘Hey, I understand bro, been there, done that’.

And finally, Satan tempts Jesus with things he cannot give.

“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”” Matthew 4:8-9

In all cultures, there is a belief that the occult exists. People turn to cults because of the promise of wealth, health, and a multitude of other desires. That is exactly what Satan is saying to those who turn to the occult. But let us take the illustration to a lesser extreme. What about your boss telling you that you are needed in the office, on a permanent basis, on Sundays; and if you did not comply, you could lose your job. Ever faced with that situation before?

Now, I am not trying to say that your boss is Lucifer reincarnate, of course not. But the temptation is similar. Yet for us, it is such a comfort to know that because Jesus has gone through that before, Jesus hears, looks at us and say ‘Hey, I understand bro, been there, done that’.

But more than merely showing us that He understands, more than merely a Public Relations stunt on God’s behalf, Jesus went through all that to show us exactly what to do when those things happen.

When faced with lack and hunger, unhealthy desires for the things of the world,

“But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 [AMPC]

Stay our eyes on what is eternal, on what is of eternal consequence and not what is temporal, and He promises that our Father will meet your needs, for Jesus Himself says,

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33

When tempted to test God at His word,

“Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God.” Matthew 4:7 [AMPC]

Especially not with a misquote, for Satan deliberately left out a line in the verse.

“For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:11-12

Yes, Satan left out the fact that Angels have charge to keep you in your ways, not Satan’s ways. Satan has no right to command Angels to keep you in his ways. So,

“Know, recognize, and understand therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, Who keeps covenant and steadfast love and mercy with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations,” Deuteronomy 7:9 [AMPC]

“Yet the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen [you] and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil [one].” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 [AMPC]

Finally, when tempted to put our trust in anything else other than our Father,

“Then Jesus said to him, Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.” Matthew 4:10 [AMPC]

There is really no reason to put our trust in anyone or anything else because Jesus has promised,

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:12-14

Beloved, Jesus is not some bronzed deity put high on a pedestal. Our Father is not a distant God who does not understand us, His creation. In fact the Psalmist says,

“For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14

There is nothing you can go through that Jesus has not gone through. And that is why He also understands that we cannot stop sinning on our own strength, let alone atone for it. So He sorts it for us. And what does He do? He carries our penalties, making us right with our Father; for,

“Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” Isaiah 53:4-5 [AMPC]

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

So, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

And for the areas of our lives that are still not pleasing to Him,

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” Philippians 1:6 [AMPC]

And whilst we are going through it, we have this guarantee that,

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

When we are tempted, when trials come, hang on to our Father because He is faithful. And when we do, just as it was for Jesus,

“Then the devil departed from Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” Matthew 4:11 [AMPC]

So too it will always be for us. Remember, to whatever we are going through, Jesus always hears; and when He looks at us, He will always say, ‘Hey, I understand bro, been there, done that, and have already sorted it out for you’.

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