You mowed the grass and hauled out the trash, threw your dirty socks in the hamper, completed your article for the Journalism course you’re taking, and even played a video game with your 11-year-old son. But instead of feeling good about yourself, you’re fighting resentment because you’ll miss the softball game. Again. You don’t mind doing the chores, or watching your own kid, but does your wife always have to pick a game night to attend some women’s meeting at church?
You know that a Christian isn’t supposed to harbor resentment, yet you churn inside because your plans never seem to matter. There is no use talking to her about it. You’ve tried that before, and it didn’t work.
“You must learn to put others first,” she’d said. Deep down, you know that’s true. But shouldn’t there be times when you are first? That’s when you wonder whether or not Jesus really understands how you feel.
You may think a God of love cannot possibly sympathize with your feelings of resentment and anger; so the real issue is how to get your life in line with what the Bible says it should be. In other words, how do you feel good about doing good? It won’t be easy, but with effort you can have victory in your personal life. You may even recover that initial excitement you experienced when you first accepted Christ as your Savior.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV) tells us, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, 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 sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
According to this passage there are three things about the Lord that will help us in every situation.
1. We have a great high priest.
The function of the Old Testament priest was to represent the people to God. The high priest wore special clothing, among which was a garment called the ephod. This garment contained two onyx stones, one on either shoulder, and engraved upon each stone were the names of the children of Israel. The high priest wore also a breastplate that contained settings of stones, one for each tribe of Israel. These stones also were engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Aaron, the high priest, entered that special holy place within the tabernacle, which was separated by a curtain, and could only be entered on the Day of Atonement. By wearing these garments when he entered the “holy of holies,” Aaron bore the names of the children of Israel before the Lord.
When Jesus was crucified, the curtain in the temple was torn to show that now we may freely come to God. No sin can enter heaven, but because Jesus lived a perfect life on earth, He entered that special place, heaven, to represent us before our heavenly Father. This means Jesus, our great high priest, actually bears our names upon His shoulders, designating His under girding strength, and upon His heart, the place of His affections.
2. Jesus was tempted like we are, yet without sin.
This means He may have had moments when He dreaded what was ahead for him. Consider His childhood. Was Jesus tempted to play in the streets of Nazareth rather than sweep shavings from the floor of the carpentry shop? Did He really feel good about going to a Cross? Remember, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for the trial to go away. “Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:35 NIV). If Jesus hadn’t changed His mind, His Father may have done as He asked; and salvation would not be possible for any of us. But through prayer, Jesus won the battle.
So Jesus does understand how we feel because He also was tempted. Yet He never sinned. That is why our relationship to the Lord is so important. It is God’s strength that helps us. As we confide in Him, He keeps us from sinning, and frees us from our rotten attitudes.
3. We must come to Him with confidence.
In other words, we don’t have to be afraid of being turned away. When we feel ashamed or guilty we are to come. Failure should never drive us away from our Savior, but rather, to Him. God has a reputation for changing time schedules, holding back rain, sending just the right person, and performing other mini-miracles when our hearts are right. Yet, that should never be our motivation. Even if your circumstances don’t change, the change He makes in you will affect your outlook.
Aaron came to a throne, which was called the mercy seat, but Jesus is not only our great high priest, He also has become our mercy seat because of His sacrifice on Calvary. If you want to understand the mercy seat, think of an operating room. When the famous heart surgeons, Dooley and DeBakey, first performed heart transplants, the procedure was to split the patient’s breastbone, exposing the pulsating heart within the chest cavity. The surgeon then lifted out the heart and placed it on a prepared receptacle where its life was observed.
This helps us understand what God has done, and what it cost Him to give us a “throne of grace.” The Father took a surgical saw, the Cross, removed His own heart – His Son – and made Him our mercy seat. We are invited to come to Jesus for mercy and grace to help in our time of need. Talk about open-heart surgery!
God does not judge you when you come to Jesus, your mercy seat, because Jesus was judged in your place. So if your Christian experience is challenged by temptations, which sometimes overwhelm you, take serious steps today to receive the empowerment you need. For example:
Ø The next time you find yourself doing good without feeling good, take those feelings immediately to Jesus. Don’t wait. When you put it off, you invite even worse things to enter your mind and spirit.
Ø Be honest. God knows what you are thinking, so you might as well confess.
Ø If you think you are being mistreated, ask God to show you how to handle it; then spend time with your Bible.
Ø Read your Bible and pray every day. Your relationship with the Lord is the key to victory and spiritual growth.
Finally, when you come to the Lord, picture Jesus, your great high priest, as your representative before your heavenly Father in your behalf – because He is.
That’s what Christianity is about.
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