By Scot Martin
Does Jesus know what it’s like?
“Jesus, how can You possibly understand what I’m going through?” Ever felt like that? Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus is able “to empathize with our weaknesses” because He “has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Every way? Really? How can that be?
Jesus clearly didn’t face every exact temptation, test, or trial (The word translated “temptation” can mean all of these.) that anyone has ever faced, but He did face every category of temptation, test, and trial.
Physical: hunger, thirst, exhaustion, and abusive treatment (torture and death).
Relational: from His enemies, harsh words, rejection and hatred; from His family and followers, half-hearted devotion, misunderstanding, and even betrayal. He also lost loved ones to death (John the Baptist—who was murdered, and probably Joseph, His adoptive father).
Emotional: He experienced anger, sadness, and even dismay (in Gethsemane and on the cross—see Matthew 27:46). In Gethsemane He felt an agonizing desire to avoid an awful experience (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22). On the cross He was exposed, abused, pierced, and shamed. (Those crucified were typically naked.) He also bore our sins, and with them, our guilt. (See the last few chapters of each Gospel; Gal 3:13; 1 Pet 2:24)
Mental: He knew what it was like not to know something. “He grew in wisdom” (Luke 2:52) and He did not know the hour of His return (Mark 13:32). He had to depend on His heavenly Father.
Spiritual: Satan tempted Him to disobey Scripture and therefore God the Father. (Matthew 4; Luke 4)
Whenever we are tempted, tested, or tried, we can ask Jesus how He felt and how He responded in similar situations. In the words of Hebrews 4:16, “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.”