2022 Advent Devotional – Immanuel, God is With Us is Now Available on Kindle

Advent Devotional 2021 – Second Sunday of Advent

PRAYER

Take a moment to become still, aware of God’s presence, and then pray:

Almighty and merciful Father, thank You for so loving the world that You gave Your only begotten Son to become one with us so that we might forever share in Your life and love. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit so that we might hear and obey what You say to us. Amen

REFLECTION

For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
Hebrews 2:16-18

Are there times you feel that no one understands what you’re going through, that no one knows your pain or sorrow? I sometimes feel like that and then find myself singing the old spiritual, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows but Jesus.” This is the heart of today’s scripture: Jesus knows what you are going through and is ready to help.

This scripture tells us straight up that Jesus did not come to help angels. Rather, Jesus came at Christmas to help “the descendants of Abraham”, you and me, as by faith we become Abraham’s descendants and heirs of God’s promises (Romans 4:13; Galatians 3:29). Thus, the Virgin Mary sings the Magnificat, rejoicing that at Jesus’ birth God was remembering His promise “to Abraham and to his descendants forever” (Luke 1:55). This was God’s promise to bless “all the families of the earth” through the coming of His Son (Genesis 12:3). “This man, God the Son, took of the virgin Mary, the offspring of Abraham, and united him to His person, and of God and this Seed united into one person, became our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Matthew Poole, Commentary on the Holy Bible)

Because Jesus came to help us and not angels, “he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect.” That means you and me: Jesus’ brothers and sisters! So Jesus knows and feels exactly what we’re going through. C. S. Lewis reminds that Jesus, in His humanity, “has faced all that the weakest of us face, has shared not only the strength of our nature but every weakness of it except sin.” (C. S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis)

Jesus knows what it is to be rejected, to be poor, hungry, and suffer awful grief and sorrow. This means that Jesus, in His humanity and His divinity, is our “merciful and faithful high priest” and “able to help those who are being tested.” “God does not look at our pain from a distance and send us ‘well wishes’. No, God the Father sent His Son to take on our human flesh, saturate Himself in our struggles, and bear our pain… He took our nature, lived our life, endured our temptations, experienced our sorrows, felt our hurts, bore our sins and died our death.” (John Stott, The Contemporary Christian)

Jesus came to take on our flesh and blood humanity so He could suffer the troubles we suffer and help us. God has kept His promise to Abraham to stand with us and take our side. “At last in the midst of our fallen humanity, within and in spite of our estrangement from Him, God comes in His love and binds us to Himself forever.” (Thomas Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ)

The order of words in the Greek text put emphasis on the word “merciful”. It literally reads: merciful…He might be…and…faithful…high priest. As Jesus is merciful to His “brothers and sisters” in their weaknesses and temptations, He acts as God’s “faithful” high priest. This is the 100% humanity and the 100% divinity at work!

In biblical times the high priest represented the people to God. His characteristic function was once a year, on the Day of Atonement, to present the atoning sacrifice for all the sins of the people. So, Jesus acts as God’s “merciful” and “faithful” high priest offering “an atonement sacrifice” for all of our sins. Jesus is, as the apostle John writes, “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

As we face troubles and temptations in our everyday lives, we can know that Jesus came to help us. He made Himself one with us so that He might be for us a merciful and faithful high priest ready to help. He does know the troubles we’ve seen!

WORSHIP

Think back over the past 24 hours and note when you experienced a “high” and a “low”. Share with God how the humanity of Jesus might speak to you in what you experienced.

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