"Those Are My People"
I care about human suffering and tragedy. When natural disasters strike various parts of the world, I care. When war, famine, or plague ravage far-off areas of the globe, I feel bad for those affected. But can I confess a weakness?
It's hard for me to feel empathy for these victims for any longer than a few minutes. Tsunami in Asia, war in Ukraine, or Ebola in West Africa—I've got a lot on my plate in my own life to spend too much time obsessing over others' problems. And I don't think I'm alone in this. If you're honest, you probably don't spend a lot of time each day worried about natural disasters, war, and plague in the far reaches of this planet. Unless...
Unless it concerns someone you love. I'm the same way. The tsunami in Asia several years ago became another matter altogether when I learned of fellow Christians and foreign missionaries who were suffering.
Tornados? It's sad to hear about their devastation, but when they strike in the Oklahoma City area or east-central Mississippi, I'm worried about my mom or grandmother and other relatives/friends.
Ebola? Admit it—few of us knew about the outbreak in West Africa, and fewer cared much about it, until fellow Christian Kent Brantley brought it to the forefront of our national conscience.
Before you go off and try to correct this apathy with a rousing chorus of "It's a Small World After All," let me say that I think it's natural for us to respond in this way. I think it's normal for us to care more when someone we know and love is in trouble.
When tornados rip through parts of Mississippi and Alabama, I'm concerned because I've been there. I've driven those back roads and lived in those communities.
When Ebola affects fellow Christians, I'm concerned because they're my brothers and sisters in Christ. We're "blood" relatives.
When soldiers evict Christians from their house of worship in the Ukraine, I get a little more upset than I normally would—they're "my people."
I think this gives us a window into the high-priestly ministry of Jesus. While recently preparing for a Bible class on Heb. 4:14-16, I read some comments by N.T. Wright that really challenged and uplifted me. His point concerned the humanity of Christ, particularly how even now Jesus remains fully human and fully divine. I have always believed that Jesus was human—at least while he was on earth—but I had never considered the implications of Jesus retaining his humanity after his ascension.
But when Jesus intercedes for us as our high priest; when he sympathizes with our weaknesses and serves as our mediator, it's because of Jesus has retained his humanity and knows what's like to be human. In other words, it's not as if he remembers the distant past 2,000 years ago when he was a man. He remembers what it's like to be human for he remains human still, in addition to being fully God.
This matters because, regardless of what we endure or experience, Jesus sees, knows, and cares. These are not distant trials for which Jesus has no frame of reference. Rather, he is concerned intimately about our every toil and trouble. He's been there. He's walked those roads. We are his "blood" relatives.
Jesus says to the Father, "Those are my people."
Are you struggling today? Facing a chronic, deadly illness? Caring for a loved one in their twilight years? Grieving a death? Facing eviction, foreclosure, or termination? Let this put a prayer in your heart and praise on your lips.
Jesus sees. Jesus knows. Jesus cares.
He's been there. We are his people.
Father, thank you for blessing us with such a faithful high priest. Thank you for identifying with us, not in our power, but in our weakness. When we struggle, remind us that you see, know, and care. Remind us that we are your people, and that whatever is of grave threat to us is of grave concern to you. In the name of your Son and our High Priest...
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