Merry Christmas! This week I thought I’d write about Christmas and how it relates to our struggle. What we celebrate at Christmas is the beauty and mystery of the incarnation (God made flesh) – the Son, the second person of the Trinity, taking on human flesh. Jesus our King is fully God and fully human. This is what Christmas is about. The God of the universe being born by a human woman, being a tiny baby, lying in a manger. The almighty perfect God, the Creator, was willing to become like his creatures. He did this for our salvation. Only by being both human and God could he live a perfect life without sin, take the punishment for our sins as a substitute, and conquer death through his resurrection.
Instead of looking at a traditional Christmas passage, I want to look at Hebrews 2 which also talks about the incarnation. Read these few verses:
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Verse 17 tells us that Jesus was made like us in every way, in order that he could be a high priest for us, and in order that he could be a sacrifice for us. He is both the perfect priest and the perfect sacrifice. He is our perfect mediator, mediating between us and the Father.
But I want to focus on verse 18. Jesus himself suffered. Jesus himself was tempted. He knows what it is like to be in our shoes. And because of that, he also knows how to best help us when we are being tempted.
I’ve walked alongside so many people now who have experienced crossdressing addictions, pornography addictions, gender dysphoria, and same-sex attraction. The pain in people’s lives is staggering. So much shame, so much depression, so many ruined relationships, so great of feelings of desperation and helplessness, so much feeling out of control and in slavery, so much weariness at bearing these burdens for so many years. It’s not an easy road. Fighting the sinful thoughts and daily temptations is exhausting. I’ve written about this before – Healing doesn’t mean no more temptations.
What do you tell a brother who is just so tired of fighting his dysphoria? What do you tell a brother who just wants to give in, who sees the culture celebrating crossdressing and transgenderism? It’s not easy. It’s not easy being a Christian sometimes.
But this Christmas, I want us to remember something. Remember the meaning of Christmas. Meditate on what this passage in Hebrews tells us. JESUS KNOWS. He knows! He really does know what it is like. He understands. He’s been in our place. He suffered, agonizing suffering. He was tempted. Hebrews 4:15 says that he was tempted in every way that we are tempted.
Jesus knows exactly what we are going through each day. He experienced more difficult temptations than any of us have faced. He had the power to do whatever he wanted, but he chose not to use that power, and he chose to do what is right, for God’s glory and for our salvation.
Jesus knows. We know that he cares. We know that he has compassion. Our suffering is tough. Our daily struggle against sin is tough. But we know Jesus has not abandoned us, and we know he loves us regardless of the suffering we go through. He cared so much about us that he was willing to suffer God’s wrath on the cross and die for us.
It’s not good for me to say – “grit your teeth. Jesus persevered through temptation, so can you.” No, that is not the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus did it for us. Even when we don’t live the perfect life we are supposed to live, we are still loved and forgiven, because Jesus has given us his perfect righteousness and died for our punishment. And as we struggle against sin today, the good news of the Gospel also tells us that we are not alone. We don’t fight against sin, against idolatry, against addiction, against hating our bodies, against envy, against selfishness, on our own strength. If we fight these sins on our own strength, we fail. But with God’s power working through us, with Jesus living in us, we can say “no” to sin, and we can keep on going and live the life God wants us to live, even when it’s hard. And we know that just as surely as Jesus came at Christmas, he is coming again. Our struggle is temporary. It’s a little blip on the timeline of eternity. Soon and very soon our struggle will be at an end.
So this Christmas, remember. Remember you are not alone. Remember Jesus suffered, and Jesus was tempted. He knows and understands your situation. And he will keep giving you the strength to fight sin and persevere until the end. Rejoice in his grace. Rejoice in the incarnation. Rejoice that Jesus does not leave us alone. Rejoice that Jesus is coming back again. Pray right now and thank Jesus for all of this.