(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The first confirmed Covid-19 case in the United States happened on January 20 – a man from Washington State who had returned from visiting family in Wuhan, China. In four short months (I write this Gem on May 20) the virus has spread to every state and territory in the US (except American Samoa), totaling, as of today, 1,558,631 confirmed cases, and 92,258 deaths! This pandemic has turned the country and the world upside down! *Globally, the Coronavirus pandemic has produced 4,892,550 confirmed cases, with 322,821 deaths.
I don’t have to ask, “Is the Coronavirus affecting you? ” Of course it is! The question is, “How much is it affecting you? ” With loss of jobs and incomes, social life, travel, even individual health and/or that of loved ones, our lives feel as if they have been put on hold! One thing I miss so much is regular communal times of worship and fellowship with my church family.
Does God know? Does God care? Does He actually understand what I am going through? After all, this is 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth. Things are different today! How can He identify with all this?
The next several Gems will be based on a Scripture that points us to the answer of all these questions, and more – Hebrews 4:14 through 16:
Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We will start with this: “I don’t know how I will financially make it! I have lost most of my income! My savings are about gone! Even my home is now in jeopardy! How can Jesus understand my financial problems? ”
- Did you know that Jesus had no regular source of income? There is no record in the Bible that He had any personal income from occupa-tion, savings, or investments.
✞ But He did have some money, for it says in John 12:6 (Contemporary English Version), “Judas... carried the moneybag and sometimes would steal from it.” Judas not only betrayed Jesus (see Luke 22:4, 48), he was also a thief!
✞ Where did the money come from? Luke 8:1 through 3 tells us: ...Jesus traveled through towns and villages, preaching the Good News about the Kingdom of God. The twelve disciples went with Him, and so did some women who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (who was called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had been driven out; Joanna, whose husband Chuza was an officer in Herod's court; and Susanna, and many other women who used their own resources to help Jesus and His disciples.
- Did you know that the Lord was homeless?
✞ At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus came to Nazareth and taught in their synagogue. He challenged his hometown listeners because of their skepticism that their local boy could be God’s Anointed One (see Luke 4:16-27). They became so angry that “...they got up and took Him out of the town to the edge of the moun- tain on which their town was, so that they might send Him down to his death.” (Luke 4: 29). He escaped, but thereafter would not accept that place as His home. ✞ Nazareth was where His family (mother and at least six siblings) still lived (see Matthew 13:54-56). But Jesus did not acknowledge them as His main family! When they came to see Him in Mark 3:32, “The multitude...sitting around Him said... ‘Look, Your mother and brothers are outside seeking You.’” But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” And He looked around...at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:33-35). Why did Jesus ‘reject’ His family? They thought He was crazy! The crowds were so big, and the needs so great, it tells us in Mark 3:20 and 21 (Modern King James Version) that Jesus and His disciples, “...could not even eat. And when His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of His mind.’” ✞ When a man expressed to Jesus a desire to “‘... follow You wherever You go....’ Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’”
- Did you know the Lord had to twice borrow a coin to make a point?
✞ The first time was from a fish in Matthew 17:27 when Jesus told Peter... ...go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them [the tax collectors] for Me and you. ✞ The second time Jesus answered a question posed by the chief priests and the scribes to entrap Him: “Teacher, we know...you do not show personal favor- itism, but teach the way of God truly: Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:21, 22). His answer? “Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They...said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Luke 20:23-25).
Back to the question at the beginning of this Gem: “How can Jesus understand my financial problems? ” Can you begin to see how He understands what you are going through?
- First of all, He is God – the Son of God, God the Son! (See Isaiah 9:6, 7; John 1:1, 14; Hebrews 1:8). And God is omniscient (all-knowing)! So Jesus Christ knows what you are going through! (See John 2:24. 25).
- In our featured Scripture, verse 15, we are told, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
✞ The word sympathize in Greek is συμπαθέω (pronounced soom-path-eh’-o). M.R. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament says, “This is more than knowledge of human infirmity. It is feeling it by reason of a common experience with men.” It’s as if Jesus is saying to us, “I know what you mean! I have been there and done that...as one of you!” ✞ The word tempted is πειράζω (pronounced pi-rad’-zo), and it means “...to test...that is, endeavor, scrutinize....” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary). To test and scrutinize something, you have to be in the middle of it! We are...and He has been in the middle of it! And He is in the thick of things with us now!
One final thought – and this will apply to the next several Gems also – Jesus Christ does not just know our difficulties, financial or otherwise, because He has humanly experienced the challenges we face. He is big enough, and powerful enough to enter into the situation, any situation, and radically alter it!
- He healed the incurable leper! (See Matthew 8:2, 3; Luke 17:12-14).
- He raised people from the dead! (See Mark 5:35-42; Luke 7:11-15; John 11:38-44).
- He fed thousands with a few fish and loaves! (See Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-38).
- He stilled the winds and waves! (See Matthew 14:22-32).
- He sacrificed Himself so we could be saved! (See John 3:16; I Peter 2:24).
- He is “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS!” (Revelation 19:16).
…He is God!