2009-01-17 - Heidelberg 14.2
Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."
Question 14.2: "Can another creature - any at all - pay this debt for us?"
Answer: No. To begin with, God will not punish another creature for what a human is guilty of. Besides, no mere creature can bear the weight of God's eternal anger against sin, and release others from it.
Jesus Christ became incarnate. He became man, and one of the great consolations of this is that He suffered in all things, as we have, do, and will. He is Head of His church, and from this, we draw strength. One of the things that gives us grounding in the midst of our various trials is that nothing we undergo is strange or unknown to our Head. Nothing happens to a child of God that is unknown to our Elder Brother Jesus Christ. He has felt them all. He had the iniquities (sins) of us all laid upon Him on the cross, but there is more, because He Himself has suffered, and as such, He is able to support us when we are under trial.
Trials can come from those who love us, and from those who wish ill to befall us. Jesus knew the same. Our own families and those who are closest to us can often be the greatest hindrance to our growth in godliness, but Jesus knew the same. It is no novelty to our Lord that one of the ones closest to Him would tempt Him to things contrary to the will of the Father. We know how he had to say to Peter, "Get behind Me satan," when Peter put his thoughts contrary to those of the will of God for our Lord. We also know how temptations can come from one who we know well, but who really are false friends, seeking things again, contrary to our best interests. Jesus experienced this with Judas who delivered Him over to the authorities. One with whom He tasted bread betrayed Him. We should not marvel when those we know are the very ones who lead us in a way that is contrary to the will of God, and thus prove to us a temptation. This was the experience of our Lord. He has been tempted in every way that we are. Jesus Himself has suffered and been tempted. His children are also, but we have this consolation: Jesus knows our temptations, and has undergone the same.
This is part of the blessing - that One who is like us, suffered for us. The very fact that He suffered as we are afflicted is a comfort to us. He came through His trials as purified gold, and we also when we resist and do not yield do the same. He not only pays the debt for us, being like us, but today He does even more - acting as an intercessor for His people. He prays for us. The debt is paid on the cross, and our Lord now reigns in Heaven. One of the things He does for us, even as we are in the midst of temptation, is offer prayers for us. Who knows us better? Who better to be praying and interceding for us, than one who has taken our sin upon Himself, paid our debt, but also lived a life, was tempted as we are, and now is interceding on our behalf before the Father? Why then are His prayers for us such a great comfort? Because He is God? Certainly. Because He loves us? Without a doubt. However, the most reassuring way our Lord comforts us and relieves us in our times of trial is that He draws His prayers for us from His own life. He takes the pain and sorrow that He knew, in His own heart, and they inform His prayers 1- by experience. He also has suffered and been tempted, and when we come to Him in our trials, we come to one who has been tempted in all things, as we are - yet without sin.
Soli Deo Gloria,