Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. 1
Humanity is always in search of heroes. Every culture invents heroes who can help them make sense of the world around them and offer some glimmer of hope of wrongs made right. The ancients had Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Heracles and Hektor, Romulus and Remus. We have Superman and the other comic book heroes, but Superman is, in the final analysis, no help. All of the heroes created by popular culture, both past and present, rescue us from our situation, but fail to rescue us from ourselves. The problems “out there” get resolved, only to leave us relatively unchanged. It is no different than treating the symptoms of cancer but leaving the tumor itself unchecked, destroying us from the inside out. As the woman who suffered for twelve years, both from her condition and her doctors, we have spent all that we have but come away with nothing. 2 Or, as is often the case, we are made even worse. We muster up a happy face while we hide our hemorrhaging souls.
Christ’s rescue of His people stands in stark contrast to our pop culture heroes. He doesn’t always rescue us from our situation. The salvation He offers is different. As He hung on the cross, others mocked Him saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him.” 3 Instead, we often find ourselves in the same place as Job, crying out in brokenness, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” 4 In the ultimate delay of gratification, we both weep and rejoice with him saying, “And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” 5 The martyred saints of the Most High are even now under His eternal altar, crying out, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 6
Our hope, then, is far different than that of the world. But what we sometimes miss in the midst of our pain is that death is necessary for resurrection. We miss the fact that God collects our tears. We miss that our Savior’s path to victory lay through misery, pain, and sorrows; our union with Christ means that our victory too will often lay along the same path. Our comfort then is not in a rescue from our current trials, but that Jesus, as the Man of Sorrows, truly shares in our hurts and cares. The aspect we often miss about our union with Christ is that while we receive the benefits of Christ, He really and truly receives into Himself all the hurts and cares we experience. Every tear we shed in our sorrow touches His face. Every cry of anguish we utter escapes His lips as well. Even now, as He stands in the heavenly Holy of Holies, Christ is interceding for us before the Father, perfectly identifying Himself with His people. “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” 7