Son of man, Son of GodJesus was both of these. But of the two He most often referred to Himself as the Son of man, that Jewish way of saying "human being." Sometimes we concentrate so much on the unusual in Jesus, the fact that He was God's Son, that we overlook the fact that He was a human being who suffered things as we do.
"What a friend we have in Jesus," we sometimes sing. He is a friend who can sympathize with our weaknesses, because he was tempted in every way that we are, yet without sinning (Hebrews 4:15). He knows what it is like to feel the pangs of hunger and to be tempted to use the power within His reach to ease that suffering when He should not. He knows what it is like to feel the tug of pride in who He is and to be tempted to show off to others. He knows what it is like to feel the desire for power over others and to be tempted to turn to the worship of something other than God to gain that power. But all of these temptations He overcame by the power of God's Spirit.
Jesus knows what it is like to be rejected by those who should have been the first to accept Him. He knows the strain of controversy with these people. He knows the agony and despair that comes from facing His own death. So often we remember the quiet resolute Jesus of iron will who faced His captors in the garden and forget the prayers bathed in nervous sweat that made that iron will possible. We forget that his prayers and supplications were made with loud cries and tears (Hebrews 5:7).
Jesus knows what it is like to feel pain wracking at one's body. He knows what it is like to feel one's tongue cleaving to the roof of the mouth because of dryness. He knows what it is like to feel the life draining out of the body. And He cares. He is able to help. "For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18).
When trouble comes our way, Jesus is One who can relate. He has gone through it, too, and can truly say, "I know how you feel." Yes, ours is not a distant God, but One who can empathize. Let us turn to this true Friend in prayer in time of trouble and despair.
Copyright © 1993, Bruce Terry. All rights reserved. This article may be freely reprinted in bulletins and newsletters so long as no charge is made to the reader and this copyright notice is included.