Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
I love to discuss theology. I love to talk about doctrine and beliefs. Good thing – since that is my calling and career. I bet there aren’t too many who love these things.
One of the theological discussions I enjoy surrounds the thought of Jesus’ temptations. It is clear through Scripture that Jesus was temped. Today’s passage says – Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
That Jesus was tempted is not really in question. What seems to be in question is whether Jesus could or could not sin when tempted. Is a temptation a temptation if there is no possible way you could yield to the temptation and sin? That is a significant question.
Whether Jesus could sin or not is cloaked in His nature. Jesus’ nature as the second Adam – was different than our nature for sure. 1 Corinthians 15:45–49 – 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. Continue reading
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin.
Theological debate or discussion can occur and has occurred on the smallest difference in interpretation. Passages like this one today for instance often bring to my mind the question of whether Jesus could have sinned but didn’t – or whether he could be tempted but never could have sinned. It is not a debate I intend to solve in a short devotional thought.
We’re told many times in the Bible that Jesus NEVER sinned. No student of the Bible that I know debates that truth. Here are some passages that support Jesus being sinless. John 8:29 – The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him. John 8:46 – Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 2 Corinthians 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 1 John 3:5 – But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. Hebrews 7:26 – Such a high priest meets our need — one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 1 Peter 2:22 – “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
The question of whether He could sin or not often surrounds the idea that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Did His divine nature overcome His human nature? In Scripture we see that His human side could experience pain – anguish – shed tears – and experience hunger among other human traits. Some also wrestle with the idea of Him being tempted. Can you be tempted if you could not yield? Some argue that in order to be tempted – one would need to be able to yield to the temptation. Some argue that the temptation or offer of sin is real whether you could or could not yield. You see the debate is not easily solved. Did Jesus need to surrender to the Father or was that automatic? Did He have dry tough times in His life like we experience as humans where He had to yield to the Father? And how could He sympathize with our weaknesses if He had never been challenged?
The one passage that gives me the most insight on this subject is when Jesus was tempted in the Garden. Read this with me. Mark 14:32-38 – 32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
I believe that Jesus’ human self didn’t want to go to the cross – to face the pain – the anguish. He was asking the Father for another way – an out even. He yielded His human will to the Father’s will – and didn’t sin – but I certainly believe He could have done so. Having said that – I don’t feel this is an essential doctrine – right or wrong depending on what side you take. For me – it makes Jesus’ example stronger if He could have sinned and didn’t rather than He didn’t because He couldn’t. Just saying!
Just something to think about today as you go on your way.
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