Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
A confession: I have a very hard time asking for help. People always make jokes about men in hardware stores and their inability to ask for assistance. I am undeniably the butt of these jokes. I am one of those men, for better and for worse. For better, because I can usually figure out what I need all by myself, and I learn a lot in the process. For worse, because sometimes I can’t do it on my own, so I either waste lots of time or make lots of mistakes or, usually, both.
A further confession: When it comes to the Christian life, I also have a hard time asking for help. I know how silly this sounds, given the fact that my whole life and my whole salvation depend on God’s grace in Christ. You’d think that I’d have learned by now to ask for help in matters of faith and faithful living. But, in fact, I have this crazy idea that before I ask the Lord for help with something, I need to try to fix it myself, or even try to fix myself.
It’s that way for me when it comes to temptation. When I’m tempted to sin, my first response is to try to defeat the temptation on my own (except, of course, in situations where I give in without resistance). I back away. I think of the terrible consequences that might come if I sin. I do whatever is in my power to do to beat back the temptation… except the one thing that I need the most.
What is that? I need help. I need help from Jesus.
Hebrews 2:18 promises that his help is available. After revealing that Jesus was fully human so that he might save us, verse 18 adds, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” There it is. Jesus “is able to help those who are being tempted.” Jesus is able to help me… and you too.
Moreover, verse 18 notes that Jesus also “suffered when he was tempted.” This is really quite extraordinary. The very Son of God, the one who was fully God and fully human, experienced genuine suffering when he was tempted. This may be an allusion to what Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane. But, whether this is true or not, the good news is that when we’re tempted, Jesus understands and is able and willing to help us.
At Christmas, we focus on the wonder of the birth of Jesus. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Christmas sermon on dealing with temptation. But, from the perspective of Hebrews 2, one of the life-changing implications of Christmas—the celebration of the incarnation of God in human flesh—is that Jesus will help us when we’re tempted. This is such good news.
So, the next time you feel temptation, don’t be like me in a hardware store. Rather, turn to Jesus. He understands. And he will help you. Thanks be to God!
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you have a hard time asking for help? If so, in what situations and why? If not, why not?
When you are tempted, what do you do?
Can you think of times when Jesus has helped you resist temptation?
Are you being tempted to sin right now? If so, are you willing to ask Jesus for help?
Gracious God, how we thank you for the truth of Christmas, for the fact that, in Jesus, you came to us and were born among us.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for understanding what it’s like to be tempted. And thank you for helping us when we are tempted. Teach us, Lord, to reach out to you. Help us to be open to your help.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, for all the ways you help us! Amen.