Hebrews 4:14-15
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.
Tested in every way, yet without sin. Stop to think about this for just a moment. The temptations Christ endured would have been much harder than anything we endure, because we give in so many times. We are too weak to stand against temptation as completely as Jesus did. The devil would have kept after him, trying to make him fail. But of course, we know Jesus never did fail or fall.
Because of this he is the high priest who is worthy to rule in heaven as the priest king. We say “Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free, you are the Savior of the world.” It is because of this offering of himself, because he endured our weaknesses without failing, because he is the God made man, because he is worthy of all worship, that we come to this day, this Friday that we call Good.
What is there we can offer of ourselves to this high priest and king? What can we offer that makes any difference? He does not need our love in the same way that we need his. He has need of nothing. Yet he desires… us! And it was because of the fall of Adam and Eve, the failure to love unselfishly, that he had to come and do what he did.
I want to do a “red flag speculation”. (Which means this is my own thoughts.) What if Adam and Eve had never sinned? Would Jesus, or rather the second person of the Blessed Trinity, still have come to earth? I told you, it is a red flag speculation! We believe he told the Angels of his plan to become a human being when he created them. And that is what caused Lucifer, now known as Satan, to go into rebellion against God. God so loved this part of his creation, that he wanted to become part of it. This is in essence what St. John wrote near the opening of his gospel.
John 3:16 – 18 reads very familiarly: “For God so loved the world he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
God’s love for his creation, and his desire to have us love him in return, is so great that he would not, could not, fail to be one of us. Even had there been no sin, I believe he would have come so as to rejoice as one of us, and to teach us to rejoice in him.
But that is not the reality of our world. No. His decision to come to this earth, as a man, could only result in his offering of himself – in love, unselfishly – for the sake of humanity. A humanity that has trouble dealing with genuine love, a humanity that has distorted the fullness of the meaning of love in such a way that when it comes in its fullness in Jesus on the cross it is hard for us to see it.
There is a Lenten song whose opening verse is “What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul, – What wondrous love is this, O my soul! – What wondrous love is this – that caused the Lord of bliss – to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, – To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.”
So I return from my speculation to the reality that we face in our lives. We need such a great Savior. We are not immune to sin. But Jesus, because he is the new Adam, because he withstood all temptation, because he withstood all sin, because he endured the cross, because he endured the grave, because he rose from the dead showed us such love that draws us from our smallness into the greatness of who God is.
He has drawn us from darkness to light. As we remember through Good Friday, and Holy Saturday that the grave is not the end, we can rejoice that we do not have to speculate, because we know our Savior lives. Amen.