Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. -- Hebrews 5:8
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
The Comfortable Need No Comfort
Yesterday we talked about recognizing and accepting God’s “higher definition” of us as His children while refusing to allow ourselves to be limited, constrained and condemned by the accuser and his agents. This verse today is the other side of that reality. Sonship was the rightful position of the Lord Jesus, but it was necessary, for our sakes, that He discover experientially the suffering of humanity in order that He might be an effective and eternal High Priest on our behalf.
We confess the vicarious and substitutionary suffering and death of Christ atoning for the sin of humanity. Hebrews reveals a deeper truth. God Himself, though knowing all things, could not fully understand and identify with us until He, too, took on flesh, walked among us, felt the pain of loss, and faced the black abyss of death for Himself.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). When Jesus was preparing His disciples for what was to come as He went to the Cross, He said, And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever … (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit is that Helper, the Paracletos, the One called alongside, the Comforter.
As strange as it sounds, suffering introduces us to comfort. The Comforter is revealed to us most expressly in the pains and losses of life. Why do we think it strange that we must suffer as Christ Himself suffered? How can one who has never been comforted possess the power to comfort another? When was God ever comforted? When He suffered and died in separation from His Father.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, on the last day of the Feast, Jesus stood up and invited everyone who was thirsty to come to Him and drink. He said from the innermost being of those who would believe on Him there would flow rivers of living water. John adds this: Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:39).
Jesus could not yet give the Comforter for He Himself had not yet experienced the need for comfort that His ultimate suffering brought Him into.
Every loss is an emptying. Every pain is a wound into which the balm of the Holy Spirit may be poured. We will never suffer the full measure of loss and pain which Jesus endured, but what we do experience opens us to receive more of the Comforter’s presence and power. The more that is poured into us, filling the void that suffering has created, relieving the agony of thirst we experience for meaning in the midst of our pain, the more we will have to pour out to those around us as they hurt and need an advocate and a helper.