Adrian Salgado is a gardener in Santa Ana, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.
When thieves stole his truck, cell phone, landscaping equipment, and a thousand dollars in rent money, he lost his only means of supporting himself and his family. With the money gone, he had no way to replace his tools.
Police were able to recover Salgado’s truck, but his equipment—including a lawnmower, edger, hand tools, and leaf blower—was gone.
The police officers felt they had to do something to help. They pooled their resources, obtained money from their police association, and went shopping. Home Depot chipped in another hundred dollars and offered military discounts to the officers who serve as reservists.
The police officers gave the new tools to Salgado, who immediately went back to work. One officer said, “I’ve been doing this job for twenty-seven years. Every so often it’s a good day. That was a good day.”
Does God understand?
It is gratifying to see police officers caring so personally for those they serve. In our broken world, there are times when we may wonder if God feels the same way about us.
Over the weekend, a teenager was fatally shot after knocking on the wrong door in Atlanta. A father of four is on life support after a fight with another man in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium left him with a fractured skull. A South Carolina student got into a car, erroneously thinking it was her Uber ride and was later found dead. The driver has been arrested on charges of murder and kidnapping.
Each day’s news gives us reason to question whether the Creator cares what happens to his creation. For assurance that he does, let’s explore a question many of us may not have asked before.
Why was Jesus born?
If I asked you why Jesus came to the earth, you’d say: to die for our sins.
You’d be right, of course.
But what would you say if I asked you why he had to be born to die?
We know that his virgin birth in Bethlehem fulfilled prophecy (cf. Micah 5:2; Isaiah 7:14). But why did God make these predictions?
If Jesus’ only purpose in coming was to die, why couldn’t he appear as an adult and immediately die on the cross for our sins?
We know that Jesus’ earthly ministry included healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and raising the dead. It initiated the apostolic movement that carried the gospel forward to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Jesus’ incarnation also caused him to experience hunger in the desert (Matthew 4:2), thirst on the cross (John 19:28), weariness at Jacob’s well (John 4:6), and grief at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:35). He was tempted in the wilderness and beyond. As a result, we know that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
But here’s a further question: Did Jesus have to go through his incarnation to understand the human condition?
What did God learn about us?
Are we saying that the omniscient Lord did not know as much about us before Christmas as he did after Easter? That the Father does not understand us as well as the Son? That the God of the Old Testament does not know us as well as the God of the New Testament?
Remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). His Father says of himself, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). The immutability of God is a fact woven all through Scripture.
As is the omniscience of God. He knows “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10). Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3) so that the Son does not know anything the Father does not know.
What did we learn about God?
All this to say, God did not learn something about us because of the incarnation. But we learned something about him.
Max Lucado: “Why did God leave us one tale after another of wounded lives being restored? It isn’t to tell us what Jesus did. It’s to tell us what Jesus does.” It’s to prove to us that the sovereign God of the universe understands what it is to hunger, thirst, grow weary, suffer grief, and face temptation.
To repeat Hebrews 4:15, we know that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Here’s the consequence: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (v. 16).
What will you bring to God?
The gospel is relevant to our post-Christian, secularist, relativistic culture because Jesus is relevant to our post-Christian, secularist, relativistic culture. In all of human history, no one else has proven so fully his solidarity with the human race. No one else has proven so powerfully his understanding of our condition and compassion for our needs.
This is why you and I must share his grace in our love and speak his truth to our times. We represent the only One who meets every need of every person we know.
And it’s why we must resist the self-reliance of our culture by coming to Jesus with our needs and challenges, questions and struggles. When we do, we will “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Every time.
What do you need to bring to the throne of grace today?