When No One Knows What You Are Going Through

Have you ever suffered some evil and thought, “no one knows what I’m going through!” No doubt we all will feel this way at one time or another, some more strongly and more often than others. But no matter what you or I face in this “veil of tears” there is one who truly knows what you are going through. The author of Hebrews writes, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).

John Calvin commenting on this verse writes:

“And it is the true teaching of faith when we in our case find the reason why the Son of God undertook our infirmities. For all knowledge without feeling the need of this benefit is cold and lifeless. But he teaches us that Christ was made subject to human affections, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest. . .For in a priest, whose office it is to appease God’s wrath, to help the miserable, to raise up the fallen, to relieve the oppressed, mercy is especially required, and it is what experience produces in us. For it is a rare thing for those who are always happy to sympathize with the sorrows of others. . .The Son of God had no need of experience that He might know the emotions of mercy. But we could not be persuaded that He is merciful and ready to help us had He not become acquainted by experience with our miseries. But this, as other things, has been as a favor given to us. Therefore whenever any evils pass over us, let it ever occur to us, that nothing happens to us but what the Son of God has Himself experienced in order that He might sympathize with us; nor let us doubt that He is at present with us as though He suffered with us. . .An acquaintance with our sorrows and miseries so inclines Christ to compassion, that He is constant in imploring God’s aid for us.”

The application is this: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For 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. 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 (Hebrews 4:14-16)

He is Risen!

A Reading for Easter: Luke 24:1-12 (ESV):

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two lmen stood by them in dazzling apparel.  And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words,  and returning from the tomb they stold all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,  but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

A Catechetical Lesson for Easter: Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 45:

What benefit do we receive from the “resurrection of Christ”? First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of the righteousness which He has obtained for us by His death.Second, by His power we are also now raised up to a new life.Third, the resurrection of Christ is to us a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.

A Collect for Easter (Approved for use in the URCNA Hymnal):

Holy Father, giver of all perfect gifts, we join the heavenly choir to herald the news that you have defeated the powers of sin, death, and condemnation by the victory of Jesus Christ your Son over the grave. We confess that the circumstances of this present age often rise up to testify against the promise that you have declared in your Word. Nevertheless, we bring the experience of our hearts under your judgment: You have raised Jesus Christ from the dead as the first fruits of the whole harvest at the last day. As in his resurrection you have brought the new creation into this passing evil age, raise us up and seat us with Christ—in this life, through faith, and in the next, beholding with our own eyes the resurrection of our bodies in life everlasting. All of this we pray, with joy and thanksgiving, in Christ’s name. Amen.

Did Christ really descend into hell?

Ever wonder what it means to confess in the Apostle’s Creed “he descended into hell”? This is how Reformed churches understand it, something worth meditating on as we approach Good Friday:

“Why is it added: ‘He descended into hell?’ That in my greatest temptations I may be assured that Christ my Lord, by His inexpressible anguish, pains, and terrors, which He suffered in His soul on the cross and before, has redeemed me from the anguish and torment of hell” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 44).

If you would like to learn more about this line of the Apostle’s Creed and why we should continue to confess it based on God’s Word, and for our comfort, here are two great resources by Rev. Daniel Hyde.

1. A FREE article: “In Defense of the Descendit: A Confessional Response to Contemporary Critics of Christ’s Descent Into Hell”

2. An inexpensive book that is an expansion of the article with a PRACTICAL SECTION at the end: In Defense of the Descent: A Response to Contemporary Critics (ONLY $7.50!)