Up until now, we’ve been talking about how Lent helps us connect to the story of God and his people. Lent helps us identify with God’s work through history. Lent also reminds us that Jesus identifies with us.
Right after Jesus’ baptism the Spirit led him into the wilderness for 40 days “to be tempted by the devil”(Matthew 4:1). Here, he shows himself to be humanity’s ultimate representative: in contrast to Adam who ate the fruit, Jesus does not give in to the temptation to make and eat bread; in contrast to the children of Israel who worshiped the golden calf, Jesus does not give in to the temptation to worship the devil. Jesus connects to our story by fulfilling Adam, Israel, and all humanity’s purpose. He is the ultimate human.
Hebrews 4:15 says that “we have [a high priest] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.” He identifies with us in our weaknesses. He empathizes with us in our suffering. Healso shows us that we do not have to give in to temptation or be ruled by sin.
Because, Jesus identifies with us in our human experience, we can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus doesn’t just give us an example to follow, he gives us the mercy and grace we need to follow him.
We see this most clearly in the cross: Jesus became sin for us so we can be free from the power of sin and death. He identified with and represented us as the ultimate human so all human’s – if they repent and submit to Jesus – can be restored to right relationship with God. For all those who repent and believe, Jesus continues to identify with and represent us before God’s throne today (1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 8:34)