For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. — Hebrews 2.18
“External ambitions are never satisfied because there’s always something more to achieve,” observes David Brooks. The New York Times columnist recalls that a few years ago he came to a realization: “I was going to have to work harder to save my own soul.”
Striving is the term authors of the Scriptures give to pursuits of self salvation. The tuning pitch of the book of Hebrews is the presentation of Christ as the end of our striving. Where we will pursue ad infinitum, the first chapter of Hebrews teaches, Christ is sufficient:
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
If Christ were just all-powerful, we would have the answer we need but no path to access it—what can make limitless strength bow down? On the other hand, if Christ were just near to the brokenhearted, we would have the intimate grace and love we need, but no faculty to heal our brokenness or bring justice to our world.
This may be why the first two chapters of Hebrews echo the first two chapters of Genesis. In the first creation account God speaks the world into existence—power, radiance and glory writ large across the galaxies. In the second account God scrapes dirt with his hands and breathes life with his lungs—intimately knowing the frame of his beloved children. Where the first chapter of Hebrews says God is powerful, the second says he feels our pain.
“Shoreless Ocean,” A.W. Tozer writes of God, “who can sound Thee? Thine own eternity is round Thee, Majesty divine!” It is the power of grace—the heart of the Christian experience—that draws us to intimately know God’s power in our lives. Tozer reflects:
You and I are in little (our sins excepted) what God is in large. Being made in His image we have within us the capacity to know Him. In our sins we lack only the power…. For now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart’s happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead. That is where we begin, I say, but where we stop no man has yet discovered, for there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end.