“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15
One revolutionary truth stands out to me about Jesus: He identifies with us.
John 1:14 explains: “He became flesh and dwelt among us.” In Philippians 2:6-8, we learn Jesus humbly obeyed the Father, He left all the glory of Heaven and came down to the earth and took on the nature of a servant. Although He was God, he appeared in human likeness. Hebrews 4:15 says He was tempted in every way just like we are.
This astounds and comforts me. It shows God’s secure identity, His love for us, His practicality, His interest in mere humanity. It also proves His relevance to our everyday activities and struggles. Because Jesus understands and knows our weakness, He identifies with us.
But can we identify with Him?
I remember a few years ago, I ignorantly questioned Jesus: How can you understand what it’s like to be a mother if you never had any children? I was sitting on the porch on a hot summer day; my head leaned back on a soft, cushioned chair. I felt utterly hopeless because of an argument I was having with one of my teens. I had spoken harshly out of anger, and my heart grieved. I wallowed in defeat and didn’t think Jesus could identify with me as a mom. So how could He help?
His answer took me by surprise: I had twelve, and one betrayed me. I cannot say how deeply the words broke through my discouragement, yet what He spoke next ministered even more to my broken heart: Don’t take it personally when your children choose not to obey or love you. Although Judas was with me every day and saw my heart, He still chose to do His own thing. I didn’t stop him.
As these words softly made their way into my heart, I knew Jesus understood and identified profoundly more than I had given Him credit! He also revealed something else to me within the same breath: When I parent His way instead of mine, I cannot be offended. Will I identify with Him?
I guess I never thought about the fact that Judas’ heart had been revealed to Jesus long before the night He was betrayed. He saw him stealing the coins from the money bag, saw the disdain on his face when the prostitute poured costly ointment on His feet. Not only did Jesus see Judas’ actions, He saw his murderous heart too; He could read his mind and thoughts. Never once did He try to stop Him. He taught and parented the twelve from a place of security because He listened to the Father.
Offense and condemnation come as a result of parenting our own way, in our own strength. As a mother, it’s easy to parent from this place, to feel hurt when a child disobeys or refuses to surrender. We try to force or manipulate her or him to think our way. Becoming offended causes us to condemn rather than love.
That day, though I had parented my way, I never once felt condemned, only deeply understood, deeply loved, and deeply dipped in grace. Jesus didn’t condemn Judas, and He didn’t condemn me. He wasn’t offended and identified with me.
Mom, Jesus understands and doesn’t condemn you either. He’s not offended because He listens to the Father.
Jesus only did what He saw His Father do. If He didn’t take it personally, we shouldn’t either. If He didn’t force or manipulate Judas to surrender to Him as King of Heaven but instead continued to love and serve him to His own death, then why should we parent any differently?
He teaches and parents better than offense and condemnation.
When we identify with Jesus in our parenting, the outcome ultimately belongs to the Lord. We leave the results to Him.
As Jesus prayed and humbly obeyed the Father, so we should pray and humbly obey Jesus in our mothering. The key to identifying with Jesus comes from laying down our lives like He did, our own “rights,” and our expectations—by living and loving our children as He loves all His children.
This is how we identify with Him.
Mari Jo and the Help Club for Moms Team
Pray with me: “Dear Jesus, I desire more than anything else to identify with you. As you listened and obeyed the Father, so I want to hear and obey you. Open my spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear what you are doing and saying. Help me selflessly lay down my life as you laid down yours. Please help me receive your love so I can love my children well. I choose to lay down my “rights” and my expectations as a mom to follow your lead. I know you care deeply and will help me. Amen.”