As politicians make their pitch to sell them to the voting public as the candidate they should vote for, the predominant theme they focus on is identification. They make statements like ‘I am one of you’, ‘I have experienced an ordinary life like most of you’, ‘I have gone through suffering like you’ and so on. And when the decision-making time arrives for a voter, how well he can identify with a candidate does become a major deciding factor. How can he represent me unless he has been in my shoes?

It is no different in the matter of salvation. Whereas the majority of religions are akin to ‘swimming instructions offered to a dying man from dry land’, in the Christian faith we truly see a Savior who left the security of dry land and jumped into the dark waters to take us by the hand and lead us to safety. Identification is a predominant theme in the Christian faith.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. (Hebrews 5:8,9)

This is an interesting verse because it implies that Jesus whom we know as one of the three persons of God to be pure and perfect by nature needed to in a way become perfect. And that is understood from the fact that as One who was to be a Savior for mankind, he needed to go through the process of identification. Identification for Christ was to become a man like us, to experience suffering and pain and be tempted like we were. Now this was something that Jesus had to in a way ‘learn and experience’ before the process of identification could be completed for him to be an appropriate Savior.

We might ask, ‘Is not being a human already a part of the divine experience because man was created by God?’ That is true and if Jesus were to experience what Adam was in his created state of being, it would be nothing new for Jesus, because all that Adam was, had been created out of the knowledge contained in God. However, Adam’s fall changed everything because now as sinful beings, temptation, suffering and death came into the human experience. This was not something man was created with, nor is it in any way part of the divine experience. And so for identification to be complete, Jesus had to go through this ‘alien’ experience to be truly qualified as an identifying Savior. May I also point out briefly that only God in his fullness (containing all of creation within Him) could be a Savior because only then would the salvation effected be universally applicable. And so Jesus, who intrinsically was God, after going through the process of identification, became a Savior for us, delivering us from the bondage of sin and death.

For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:17,18)

Yes, when we look at Christ, the Savior, we see not someone far removed from the reality of human experience, but someone who through the process of identification has become for us a merciful and a faithful representative before God.

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