This morning I was pondering what I wrote yesterday about empathy versus sympathy. I started wondering if part of the reason for the incarnation was so that God could empathize with us? I know God knows everything, so He always knew what we humans thought and felt, but did God have a desire to actually think and feel what we thought and felt? Is that at least part of the reason God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ?
Hebrews 4:15-16 says:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
It would be interesting to research whether empathize would have been a better translation of the original Greek in this passage. It does seem that by experiencing this life as we do Jesus can empathize with our struggles, feelings, temptations, and pain, as well as our joy and thankfulness, better than God the Father could before the incarnation.
I know God had a bigger purpose in mind when Jesus came to live and to die on the cross for our sins. But I can’t help think that the desire to be able to empathize with our condition wasn’t at least a small part of God’s plan.