Passengers on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines may be surprised to know that on any number of flights over the past few decades, they were flying with royalty. And I don’t mean squeezing into a seat alongside them. In this case, this royal was in the cockpit, flying the plane. For the past 21 years, King Willem-Alexander has flown for KLM as a co-pilot, completing at least two flights each month. According to him, he was rarely recognized. After all, no one expects a king to be flying their plane. They expect him to be ruling his kingdom.
I think there’s an interesting similarity here to our own expectations of our King, Jesus. Because the Gospels focus mainly on his three years of earthly ministry, it’s easy to forget that for the first 30 years of his life our Lord worked as a carpenter. Carpentry isn’t very glamorous work and it requires an incredible amount of patience and discipline. It must have been a struggle. But the writer of Hebrews tells us, “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 NIV).
It isn’t hard to imagine there were times where, after feeling the frustration of making a mistake while building something, Jesus was tempted to give in to that frustration and let it boil over into anger. Yet, as Hebrews says, he did not sin. While remaining King of the universe, Christ lived a human life, with all of its pain and shortcomings, and yet redeemed it by never giving in to temptation. This is why the next verse from that same passage in Hebrews is this: “Let us then 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 NIV).
As much as we might expect kings to be remote and inaccessible, our King Jesus is anything but. He lived here on earth, among us, experiencing the same things we do. So when we pray, asking for Christ’s involvement or his mercy in our lives, we can do so knowing that everything we are feeling, thinking, and dreaming, from the smallest foible to the wildest ambition, is falling on the ears of someone who has been there, right where we are, living out those same things. He did it that so that we might share in his overcoming of temptation. We can now take part in his joyful obedience, which arose out of his faith in the Father. This fellowship with him is possible all by the Holy Spirit ministering to us and in us. Jesus Christ, God with us and one of us, is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.