“Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!”
–– Daniel 3:25 ––
Christ’s Incarnational Experience
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. –– Hebrews 4:15
Throughout the Middle Ages, monarchs would often ride into battle with their soldiers. Contrastively, modern leaders sit well within friendly borders as their men advance into battle. The president of the United States, for example, often cannot relate to the corporal in Afghanistan or Iraq. As Christians, however, we have a Lord who lead by example. God has “gone before us” in the most profound way possible––by taking into union with Himself the fulness of a human nature (Phil. 2:6-7).
He is with us in the sense that He has “been there, done that.” You may ask, “Is Christ tempted like I am?” the answer is, “yes.” “Did Christ hurt like I hurt?” the answer is, “yes.” “Did Christ weep like I weep?” the answer is, “yes.” At no point in any of our trials can we rationally question whether or not Christ can relate to us. For He has already gloriously done so. He has take upon Himself the worst of all possible situations––the judgment of God on the cross. We may hurt, but our hurt will never surpass the hurt Christ experienced. He is surely in the fire with us.
Christ’s Incarnational Obedience
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. –– Philippians 2:8
We are not obedient people by nature. Prior to the Fall, Adam was able to fulfill God’s standard of righteousness. Post-Fall, the ability to obey God in a manner pleasing to Him was destroyed. Adam, being the first representative of all humanity, was a failure. Humanity was in desperate need of another––this time sufficient––representative. This representative would need to obey for Adam and, consequently, for fallen humanity.
Theologians have traditionally distinguished between two different types of Christ’s obedience. Christ’s active obedience refers to His positive obedience to the law of God. Passive obedience refers to Christ’s suffering the effects of sin and, ultimately, His reception of the just wrath of God the Father on the cross. In His obedience, Christ obeyed as a man. He was not called to meet an easier standard, the bar was not set any lower for Him than it is for us. He was obligated, as Mediator, to obey the Law just as we are called to obey the Law. He is certainly in the fire with us.
Christ’s Incarnational Mediation
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. –– Hebrews 8:6
There is a man––flesh and blood––in heaven right now.
God the Son did not cease being a man when He ascended and was seated at the right hand of God the Father. He remains our great High Priest and He continues to intercede for His people. He is Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). Christ continues to be for His people. Not only has Christ accomplished what we could not in His active and passive obedience; not only did He justify His people in His bodily Resurrection; but He continues to hold on to us. He insures our rightness with God right now.
Christ stands between the Father and the Father’s people as the guarantee of our reconciliation to a just and holy God. He is our surety without which we could not have peace with God. Because of this, Paul is able to write in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Through Christ, we have peace with God. If we are in union with Him, we have peace with God. Outside of Him, there is no peace to be found. Despair is the sole condition awaiting those outside of Christ.
With that said, to delay repentance is foolish.
Turn from sin toward the one who serves as the only valid currency in exchange for our sinful deeds. Christ is the single sufficient Sacrifice to atone for our sin. If there is any reconciliation between God and man, it is in Christ alone. Being with Jesus in the fire was not a privilege restricted to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; the Christ has entered into, and claimed victory out of, the fire; but more than this, Christ has succeeded in enduring a fire His people will never have to experience. He is still the King of kings who once for all entered into the fire with His people, but ultimately, for His people.