Jesus was human, but also God. How did His humanity help Him empathize with our trials and suffering?
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I don't believe this question can be fully answered unless you are Jesus. My understanding, while it is limited, is not that it helped Jesus empathize but allowed Him to sympathize. empathize - be understanding of sympathize - share the feelings of Often these words are interchanged or used as synonyms but I would like to draw on a distinct nuance of the word. To empathize; would be to have an external understanding, to sympathize; would be to have an internal, shared (mostly likely experiential) understanding. If I look at your question in these terms I would have to answer it this way: Jesus, as God, has always had the fullest ability to empathize (understand) humanity. I believe this is supported by the several statements in the new testament that state: "Jesus knew their hearts." I would argue most, if not all, of these statements are rooted in Jesus' ability, as God, to know the hearts of man and not in His ability to sympathize based on shared experiences, as a human. This being said I do believe that sympathy was a result of Jesus putting on flesh but ancillary to the atonement. The extent to which Jesus benefitted from this, I believe, is in how His name can be Glorified. Jesus ability to atone for and sympathize with humanity is the most significant difference between Christianity and all other religions. Jesus, God, putting on flesh is only way the debt of sin can be repaid. So, how much did Jesus humanity help Him empathize with humans? It really didn't. But it did help to Glorify His name by setting Him apart from all other false gods and allowing Him the ability to sympathize and subsequently repay a debt that we could not pay. When I say this I mean that these don't depend on each other but that they can't be separated. Hope this helps with your thoughts.
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