When tragedy strikes it’s interesting to see the different responses from our leaders.
When the terrorist attack happened in Christchurch last month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern came out with obvious grief and hurt in her voice and demeanour.
It was similar some years back during the Queensland floods when the Premier at the time, Anna Bligh, showed that same grief and disbelief.
Irrespective of their political leanings or effectiveness, these leaders were praised for their empathy during time of tragedy as it was clear to see that they truly felt the pain of their people.
There is comfort that people take when their leaders come out to the place where there’s been a tragedy and simply just stand among the hurting even if they have no answers to the tragedy.
We see that when bushfires and floods and other devastations hit – the Prime Minister or Premier, or both, come out and stand with their people – not with answers but with empathy in their pain.
There are other styles that we have seen, such as when September 11 happened and President George Bush came out saying that they would hunt down those responsible and show the full force of their might.
For some reason that style doesn’t always gel with the people.
We want answers – we want responses – but at the time of hurt we mainly want to know that our leaders truly do feel our pain and anguish.
If you’ve ever been to sit at the bedside of a loved one who is dying – you don’t need to say anything – just being there empathising with them speaks much more powerfully.
Our bible reading today highlights that quality about Jesus today.
It says: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.
To put that into more simpler language – Jesus feels our pain because he too experienced it.
Jesus doesn’t explain why we suffer – he doesn’t promise us deliverance from our suffering in this lifetime.
He does more than that by suffering with us.
But we do want answers.
We want the empathy at the time of our hurt, which the leaders have shown, but we also want answers and assurance that things will be made right and it won’t happen again.
And that’s what Jesus does.
Good Friday is only the beginning of Jesus dealing with our tragedies.
On Easter Sunday we have the conclusion and we have the answer..
Today we remember that Jesus suffered our suffering – that Jesus suffered our humiliation – that Jesus suffered our feeling of abandonment – that Jesus suffered our death.
But on Easter Sunday morning Jesus will present us with the answer we so desperately are looking for.
Whatever tragedy is before us, behind us, or we are presently experiencing, Easter Sunday will give us hope.
It won’t immediately take away the pain and suffering but it gives us the comfort of knowing that God has prepared a new future for us.
And that future is eternal life in Heaven where there will be no more suffering or death.
The difference between what Jesus offers us and what worldly leaders can offer us is that he continues to be there for us and offers us personal access to him.
At Jesus’ death it says that the curtain in the Temple was torn in two.
The curtain was there to prevent access into the most holy part of the temple where God’s throne was.
The curtain, now torn in two has given us access to God wherever and whenever we need it.
So our reading says: . Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
As lovely as it is to have worldly leaders come to us in times of need, we cannot go to them anytime we want.
But because of Jesus’ death we have been given full access to God anytime we need it.
But especially important is that through Jesus’ death we have been given access when our earthly time comes to an end.
Jesus’ death assures us of God’s forgiveness and therefore assurance of eternal life when we die.
And that’s the worse that this world can do.
Terrorists, sickness, tragedies of any type can take away our life but nothing more.
On Easter Sunday we rejoice that the life that the world took way from Jesus today is restored.
And not just any restoration – but resurrection to eternal life.
And as our bible reading concludes it says he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Whatever situation you’re facing at this time – whatever tragedy you’re dealing with, God gives hope.
Hope that he empathises with you – hope in that sometimes God can bring miraculous healing – but the greatest hope is that through Jesus’ death on Good Friday, our suffering is limited to this life only and that Jesus has opened the entry to eternal life in Heaven where nothing evil can exist – where there will be no more suffering or death.
Nothing else, and no one else, can give you that comfort and assurance.
So let us hold fast to our faith and let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find God’s grace to help in time of need.