Paul says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Amazingly, the Heidelberg Catechism says, “all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race” (Q&A 37). Jesus lived under the weight of our sins.
There are two practical lessons here for us as Christians. First, since Christ has borne our sins once and for all, we are to continue laying on Him all our burdens from day to day: “[Cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7; cf. Ps. 55:22). We need to pray daily for His help in bearing our burdens; and then, when we have done that, we need to continue praying.
Second, since we in the new covenant are all priests of the Lord who can approach Him with boldness and confidence in prayer (Heb. 4:16), we are called by the Lord to bear one another’s burdens: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:1–2).
How do we bear one another’s burdens? There are several ways. First, we do so by praying for each other, taking each other’s burdens into the presence of God. Second, we do it by coming alongside our brothers and sisters to help them through trials or difficult seasons in their lives. Third, we do it by stepping into their shoes, taking difficulties away from them, and bearing them in their place.
“We see all this in Paul’s exhortation to the strong believers in Thessalonica to “help the weak” (1 Thess. 5:14). Whatever the spiritual weakness, Paul’s remedy is for the strong to “help” or, literally, “support” them. To support, though, does not connote the idea of beams that hold up a house, but the image of the supporter holding onto one needing support. Do you see the difference? Paul is not saying, “You who are strong should let the weak hold onto you.” Rather, he is saying, “You who are strong should hold onto the weak.” Those of us who are strong in faith ought to hold the weak in faith, clinging to them and putting our arms around them. They need to know others are with them and will not leave them, picturing the Lord’s presence with them.