Hebrews 12:1-4 Looking To Jesus
Over the last few weeks we have looked to Jesus to help in our progress in our discipleship.
In our first week we saw how Jesus responded in the midst of such great chaos. And we saw that in the midst of that chaos He preached to the people. This showed to us the importance of the word.
Then we saw that Jesus was greater than all of the spiritual darkness that operate in this world. Jesus is much more powerful than the devil.
Last week we saw that Jesus is working behind the scenes, and often unknown to us, so that we can respond to Him and bear much fruit.
Today we are going simply be encouraged to always look to Jesus as disciples.
As I sat and considered our text today, I saw my cat chasing her shadow on the floor. She would pounce upon it and then discovered that it had moved again. She did not spend too much time trying to catch her shadow. Soon she forgot about the mystery of this and her attention was given to something else altogether, at least for a short time.
There could be a lesson for all of us. Like my cat, we too may begin to chase after many things. We may find our attention being given to countless other fruitless things if we do not have something superior to look upon.
In our text today, the author of Hebrews again reminds the disciples better and greater [v.1] things to look upon and to consider. We are told in Hebrew 12:1 that God has surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses who will encourage us in this race that we are in. And we are told in verses 2-4 that we are to continually be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith”.
The author of Hebrews been clear from the very beginning of this book that Christ is Superior and that He alone ought to have our attention. Consider Hebrews 1:1-4,
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Our text this morning is Hebrews 12:1-4. It says,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
I have been reading through the book of Jeremiah and I have recently come to the chapters where Babylon encircles Jerusalem. In that moment, as you can imagine, fear grips the city and despair overwhelms them. Yet, in all of this chaos neither the king or the people respond appropriately to the words of the prophet Jeremiah.
After the Babylonians come and conquer the land of Israel they burn down the city of Jerusalem. Many of those who remained in Jerusalem still feared the Babylonians, and eventually fled to Egypt despite the fact that the Lord had told them not to go there. The prophet Jeremiah spoke to them and warned them about disobeying the Word of the Lord. He spoke to them about how they should respond but this is how they answered him, “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you. But we will do everything that we have vowed, we will make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 44:16-17)
Consider for a moment who these people had been considering as their examples to follow. Here is a generation of Israelite’s who failed to consider the many examples of godly men and women who had worshiped the LORD faithfully and properly. Instead, they continually did the things that they saw going on around them. As a result, they continually committed abominations before the LORD. They continued in the idolatry which was practiced in their own families, by the kings, and by the officials in all of Israel and even within the streets of Jerusalem itself.
In light of such things, it a great comfort to be able to come to our text this morning and be reminded that we are surrounded by such a great cloud of faithful witnesses. These men and women who are listed in Hebrews 11 were faithful to the Lord in all sorts of situations. And although I do not have the time to discuss them all, let us just mention a few.
- by faith Able offered his sacrifice and it was accepted
- by faith Enoch walked with God and was taken up
- by faith Noah built an ark and through it saved mankind
- by faith Abraham believed God concerning an inheritance that he would not see
- by faith Moses considered the reproach of Christ of greater wealth than all the treasures in Egypt
- by faith some conquered kingdoms
- and by faith others were mistreated and killed
These Hebrews needed to be reminded that their faith was able to endure through all of the things that they were experiencing in their race. Their faith had begun strongly and it would continue to remain strong through endurance. Consider Hebrews 10:32-36,
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.