Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. NIV
This is the second of three powerful verse that open Chapter 12 of the book of Hebrews.
My NIV Bible gives some background on this book. According to that synopsis, this letter was written during the time of the first century church, which was undergoing a good deal of persecution. It goes on to say that the recipients of the letter were likely “Christians who were thinking of abandoning their faith.” Throughout the book, the author, who is unknown, but thought to be Barnabas or Apollos, “exhorts them to hold fast to their confession of Christ as savior and Lord.”
Our church is studying Max Lucado’s book, Fearless. Last week,we discussed chapter 13, titled, “What if things get worse?” The chapter addresses the fear of global calamity.
There’s a lot of global calamity going on at the moment. There are earthquakes, the oil debacle, longstanding wars, devastating hunger, financial collapse. There is also some persecution of the Christian faith. Like those Christians who are the recipients of the letter of Hebrews, the persecution that we face in the U.S. has not yet resulted in martyrdom, but, for the first century Christians, my Bible says, the persecution was severe. Lucado points to verses (Matthew 24:4-14) that indicate it will get worse.
It is through that lens … pressure that the church was struggling to bear up under … that this book is written. And, if we use that lens today, these verses still inspire.
Worry can exert internal pressure as powerful as any external force. When that happens, we must heed the instruction of the writer of this letter, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed — that exhilarating finish in and with God — he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.” MSG
That’s what I’ll think about today.