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. –Hebrews 12:2
This week’s verse begins in the middle of a sentence and the middle of a thought. It tells us how we are to do what verse one compels–lay aside our sin and run with endurance. Sin can be a sticky thing. Like staticky socks that cling to sweatshirts in the dryer, it’s not enough to shake them loose. You have to peel them away, feeling tiny pops of electric charge as they separate. So too we must strive and strain against the sins “that cling so closely.” It’s not always easy to do. That’s where verse two comes in.
How do we lay aside the desires, habits, and obstacles that hinder us? By looking to Jesus. Notice that the verse doesn’t say by looking at Him, as if we were mere spectators. Rather it says we are to look to Him, the implication being that we are looking to Him as we run, in order to receive help to keep on running.
How often, when life is hard and I’m tempted to complain, do I focus on my woes, my problems, my feelings? God says lay aside that sin by looking to Jesus. This isn’t a guilt trip: “You think your life is hard? Look at what He suffered; you don’t have it half bad!” Rather, this is an exhortation to fix my gaze on the One who endured all so that He could open the way to saving grace and sanctifying power.
Hebrews 12:2 says take your eyes off of yourself and look to Jesus. Fix your gaze on Him the way He set His face like a flint (Isaiah 50:7) to do the work of His Father.
What is it we see when, in the midst of our struggle against sin, we lift our eyes to Him? We see the One whose hope of joy on the other side of the cross was so great that it made it possible for Him to endure unspeakable torture in order to obtain it. Look to Him as your example and, in looking, be strengthened by Him.
He endured for joy–the joy He has promised to us if we endure. He died to make it possible. Look, therefore, to Jesus in order to lay aside sin and run faithfully. Look to Jesus for your everlasting joy.
In what circumstances do you find yourself most needing to look to Jesus for help to fight temptation and sin?
How might meditating on Jesus’ endurance, for the joy set before Him, encourage you to keep on fighting sin and pressing on in faithfulness?
Ask God to increase your faith in His promises and empower you with His Spirit to grow in godliness.