Look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2)

The other day I was just waking up and realizing that I faced a challenging day. I decided to do a little scripture reading before even getting up. I chose to read a language I read only very slowly and with difficulty (Syriac), because that usually gives me more time to meditate. I have a tendency to rush.

I started in Hebrews 12, and got to verse two, which begins: “Look to Jesus.”

This seemed to me to be good advice. I stopped there for a bit and marked those two words. (Yes, two words in Syriac.)

If I had chosen to read it in Greek, the impact would have been a bit different, as the word order goes approximately thus: “Looking to the author and finisher (perfecter) of our faith Jesus.” Not a difference in meaning overall, but it was those first two words that stopped me for a moment, and that was helpful that morning. Good advice, as I said.

Then I went on to “the head (or beginning) and finisher (perfecter) of our faith.”

Now that’s a profound statement. This passage (Hebrews 12:1-3) is frequently used a works and behavior modification passage. “You have all these great, holy, and faithful witnesses watching you, so get on with the work of being a Christian. Jesus has saved you, and he expects you to act like it.”

But that’s not what the passage says. Yes, there is a call to follow, but that call is put in its context right here. It’s Jesus all the way. He begins, he finishes.

What about all those faithful witnesses?

Here’s where I get into Bible contradictions. People ask me whether there are contradictions in the Bible and I say, “Yes! They are the best part!”

Hebrews 11:27 tells us that Moses left Egypt by faith, “not fearing the wrath of the king.” Exodus 2:14 tells us that Moses was afraid and fled. If that isn’t enough, we’re told that Israel passed through the red sea “by faith.” Have you read the story? Not all that much faith was on display!

Day after day there is not that much faith on display in my life. I worry about everything. I shouldn’t do that, but I do.

But Jesus is the author and the perfecter of my faith.

Jesus rewrites the stories of those witnesses’ lives from a grace view. He is doing the same thing for you. It may be very slow, but it’s happening.

That crowd of witnesses? They’re not people who lived perfect lives and are looking down on you to criticize your every mistake. They know you’re going to make mistakes. They did. They know your faith can be pretty weak at the most difficult moments. Theirs was.

They’re there to remind you that God saw them through and God will see you through. The grace filtered view of your life is going to make your story heroic.

Look to Jesus, beginning to end.

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One Comment

  1. Henry, thanks for sharing those impacting three words, “Look to Jesus.” A couple days ago I had a similar expeience when I read Paul’s statement to a bunch of exhausted sailors: “Last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship” (Acts 27:23). The words “to whom I belong” in the context of millions of slaves in the empire who belonged to someone else. I want to belong to Jesus.
    God bless, Keith.

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