LET US FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS
Key Verse: 12:2
“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.”
Welcome to the seven steps symposium. In chapter 11, we studied the models of faith. Today, we will study the exhortation to endurance in our spiritual life. Our Christian life can be compared to marathon race. Thousands of marathoners seem to enjoy punishing themselves in those grueling races. What is their hope of winning? It is very slim. What is it then? Writer Art Carey said, “The real joy of the Boston Marathon is just finishing, just winning the contest with yourself-doing what you set out to do.” Achieving their goal of finishing the full course of 26.5 miles motivates them to run the race to the end. What are your faith-race goals? The author sets Jesus as our example to follow in our spiritual faith race. All Christians look for Jesus as their example as they face the difficulties involved in living out their faith. Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus as our goal of faith race and endure all kinds of hardships until we finish the race. I pray that God may bless symposium speakers to finish their race to the end by fixing their eyes on Jesus. May God bless us to run the faith race with perseverance in this semester!
PART I LET US RUN WITH PERSEVERANCE THE RACE (1)
Look at verse 1. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sins that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” The life of faith has been fully attested by this great cloud of Old Testament witnesses in chapter 11. Abraham cheers on us when we obey God’s calling facing uncertain futures. Moses cheers on us when we choose God’s reward rather than the worldly reward. The story of crossing the Red Sea by the people of faith pumps our hearts and we are moved by the mighty power of God demonstrated to the people of faith. We are greatly encouraged to run the race because we are surrounded by such a great clouds of witnesses who are cheering us in the side lines. We are not alone in our faith race. Did you hear about the relay race? Our Christian life is like the relay race. Abraham handed his relay baton of faith to Isaac and Isaac to Jacob and Jacob to Joseph and Joseph to Moses and Moses to Joshua…James to Tommy and Tommy to Sammy..etc. Now heroes of faith are watching and encouraging their successors to continue their race without dropping the relay baton. Their example of faith may encourage today’s symposium speakers so that they can hold the baton of faith firmly to the end. God revealed his glory through men and women of faith in the past so that they might worship him. Now it is our turn. How can we run the faith race? Apostle Paul said at the end of his faith race, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7) Paul’s life goal was to finish the race. Do you know the story of race between hare and turtle? Who won the race? Why did the hare lose the race? Laziness and pride. Though we run slowly like a turtle, our goal is to finish the race. Not many people finish their faith race. Why? They lose their goal of race in the midst of hardships or are tired of running the race any more. As a result, they drop out of their faith race. They will not receive the victor’s crown. We cannot excuse saying, “I was so close but I could not finish. I am sorry.” This will not work well. Therefore, keep your goal of faith and stick with it no matter what happens.
What is the secret of finishing our race? Verse 1b says, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” The rule number one is to throw off everything that hinders. What is the rule number one? It means to run light. Runners carried nothing with them in a race. They did not carry suit cases or bag packs with them. Imagine that we carry a big 70-pound travel bag in one hand and a heavy grocery bag in another hand, can we run well? ” No, we cannot run well. In our modern day America what are the things that hinder our faith race? We must set aside whatever hinders our faith race. We must get rid of anything we do not need. Worries of life can be the things that hinder our faith race. Worries are like thorns in our faith race and eventually will choke our faith and make us to quit our faith race due to many burdens of life. Worries eat up our souls like rust eats up iron. Laziness and easy-going life can also hinder our faith race. Bad habits that hinder our race must be purged. Too much T.V. can be another factor to hinder our faith race because we will be influenced by the world. These things are not profitable for our faith race at all. Therefore, we must throw off anything that hinders our race by faith. The rule number two is to throw off sin that easily entangles us. We must throw off all kinds of sins because it entangles our race. Sin is like a spider web. A spider is an expert to entangle insects with its web. The more any insect caught in the spider web tries to come out, the more the web entangles the insect. Sin entangles our race easily. It drags down until we cannot run any more. Sin makes us to be confused and complicated. Sin destroys our relationship with God. Sin makes us to become a liar and walk in darkness. What is the solution not to be entangled by sin? We must study the word of God day and night. We must repent of our sin as soon as we discover it. We must throw off it as soon as possible. When King David discovered his sin, he repented of his sin right away. Do not delay to throw off your sinful habits. Avoid any place that causes you to sin. Verse 4 says, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding the blood.” We must resist sin to the point of shedding the blood. It means that we must treat sin very seriously because it entangles our race..
The rule number three is to run the race with perseverance. The word “persevere or endure” is repeated in each verse from verses 1-3. Our faith is not a short 100 meter sprint. It is a long distance race. Our starting line is the moment we are born again into Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit and our finishing line is the moment we enter into the kingdom of God. Our faith race will not end until we pass through the pearly gate in the kingdom of God and we hear Jesus saying to us, “Welcome home.” This long distance race requires perseverance and endurance. We will face steep uphill course and difficult times in our race. Do not run out of course for relaxation or break but keep on running until it is finished. Endurance is a key point in our faith race. Faithfulness is required to run the race to the end. In the marathon someone runs 25 miles and then he quits and there will be no prize. 2 Tim 2:3 says, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 2:3)
PART II LET US FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS (2-4)
Who is the best example to run the race with perseverance? Look at verse 2. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector 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.” First thing we have to do is to fix our eyes on Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 6:22, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.” As Jesus said, where we fix our eyes will decide our future. If we fix our eyes on money, we will be disappointed. If we fix our eyes on politicians, we will be deceived because they keep on changing their positions. If we fix our eyes on video games, we will be out of mind forgetting everything. If we fix our eyes on gas prices, our heart sinks. If we fix our eyes on our children, we worry about their future. If we fix our eyes on bad pictures, our eyes will be rotten. Why do we have to fix our eyes on Jesus? He is both the author and perfecter of our faith. In Hebrews 2:10 Jesus was introduced as the author of our salvation. Here he is introduced as the author of our faith. Jesus was introduced as the author of life in Acts 3:15. Jesus wrote the Bible. Bible is the story of Jesus. Jesus originated faith. Jesus pioneered the path of faith we should follow. He trod the way of faith for us to follow. He said to Levi the tax collector, ”Follow me.” (Mark 2:14) Levi got up and followed Jesus. Later, he became Saint Matthew because he fixed his eyes on Jesus instead of tax money. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3) Jesus showed the way to the Father.
Jesus also perfected the way of faith since he reached the final goal successfully. He ascended to the heaven after finishing his race. He kept his eye on the joy set before him. How did Jesus perfect the way of faith? After enduring the cross and scorning its shame, Jesus sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. The main point is the cross of Jesus. Jesus was made perfect from what he suffered. Jesus completed the salvation through his suffering on the cross. Jesus endured the unbearable suffering on the cross. The soldiers mocked him and beat him and spit on him and the crowds hurled insults at him saying “Come down from the cross and save yourself.” (Mk. 15:29-30) But Jesus did not come down but endured the cross and scoring its shame. Cross is the symbol of God’s love. Cross is the symbol of God’s victory. Cross is the power of God. Cross is the symbol of God’s forgiveness our sins. When Jesus endured the cross, then God crowned him with glory and power by seating him at his right hand. Jesus originated our faith and brought it to perfection through the cross. He is our example to follow. Cross brought the salvation for all with joy. Jesus said to his disciples in Mark 8:34, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we are willing to take up our own cross to follow Jesus. My life motto was, “Double cross is double blessing. DCIDB.” But these days I try to follow Jesus without cross. I repented of my sins of fixing my eyes on life security and comfortable life. I decided to fix my eyes on Jesus once again. Look at verse 3. “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” If they would consider the opposition from sinful men which Jesus confronted and endured, they would be encouraged. We must take account of Jesus as our example. We must not be afraid of opposition because it is natural for us to receive opposition from sinful men when we follow Jesus. Satan opposes us when we serve God faithfully. Whenever we face hardships and difficulties, consider Jesus always. Then you will be encouraged because your suffering cannot be compared to Jesus. Do not exaggerate your suffering and confront it boldly. Jesus will help us to win the victory. Jesus is our supreme model to run the race with perseverance. Why? He is the author of our faith. In conclusion, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and run the race with perseverance. Then we will finish our faith race and receive the victor’s crown. In the end God is our shied, our provider, our rock, our good shepherd, our salvation. God will help us to finish our race as long as we depend on him. Praise God for his faithfulness and love for all sinners. May God bless all symposium speakers to run the faith race until they finish their race! Let’s read the key verse 2.