Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Keep your eyes on Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2
1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God's throne.

Verse 2 was the youversion.com verse of the day today. As I wrote about earlier, running with endurance means, in part, laying aside the baggage from experiences that God used to teach you Christ-likeness. There is another part to it as well. Not only do we lay aside the past, we keep our eyes on the future, namely the glory that God will reveal in us through Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. 

I don't think it a coincidence that so much of what God has brought across my path to write about of late has been about having a biblical understanding of the role of suffering in making us more Christ-like. The journey of sanctification is a difficult one, and we need constant reminders that not only will our difficult experiences make us more like Christ, but also that they are temporary and fleeting in light of the eternity that we will spend in glory with Christ. 

Here in Hebrews 12:2, the writer of Hebrews reminds us yet again that Jesus endured more than we could ever imagine while here on this earth. He was able to do this, in part, because He kept His focus not on His temporary troubles, but on "the joy that lay before Him." Because His eyes were fixed on that joy, that glory, He "endured a cross and despised the shame" in order to, secure our salvation yes, but ultimately to bring Himself glory. 

When I originally read "despised the shame," I didn't quite understand it. The HELPS word study on that word gave me some insight here.

2706 kataphronéō (from 2596 /katá, "down, according to," intensifying 5426 /phronéō, "regulating behavior from inner mind-set") – properly, view down, i.e. with a negative (hostile) outlook; to despise, thinking down on (thinking little of); esteem lightly, seeing as insignificant or detestable; to treat with contempt or disregard (BAGD); devalue; to depreciate (scorn); pay no regard to (because something seems of no account); " 'despise, scorn,' and show it by active insult" (Souter).

I think the phrase that is key to our understanding is "esteem lightly, seeing as insignificant". In a sense Jesus "couldn't care less" about the shame that He was subjected to specifically because He was focused on God's eternal kingdom, not His own temporary troubles. Paul expresses the same sentiment in Romans 8:18.

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.

Compared to the glory that will be revealed in us, we should consider our present sufferings as insignificant. Don't focus on your momentary troubles. Keep your eyes on Jesus, Who is not only the source of the faith that is in you, but is also the One Who will perfect that faith through the trials and troubles you face in this life.

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