In today’s post, I conclude my four-part series which looks at four key phrases in Hebrews 12.1-2. The material in these four blog posts come from the sermon manuscript that I used for a recent chapel talk delivered at a college in the US. I pray that these thoughts have been fruitful in encouraging you to run with endurance our race of faith.
v. 2a: ‘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.’
I want to conclude by focusing on the central piece of today’s passage: ‘looking to Jesus’. But what does this mean? It helps to see who Jesus is: He is the founder and perfecter of our faith.
The term ‘founder’, in the Greek, could also mean ‘pioneer’ – one who has walked the path before us, much like the cloud of witnesses. As Heb 4.15 tell us: ‘We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin’: Jesus is the supremely pure athlete-witness, the ultimate pioneer of our faith.
But he is not pioneer; he is also perfecter. This is why Jesus is greater than the great cloud: for he is not only a model for us but a molder of us as well. And he molds us largely by intervening on our behalf. As Heb 7.25 tells us, ‘he always lives to make intercession for [us]’. That is why when Jesus says to Peter in Lk. 22.31-32, ‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,’ he comforts Peter: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail’. So when we, like Peter who failed by denying Christ, fail to run the race with endurance, Jesus is there to restore us just as he has Peter who later would ‘strengthen [his] brothers’ just as Jesus prayed he would.
Looking to Jesus means considering him as supreme athlete-witness as well as taking comfort in his role as the great high priest who daily intercedes for us: pioneer and perfecter, rock and restorer. This is why Paul could say in Phil 1.6: ‘I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’
‘The most critical need of the Church at this moment is men [and women] – the right kind of men [and women]. The talk is that we need revival . . . – but God will not revive mice. . . . We languish for men [and women] who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul because they have already died to the allurements of this world. Such men [and women] will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men [and women]. They will not be forced to do things by the squeeze of circumstances [being tied down by circumstance]. Their only compulsion will come from within – or from above. This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits again instead of mascots’ (A. W. Tozer, This World: Playground or Battleground).
Let us look to Jesus, as model and moulder, pioneer and perfecter, as we run with endurance, laying aside every weight for the good of our souls and the glory of His name.