Look to Jesus

Our Great Joy and Reward

Introduction

Hebrews has a strong call to faith and the kind of faith it calls for is one that is forward-looking and durable. Hebrews 12:1–2 reveals that the kind of faith that perseveres is the one that keeps looking to Jesus, who is both the author and perfecter of faith. Jesus is also the supreme example by which the true believer must live their life. How Jesus ran the race, we must run the race. How Jesus endured suffering for greater joy, we must also endure suffering for greater joy.

Look to Jesus and His Reward

Enduring faith in the midst of all hardship. Great, eternal reward for the one who holds fast to Jesus by faith. These are the great claims that the author of Hebrews exhorts to his reader. Hold fast! Hold fast to Christ and keep running the race by faith. He reminds them that their confidence during hardships has great reward (Heb 10:32–35 ESV) and that they will receive what is promised if they endure (10:36). Jesus is coming back again and the righteous are the ones who live by faith while they wait. They will preserve their souls by sustained faith. Yet God finds no pleasure in those who shrink back. He destroys the one who shrinks back from faith (10:37–39).

This transitions to Hebrews 11, sometimes called the “Hall of Faith,” in which the author gives one example after the next of people who kept their eyes on the prize that they would one day receive. They drew near to God believing not only that he existed but also that he would reward their seeking (Heb 11:6). Hebrews 12:1–2 sandwiches the reader between these great people of the faith and Jesus who is the author, perfecter, and example of our faith.

There are three commands that build upon each other in Hebrews 12:1–2: lay aside every weight, lay aside the sin which clings so closely, and run the race with endurance. How do we do this? By looking to Jesus. The word that is used here means to fix one’s eyes, thoughts, and attention upon something without being distracted or side-tracked.[1] Look to Jesus and don’t stop. Keep your eyes, your thoughts, your attention, and your daily fixations all upon Jesus. He not only created your faith, and perfects your faith, but is also the supreme example for you to follow by faith. He is the supreme example of having the forward-looking faith that is confident in the greater reward.

Why did Jesus endure the cross and despise the shame? For the joy that was set before him (Heb 12:2). Jesus now sits at the right hand of God’s throne by his obedience. Why do we pick up our cross and follow his footsteps? For the joy that is set before us. How do we lay aside the heavy weights of life and liberate ourselves of the enticing sin that clings so close?  By looking to Jesus who is our greater joy. How do we continue to run the race in the face of every hardship?  By looking to Jesus in whom we have our greater reward.

Conclusion

Sin clings closely. The weights of life pile on and bring us down. The race is hard and long. This life is filled with suffering. The author of Hebrews knows this. In response he tells us to look to Jesus, and to keep looking. This kind of looking is the kind in which we fix our thoughts and attention upon Jesus without getting distracted. And when we get distracted, run back to Jesus in repentance and look again. This kind of looking pays attention to how Jesus lived his life and seeking to do the same by faith. Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. We must look to Jesus knowing that he brings the greater joy and reward that we desperately long for.



[1] ἀφοράω:

  • BDAG: fix one’s eyes; determine, see, to direct one’s attention without distraction.
  • Louw-Nida: to think about, to fix one’s attention on
    • 30.31 ἀποβλέπωἀφοράωa: to keep thinking about, without having one’s attention distracted—‘to think about, to fix one’s attention on.’
      • ἀποβλέπω: ἀπέβλεπεν γὰρ εἰς τὴν μισθαποδοσίαν ‘because he fixed his attention on the future reward’ He 11:26.
      • ἀφοράωa: ἀφορῶντες εἰς τὸν … Ἰησοῦν ‘let us fix our attention on … Jesus’ He 12:2.