When the clock strikes midnight to usher in a new year, typically celebrations and excitement abound. Many of us, might seize the moment and seriously consider a new beginning and make a New Year’s resolution. The most common New Year’s resolutions involve getting healthier, making better financial decisions, and striving to make better use of our time. But do we think about our relationships? Specifically, our relationship with God. In all the excitement of making our resolutions, do we consider our relationship with God?
The author of Hebrews admonishes his readers to consider their relationship with Christ. I want to take a brief moment to do the same. Admonition by the author is not an uncommon occurrence in Hebrews, for the author desires to encourage and strengthen the weak believers of a small community (13:22) so that they might stand fast in their faith during times of affliction (4:14; 10:23). The author writes to a congregation in crisis (10:32-33) pointing them to the superior and great high priesthood of Jesus Christ (5-10).
He introduces Jesus as the superior mode of revelation (1:2) and the superior means of redemption (1:3). Because of our personal relationship with Him, Jesus calls us brethren (2:11), makes reconciliation possible between us and God (2:15-18), extends grace and mercy at the appropriate time (4:14-16), continually intercedes on our behalf (7:25-28), offers a one-time sacrifice that qualifies us to worship Him (10:10-14), and He is the author and finisher of our faith (12:2).
As the author concludes his letter, he focuses on endurance in chapter 12. He is urging patient and trusting perseverance even in spite of hardship. He admonishes this endurance through an athletic metaphor; running a race (12:1). We all have a race to run, that race is life. Experiences in life are not only full of friendly interaction and joy, but also include opposition and suffering, for all are providentially designed and serve as a fruitful role in the maturing of our relationship with God.
The author states how we should run the race. He urges us to “fix our eyes on Jesus,” or ‘have a concentrated attention on Jesus’ that turns away from all other distractions and focuses on Him (12:2). Jesus Christ, the one to whom we focus, is the “author and finisher of our faith.” In other words, He is the champion of our salvation; the example of supremacy in bringing faith to complete realization and the perfect example of trust in God. He perfectly finished the race.
So why look to Jesus? The author of Hebrews continues his admonition by providing the basis for the believer to endure; that is, consider Him (12:3a). He is emphatically stating, “by all means consider Him,” or ‘seriously think about His endurance’ and do so in such a way that we evaluate and assess our own life with the utmost care. In other words, for Jesus “to endure the cross and despise the shame, the opinions and values of the world were not worthy for Him to take into consideration when it was a question of his obedience to the will of God.” We are to consider Him because he is the epitome of faithful obedience.
The author then concludes with the purpose for considering Jesus; “that we will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:3b). By considering Jesus, we will not grow fatigued and discouraged; rather we will press on in the Christian life. As you consider the New Year, what will grab your attention? What comforts of this world will keep you from the appointed course? Will you consider Jesus this year?