who for the joy that was set before
Him endured the cross, despising the
shame, and has sat down at the right
hand of the throne of God” (v. 2).
The word looking means to turn one’s
eyes away from all distractions and fix
them continually on one thing. In context, that means fixing one’s eyes on
Jesus. A runner must focus on the course
and goal before him, not on his surroundings, or he will be distracted, lose
his stride, slacken his pace, and even fall.
In the race of faith, the believer’s ultimate example is not the witnesses in
Hebrews 11, but Jesus, who is “the author
and finisher of our faith.” The word
author connotes an originator, founder, or
chief leader. Jesus is the “forerunner”
(6: 20) of the faith, setting the supreme,
perfect example that all Christians are to
follow. He is the greatest example of
patient endurance under severe persecution, having been tried illegally and crucified (cf. Isa. 53: 7; 1 Pet. 2: 21–23). Jesus is
also the “finisher” or “completer” of the
believer’s faith; through His death and
resurrection, He secured eternal salvation
for all who trust in Him (Heb. 5: 9).
Jesus endured the cross “for the joy
that was set before Him” (12: 2).
Clearly, His joy was not in being crucified. It was the most disgraceful and
dehumanizing death known. Yet He
did not allow the privation, suffering,
contempt, and cursing to dissuade
Him from God’s will. He freely bore
the shame and disgrace to provide for
The “joy that was set before Him” was
His final victory over Satan and sin, thus
completing God’s work of redemption,
bringing glory to God the Father by
implementing His plan of salvation, and
being reunited with the Father in heaven.
After His postresurrection ministry,
Jesus ascended to heaven from the
Mount of Olives (Acts 1: 8–10) and “sat
down at the right hand of the throne of
God” (Heb. 12:2: cf. 1: 3; 8:1; 10: 12). The
word sat is in the Greek perfect tense,
meaning that, at a point in time, Jesus
took His seat on a throne at the Father’s
right hand and remains there, signify-
ing the completion of His ministry. His
seated position at the Father’s right
hand is a sign of triumph and foreshad-
ows or portends His and all believers’
future and final victory (cf. 1: 13–14).
Scripture then commands readers
to analyze Christ’s suffering: “For consider Him who endured such hostility
from sinners against Himself, lest you
become weary and discouraged in
your souls” (12: 3).
The word consider (Greek, analogizomai)
is our word analogy and means to reckon,
add up, and weigh Christ’s sufferings
against our own. Ponder this: Jesus was
born in a stable to poor parents who fled
Jerusalem with Him to save His life; He
was reared in a deplorable city, lost His
father early in life, and had no permanent
home during His ministry. He was considered mentally unbalanced and demon-possessed; He was disbelieved by His
family, hated and opposed by the religious leaders, forsaken by His disciples,
tried illegally, and scourged and beaten
before He was finally crucified.
Looking at His suffering would
make theirs seem insignificant. Thus
they “should not become weary and
discouraged in [their] souls” (v. 3). The
word weary means to become exhausted and possibly ill due to persecution.
Some Jewish believers had grown
weary, which led to discouragement.
They had become faint-hearted, lost
confidence and enthusiasm, and had
slackened in their commitment.
Then the text goes one step further in
comparing the Jewish believers’ suffering to that of Jesus: “You have not yet
resisted to bloodshed, striving against
sin” (v. 4). “You” refers to believers who
had previously faced persecution at the
hands of their brethren (10: 32–34). They
had suffered physically and materially;
but none had endured the suffering
Jesus had, nor had anyone given his life
for the gospel. These believers needed
to ponder afresh the Messiah’s suffering
and renew their commitment to Him,
thus gaining strength to persevere in the
race of faith.
They were still “striving against
sin” (12: 4). The word striving means
to contend, as in a race, or to engage
in conflict, as in a boxing match.
Their conflict required them to
stand against sinful men wanting to
harm them as they harmed Jesus
and against the sin of renouncing
their faith in Christ by returning to
their Jewish roots.
In our race of faith, we must heed
the admonishment to consider all
Jesus faced as the Originator and
Completer of our faith. We, too, must
remain faithful and not become weary
or discouraged but persevere patiently, with endurance, to the finish line.
David M. Levy is the director
of International Ministries
for The Friends of Israel.
“Isaiah was not just another
voice, however powerful. . . .
Isaiah was, above all, the
prophet of undaunted faith and
undying hope in God’s redemptive purpose for Israel and for
all mankind. It was his vision
of the kingdom of God under
the rule of the Messiah, which
left its most indelible imprint
upon his own contemporaries
and subsequent generations.”
in The Prophet Isaiah
37 ISRAEL MY GLORY