March 4, 2017 – Saturday
Read: Hebrews 12:1 – 3
Focus: v. 3
. . . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
An earlier edition of the New International Version ends verse one with a period and begins verse two with the words “Let us fix. . . .” In my mind’s eye I can see a translator who has also done some preaching and saw a 3-point sermon in the first two verses of this chapter in Hebrews. Could we call it a “Lettuce” sermon? I know, I can hear the “Ouch!” from wherever I am. I, too, love those phrases that lend themselves to real preaching opportunity. It is always a challenge when we are called on to write many devotionals for seasons like Advent and Lent. I am constantly aware of the passage of time when they should have been finished way earlier than when we usually get to them. However, I do find the themes we use and the interaction between the writers to be not just challenging but interesting and evocative of doing my best with each devotional written. I don’t expect I could be called a perfectionist most of the time but I do believe in doing the best I can in whatever is given me to do. This is true even if I am painting a house, building a shelf unit or writing an article of some sort.
Jesus was Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith. I know that the earlier version of the NIV calls Him the “author and perfecter,” but I do find the word “pioneer” to be intriguing. A pioneer treads where no one has gone before. We live in area of the country which saw its share of pioneers in the early to late 1800’s as they rode or walked through our state (then a territory) in search of a home and land to call their own. Jesus was a pioneer in the sense that He was the first to set foot on the hallowed ground of faith and lead the way into a promised land of faith for all who follow Him. As the God-Man who walked this earth for about 33 years, He modeled a life of faith before His followers that has been recorded by them and passed on to us. He trusted completely and that is how He wants us to trust.
Now let us turn our attention to the second word used here to describe Jesus – a Perfecter. This has the intent of bringing to completion, or finishing something. I do not believe Paul is speaking of “perfection” in this passage but rather of the One, Jesus, who will bring us to completion, or maturity in our relationship with God. He has a goal and intends to reach that goal not only on our behalf but to bring us with him to the completion of that goal.
Remember that all of which we are speaking, and the writer of Hebrews is speaking about, is being done before a great cloud of witnesses that have shown great faith in the past. I would urge you to re-read Hebrews, chapter 11, to better understand our verses for today. Jesus did it all, and did it for us.