Devotional: March 31, 2021
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Hebrews 12: 1-3 The Message
Today is Wednesday of Holy Week. The glory and triumph of Palm Sunday are now a memory for Jesus. Just ahead is the cross He must endure. How did He do it? What was in His mind? What are the lessons and words of encouragement for us as we ourselves struggle with sin?
This passage from Hebrews talks about being in the company by spiritual veterans, cheering us on. Other translations talk about being “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” The passage also speaks of laying aside extra weight, and “the sin that clings so closely”. Jesus was able to endure the upcoming crucifixion because He knew that He did not struggle alone. At any moment, God’s angels could have, and would have rescued Him. Jesus knew this truth. He also knew that even in a crowd, or just by Himself, God the Father and the Holy Spirit were with Him.
When we struggle against sin, we need to remember that the prayers of our brothers and sisters in the faith are with us. We are being lifted up and encouraged in prayer by others. They pray for us to lay aside every tempting sin, in order to run the race of faith. Even an anonymous prayer for us is still a prayer.
Secondly, whenever we believe that failure is inevitable, and that there is no hope in our victory over sin, it may be because we focus too much on that particular sin. Hebrews tells us that is the wrong place to look! Instead of looking at our sin, look to Jesus. Jesus knows and understands temptation, for Satan tempted Jesus in every possible way. Yet our Lord never fell into sin. When we are tempted, or even when we sin, we can reach to Jesus. Jesus can show us the path away from any sin, but we must ask for that help. Christ is our example, our model, our guide, and our companion. Fix your eyes upon Jesus. As the chorus of a beloved old hymn encourages us,
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
look full in His wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of His glory and grace.”
Finally, Jesus succeeded against sin because He never lost sight of His goal. He knew where He was headed. Christ was aiming for heaven. As Philippians puts it, He emptied Himself for our sake, and endured humiliation, even the humiliation of death upon a cross. And now, God the Father has highly exalted Him. If we keep our goal in front of us: a Holy, Christ-like life, we will be less likely to fall into sin. Many athletes seek inspiration by envisioning themselves winning the ultimate championship, and holding up that trophy. We need to keep our eyes on the prize: eternal life in heaven with God. Let us do so…
Christ was able to endure the cross because He looked beyond the cross. Jesus focused upon His resurrection, and His victory over death and the grave. His love opened the way to eternal life in heaven. We look forward in faith to joining Him there someday. His resurrection was a triumph of selfless love, for Himself, and for all who would follow after Him.
Christ is our when we are up against a struggle. His is our guide. Like Him, may we look past our present troubles, to glimpse God the Father. He offers us victory over sin through His son: our Savior Jesus Christ.
Lord of love,
I am so thankful that although You see my sins, You love me enough to offer me Your amazing forgiveness. Thank You for being patient with me, rather than turning Your back upon me. Forgive me I stumble over and over. Keep me mindful of my brothers and sisters in the faith, who are praying for me, and cheering me on. Help me to seek Your light. Keep my eyes fixed upon You. Every day of my life, remind me that You want to be my faithful companion. I want to be your companion, too. I pray this prayer in Your Holy name. Amen.