Look to Jesus
They say that the eyes are a window to the soul. Because if you look carefully into a person’s eyes, you may get a hint about what is happening on the inside. By the eyes, you might tell if someone is angry, or sad, or lying, or at peace.
But the eyes are revealing in another way too, for they can reveal our priorities and our securities. What do we often look at? Where we choose to focus our attention says a lot about what is important to us.
This is why Scripture exhorts: “Look unto Jesus” (Heb 12:2). We are called to fill our vision with Christ, admiring his glorious person and his amazing works. If we’re looking to him, then our life begins to take on a new direction.
In Hebrews 11, the writer has taken us on a beautiful tour of the Old Testament. He has reminded us of the many dozens of saints who lived by humble faith in God. Noah and Abraham and Moses and the rest of God’s people fixed their eyes on things “not seen.” Hebrews 11 was meant to encourage the first readers of this letter, and it’s meant to encourage us, who share the same faith. So in 12:1 we are encouraged:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.
This is our identity, according to Scripture. In this world we’re not tourists, but pilgrims. We’re not supposed to be sauntering along, pausing at anything that catches our interest, but we’ve got a definite goal. This is why we need to be rid of anything that hinders our journey, like the sin and temptation which daily burden us.
And this is also why we need to keep our eyes fixed on where we’re going. Like when you run a race, you have to keep your eyes fixed on what’s ahead.
If you do a 100 meter dash, or even a half-marathon, and you spend any time at all looking behind you—instead of ahead to where you’re going—then you are bound to struggle, to slow down, even to trip and fall.
In the life of faith, we need to keep eyes locked on the goal: We look unto Jesus! The cloud of Old Testament saints inspire us, but we’ve got an even greater encouragement and a better example in the person of Jesus Christ.
This is one of the key themes in Hebrews: in short, Jesus is better.
Jesus is better than the angels, He is better than Joshua, He is better than Aaron the high priest, and the tabernacle, and all of its sacrifices.
And so Jesus is also a better example than the heroes of the faith, because He never failed or wavered, but lived in perfect trust and obedience to his Father. We look to him as the model of faithfulness.
Even more important than Jesus as example is Jesus as Saviour. This is what is put first in Hebrews 12: Look to Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” (v. 2). When we speak about an author, we mean the person who wrote a book, or the source of a good idea, or the cause of an important event. But the Greek word behind “author” is more colourful. Sometimes it’s translated as “captain,” like the leader of a military division. Or it’s translated as “pioneer,” a person at the forefront, blazing a trail through an uncertain land for others to follow. In this way, Christ has gone ahead and prepared the way for us.
The same word is used in Hebrews 2:10, where it says that God “made the captain of [our] salvation perfect through suffering.” That verse pictures Jesus’ life as a long and difficult road, a road of struggle, but He pressed forward all the same. For Jesus is our brave captain and fearless leader, guiding his people into safety with God.
Reflect on how Jesus had to walk a challenging path. He had to be deeply humbled in coming to earth as a man, though He was the holy Son of God. Then He suffered throughout his entire life, enduring the limitations and adversities of being human. And then especially at the end, an unspeakable burden was laid on him: the horrible weight of all our sins.
Yet Jesus lived by faith and resolutely trusted God. At times He agonized over his task, yet in the end He submitted to God’s will. And so by this great work He achieved our deliverance.
He was the captain who did not flinch in the face of battle.
He was the pioneer who did not turn back to live in an easier place.
Jesus went on ahead of us to open up the path of salvation.
Because Christ was so faithful, He is a Saviour worthy of faith. And because God is so loving, He gives the faith needed to connect to Christ! Jesus is the object of our faith, and by his Spirit and Word, He is the giver of faith. By his power we “have confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb 11:1).
We look to Jesus, “the author and the finisher of our faith” (v. 2). For He not only begins but completes his saving work among us. It’s one thing to have a good idea, to make a start, to sketch out a plan—it’s quite another thing to bring it to a successful completion. Just think about how so many of our projects and plans end up on the unfinished pile. And even if we do finish, there is always an imperfection, always a weakness.
But Jesus is the great finisher. Literally, He is the “perfecter” of our faith, bringing us to flawless completion. Look to your Saviour, because He’ll be faithful to the end. Like Paul says in Philippians 1:6, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it in the day of Christ.”
Our faith is always going to struggle with fresh anxieties and old doubts and shortcomings like pride and self-reliance. Like the twelve disciples, we’re a people of “little faith.” God doesn’t save us based on the strength of our faith, but for the sake of Christ, God perfects all who are joined to him. By believing in Jesus, we are considered righteous in the sight of God—perfect, holy, cleansed, truly and permanently. Because his saving work was done so well, Christ can bring us into the glorious presence of his Father where we stand as those made whole! As Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him.”
Jesus is our faith’s author and finisher, its source and the goal, its pioneer and perfecter. In an amazing way, Christ is both the destination of our journey and our daily companion. The one on whom we fix our eyes is the one with whom we’re travelling every day.
For each and every part of our earthly life, we need to zoom out from what is pressing and immediate so that we give attention to the big picture: What am I here for, really? What should I be looking at? And what does my heavenly King want me to do?
So we keep looking unto Jesus, and we fix our eyes on him.