By Daniel N. Madrigal
After talking about the Christian race in verse 1 of Hebrews 12, the Hebrew writer proceeds to admonish in verse 2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Although it is helpful to look to the patriarchs of the past such as those mentioned in Hebrews 11 who had faith, it is necessary to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus. “For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). There are numerous reasons why it is necessary to keep looking unto Jesus; the following are just a few:
For Salvation From Sin
First of all, we must look unto Jesus for salvation from sin. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Just as we see those in Numbers 21, who were bitten by the fiery serpents because of their sin and had to look unto the brazen serpent that Moses lifted up, we must look unto Jesus who has been lifted up, being nailed to the cross. John 3:14 says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” It is important that we understand the significance of His sacrifice. It is a gross misapplication when somebody tries to compare the demonstrations of Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, Jr. to the life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Great men as they might have been, with sacrifice and martyrdom ending their lives, they did not die for the remission of all of mankind’s sins. “For there is one God, one mediator between God and man, himself man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne it is own times” (1 Tim. 2:5,6). “But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his own blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him” (Rom. 5:8,9).
In Times Of Temptation
We should also be looking unto Jesus in times of temptation. In Matthew 4:1-11, we have the account of the temptation of Jesus. Notice that He wasn’t tempted before His fast, but after. It was during a period of great physical need in His life. If ever there was a time that Jesus was going to sin, this was the time-a time when He was hungering after 40 days without food.
In contrast to this, the story of Jacob and Esau is found in Genesis chapter 25. Here we read in verses 30-33:
and Esau said to Jacob, feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage, for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me first thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold I am about to die: and what profit shall the birthright do to me? . . . and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
Here was somebody who probably had not eaten since breakfast. He was tempted with food to sell his birthright, and he did. Jesus, however, endured temptation using the word of God even after 40 days without food. “For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath in all points been tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). “For that he himself hath suffered being tempted he is able to succor them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18).
When we are tempted, we need to look unto Jesus, who endured temptation. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). James says that the man who endures temptation is blessed and that he will receive the crown of life (Jas. 1:12). Where are you looking when you are tempted — on the world, or on Jesus?
As One Who Did His Father’s Will
We need to also look unto Jesus as one who did His Father’s will. The night before His betrayal, while in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42). Here was a time when it would have been easiest for Jesus to throw up His arms in disgust and anxiety and say, “I give up.” However, He remained faithful to do His Father’s will:
Jesus saith unto them, my meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to accomplish his work… I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is righteous; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of him that sent me . . . For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me (Jn. 4:34; 5:30; 6:38).
There are those who know God’s will but fail to do it because of heartaches or suffering that they may experience. Some may have to give up jobs in order to do His will. Some may have to sever their marriage relationship because of being unscripturally married. Some may have to suffer different forms of persecution in order, or because of, their service unto God. These must listen unto the words of Jesus when He said, “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. 12:50). Yes, we need to look unto Jesus as one who did His Father’s will. He is our perfect example.
As One Who Prayed
We sing the song “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and we read in the Bible of our need to pray. Nobody could be a more perfect example of one who prayed than Jesus. We then, must look unto Him as one who prayed. In Matthew 6:9-13, we have recorded the model prayer that Jesus prayed for Himself when in great need. Many times we see Jesus going away by Himself to pray. “He went up into the mountain apart to pray: and when even was come, he was there alone” (Mt. 14:23). 1 find it difficult at times to pray by myself with others around to disturb. It is important for us to get off by ourselves to pray unto God. Jesus recognized this need, and so must we.
It is also noteworthy that Jesus prayed for others. In Luke 22:32 we see Him praying for Peter that his faith fail not, because as He said in verse 31, “Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat.”
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for those who thou hast given me; for they are thine: . . . I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one . . . Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that should believe on me through their word” (Jn. 17:9, 15, 20).
We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing. ” In other words, do as Jesus did, for Jesus left us an “ample by praying with regularity for His own needs, as well as for those of others. Let us look unto Jesus as one who prayed.
As One Who Taught
Teaching the gospel to those who are lost is absolutely necessary if the church is to continue, and to be pleasing to God. In Matthew 28:20 Jesus commands us to teach. But Jesus did not command us to do something He did not do Himself. No, Jesus left us an example in this area as well. It would then be wise for us to look unto Jesus as one who taught. In Acts 1:1 we read, “The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach. ” It is a well known fact, to any who have taken the time to read the gospels, that Jesus went about doing good and teaching. He was and is, the master teacher. His teaching was the kind that astonished. “And they were astonished at his teaching; for his word was with authority” (Lk. 4:32).
The Christian is admonished to “sanctify in their hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). This can only effectively be done if we “study to show thyself approved int6–God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Our teaching ought to be frequent, and it ought to be with boldness and authority, since Jesus is our authority. Such was characteristic of those in the first century, and it can be with us as well, if we will just look unto Jesus.
We can be improved people if we make it our practice to look unto Jesus in these areas, as well as others. The person who wants to be saved eternally can be by looking unto Jesus. The person who wants to know how to overcome temptation can find out by looking unto Jesus. The one who is interested in doing the will of God can know how by looking unto Jesus. The person who says he doesn’t know how to pray can learn by looking unto Jesus. And the Christian who is timid to teach can be encouraged to action by looking unto Jesus. But we must remember that it is important to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, for the moment we begin to turn away, we will begin to sink. “And he said, come. And Peter went down from the boat, and walked upon the waters to come to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me.”
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 19, pp. 577, 597
October 3, 1985