Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus!

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus!

Hebrews 12:2

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God
."
(Hebrews 12:2)

At the beginning of the new year we should focus upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus."

Let us focus our worship around the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us come to know Him better than ever, to love Him more and more, to serve Him
with renewed enthusiasm, and to declare His Name with increasing vigor.

God has important things for us to do in the days ahead.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith"
(Hebrews 12:2a).

The word, "fix," comes from a Greek word that has the idea of concentrating your gaze.
It means to look away from other things so that you can focus all your attention on one object.
It is like a lost child walking alone down a carnival midway, enthralled by the lights and sounds and smells.
His eyes flit this way and that.
He doesn't realize that he is danger.

Suddenly through all the noise, he hears his mother's voice.
Looking up, he sees his mother calling for him to come to her.
With his eyes fixed on his mother, he walks straight ahead, ignoring everything else.
Soon he is safe in his mother's arms.

A track coach will tell his runners, "When the gun sounds, start running as hard as you can.
Don't look back. Don't look around.
Keep your eyes on the finish line and keep on running
."

To fix our eyes on Jesus requires a holy habit.
It demands a continuous and sustained action, like a mariner in rough seas watching his compass
to make sure he stays on course.

This involves all that we do.
How do we use our time?
What fills your gaze?
Is it Jesus?

Many years ago a man hired an experienced guide to lead him on a hike into the Swiss Alps.
After many hours, they came to a high and remote mountain pass.
To the man's dismay, he saw that the path had almost been washed out.

What could he do?
To the left was a sheer rock cliff, to his right a precipice that dropped nearly 1000 feet.
Looking down, the man felt his head growing faint and his knees beginning to buckle.

At that moment his guide shouted, "Do not look down or you are a dead man.
Keep your eyes on me, and where I put my feet, put yours there
."

The man did as he was instructed, and soon he was safe from danger.

This is needed advice for the beginning of a new year.
No one knows what lies ahead for any of us.
All of us have plans and dreams, but the times and seasons of life are in God's hands.
Sooner or later all of us will come to a dangerous pass where the way ahead seems to be washed out.
At that moment we can panic and fall into terrible trouble.

Or we can fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in His steps.
If we will follow Him, we will find at the end of this year that we have been kept safe by his amazing grace.

Our text gives us wonderful motivation when it says that Christ is
the "author and perfecter of our faith."

He laid the foundation for our faith by his death and resurrection.
He made our salvation possible.

Then, He provided the perfect example for us to follow.
He trusted God perfectly.
Even when He was sorely tempted in the wilderness, He did not give in.
And in the Garden of Gethsemane, He yielded up His will to the perfect will of his Heavenly Father.

Then, He gives us the faith we need when we feel like quitting.
All true faith comes from Him because faith itself is a gift from God.
In Christ we find everything we need.

He is our example "who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame."
(Hebrews 12:2b)

The cross speaks of pain, suffering, shame, ridicule, rejection, and ultimate public humiliation.
Crucifixion meant a slow, agonizing death that often lasted for several days.
Death on a cross was the worst kind of torture, and reserved for the very worst criminals.

Where is the joy in that kind of death?
The answer is that there is no joy in death by crucifixion, but Jesus went to the cross and endured the pain
and despised the shame that he might obtain the joy that would be His afterward.

Jesus had the joy of obedience to his Father's will and the joy of completing the work of redemption
and the joy of bringing great glory to his Father and the joy of triumphing over death and hell.

There is the principle of delayed gratification.
We can see this principle at work in our own lives.
There are times when we must give up the good to obtain the best.

There is sacrifice involved.
One pleasure is sacrificed so that a higher one might be achieved.
There is a higher level of delayed gratification that involves enduring pain to receive a reward.

This is why athletes lift weights at 6:00 a.m., while their friends are still in bed.
They give up sleep, in order to win a championship.

This is why aspiring pianists practice for hours when they might be watching TV or playing video games.
They put in the hours in the hope that some day they may play for thousands.

This is why cancer patients endure the rigors of chemotherapy.
They take the potent chemicals into their body in the hope that the cancer will be gone.

And this is why our young people keep themselves pure.
They want to enter marriage with joy and with no regrets.

And this is why some leave their families and travel to the ends of the earth.
They want the joy of seeing the nations come to Christ.

In all these things there is a pain involved, but it is pain endured for the sake of the joy
that comes when the goal is reached.

Jesus said, "Follow me" and He went to the cross.
Are you willing to follow Him even to the cross?
Are you willing to endure pain and difficulty in order to know the joy of fulfilling God's will for your life?

If we take this phrase and put it in words that Jesus might have said,
it might read like this:

"I want the joy of seeing my Father's house in heaven filled with his redeemed children.
Therefore, I am willing to suffer the pain and shame of a brutal death on a cross
."

No pain, no gain.
No suffering, no glory.
No cross, no crown.
No tears, no joy.

Keep your eye on the prize.

"Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I've sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heaven are still mine own.

Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heaven's eternal day's before thee, God's own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise
."

Jesus is our hope!
"And sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2c

Jesus sat down because his work was finished.

In the Old Testament the priests on duty could never sit down
because their work of offering sacrifices for sin was never done.

But once Christ had offered Himself as the final sacrifice for sin, no other offering could be made
and no other offering would be accepted.
The work of redemption was finished.

He sat down at God's right hand, the place of supreme honor in the universe.
There was no higher place or position in all the universe.
Therefore, to Him belongs all praise and majesty.

He must also have the preeminence in our lives because God has given Him a name
that is above every name.
And when we pray to Him, we are praying to One who has been exalted to the highest place of honor,
which means that we have a Saviour and Lord who can help us in our time of need.

This great text can help us in the coming year!

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to "run with patience the race that is set before us."

We have everything we need to help us along the way.
We have the testimony of the saints who have gone before us.
We have the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we have the promise of coming glory
when we finish our earthly course.

So, keep your eyes on Jesus.

Don't be distracted by the things of the world.
Keep running.
Don't look back.
Fix your eyes on Jesus and run with all your might for the finish line.
Let those who name the name of the Lord rejoice in him.

T. E. Marsh wrote on the fullness that is in Christ Jesus.
This a paraphrase of what he wrote: A Christian man was asked a few hours before his death, "Is your faith strong?"
"No, but my Jesus is
."

Here is real hope for the new year.
Everything we need, we have in Christ.

He has all the hope, all the love, all the grace, all the power, all the strength, all the wisdom, all the patience,
all the guidance, all the encouragement, all the joy, all the endurance, all the gentleness, all the forgiveness,
all the determination, all the submission, all the boldness that we need.

The Lord Jesus has already run the race.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, and we will run the race well

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White