Fix your eyes on Jesus
Fix your eyes on Jesus
Dear Christian friends,
Just after Christmas, Missionary John Janosek died. Missionary Janosek had served as a missionary in Africa for his entire ministry – since 1964. Our Pastor Fedke was in Africa for a while and worked with him. Pastor Janosek had retired in Ashville , North Carolina . Our church in Ashville has a few retired pastors in it. One now serves as a part-time pastor. I know that pastor well. I saw the part-time pastor recently and I asked about Pastor Janosek. He said something about Pastor Janosek that was interesting. Pastor Janosek had retired for a few years and was in good health, but he didn’t want to do any preaching back in the states. Preaching here in the states was so different from preaching in Africa . In Africa you would find a tree somewhere and have the people gather around and have a conversation with them. Even in the mud block churches he would get a chair and then simply talk to the people in a conversational voice rather than preaching from a pulpit.
I have been told that when world missionaries return to the states, they and their families have difficulty getting accustomed again to American ways. Such a big move is earth-shaking and life-changing. But then again, that can be said about a lot of things – retirement – changing jobs – changing locations.
Imagine how true that would be if you had been living during the first century. You were taught to look forward to Messiah, but then you were told the Messiah had come. Because he had come the way that you looked at the Laws of the Old Testament were so different. So many of the laws of the Old Testament were pictures of what the Messiah would be and do. There was no need for that anymore. If we can somehow understand that, which I am not sure we can do, then we can better understand the letter to the Hebrews. In reality it was so important to “Fix Your Eyes on Jesus.” 1) Look what he has made you; 2) Look at him for who he is.
It has been 2000 years since Jesus died and rose. Do you remember that when Jesus died the veil in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place . While going through the wilderness 1500 years earlier, the Most Holy Place was where God dwelt. The Most Holy Place always represented the place where God dwelt. When Jesus died the curtain split from top to bottom. This was God’s way of proclaiming to the world that the death of Jesus for the sins of all had brought man and God together. Sin no longer separated God and mankind anymore.
Not many of us can appreciate that because we didn’t grow up two thousand years ago in a good Jewish family. That’s what makes the Book of Hebrews a challenging book. It is written for Hebrew people who grew up living under the Law of Moses. When Jesus died on Calvary , God wrote all over the laws of the Old Testament the word “finished.” They were not applicable anymore. Christ had eclipsed them. He had fulfilled them.
But the Hebrew people to whom this book was addressed didn’t feel loved by Jesus. They were being persecuted by those who had no use for Christ. Many were thinking about ditching Jesus and returning to the Laws of Moses. But that was foolish. Think about what you are giving up. “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.”
Remember whom and what Jesus made you. You are “holy brothers.” Holy? Without sin? Are you kidding? Yet that is what Jesus made you – holy and without sin. Only Jesus could.
Think about it! God gave his law to Moses. The apostle John wrote, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” In fact, if people focused on the law that God gave Moses with all its “you shalls and shall nots,” they would be in big trouble. All the law did was point out sin. It certainly did not give any assurances of holiness.
Yet “holy” is an apt adjective that describes the people of God. Christ’s holiness his perfection is charged to us. A great exchange took place. We receive Jesus’ holiness and he got our sin. We get credit for what he did. He got credit for all we failed to do and paid those wages, death. You are holy brothers and sisters. God sees Jesus’ life in us. Jesus paid the penalty of sin. We are holy!
We holy brothers and sisters and part of God’s family. The Hebrew nation liked to consider themselves the chosen people of God. But their common link, so many thought, was the blood of Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation. What makes people real brothers and sisters is not Abraham’s blood running through their veins, but the blood of Jesus whose blood trickled down his forehead from the crown of thorns, the blood oozing from his wounded hands and feet, the blood flowing from his torn up back and side that the soldier slit to prove he was dead. That blood, of greater worth than silver or gold, bought forgiveness of sins and entitles us to a place in God’s family. The blood of Jesus gave us a piece of that “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.” Fix your eyes on Jesus who made you who you are.
Did you see what happened in that big megachurch east of Atlanta ? The disgraced pastor, Pastor Eddie Long, who settled out of court with four young men who said they were molested by him, went through some kind of restoration service. He’s back! The Atlanta Constitution reported that he “was wrapped in a sacred Torah scroll and carried upon a throne” during a service. This was all done by a Jewish rabbi who wrapped him the scroll and proclaimed, "He's a king. God has blessed him!” You can see it on YouTube. As of Friday it received 139,000 hits. What in the world does that all prove? -- as believer and unbeliever wonder what is going on there. A Jewish rabbi in a Christian church proclaiming the pastor, who was sued because of sexual wrongdoings and settled with the victims, is declared to be a king. I know, Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, but what in the world!!!! Fix your eyes on Jesus! Not on Eddie Long! Not on Andy Stanley! Not on or Charles Stanley. Not on Larry Zahn! Not on Moses! Fix your eyes on Jesus. He made you who you are!
He made you who you are because he is all that he is. Look who he is. Look at the name that he has – Jesus! When the angel appeared to Mary and told her about the miracle child, he told her to name the baby Jesus. Why? Because he would save his people from their sins! His name is special. It means Savior. It certainly is better than Moses. His name means draw out. He was drawn out of the Nile because his mother had put him in a water-proof box to protect him against the decree of Pharaoh who wanted all Hebrew babies killed. Moses was connected more with being saved than saving. Jesus’ name is world-changing and life-changing.
The writer also says about Jesus that he is “the apostle and high priest whom we confess.” He is called an apostle and priest. This is the only time in the Bible where Jesus is called an apostle. When we think of apostles we think of those who followed Jesus who were with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry and witnessed his resurrection. The word ‘apostle’ comes from the Greek verb ‘apostello.’ It means “send out.” Moses was sent out for a purpose but so was Jesus. Moses’ resume reads that he was sent out to lead the Israel to the Promised Land. Jesus was sent out for a greater purpose to lead people to the eternal Promised Land. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." He said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." He said, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” He is referring to himself. He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
When all is said and done he came to save the world, and secondly, to tell the world that he was going to save the world. Not to slam Moses but who really had the greater task?
The writer calls him the ‘high priest.’ This is a reference to the sacrificial nature of his mission. The High priest performed sacrifices for the people. In front of the tabernacle, that Tent of Meeting, there was the altar on which the sacrifices were done. The smoke and the smell of burning flesh was a constant reminder that all was not right with God. Sacrifices were needed. The fact that they were never ending only proved that the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of goats and bulls and lambs never really took away sin. Jesus’ sacrifice did – once for all. No more needs to be done. Why would anyone want to turn away from Jesus and go back to the Laws God gave Moses and start those sacrifices all over again? Fix your eyes on Jesus!
The writer also makes another point. Jesus’ house is greater than Moses’ house. “(Jesus) was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house.” Both were faithful in their own way in ruling over their houses. Understand what that means. Moses had a father-in-law. His name was Jethro. Jethro visited Moses. He saw how busy Moses was leading the house of Israel . He probably wanted to have dinner with Moses and the rest of the family, but Moses was always tending to others. Jethro suggested that Moses delegate authority to take care of God’s house, the nation of Israel . Moses might not have been as efficient as he could have been taking care of God’s people, but he was faithful trying to do so.
But Jesus was even more faithful. “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” I don’t know how many of you would recognize the name ‘Taliesin.’ It is the name of a home in Spring Green, Wisconsin . The home was built by Frank Lloyd Wright. While you didn’t know the name of the house, you did know the name of the builder. The builder is always greater than the house he builds. Jesus is proof of that. Jesus’ house is the Holy Christian church. There wouldn’t be a Holy Christian church without the builder. Moses wasn’t even a builder of the House of Israel. He was part of it. Moses died and played only a part in the history of the children of Israel . Moses passed that leadership on to Joshua who passed it on to the Judges who passed it on to the kings. Jesus, on the other hand is the one who died for his house and rose for his house and is still responsible for his house. He rules all things for the benefit of his house, the Church. So fix your eyes on Jesus! Make your life show it!
“But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” We live in days where we need to set priorities. Just down the road there are strip malls that have stores that have been vacant ever since they were built. People aren’t investing in them because they don’t want to use money that they think will not pay them back the money they invested or secure a profit from them. People are trying to save money and not spend it on unnecessary things.
The Writer is saying the same thing. Make the right spiritual priorities not only in times of scarcity but also in times of plenty. “And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” That comes from fixing your eyes on Jesus.