September 3, 2023

Hebrews: Don't Settle For Less Than Jesus

Speaker: David Jordan Series: Journey Through the Bible Scripture: Hebrews 1:1– 13:25

Download the Hebrews Bible Journal Outline

Open your Bibles, if you would, to the book of Hebrews. Today, I'm going to preach an overview of the entire book. I hope you read ahead, because it's packed. And it has so many chapters on Jesus as a High Priest; I'm going to have to summarize those for you. And there is just no way to get around the fact that the theology is deep; it summarizes the superiority of Christ over the entire Old Testament. So, you're welcome -- I'm not going to go through the whole Old Testament today. But we will summarize some of those things. The book of Hebrews, I think, is enriching, it's rewarding. And I think it's something that you can study for a lifetime and find great benefit for your daily lives; I pray it's of benefit to you as well. The title of the message is, “Don't Settle for Less Than Jesus.” Don't settle for less than Jesus Christ.

You know, there's pressure to drift away from Jesus. Every single day, you're bombarded with pressure. And sometimes the pressure is from outside, right; it comes to us from the normal preaching whipping posts, right -- the news or the culture or whatever. But sometimes the pressure is inside, and our hearts can start to feel apathetic to Jesus; our hearts can start to, to just feel a little numb. Like there's not a great pull when Jesus's name is mentioned in your life. There's a great pull for other things in life. There's things that you want to do and accomplish in life, or there are situations that you want to fix in life.

But when Jesus's name is mentioned, though, mentally, we may ascribe to the greatness of his name, sometimes we're just we're just not feeling it. And if we let those feelings go unattended, we can start to drift away. There is as a whole movement about deconstructing your faith, basically put on by people who have never really looked into their faith very much until they're adults. And they've been living their whole lives from something they learned when they were a child, thinking childlike instruction was beneficial for adults. They drift away, they fall away. Hebrews provides incredible warnings to people like that in Hebrews 3, Hebrews 6, and Hebrews 10. But the pressure to drift away is not just on some of us; it's on all of us.

The pressure to leave Jesus, or the pressure to add something to Jesus as though that will make our life better. It's Jesus plus, right? It's Jesus plus a fantastic, overly high paying job, with very few bills. And just a wonderful life that we create for ourselves where we're only surrounded by nice people who love us dearly, more than anything in all the world and treat us as such. And if we're not careful, we can start to think that that is exactly what Jesus wants for us. And so, our expectations can end up growing out of things that aren't actually biblical. And yet, we can think they are what Jesus wants for us because we call them good. And we know all good things come down from the Father of heavenly lights, right? (James 1:17)

So, we have this situation in life where we have the beautiful Word of God; we have the instruction of God. And yet, there is a temptation to add to Jesus, because Jesus just isn't enough. We're depressed or anxious most of the time, or we're sad or grumpy, or Jesus doesn't satisfy. And we all get like that. I mean, there's the rare person that's always smiling and happy all the time, and God bless them. They have the gift of encouragement. It’s like a bug delight. We want to be around those people, right? Because we feel the warmth of what they give off. And we love that.

But in Hebrews, what we find are people who knew the Old Testament well. Just in the first few verses, we come to understand that the author (whoever that is, we don't know) assumes that the people are very familiar with the Old Testament, specifically with the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. And they're very familiar with Leviticus -- your favorite reading pastime, Leviticus, right, that's in the Old Testament -- and that they know the significance of the Levitical system, because that is what they would have relied on to provide a relationship between them and God.

So, this audience that the author is writing to, has a knowledge that Abraham's family became the nation of Israel. They have the knowledge that Moses led them out of Egypt from slavery, and on Mount Sinai that God gave them the covenant, that is spoken of, here, in Hebrews. They know that there they received the 10 commandments. Eventually, the entire Torah was given to them: Genesis through Deuteronomy. The Levitical priesthood was established. And why was it established? Well, because they're all sinful, and they kept ruining their relationship with God because of their sin. And so there needed to be some kind of sacrifice for sin. And the author relies on the fact that they understood this system where a sinful priest would make a sacrifice from the blood of bulls and goats and other things and to try and make atonement for sin -- that is, to provide some way to appease the wrath of God, to make propitiation for sin, which sets aside his wrath.

But the problem was: the sacrifice, the priest, and the system itself wasn't good enough. It wasn't permanent. It needed to have something permanently done. It needed a once-for-all, perfect sacrifice. And that's what you and I are familiar with -- the teachings of the New Testament and the sacrifice Christ made. But they were drifting. They were thinking, “I don't know about this whole system thing. I mean, why would a goat help atone for my sin? Why do I need to stand up under the pressure? Can’t I just live my life and have a peaceful life?” And the recipients did focus; they did have some pressure and persecution.

The author doesn't bring that out until the end of Hebrews 10:32. It says, “you endured a hard struggle with sufferings [so not just a hard struggle, but a hard struggle with added sufferings on top], sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction [so, public affliction, public reproach], and sometimes being partners with those so treated.” So, you were so tightly interwoven into this system, and into a life with each other, that when someone else was persecuted, you felt it as though it was you. (Hebrews 10:34) “For you had compassion on those in prison.” And that's not like you and I having compassion on someone in prison, today. To have compassion on someone in prison, then, especially someone who submitted to a king other than Caesar, to the ones in power, you could be considered a sympathizer and also put in jail. So, “you had compassion on those in prison [and look at this next part], and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property.” I mean, come on, who would live like that? Right? Just look at your neighbor and say, “I'm coming over to get your stuff this afternoon.” Right? “I'm gonna take it, and you're gonna be happy about it.” Right? And that's not because you live with a pack rat, and you want to throw all their junk out.

Their property was plundered. And the author says, “you joyfully accepted it because you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” An “abiding one” means something that can't be taken away. So, they had some type of mindset, at one point, that the author is trying to get them back to, even though they were in persecution now, and probably not joyfully accepting their houses being ransacked anymore. They were probably getting tired of, you know, the guy preaching from prison, “Let's rejoice in this. You could be taken away; your kids could be taken away.” This is not the pretty life.

So, the writer, the author, is going to try and provide three proofs. I'm going to categorize them into just three major proofs that prove Jesus is superior to Judaism, and it proves that Jesus has everything we need. So, he's gonna provide three proofs that show Jesus is superior to Judaism, and that Jesus has everything we need. And I just want you, as we start out, I just want to ask you: if all you had was Jesus, would that be enough? Because they can't take him away. So, the author is going to try and point them to something greater. And he's really going to show the supremacy of Jesus Christ over this whole system. And I'll help us apply this to our lives.

The first proof that he gives is found in Hebrews 1. And it's that Jesus is greater than the prophets and the angels. Look in Hebrews 1:1 with me. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days [you thought we were in the last days, right, the last day started a long time ago] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Let's just stop there. Is Jesus alone at this point? Where's the competition for Jesus? Right? He has far surpassed everyone else simply in the first few verses. He is greater than the prophets. He is the heir of all things. He is the Creator.

The Jews would have understood that the author is saying: Jesus is God. He's the creator of all things, right? Remember Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” He is the radiance of God’s glory, like the light to the sun. He is the exact imprint of his nature. He's like that seal with the wax stamp. He's the exact imprint of God's nature. There is no difference in his nature and God’s, and he sustains the universe by his own power. And just think about that all by itself. What problems do you have that Jesus is incapable of handling? If you believed just that? Well, “I got this relationship and this person, and it's just dragging me down, and no one can help me.” No one? Not God? God's arm is too short to reach into that relationship and help you with it?

You see, theology is lived out. Your theology, and how you live, and what you say, and how you think, is lived out every single day. So, in a sense, if you want to know your theology, just watch how you live, what you say, and what you're drawn to. That will tell you if Jesus is the greatest thing in your life. And I want to prove to you that he is. There is no one comparable with Jesus. And as he just kind of starts out by raising and elevating Jesus Christ above all the prophets he now elevates him above the angels, as well.

God declares in Hebrews 1:5 that Jesus is his son. He doesn't call any of the angels his son; that wipes out some of the cults out there that think Jesus is just the greatest angel. God declares that angels should worship Jesus in Hebrews 1:6. Now, you and I hear that, and we're like, “Yeah, that sounds normal to me.” The father declaring that someone else should be worshipped? That's what's going on here; that is what the author is immediately giving to this audience -- to say there is no one else you should worship. You need to worship the Son. You need to worship Jesus Christ, and he is declared in Hebrews 1:8 to be God. Hebrews 1:8 is a quote of Psalm 45. “But of the Son, he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.’” That is speaking of Jesus Christ.

So, just to summarize, he is divine, Jesus is. There is no other system out there in the world that will provide more for you than Jesus will. I'm not saying you're going to have a giant house with no problems. I'm not saying that you're going to have the greatest job. I'm not even saying that people are going to be nice to you. But I'm saying that you can know the one who is perfectly loving, and just, and able to forgive your sins for all of eternity. And that is better. Jesus Christ doesn't change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And God has declared that Jesus is sitting at his right hand. You don't have to wonder where he is. That's where he is. Yes, he's, you know, omnipresent. He's everywhere all the time. But Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the throne of Majesty on high.

You know, if you want to reach somebody, you pick up the phone, or you go visit, right? You stop by and say “hi.” You write them a letter, if you're old-fashioned, using that paper and ink stuff, right? But if you want to communicate to someone, you make an effort. Jesus just has to look over, because he's right there. He is in the presence of the Father all the time. This is the kind of high priest that you would want, much better than angels. He is better than all of the angels, and even their message.

You see, it's not just that people drift away from Jesus, it's that they drift away from the message he proclaimed. That is deadly. Hebrews 2:3 says, “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord.” So, the declaration is the gospel that our Lord Jesus proclaimed: to repent and believe in him. And if we move away from that, we're moving away from the salvation that we want with God. Hebrews 2:17 specifically tells us (and here's that that big word called “propitiation”), “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

True satisfaction for a believer is in knowing your sins are forgiven. That is what satisfies a believer. When they have spare time, they think about that. When they sin, they think about that, and they ask for forgiveness. When other people sin against them, they think about that, and they asked for forgiveness in Christ. “Lord God, please forgive that person when I sin.” “Lord God, please forgive me.” Yes, all of our sins are forgiven, but there's this relationship that we must have. Otherwise, why do we have an advocate in Jesus Christ? There's this ongoing relationship that needs to be continual, right? We celebrated communion this morning; he wants us to remember lest we drift away. Not only, then, is Jesus greater than the prophets and angels, he's greater than the message presented in the Torah, which only brought temporary forgiveness. He’s greater than the message. If you would, he is the fulfillment of what is to come.

But what about the great deliverer of the Old Testament? What about Moses? God used him to lead his people out of Egypt and to build the tabernacle. So, the next way that shows Jesus is superior to Judaism and the old sacrificial system, is that he is greater even than Moses. And we see that in Hebrews 3 and Hebrews 4. It shows that both Moses and Jesus were faithful to God, which is a good thing. But Moses was faithful as a servant, whereas Jesus was faithful as a son -- which elevates him. Look in Hebrews 3:3, “For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses -- as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)” Now he elevates him even more. Moses built this tabernacle, right, he was faithful in God's house. And he was faithful to bring a place where they could make sacrifices and worship. But Jesus built everything. Everything.

Now I remember talking about this one time to some children. And they said, “Well, did Jesus build our car? Did he build our car? You know, I thought Honda built our car.” Right? And so, we have to explain, back in Hebrews 1, that he sustains the universe by the word of His power, which means his ongoing active power allows anyone working at Honda to do anything. Which means that ultimately, without Jesus, they can't build anything. They can't do anything; they can't even breathe. It doesn't just say that he was some watchmaker who set it in motion. And there it goes, and now they all just live independently of God.

No, he sustains, actively, everything, everyone in the universe: the galaxies, the stars, the position of the sun, the distance from the sun, the rotation, the tilt of the earth, the gravity, the distance of the moon from the earth. You know, if it was a little closer, it would look like the Apocalypse. You know, all of these things he sustains actively, and yet we think Jesus is incapable of helping us have time to get groceries. Or, “Lord God, I want to share the gospel with somebody, but I'm too scared, and you can't help me.” I mean, I have the same feelings and same thoughts at times.

And he's trying to focus him on: think of the greatest leader ever, Moses. Jesus is Better. Think of all the things Moses did. Jesus did greater things. Think of the temporary things which Hebrews says are but a shadow of the things to come. Jesus doesn't just dwell on earth, he is in the heavens, in the eternal things that don't wear out. His position doesn't go away. He's better. Why focus on any of these other great leaders? Focus on Christ. We do this sometimes with our favorite preachers (besides me); we do this with our favorite preachers. We talk about them more than Jesus Christ himself. We do. We talk about podcasts more than Jesus. We talk about our favorite “whatever,” as though as long as we're known for following some man on earth, whom God has used mightily, we're okay. No.

Remember the Pharisees often appealed to, “Well, Abraham's our father.” They did that. Paul said, “Well, what is Apollos? What is Paul?” Right? “We're servants. It's God who causes the growth.” (I Corinthians 3:5-8) The Jews had this great lineage of leaders who were fully submissive to God. They were faithful. Moses is said to be faithful. He’s said to be so humble. He had like 2 million whiny complainers, and that was his job -- to lead them around. That's crazy. And he didn't complain about it. And he had to provide for them. And when they sinned against him, God said, “I'm not going to withhold this plague that's killing 1000s of them right now until you pray for them.” (Numbers 16) He forces Moses to reconcile: “Who are you living for?” over and over and over and over again. And I want to ask you: who are you living for? You see, Moses isn't just some story.

Hebrews 3:8 gives this warning: “Therefore, do not harden your hearts like those in the wilderness.” Hebrews 4:14, rather, “hold fast to our confession,” and Hebrews 4:16, “draw near to the throne of grace.” In what ways could you explain to someone that you are drawing near to God's throne of grace, every single day? Right? This happens, it's not a great mystery. And I know that you know this, and you understand this; it's through the normal means of grace. But here, you know, like prayer, Bible reading, fellowship, those kinds of things. But he's trying to peel them away from the comforts that they have. And the angels, who are just mysterious, and if you know somebody who ever claimed to have seen or talked to an angel, it’s like, “Wow!” It’s like, “Oh, that's kind of lame. I was just praying to God.” Right? But that's how we think. “Wow, somebody had an experience like that. That's amazing!” “You know, I was just talking to the Father just a few minutes ago.” “Oh.” Right? That's how we act. And we need to peel away from ourselves what our theology is, in reality. Do we really think Jesus is greater than all these things? It’s the question we need to continually think about.

And this brings us to the major section of Hebrews, around Hebrews 4:14 through Hebrews 7, where he's going to further explain this high priest thing. This is the only book that calls Jesus a High Priest, by the way, in all of the Scriptures. And the high priest’s job was to, once a year, go into the Holy of Holies and make sacrifice, make atonement for sin -- to sprinkle the blood on himself, on the instruments, on the Ark. And that was to provide an appeasement to God for the sins of the people, because there was no perfect sacrifice yet. So, the high priest was in the line of Aaron and part of the Levitical priesthood. Go back and read Leviticus again. It was part of that. And that's where they came from. So not anyone could be a priest. He didn't just volunteer. Right? They had to be born into it.

And yet, there was something, here, about Jesus, that was even greater than the high priest, who at the time made the greatest sacrifices to provide the greatest relationship between the people and God. We see this very quickly in Hebrews. Let's look at Hebrews 7. This is where Jesus is greater than the high priest. Actually, it's over and over and over and over again in these chapters. But this kind of summarizes it. Hebrews 7:11 (need that mnemonic device, 7-11), “Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?” You’re like, “Alright, see that made sense to them.” But you're saying, “Maybe explain it.” I got you.

Melchizedek was the one that Abraham met when he offered his tithes to him. And to save time, Melchizedek is known as the one who has no beginning or end. He’s a very mysterious person in the Old Testament. But what you need to know is that he was not of the line of Aaron, where all the priests came through. He wasn't. In fact, he was, in a sense, of his own line. He was unique, without beginning or end. He was a type of the Christ, of the one to come, who was necessary. And this necessary type of the One who was to come started all the way back with Abraham. It wasn't something new with Jesus; it was foretold that we would need to have another priest arise after the order of Melchizedek, which is different than the line of Aaron. I hope you’re tracking with me, okay? Stay with me.

Let me explain this. Go back to Hebrews 4:14-15. It shows that Jesus is a high priest without sin. So, that elevates him above any human priest. Look in Hebrews 6:20. Jesus is said to be a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, meaning he is in the order of this line of priests who are eternal. I don't know how to explain that from Melchizedek as a person that Abraham gave tithes to. But the point is that Jesus as a high priest is forever. They would rotate the high priest; Jesus isn't rotated out with somebody else, like the pagan calendars where there's a new person to worship every month. Though, once Jesus came along, there's only Jesus. Okay? That's why you don't need to look anywhere else. See how he's focusing him in? Right now, a question for someone who is a Jew is: who's your current high priest? Is he following the Levitical code? Are the Levitical priests sacrificing daily, and also going into the Holy of Holies once a year? The answer is no, because right now there is no Holy of Holies.

Hebrews 7:22, turn there with me. Why does all this matter? And I know you're asking that question. And the answer is because “this makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.” A better covenant. “We've got the sacrifices, the systems, we've got all of the old law. That's good enough for us. And in fact, this new Christianity is causing us issues. So, we're going to go back.” And the author is saying, “No, this is a better covenant than the one before.” A better covenant. Why is it a better covenant? Look in Hebrews 9:12. This is a summary of why it's a better covenant. “He [that is, Jesus] entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

I mean, if you were a farmer, and you retired out of sacrificing your animals, this is, like, cause for rejoicing. And if you're tired of having to go three times a year and make sacrifices and go through all of this, this is permanent. This is permanent. Forgiveness is permanent, securing eternal redemption. And I want to emphasize that it is secure. Hebrews 9:15 says that “he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.” Will all believers, all true believers, receive what is promised? Yes, Jesus guarantees it. Do you see the significance of it? Jesus is the guarantor of this covenant, which guarantees you will inherit eternal life. You will inherit salvation through Jesus, for those of you who are saved.

Notice there's nothing in here about how often you read your Bible, and I know that's cause for rejoicing, right? You don't have to pray seven times a day. You don't have to do all of these things, all these fences that we put around what we call “pure” Christianity. Salvation is secured on Christ alone. Why would we want to carry around the burden of sin that Jesus already paid for? Why would we want to try and say, “Jesus, your sacrifice was great, but that sacrifice you paid for, it's killing me.” That's what we do when we live in this repetitive sin cycle. That's what we do. We say, “You know, I'm just going to carry all this around with me. That's just ‘who I am.’ That's just how I live, I'll never get past it.”

And yet, there's this redemption, where you're seen as perfectly clean. The sacrifice is a perfect sacrifice. There's no sin you've thought or done that can be held against you when you stand before God. Nothing. You'll be standing in white vestments and in clothes that are purified, because of all that Jesus has done. That's why this celebration and this remembrance of communion is so significant that we shouldn't overlook it, because it has such ramifications for all of eternity. And this should be a great cause of rejoicing. And it should peel us away from anything else that draws us in life. What do we have that's better than that?

So, Jesus is the better high priest with a better sacrifice, and to receive him is to receive salvation by grace through faith in Christ. You say, “Okay, I agree. Now what?” You’re thinking that's the “so what” of the sermon. “All right, we've got all this theology. We know we should focus on Christ. How do we do this?” Hebrews 10:22 says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Let me ask you: is your hope in Jesus centered on you and your performance, and the things that you should do, and the Bible reading that you do, and the prayers that you offer? Or is it centered on Christ and Christ alone, because Hebrews 10:23 says that “hope without wavering” is founded on the One who is faithful.

In the old system, they could only draw near through the priests. Catholics try and do that today. It’s done away with. All believers can draw near to God directly through Christ. The curtain was torn in two that separated the Holy of Holies. There's no more separation from God. Hebrews 10:19 says that the blood of Jesus is our confidence. That's our confidence; not our Christian performance. And that the way through the curtain is through the flesh of Christ, through what he has done -- his sacrifice -- that's in Hebrews 10:20. Jesus is over the household of God, in the heavens, with things that don't pass away. This is established and unchanging and unwavering.

How about you? Are you wavering in your faith? What is your faith built on? What does it take to shake your faith or to rock your faith? And we all need to think about this. God thought it was good to preserve this letter, so that we (you and I) could think about this; we all need to think about this. But I want to ask you: are you taking advantage of your access to God? Are you taking advantage of your access to God? He wants you to be close to him -- not distant, not tied to him by a thin thread, not on thin ice. He wants you to be on solid ground; he wants you to have this firm foundation, this rock solid relationship with him, this faith that is unwavering. Do you have that kind of faith? If not, you need to look to Jesus. God wants us to have “this full assurance of faith,” not immobilized because of the crushing weight of sin. “Following Jesus” simply means “drawing near” because he is faithful. You draw near to him; that's “following him.” That’s coming closer to Christ, away from what's over here, towards Jesus.

Let me point out something in Hebrews 11 to you, that I think is really encouraging, as you think about your own faith. Because I think we read this “hall of faith,” and all these people who are in there, and we go, “Yeah, that's not something I could ever do. I'm not like those people. I'm not listed in there.” But actually you are -- just read the first couple of verses. Right? And there's something else in here that ties all of these people together. And there are many examples like Enoch, who lived a life that was pleasing to God, or Noah or Abraham or Sarah -- so many examples of people who lived out their faith. So, you can see what faith lived out looks like -- you just read Hebrews 11.

But they all had something else in common. Something else besides their faith in common. Do you know what that is? Look down in Hebrews 11:16. It says “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” Not just a better earthly place, not just to bring America back to her roots. That's not what it's talking about. A heavenly country. It seems so simple. Just so simple. But those who had great faith, they all had this desire -- to be with God, where he is.

And then at the second half of Hebrews 11:16 it says, “Therefore [in other words, because of this desire] God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Now, if you look back through that list, you will see some significant failures in that list, who were known for their great faith. But they all had enough faith to trust God was building a heavenly city for them, and that's where they wanted to be. Right? Fix the world, yes. But what is the common denominator in those of great faith is that they truly desire to be with God. And because of that desire, God is not ashamed of them.

I think we think that in some way God's ashamed of us. Like, “I know you might use that person, but not me. I mean, Jesus, you and I both know, the closets pretty full -- lots of skeletons in there. And, you know, if you use me in some significant way, somebody's going to find out just how bad I really am.” Would God have to rip the flesh off his son's back for everyone or just you? See, we somehow elevate our sin above everyone else, when we should be elevating our Savior above everyone else. We should be focusing on the God who says, “I am not ashamed of you.” He calls us his children. So, whenever you read Hebrews 11, know God is not ashamed to call you his child.

Moving forward, we simply need to know: are we willing to follow Jesus completely? And this is the last point. Look at this amazing summary here in Hebrews 12:1-3. And there is a great secret here to the Christian life in these verses. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is said before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

Are you willing to follow Jesus? Then you must be willing to lay aside your sin. “Let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely.” You know, runners obviously prepare, and you know they don't wear giant snow suits as they're running, right? They try to be light as possible. But it's like trying to run with one of those sea anchors. They're like 2000 feet long; they can weigh up to 30,000 pounds, just the anchor. The links are between 200-500 pounds each. Just imagine, this giant chain wrapped all the way around the track, and the anchor is just crushing you. And then you're like, “I am going to run to win.” That's what running with sin is like; you don't even take a step. So, if you want to follow Jesus, the author of Hebrews says just lay it aside. It's like Christ is the key to laying that sin aside. And there's freedom in Christ. That's what it means -- the weight is not there anymore.

Second, if you are going to follow Jesus, you need to be able to run with endurance, stamina, persistence, so much so, that people can see your persistence and your example of pursuing Christ. Hebrews 12:1, “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” We didn't design the race; we were just put in it. If you're willing to follow Jesus, you must be willing to run with endurance. And the secret to all these things: if you're willing to follow Jesus, Hebrews 12:3, says “consider him.” Another way of saying that is to “keep your eyes on Jesus” as you run. I mean, runners aren't looking all around. Right? Unless you're Usain Bolt, and you're like, eight feet in front of the next fastest guy, and you're smiling at the finish line. Most of us aren't like that. Right? We're struggling, we're striving, we're locked in to where we're going. You can't close your eyes and drive very well. Right? Not gonna work.

Are you willing to set, to lock your eyes on Jesus, to be fixated on the person and work of Christ, to know that is your “true north,” that is your direction, that is your lighthouse. That’s where you want to go, and that's where you want ahead, and everybody can see you are following Jesus like that. And that is the key to not growing weary. “Ah, I have been living this way for a long time, Dave, longer than you've been alive.” May be true, but the example is the same for you as it is for anyone. Whether it's an eight-year-old, trying to learn how to follow Jesus, or an 80-year-old, trying to take another step, day after day after day. He endured, he provides, he sits at God's right hand. He's at the finish line. Run to Christ, and don't settle for anything less.

Let's pray. Lord God, the book of Hebrews just kind of lays it all out there for us. Lord, I pray that you would sustain us by the word of your power. Give us the strength and the courage and the desire to fix our eyes on Jesus. And if someone doesn't know Christ, or by their life proves that, Lord, I pray that they would ask for forgiveness right now and receive forgiveness by grace through faith in Christ. Lord, you say you will not cast out any who come to you. And we trust in that. Let's just take a moment right now, as we're praying, and just talk to God. Ask him to help you to follow Jesus.

Father God, what a blessing it is to know you and to pray to you. I pray, Lord God, that you would help us to be a loving, caring church who walks arm and arm in the fellowship of believers, Lord. Thank You for all these things. Thank you for this message of endurance and hope in Christ. In your precious Name, Amen.