Jesus Is . . . !
June 25, 2017
Last week we were looking at Hebrews 2, which started out by reminding us if we don’t hold onto the truth, which is Christ, we very easily will drift away from that truth. We will slowly move from active faith to a passive faith.
It’s very possible for individuals, as well as companies and even churches to lose their focus and begin to drift.
I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that many churches have drifted and no longer focus on the Great Commission. Some have become gathering places or social ministry organizations with no mention of Jesus. Spiritual drift is a danger that we all need to pay attention to — which makes today’s text important because in it the author of Hebrews cites some ways for us to hold fast to Jesus.
In the first verse, the writer tells us ~
1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, CONSIDER Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,
If I asked you to consider something . . . you would take that to mean – – – “you’re simply going to think it over. No big deal!”
When the writer uses the phrase CONSIDER Jesus — he wants us to do more than mull it over in our mind. You see, in Greek, the word consider really means ~
consider exactly, consider decisively; concentrate by fixing one’s thinking; understand fully, closely consider, think decisively to a definite clear understanding.
That’s what the writer wants the reader to grasp. He wants us to make a decision. Fix our thoughts decisively on Jesus! He is the apostle. It’s the only time Jesus is referred to this way. An apostle is a messenger, one who is sent by God, and He was sent by God, and again, as we saw at the end of chapter 2, Jesus is called the high priest. We confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
This is kind of the prelude. Now the writer wants to make a point about Jesus. Remember the first two chapters were comparing Jesus to angels. And the writer tells us how much greater Jesus was than the angels. He was above the angels, yet for a time became lower than the angels so that He could bring redemption to you and I. Then Jesus was seated in heaven with the Father.
Now the writer wants to take it up a notch. And he’s going to compare Jesus to Moses. Listen to what he says ~
2 Jesus was faithful to Him who appointed Him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.
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.
4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)
5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later,
6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a Son. And we are His house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
The writer is comparing Jesus to the biggest and greatest of the Jewish leaders, Moses. Moses was esteemed by the Jews as a hero of the faith far above any other Jew who ever lived. Here’s a quick view of his resume to help us understand why.
God miraculously protected Moses as a baby and personally provided his burial.
Between these two points in his life are miracle after miracle after miracle.
He confronted the Pharaoh and called down the plagues.
He organized the Hebrew slaves and led them out from Egypt through the wilderness to the Promised land.
God spoke to Moses face to face.
Moses was considered Israel’s greatest prophet.
He saw the glory of God firsthand and even had this glory reflected in his own face so that he had to wear a veil so he wouldn’t blind the other Hebrews.
God used Moses to give the people the 10 commandments,
Moses authored the first 5 books of the OT, called the Pentateuch (Law of Moses)
Moses is mentioned over 700 times in the Bible.
But—in spite of all his achievements, Moses was humble. Numbers 12:3 says, “The man Moses was very humble, more than all the men who were on the face of the earth.”
Deuteronomy gives this epitaph of Moses ~
10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,
11 none like him for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land,
12 and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. – Deuteronomy 34:10-12
Many Jews believed Moses was way greater than angels. And to drive home the point that JESUS is the ONE true Messiah — not prophets — not angels — not even Moses.
So, to bring home his point so that these Jewish Christians could firmly and decisively hold onto Jesus as the Messiah, he tells the people –
Moses was faithful in the house — but Jesus BUILT the house.
Moses was a faithful servant in God’s house. But Jesus was faithful over the house.
Moses was a priest. Jesus is the high priest.
Jesus pointed out His superiority over Moses by telling the Jews,
46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. – John 5:46
Jesus was saying that when Moses wrote Genesis through Deuteronomy, in many parts he was talking about Jesus, who was to come.
So, if we want to hold fast to something or someone . . . we need to hold fast to Christ. That will prevent us from drifting. We must always remember Who He is — what He has done — what He promises to do. We must decisively choose Jesus — we keep our focus on Him so we won’t drift.
Too often we let the things of the world pull us in the wrong direction. It’s subtle, and before we know it we’ve started drifting away from Christ. John Brown, a Scottish pastor in the mid – 19th century wrote, “It is because we think so little about Jesus, that we love Him so little, trust Him so little, that we so often neglect our duty — are so much influenced by things seen and temporal and so little by things unseen and eternal.”
He’s correct — we have to keep our focus on Jesus. And the point of the first section goes back to that little phrase – – CONSIDER JESUS! Fix your thoughts decisively on Jesus as the One who is your Lord and Savior – – your redeemer and sustainer of your faith.
Let me put it to you this way . . . Jesus is always our goal. In everything we do, we seek to be Jesus to the world. With that in mind, our focus, our heart, our spirit, our mind, our entire body must be firmly fixed on Jesus. Think about it this way. . . if we are running in a race, and we are only looking at the present, which means we are looking at our feet, we will eventually trip and fall. BUT, if we have our eyes up, focused on Jesus, we can see what is ahead of us and make adjustments along the race.
The writer warns us about our hearts. He wrote ~
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear His voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put Me to the test and saw my works for 40 years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’
11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” – Hebrews 3:7-11
Again remember the context! This letter is being written to Jewish Christians. They understood the history of the Jewish people. They held Moses as one of the great leaders of the people, yet despite his leadership, the people were rebellious and as the OT liked to point out they were “stiff-necked” people. They were stubborn. One thing for us to really understand is the fact that their stubbornness was not just being hard headed people, it came from a lack of faith. And this lack of faith caused them to wander in the desert for 40 years, instead of entering the promised land within 2 weeks.
Also, notice there is a sense of urgency in this warning. In verse 7, the writer said, TODAY, which means right now, if you hear the Holy Spirit, then don’t reject Him, listen, don’t harden your hearts like the Israelites did when they left Egypt.
After being slaves for 430 years in Egypt, God sent Moses to lead the people out of Egypt and to the land described as flowing with milk and honey.
Finally after a series of plagues hit the Egyptian people, the Pharaoh let the Israelites leave. Then he decided against it and sent his army after them. The people were scared as they saw the Egyptians behind them and the Red Sea in front of them. They wanted to go back and be slaves instead of dying. But God parted the sea for them, and as the Egyptians rode into the sea, the water closed over them.
When they needed food, there was food. When they needed water, there was water. God led them by a cloud during the day and by a pillar of fire at night.
The people complained about the bread they ate, they wanted meat, and God provided. When Moses was on the mountain too long receiving the 10 commandments, they complained. When anything didn’t go their way, they complained. You could almost feel their hearts hardening with every step. Ultimately, they were like one large group of negative, angry, bitter people, who at the drop of a hat, wanted to go back to slavery.
God is telling us to avoid the same fate. Isn’t that possible to us? We get caught up in stuff that doesn’t go our way.
– We lose our job
– we get sick, loved one’s get sick
– people we love die
– our marriages struggle
– our kids struggle
– school struggles \ relationship issues
You name it, when it does not go our way, even when God is trying to tell us something, we struggle and at times, we harden our hearts toward God and what He wants for us in our lives.
When our hearts become hardened it’s often a lack of faith that leads us down that road. Our heart becomes unresponsive and unreceptive to God’s call in our lives.
Even after the 12 spies entered the land, 10 gave negative reports, while only Caleb and Joshua said, “let’s go, God will give us victory.” In spite of all of the miracles God performed along the way, they still didn’t believe He had the power to win the battle. Their negativism — lack of faith — hardened hearts, blinded them to the limitless power of God – power they witnessed firsthand day after day. Ultimately, they demanded new leadership and wanted to go back to slavery again.
How do you keep your heart close to God? How do you prevent it from becoming hardened? Three key words. Surrender. Believe. Obey.
Surrender. Every day of your life, countless times throughout the day, we need to surrender our heart to God. You simply say, “God, here’s my heart. It’s yours. It may be a little cold right now. It’s not as tender as it should be, but I’m giving it to you.” Lord, create in my a pure and soft heart, open to you.
Believe. Every day of your life, choose to believe the promises of God. You choose to believe that God is working all things together for good, that He’s guiding your steps, and will provide what you need when you need it. I’m not saying you choose to feel a certain way, I’m saying you choose to believe.
Obey. Every day of your life, you make a sacrifice of obedience to God.
Every day you have a chance to do at least one thing you don’t want to do.
Or you’ll have the chance to not to do one thing you really want to do.
It will happen every day. When the opportunity presents itself, choose to obey God. Even if it’s not easy, even if you don’t feel like it, choose to obey. Every time you make this sacrifice of obedience, you soften your heart.
We need to guard our hearts. As Solomon said ~ Proverbs 4:23
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Friends, our greatest filter is our heart. Are we going to guard, protect our heart, so nothing evil, nothing negative enters. We keep the bad out, and the good in.
Again, the writer of Hebrews refers back to the OT wilderness period, writing ~
15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?
17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
He’s being repetitive because this is so important. When we’re struggling, when we’re feeling persecuted, when we’re feeling that nothing can go right, we tend to harden our hearts . . . just like the Israelites did. Those people never entered the promised land, other than Caleb and Joshua. They didn’t experience the rest they hoped to find.
Finally, if we move back a few verses, the writer reminds us of something so important, so easy to do, yet so often forgotten. It’s the need to encourage one another. The writer tells us ~
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:12-13
We must ENCOURAGE one another – – not whenever we feel like it. But we must do it on a daily basis.
Do you know what I’ve noticed? When I’m around certain people, I don’t sin as much. When I’m around them, I’m much less prone to complain, or gossip, or lose hope.
On the other hand, there are some people who only have to walk into the room and they are like energy vampires. They suck the life out of me. I become defensive which turns offensive. Their presence leads me to be more apt to sin.
That first group of people understand what the writer of Hebrews is saying. He tells us if we would offer encouragement to one another, we can help each other avoid the pitfalls of sin.
Encourage one another daily. There are two key words that I will point out.
The first key word is ENCOURAGE. Not nag, belittle, or criticize. Encourage.
The Bible never instructs us to discourage one another. We are to encourage. Here’s an easy way to identify encouragement. It feels good to hear, we crave hearing positive words. It builds us up and strengthens us.
The second key word is TODAY. As in seven in a week. Now, I’m a literalist, so I take this to mean that in every 24 hour period, I need to have encouraged at least one person, or I’m in sin. Are we doing that daily? Are you encouraging?!
The Bible never says, “Rebuke one another daily,” or “Call out one another daily,” or “Scold one another daily.” But it does say, “Encourage one another daily.” That’s because when you offer people encouragement, you help them become more holy. You help them maintain a tender heart. You help them keep their thoughts directed toward Jesus.
And do you know what else you do? You help yourself. Solomon said…
25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. – Proverbs 11:25
That’s a really, really great statement, think about it . . . When you’re passing out encouragement, some of it comes back your way.
Think of how much differently things might have been for the Hebrews as they got to the entrance of the Promised land if they had encouraged one another to trust God — instead of complaining and wanting to return to slavery. We need positive encouragement to hold fast.
Keep your mind on Jesus; fix your thoughts on Him. The more you think of Him, the more closely you’ll walk with Him.
And hang on to your heart – – guard your heart. Nurture your relationship with God, keep your heart where it should be through surrender, belief, and obedience.
And then look around you. People need your encouragement every day. And you need to give it. Don’t let a day go by without building up one another.
These are things that prevent us from falling by the wayside. These things keep us holding fast; they’ll keep our heart in the right place.