Looking Unto Jesus

"...Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." -- Hebrews 12:1-2.

One of the most valuable items we have is the rear view mirror. With it, you can look behind by looking ahead, and it is unquestionably true that the best way to look ahead is to look behind. We do it all the time without scarcely thinking about it. This is really the value of past experience. The lessons we learn from the past guide our conduct in the present and future. That man is a fool who learns nothing from his past.

One of the chief values of the Word of God is that we can learn by the past experiences of others. We can see the mistakes made by men in times past in the Word, and we can see the results of those mistakes.

We can see, as well, how it turned out for those who, in spite of doing the right thing, reaped some dire results. But "we have also heard of the patience of Job, and seen the end of the Lord." We know that, ultimately, all must turn out well for the obedient child of God, for God is both a God of justice and love, and He will see to that.

"What cheering words are these,
Their sweetness who can tell?
‘Through time and to eternal days,
'Tis with believers well!’"

Psalm 17:14-15 tells us that "the wicked...have their portion in this life...As for me...I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness."

Our text tells us to look behind in order to run the race that is set before us. We are to "consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."

We are to "look unto Jesus," to contemplate the race that He has run. He is the "author and finisher of faith." He has set us an example, that we should follow His steps. Eternal life was manifested in Christ—the only life worth living. He has shared His life with every believer, for "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I John 5:12).

"Jesus" is the Name He was given before His birth. It is His earthly Name. It was in bearing that Name that He glorified God in all He thought, said and did.

If we want to please God, we must use the rear view mirror. We must look back to see how He lived in order to know how to run the race that is set before us.

Before the Lord Jesus went to the cross, at the last supper with His disciples, He instituted a Remembrance Feast. He calls on us, until He comes again, to keep using the rear view mirror:

"As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come" (I Cor. 11:26).

"Our souls look back to see
The burden Thou didst bear
When hanging on the accursed tree,
For all our guilt was there.
When we think of love like this,
Joy and shame our hearts possess;
Joy that Thou shouldst love and pity thus;
Shame for such returns from us."

The Christian who doesn’t use the rear view mirror constantly will never make significant progress in the Christian race. He must be constantly looking unto Jesus. He must look back to go ahead.

"The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead: And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

Even in eternity, Christians will be forever looking in the rear view mirror as they sing to His everlasting praise: "Thou art worthy...for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5:9).

The past is the pledge of the future. It gives confidence for the future. When the temple was dedicated, Solomon declared, "There hath not failed one word of all Thy good promise."

The Apostle Paul argues, "If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:31-32).

"His love in times past forbids us to think
He’ll leave us at last in troubles to sink;
The Lamb in His glory is ever in view—
The pledge and the proof He’ll see us all through!"

We know three things with certainty: (l) "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth" (Rom. 8:33).

(2) There is no legislation to them that are in Christ Jesus. "The law of life in Christ Jesus" (which is the law of Christ’s love operating in us through the Spirit) "has made us free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2-4). A risen Christ, at God’s right hand, interceding and, by His Spirit, indwelling each believer, empowers us to live as He lived. Oh, what a salvation this! That Christ dwells in me, and "the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me!" (Gal. 2:20).

(3) There is no separation to them that are in Christ Jesus. "Neither death, nor life (nor any other thing or person) "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38-39).

The problem with Israel was that they didn’t use the rear view mirror. They forgot God’s great deliverances. The Passover Feast was to remind them that they were a redeemed people, brought out of slavery to be God’s peculiar people, but they so soon forgot that God told them, "Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee" (Deut. 15:15).

Have we forgotten that we have been redeemed at infinite cost? That we once were slaves to sin, but were redeemed by precious blood? "Bought with a price, we’re not our own!"

The Lord told us to remember Him in His death for us—to keep using the rear view mirror. It is the way for progress. We will never go on for Him if we do not keep on looking back.

"Oh, that we never might forget
What Christ has suffered for our sake,
To save our souls and make us meet
Of all His glory to partake;
But, keeping this in mind, press on
To glory and the victor’s crown."

Perhaps today! "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God...we shall be caught up together...to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (I Thess. 4:16-17).

LET US SEE JESUS

We would see Jesus—for the shadows lengthen
Across the little landscape of our life;
We would see Jesus—our weak faith to strengthen
For the last weariness, the mortal strife.

We would see Jesus—other lights are paling
Which for long years we have rejoiced to see;
The blessings of our pilgrimage are failing—
We would not mourn them, for we come to Thee.

We would see Jesus—yet the spirit lingers
Round the dear object it has loved so long,
And earth from earth will scarce unclose its fingers,
Our love for Thee makes not this love less strong.

We would see Jesus—the strong Rock foundation
Whereon our feet are set by sovereign grace;
Not life or death, with all their agitation,
Can thence remove us if we seek His face.

We would see Jesus—sense is all too blinding,
And heaven appears too dim and far away;
We would see Jesus—to gain the sweet reminding
That Thou hast promised our great debt to pay.

We would see Jesus—that is all we’re needing,
Strength, joy, and willingness come with the sight;
We would see Jesus—dying, risen, pleading—
Then welcome day, and farewell mortal night!

                                       ... Anna B.Warner.