Article: Consider JESUS: Press on, do not turn back! | Jacob Varghese

“Endurance is otherwise called passive perseverance. It is the power to stand firm and bear the heavy weight of life’s difficulties without grumbling” writes Michael Amico. We read in Hebrews 12:2 that Christ “endured” the cross and in verse 3 we read He also “endured” opposition from sinful men. Jesus Christ could have easily defeated his enemies and conquered the cross in some other way. But, He endured it, because it was the will of God that He should suffer on the cross and give up His life to save the sinners. That was the reason He submitted to the cross and endured it humbling Himself even to the point of death. Isaiah 53:7 says “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth”. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.” Despite such horrible persecution and torture, He remained calm and endured silently!
It is very important how we react and respond when we face hardships and sufferings. Most of the time we blame, complain, wail and protest, is not it? The exemplary endurance and patience which Jesus displayed even amidst agony changed the heart of a Roman centurion. The centurion might have witnessed many crucifixions and had seen how victims used to curse and cry on the cross. Only anger, bitterness and revengeful words came out from their mouth during those times. But when He saw that Jesus silently endured all the sufferings and when he heard words of love, mercy and forgiveness coming from His mouth, his heart was moved. So powerful was Christ’s endurance that it melted the hard heart of the centurion that he declared, “Truly this man was the son of God”. Let us follow our Lord’s example. Let us not bring disgrace to Him by reacting aggressively in our testing times. Only if we have an intimate fellowship with our Lord, would we be able to imitate Him even while undergoing sufferings. Only then can we silently tolerate abuse, opposition and criticism without getting crushed by their weight and overwhelming pressures.

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The first century Christians having embraced their new faith was encountering difficulties and pressures which tempted them to grow weary in the battle. So the writer of the book of Hebrews, in chapter 11, after reminding them of the great heroes in the history of Israel who endured among severe trials, tried to lift their spirits in chapter 12 by pointing to them the greatest hero Jesus Christ Himself saying, “Why do you get weary so quickly? Why do you stumble so easily? Consider Jesus! Look at what the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 went through, but most of all look at Jesus.” Dear ones, are you about to give up your faith that you have in Christ Jesus, because of unbearable sorrows and sufferings? Consider Him who underwent pain and agony in the most awful and cruel ways! Look at Him hanging powerless on the cross. His protection was removed, as He stood before the cruel men. He was at their mercy. Soldiers blindfolded Him and hit Him, ridiculing Him saying, “If you are a prophet, say who hit you? The officers kept slapping His face. Again and again they spat on Him. Yet He did not hide His face from them. Then He suffered the terrible agony of Roman scourging, the leather thongs studded with metal and sharpened bones, tearing His back. Then they thrust the crown of thorns upon His head, every blow causing the thorns to dig further into His flesh until His blood-stained face was barely recognizable. Jesus endured all for you and for me. Consider Him, how much He loves us, how much He endured for our salvation. How could He endure such agonies? Hebrews12:2 says that it was for the joy set before Him.

In the race of life the Lord Jesus is our Leader, the One who has run ahead with a baton. Now, He places the baton in our hands saying, “Press on! I have given you an enormous lead, but don’t waste it. Don’t turn back. Run! Run on! Look to me- I endured everything for the joy set before me.” Be motivated by His love and be enveloped in it. Keep running patiently. Jesus will enable you to endure and win the race triumphantly.
I saw a wall poster that was printed a picture of a small boy with a telescope in his hands, pointing towards the skies. Just beneath was written, “Fix your eyes on JESUS”. It gave a new meaning to me on what ‘fixing our eyes’ really means – to look ‘intently’ with all attention and concentration at an object that we want to focus on. I got the message of the poster right in my mind. Many times we look at the world, its people and its temptations ‘intently’ and get so discouraged or distracted. We see that the plans of the ungodly people always get fulfilled, while even a simple desire such as buying a new set of clothes or going for a short vacation does not come so easily to a child of God. Also, when we see people of this world boast about their capabilities, cleverness and brilliance and achieve many things with their wisdom and recommendations of the authorities, we feel so dejected and sometimes we want to quit our faith life. But dear child of God, do not lose heart. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, who alone initiates and terminates our faith. Let us lift up our eyes and fix our gaze on the hill; for our help comes from the Lord. There is not a problem, nor a sickness, nor a tear that will be ignored by our Lord. He knows and cares; He bears and rescues. Let us rekindle our faith and do not get discouraged or distracted by the people around us with their prosperity and success. All these would end with this world. But if we look at our Lord Jesus intently we will be encouraged to run our race patiently, yet with all hope; for we are the elect who shall receive all the riches and glory in Christ Jesus forever and ever.

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We have a race that God has given us all to run. The scripture says that it is a life-long enduring race in which Jesus is our goal. Many people, who participate in the worldly race, start off well like flaming stars, but then they crash and burn. They start quickly, but end badly. As runners in the spiritual race, if we understand that the purpose of this race is to be transformed more and more like Jesus, we will certainly be able to finish the race successfully and not quit half way through. There are many obstacles that prevent us from finishing this race. The first is “sin”. If we hold on to sin, there is absolutely no way for us to finish the race that God has called us to run. We have to repent and let go of every sin that holds us back. Second is “weight”. An athlete certainly cannot afford to carry loads of weight. In the spiritual sense the “weight” involves things like anxieties, worries, the attractions of the world, vain pride and fame, which distract our focus from the goal- the Lord Jesus. It is possible that as we run this life-long race we would become weary and weak. And for that we need people to encourage us in our pursuit. Sammy Tippit narrates his experience: “When I ran the Greek marathon, I reached mile 22 and all of a sudden I began to fall apart. My joints began to cry out in pain. When I put my foot on the ground, I felt that my foot was on fire. I prayed to God to let me make it to the last corner, so that I would see the final stretch. Then I heard something, lined up on both sides of the street were Greeks waving flowers and shouting, “Bravo! Bravo!” Something happened in my legs. All of a sudden I began to pick up speed and ran. I looked up and saw the finishing line. Nothing could keep me from running. At last, I made it.” Even in our spiritual race, we need people around us who will encourage us. So let us fix our eyes on Jesus, run the race and reach the finish line.

Let us not quit running our spiritual race when threatened by our enemy, the devil. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who were led by their great cheer leader, Jesus Christ. They have already run the race before us and crossed the finishing line. Now they cheer us saying “Don’t quit!” we can make it! We are almost there! Noah is there shouting, If I succeeded in building the ark despite the ridiculing of the wicked men, you can make it too! Abraham is there shouting If I waited 25 years for the promise of God to be fulfilled, you can get your heart’s desire too! Joseph is there shouting, if I went through the hardship in the pit, in Potiphar’s palace and in prison for many painful years till I became the governor of Egypt, you can also endure suffering! Moses is there crying, if I was able to confront the hard –hearted Pharaoh till he allowed the Israelites out of Egypt, you too can press on till you are delivered! Joshua is there shouting, If I persevered marching seven days around Jericho, surely you can until your walls come down! And the list goes on. Let us open our spiritual eyes and see them. Let us also persevere and press on till the end considering Jesus.
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JACOB VARGHESE

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