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Hebrews 12:3–4

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

Hebrews 12:1–2 sets before us Jesus, to whom we must look in faith if we are to finish the race of the Christian life and pass into glory. Jesus is the premier example for believers because of His unwavering trust that His Father would give Him the joy that He set before His Son (v. 2). That joy consisted in His glorification, His exaltation as King of kings and Lord of lords (John 17:5; Eph. 1:20–21). We often forget, however, that we are His joy as well. Jesus’ kingdom must have citizens, and those citizens are the people whom the Father has given to Him from all eternity (John 6:37). The joy for which our Savior trusted His Father is incomplete without the presence of His people. The wonder of that should inspire us to continue trusting Him until the end of our lives.

Continuing the call to look to Jesus as we run the race of faith, the author of Hebrews in today’s passage tells us to consider the hostility Jesus faced in His mission so that we will “not grow weary or fainthearted” (Heb. 12:3). Here we are to remember that the Son of God willingly humbled Himself in His incarnation, taking on the form of a servant and subjecting Himself to all manner of hardship at the hands of evil people for the sake of our salvation (Phil. 2:5–11). If the eternal Lord of glory could do that, enduring suffering according to His human nature when He could in no way ever deserve it, how much more should we sinners be willing to do the same and like Jesus persevere when people hate us? John Calvin comments, “If the Son of God, whom it behooves all to adore, willingly underwent such severe conflicts, who of us should dare to refuse to submit with him to the same?”

In Hebrews 12:4, we get some insight into the situation of the original audience of Hebrews. The author notes that the first readers of his letter at that point “had not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” They had endured real suffering for their profession of faith, but things were not yet as bad as they can get on this side of glory. Christians struggle for a lifetime against sin and may even be tempted to fall away. It is an act of wickedness that we must resist. For some believers, successfully resisting it will mean a martyr’s death when an evil government or other enemy compels them to choose between rejecting Christ for life in this world or following Him into physical death. Regardless of whether that specific choice ever comes to us, we must stand fast against apostasy.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Jesus is the martyr par excellence, dying for His faithful witness to God and refusing to do anything but tell the truth of God even to those who hated Him. If we look to Him as our example, we must be willing to resist the calls to reject Him even to the point of shedding our blood to remain faithful. May the Holy Spirit give us the strength to do just that if we are ever called to do so.

For Further Study
  • 2 Chronicles 24:20–22
  • Mark 13:13

Running the Race of Faith

A Word to Self

Keep Reading Christian Discourse

From the August 2020 Issue
Aug 2020 Issue