Boy, do I LOVE Hebrews 12. Love it so much, I want to share three things about it: Jesus Leads; God Disciplines; We Have Come!
…let us run with endurance the race that is set 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. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
… it was fitting that [God], for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10 ESV)
When I read these passages together, I imagine Jesus enduring the Cross for two kinds of Joy before Him:
- He will soon see His Father again and reunite with the Spirit (the best reason!)
- He will bring along with Him all those people He redeemed on the Cross. I imagine the Father smiling broadly as He sees Jesus coming, followed along by a huge line of siblings including you and me. Jesus’ suffering ensured our trip right to the Throne!
The thought of all his brothers and sisters trailing behind Jesus into heaven reminds me of a passage from Flannery O’Connor’s “Revelation.”
In O’Connor’s short story, a snobby, self-righteous, racist woman named Ruby Turpin has a vision of souls marching towards heaven – following their brother Jesus – and it isn’t quite what she had in mind:
She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were rumbling toward heaven. There were whole companies of white-trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black n—-s in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like her and [her husband] Claud, had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right. She leaned in to observe them closer. They were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. They alone were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces that even their virtues were being burned away.
[Their virtues burned away – WOW! We must repent even of our good works.]
I just love Hebrews 12:7-12. Our loving Father has our best interests in mind. He is looking out for our good. So He uses whatever form of discipline – even if painful – that’s necessary for each of us become more holy, yielding more and more of the “peaceful fruit of righteousness.” The sign of maturity? Peace.
We Have Come
The chapter ends with a comparison of Mount Sinai – where all is legalism, gloom, and doom, with Mount Zion. Because of Jesus, we have come to the mountain of grace, that place of eternal fellowship with God. And as we come to Mount Zion, we also come to:
- the city of the living God
- the heavenly Jerusalem
- innumerable angels in festal gathering
- the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven
- God, the judge of all
- the spirits of the righteous made perfect
- Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant
- the sprinkled blood (Hebrews 12:22-24 ESV)
Just imagine! Jesus is taking us – through his blood. God is maturing us – in this life. And soon we will be coming to this awesome place, the city of the living God – where we will worship day and night with the angels and with each other!
Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 27:1-28:26, Psalm 129:1-4, Proverbs 28:26, Hebrews 12:1-9. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).