The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 10, 2021
But We See Jesus…
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On more than one occasion I’ve been driving down the highway and someone in the car will say, “Did you see that?” I’ll say, “See what?” and they’ll say, “All those deer in the field back by the woods.” I’ll shake my head and say, “No.” I didn’t see it because I wasn’t paying attention.
On more than one occasion I’ve had people ask me, “Did you see that new show on television last week?” Many times I’ll say, “No.” I didn’t see it because I was watching something else.
On more than one occasion someone will ask me if I happened to see so-and-so this past week. Too often I have to say, “No.” I didn’t see them because it was a very busy week.
All too often, I don’t see things that other people see. Sometimes I am simply not paying attention. Sometimes I am doing something else. Sometimes I am busy. And then there are the times that I just don’t “see” it! I am so overwhelmed or so preoccupied by something that is going on in my life that I just don’t “see” something that may be right in front of me.
That last scenario is what the writer to the Hebrews is addressing here in our text for today. There are times when God’s children get so overwhelmed or so preoccupied by what is going on in their lives that we lose our focus and it is difficult for us to “see” what is right there in front of us. For all the times that happens to us, God the Holy Spirit led the writer to the Hebrews help us regain our focus by proclaiming to us a glorious truth. That glorious truth is that even in the midst of chaos and confusion, even in the midst of persecution and temptation the eyes of our faith enable us to say: But We See Jesus…. We see what Jesus did for us. We see what Jesus means to us. We see what Jesus thinks of us.
The portion of Scripture that we know as the book of Hebrews was actually a letter that was written to Jewish Christians who were being persecuted for believing that Jesus of Nazareth is the long-awaited Promised Messiah. They were being pressured to renounce their Christianity and go back to Judaism. The central purpose of this letter then is to remind these Jewish Christians that there is nothing to go back to! Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. The New Covenant established on Mt. Calvary (Pointing to the cross) supersedes the Old Covenant established on Mt. Sinai. Jesus is superior to everything and everyone— even Moses. Was that easy for these Jewish Christians to “see”? Not at all! That’s why the Holy Spirit led the writer to the Hebrews to focus his readers— to focus their hearts, to focus their minds, to focus their lives. On what did he focus them? That question is answered in the opening four words of our text, “But we see Jesus….”
Yes, my friends, the eyes of our faith enable us to focus on Jesus— no matter what is going on in our lives. And when we stay focused on Jesus, what will we see? First and foremost, we will see what Jesus did for us! In fact, the vast majority of our text for today focuses our attention on what Jesus did for us. To help you “see” that truth, I invite you to open up your bulletin to our text for this morning and follow along with me as we walk through these inspired words of our God.
When we see Jesus with the eyes of faith we can’t help but see what Jesus did for us. And what exactly did Jesus do for us? The writer to the Hebrews begins by reminding us that Jesus “was made a little lower than the angels.” This is an unmistakable reference to Christmas, isn’t it. The second Person of the holy Trinity “was made a little lower than the angels” when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. The true Son of God became the true Son of Man, our true flesh and blood Brother. And why was Jesus willing to do this for us? To fulfill God’s requirement that we be holy and perfect just as the Lord our God is holy and perfect. Be honest with yourselves, my friends. As you look back over your own life can you see that you have always been holy? Can you see that you have always been perfect? I certainly can’t! But when we see Jesus, what do we see? When we see Jesus with the eyes of faith we see that Jesus willingly left His heavenly Home and came into our world so that He could live a perfectly holy life— for us! For you! For me! For the entire human race!
Next the writer to the Hebrews reminds us that when we see Jesus with the eyes of faith we see that He is “now crowned with glory and honor.” This automatically makes us think of both Jesus’ Resurrection and His Ascension. The Son of God came into this world with a very specific goal to reach, a very important mission to fulfill. That goal, that mission is summed up in the words of our text, “so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” That phrase “taste death” reminded me that in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus’ human nature recoiled at the agony He knew He was about to endure on the cross. We hear Jesus pray, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will…My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:39, 42). Jesus willingly drank the “cup” that was filled with God’s wrath over your sins. The Son of God willingly “tasted” or “experienced” death itself— for you! Once He had achieved that goal, once He had fulfilled that mission, Jesus physically rose from the dead and was “crowned with glory and honor” as He was welcomed Home to Heaven as the Victor over sin, death and the devil.
From Christmas, Good Friday, Easter and the Ascension the writer to the Hebrews goes on to remind us that when we see Jesus with the eyes of faith we see the One who brings “many sons to glory.” Since Jesus is this world’s only Savior from sin, since Jesus is the Victor over sin, death and the devil, Jesus is the only One who can bring us out of the trials and the tribulations of this life into the “glory” of eternal life in heaven. Think about what this means, my friends. When someone dies trusting in Jesus as their Savior, Jesus brings them into a “glory” that enables them to see God face-to-face and to live in His presence forever, a “glory” that includes being surrounded by thousands upon thousands, ten thousand times ten thousand heavenly angels, a “glory” that includes being welcomed into the multitude of saints that is so great no one can count it, a “glory” where there is no more pain or suffering or crying or death or sadness or sorrow— ever! That’s the “glory” into which our Brother Jesus brings us!
And finally, look at verse eleven of our text. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that when we see Jesus with the eyes of faith we see the One “who makes men holy.” One of the unique aspects of Christianity is the proclamation that through faith in what Jesus has done for you— you are holy in the eyes of the Lord God Himself! What about the fact that you haven’t lived the perfect life that God requires of you? Jesus lived a perfect life for you! What about all those sins that you have committed against the God of heaven? Since Jesus “tasted” death for you all of your sins are completely forgiven! So you see, my friends, through faith in what Jesus had done for you, you are holy— because Jesus has made you holy!
As I said earlier, the vast majority of this text proclaims that when we see Jesus with the eyes of faith we cannot help but see what Jesus has done for us. At the same time this text also reminds us that when we see what Jesus had done for us, we also see what Jesus means to us. Here I would like to direct your attention to verse ten of our text. Jesus is described in this verse as the “author of our salvation.” The Greek word that is translated here as “author” is used only four times in the New Testament. All four times it refers to Jesus. (See Acts 3:15; Acts 5:31 (Prince); Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:2) Very literally this Greek word refers to, “beginning, starting point, the first cause, power, authority or rule.” What makes Jesus the “author” of our salvation? The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is the “author” of our salvation because He was “made perfect through suffering.” We need to make sure that we understand this correctly. The Greek word which is translated here as “made perfect” is the word “teleioo.” It comes from a family of verbs which emphasize the idea of “reaching one’s goal.” Jesus became the “author of our salvation” by “reaching His goal”— through His suffering and death on the cross.
How does this help us to see what Jesus means to us? It helps us to see that Jesus is the “author” or the “first cause” of our salvation, it helps us to see that Jesus is the “power” or the “authority” of our salvation because Jesus is the God who loves us so much that He was willing to suffer and die for us. When we see what Jesus means to us, when see what Jesus means to our salvation, we will want to stay as close to Him as we possibly can as we journey through this world so that the pleasures that the world offers to us do not lure us away from Jesus and so that the hardships that we face in life do not cause us to simply give up.
That leaves us with just one more truth to emphasize from this text. It is a very simple truth yet it is an extremely comforting truth. In the closing words of our text the writer to the Hebrews reminds us of what Jesus thinks of us. He says, “So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”
How glorious is that, my friends! People may persecute us because we believe in Jesus as our Savior— but Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers and His sisters. The world may shun us and ridicule us because we are willing to stand up for the Truth of God’s holy inspired Word— but Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers and His sisters. And most importantly of all, when we die and find ourselves standing before the judgment throne of the Almighty, no matter what accusations Satan may bring against us, Jesus will not be ashamed to stand up in our defense and say, “Father, this is My dear brother; Father, this is My dear sister,” and then holding up His hands He will say, “I have already paid the debt of their sin— in full!” On that basis the heavenly Father will say to us, “Welcome Home, My child! Welcome Home!”
Are there times in your life when you don’t see something because you aren’t paying attention? Are there times in your life when you don’t see something because you are too busy doing something else? Are there times in your life when you don’t see something because like the Jewish Christians who first read these words of our text you are overwhelmed by the difficulties and the hardships, the persecutions and the ridicule you encounter in life? My prayer this morning, my friends, is that no matter how much chaos and confusion you may see swirling all around you, no matter how many temptations Satan may set directly in front of you, I pray that by God’s grace and with God’s help you will always strive to stay focused. Stay focused so that you can see Jesus. Stay focused so that you can see what Jesus did for you. Stay focused so that you can see what Jesus means to you. Stay focused so that you can see what Jesus thinks of you.
To God be the glory!