The Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost
October 17, 2021
Fix Your Thoughts on Jesus!
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
How do you get through a particularly difficult day at work? One way is to think about how nice it will be when the day is over and you can go home to your family! How do you get through an especially difficult year at school? One way is to remind yourself that once the school year is over you can enjoy your summer break. How do you get through a difficult time in your life? How do you deal with the realization that there are people who do not like you, there are people who may avoid you, there are people who will post negative comments about you or tweet disparaging rumors about you all because of who you are — a Christian, a child of God who is striving to put their faith into action in their life.
That’s the situation that our text for today addresses. While various people may have various suggestions as to how to deal with people who make your life difficult simply because you are a Christian, God the Holy Spirit led the writer of the letter to the Hebrew Christians to give us the solution to this problem! The solution is: Fix Your Thoughts on Jesus! There are two questions that we want to address this morning. The first question is— When we fix our thoughts on Jesus, what will we see? The second question is— When we fix our thoughts on Jesus what will this lead us to do?
As I mentioned last week the letter to the Hebrews was written for a very specific reason. These descendants of Abraham were being told that by believing in Jesus of Nazareth as the Promised Messiah they were turning their backs on their ancestors— Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were being told that unless they renounced their faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior and go back to following the rules and regulations of the Law of Moses, they risk losing their family connections, they risk losing their friends, they risk losing the rich culture and the ancient heritage of being “Jewish.” The Holy Spirit’s response to this pressure to renounce the Christian faith and go back to practicing Judaism is— Don’t do it! Why? Because the faith that lived in the hearts of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the faith that got them through the difficulties of their lives here on this earth, the faith that led them to believe and trust in the Messiah whom the Lord, the God of Israel, promised to send into this world, this rich glorious faith has now been fulfilled, it has now reached its goal in the Messiah who has come into this world— Jesus of Nazareth!
How then are these Jewish Christians to deal with the difficulties they are now facing in their life because of their faith in Christ? The Holy Spirit leads the writer of this letter to say to these Jewish Christians— and to us— “Fix your thoughts on Jesus”! I found it both interesting and helpful to know that the Greek word which is translated here as “fix your thoughts” very literally means, “to direct one’s mind and interest toward something; to notice and perceive it; to observe, test, comprehend and understand.” The Holy Spirit is not encouraging us to simply “think about Jesus” whenever we are facing difficulties because of our faith. He is encouraging us to “notice” Jesus, to “observe” Jesus, to “contemplate” Jesus, to “direct our minds and interests towards” Jesus!
When we follow the Holy Spirit’s encouragement, my friends, what will we see? Our text gives us three answers to that question. Two of those answers are found in the opening verse of our text. When we “fix our thoughts” on Jesus we will see the “apostle and high priest whom we confess.” While this is the only time that the word “apostle” is used to describe Jesus (the word “apostle” refers to someone who has been “sent out” in someone’s name), when Jesus was here on this earth He proclaimed over and over again that He had indeed been “sent” into this world by the heavenly Father. (See John 1; 3:17; 5:36-38; 7:28, 29; 12:44-50; 20:21) No matter how much pressure these Hebrew Christians were under to renounce their faith in Jesus as their Savior and go back to Judaism, no matter how much pressure we might encounter to either renounce our faith in Jesus or at least compromise our belief that Jesus is this world’s only Savior from sin, when we “fix our thoughts” on Jesus, when we “direct our minds and our interests towards” Jesus, we will see that Jesus and Jesus alone is God’s “apostle.” We will see that Jesus and Jesus alone is the One whom the heavenly Father Himself has “sent” into this world!
And why? Why did God the Father send His Son Jesus into this world as His “apostle”? When we “fix our thoughts” on Jesus we see the answer to that question in the fact that Jesus is the “high priest.” You may recall that in the Old Testament the high priest was given an extremely important responsibility. On Yom Kippur, on the great Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter into the Holy of Holies in the Temple of the Lord and sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat, on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, in order to make atonement for all the sins which God’s people had committed against Him.
If you did not have any sins that needed to be forgiven, if you never did anything that was against God’s will, if you always did everything that God has commanded you to do, then you would not need to listen to the encouragement that the Holy Spirit gives us here in this text. Then you would not need to “fix your thoughts” on Jesus and see that He is the “Apostle” whom the heavenly Father has sent into this world. Then you would not need to lift up your eyes to the cross (Pointing to the cross) and see what your “High Priest” has done for you. Then you would indeed be free to listen to the people who make your life difficult because of how your faith in Jesus impacts what you believe and what you refuse to believe, what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do. But of course we all know the truth about ourselves don’t we. That’s why we all need to listen to the encouragement that the Holy Spirit gives us today— “Fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.”
Now look at verses five and six of our text. When we “fix our thoughts” on Jesus what will we see? We will see that the One who is both the heavenly Father’s “apostle” and our “high priest” was “faithful”— “faithful” not as just a “servant” in God’s house, but “faithful” as a “son over God’s house.” Notice, my friends, that the writer to the Hebrews reminds his readers that Moses was given a very high position of honor among God’s Chosen People— and rightly so! Not only was Moses a faithful servant in God’s house, but Scripture tells us that, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11; See also James 2:23).
And yet, when we “fix our thoughts” on Jesus, when we “direct our minds and our interests toward” Jesus we will indeed see that Jesus was “faithful as a son over God’s house”! What does this mean? It means that as the Son of God Jesus faithfully carried out His Father’s Plan of Salvation for this world. It means that as our risen Lord and Savior the Son of God is now ruling victoriously over all things in heaven and on earth. It means that no matter what anyone says, no matter what anyone thinks, no matter what anyone does, Jesus is the faithful Son of God and Jesus is faithfully ruling over God’s house, the Church.
When we “fix our thoughts” on Jesus what will we see, my friends? We will see that Jesus is the heavenly Father’s “apostle” who was sent into this world to serve as our “High Priest.” When we “direct our minds and our interests toward” Jesus what will we see? We will see that Jesus is “faithful as a son over God’s house.” When we see all this, what then will it lead us to do? Our text gives us two answers to that question.
First, go back to verse three. When we “fix our thoughts” on Jesus, when we see Who He is, when we know what He has done for us (pointing to the cross), we will gladly give Him the honor that He deserves. We will honor Jesus as the Son of God. We will honor Jesus as our High Priest. We will honor Jesus as the heavenly Father’s Apostle. We will honor Jesus by remaining faithful to Him. We will honor Jesus by remaining faithful to the Word that He Himself has given to us. (See Hebrew 1:1, 2) We will honor Jesus by the way we live our life. We will honor Jesus by sharing Him with others. We will honor Jesus by gathering together here in His house on a regular basis. We will honor Jesus by using our God-given gifts, talents and abilities to serve Him both here in His congregation and beyond. We will honor Jesus by bringing Him our generous first-fruit offerings. Yes, my friends, when we “direct our minds and our interests toward” Jesus we will gladly give Him the honor that He deserves.
Now look at the closing words of our text. When we “fix our thoughts” on Jesus we will strive— by His power and by His grace— we will strive to “hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” Satan is going to do everything he can to discourage us from remaining faithful to Jesus. Why? Because Satan knows that if he can use the difficulties and the hardships of this life to discourage us from being faithful to Jesus, if he can use the fleeting pleasures and the empty promises of this sinful world to take our eyes off of the cross then he has a chance! He has a chance of getting us to lose our Christian courage. He has a chance of getting us to loosen our hold on the “expectation of which we boast”— a glorious eternal life in our heavenly Father’s Home. So “fix your thoughts” on Jesus, my friends, and “hold on to your courage”— the courage that comes from the cross of Jesus Christ! “Direct your minds and your interests toward” Jesus so that no one and nothing will ever rob you of the “hope of which you boast”!
How do you get through a difficult day at work? One way is to think about how nice it will be when the day is over and you can go home to your family. How do you get through a difficult year at school? One way is to remind yourself that once the school year is over you get to enjoy summer break. How do you get through a difficult time in your life? How do you deal with the realization that there are people who don’t like you, there are people who will make your life difficult simply because of who you are— a Christian, a child of God who is striving to put their faith into action in their life? There is only one way: “Fix your thoughts on Jesus!” “Fix your thoughts on Jesus” and you will always be able to see Who He is and what He has done for you! (Pointing to the cross) “Fix your thoughts on Jesus” and you will always be able to see what this (Pointing to the cross) now leads you to do!
To God be the glory!