SEEING THE UNSEEABLE
Verse 2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
A. W. Tozer in his book The Pursuit of God has a chapter called “The Gaze of the Soul.” He uses our present text as the text for the chapter. He says about faith, “In Scripture there is practically no effort made to define faith. Outside of a brief fourteen-word definition in Hebrews 11:1, I know of no biblical definition. Even there faith is defined functionally, not philosophically; that is, it is a statement of what faith is in operation, not what it is in essence. It assumes the presence of faith and shows what it results in, rather than what it is. We will be wise to go just that far and attempt to go no further. We are told from whence it comes and by what means: ‘Faith is the gift of God’ (Eph. 2:8) and ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’ (Rom. 10:17). This much is clear, and, to paraphrase Thomas a’ Kempis, ‘I had rather exercise faith than to know the definition thereof.’”
Then he uses the story of Israel in Numbers 21:4-9 to illustrate what faith is in action: “Israel became discouraged and spoke against God, and the Lord sent fiery serpents among them. ‘And they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.’ Then Moses sought the Lord for them and He heard and gave them a remedy against the bite of the serpents. He commanded Moses to make a serpent of brass and put it upon a pole in the sight of all the people, ‘and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.’ Moses obeyed, ‘and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.’”
“In the New Testament this important bit of history is interpreted for us by no less an authority that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is explaining to His hearers how they may be saved. He tells them that it is by believing. Then to make it clear He refers to this incident in the Book of Numbers. ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life’ (John 3:14-15).”
Then he makes the application of his illustration. He says “that LOOK and BELIEVE are synonymous terms. ‘Looking’ on the Old Testament serpent is identical with ‘believing’ on the New Testament Christ. That is, the looking and the believing are the same thing.” He says, “while Israel looked with their external eyes, believing is done with the heart.” Then he concludes, “faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.”
There is nothing that we can do that is more simple than LOOKING. I constantly complicate faith and worship. Paul expressed concern to the Corinthians, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Hebrews 12:1 says we are in a race. Every Christian is in this race. There are things that can hinder that is referred to in this verse. But in verse two we have these words: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith . . .” So this brings us back to “believing,” if “believing” and “looking” are synonyms. And I believe they are. Believing is seeing the unseeable face of Jesus with the eyes of faith.
What do we see when we see Jesus? First of all, we see the MAN Christ Jesus. God became a man. This is called the doctrine of the incarnation. This is clearly stated in Scripture: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19). There is One on the throne that is kin to us. He is a true High Priest. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He is sympathetic. He has a tear in His eye when we have a tear in ours. He rejoices in every victory, feels every pain, grieves over every tolerated sin in our lives as He observes the race. Faith sees what the natural eye can’t see. Faith sees Him and fellowships with Him without having to have a visual image (that is idolatry).
Then we see the LAMB Christ Jesus. John says in the Revelation, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6). Someone said that whatever your concept of God is, that is what you will try to be like as a believer. If your concept of Him is a God on the throne with a big whip making demands and issuing penalties, then this is the kind of person you will turn out to be. Could this be the answer to the spirit of judgment and negative attitudes found among so many Christians? Could this be the answer to men in the pulpits being so harsh and critical and constantly “cracking the whip” and making demands and warning them against impending judgment if they don’t “line up?” There is an element of truth in all that. But if you have never seen the LAMB IN THE MIDST OF THE THRONE, you are being cheated. You do not have to be afraid of the LAMB! You say, “Yes, but He is also called a LION.” But I ask you, “Who is He a Lion to?” The Lion prevailed. This means warfare. Who did Jesus come to fight against? Not His children but Satan. And He reclaimed the Seven Sealed Book. Amen, praise God, Hallelujah! To those of us who need forgiveness, He is a LAMB in the midst of the throne. He is not someone to be feared. He is someone to be desired. And gazed upon with the eyes of faith.
What do we see when we are “Looking unto Jesus?” We see the “Author and Finisher of our faith.” Of all the men of faith, Abraham is set forth in Scripture as the illustration. There are others, but Abraham is at the head of the line. That is, with the exception of Jesus. The word “Author” translates the word “archegos” and means the chief leader, prince; one that takes the lead in any thing and thus affords an example. Jesus is the only One that ever lived that had perfect faith. And we are told by Paul that we are justified by the faith of Christ: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16). So when we are told to look to Jesus, we are looking on the one with perfect faith, has no besetting sin, and has no weights. And if we falter in the race it will not affect the outcome. The outcome is in Jesus because He is the Finisher, i.e., the Perfecter of our faith. Whose faith is He the Author and Finisher of? It is “our faith.”
What do we see when we look unto Jesus? We see the VICTOR. This verse ends with the words, “And is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” He did not sit down to rest because He was tired. He sat down because He finished the work that the Father required of Him to pay in full the penalty of the believer’s sins. When we receive Him we receive finished salvation. We are already in heaven so far as God is concerned. See Eph. 2:6.
May the Lord bless each of you.