Such a Great Salvation (10)
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus… Hebrews 3.1
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. Hebrews 12.3
The remedy for drift
We recall that the writer of Hebrews was trying to arrest a tendency on the part of his readers to neglect and drift from their great salvation (Heb. 2.1-3). He was attempting to encourage his readers to “give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard” so that they would confirm their faith by growing in their great salvation and, doing those good works of love and witness that are the mark of mature believers.
The writer’s solution to the neglect of salvation is to lead his readers to attend more diligently to it. And the linchpin for succeeding in this effort is to focus more earnestly and consistently on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We may not be realizing the full scope and power of our salvation at present; and we may be falling short in our work of bringing the Lord’s great salvation to the whole world (Heb. 2.5-8). But if we will look to Jesus, see Him in His exalted glory, higher than the angels, seated at the right hand of God, controlling and upholding the entire universe and everything in it (Heb. 2.9), then we can discover the vision, strength, courage, direction, and incentive we need to lay firm hold on our great salvation.
Looking to Jesus: contemplation
Twice in the book of Hebrews we are urged to “consider Jesus.” In Hebrews 3.1, the writer exhorts us to considerJesus (κατανοήσατε) so that we will continue believing in and confessing Him throughout our lives. This word means to pay attention to something through direct observation, with the implication of also thinking about it, meditating on it, and returning to it often, just as one might carefully observe an object in creation, or a work of art.
We can especially see the beauty and majesty of Jesus by contemplating images of Him presented in the Scriptures (cf. Heb. 1.8; see also Pss. 2, 47, and 110). For example, in Psalm 45, Jesus is portrayed as exalted in glorious array, surrounded by sweet fragrances and beautiful music, and accompanied by His Bride, the Church, in expansive glory. From His throne room He goes forth daily, conquering and to conquer (Rev. 6.2), gathering and perfecting His followers in the goodness of the Lord, as He prepares them for their eternal dwelling in His holy courts.
This aesthetical and poetic consideration of Jesus engages all our senses and stirs our hearts to delight in and enjoy Him, as we become immersed in the various devices and images the psalmists use to reveal His great goodness and glory. Considering Jesus in this contemplative way fills our minds with new aspects of vision, our hearts with greater excitement and love, and our consciences with firmer resolve to know, love, obey, and glorify this majestic and powerful King of glory.
Looking to Jesus: analysis
In Hebrews 12.3, the writer calls us again to considerJesus, but this time as a work of rational analysis (ἀναλογίσασθε), a theological analysis, as opposed to an aesthetical contemplation. This suggests the need to study, read, think deeply, meditate, talk with others, and know Jesus in terms appropriate to His uniqueness and mission.
Our calling in life is to learn Jesus (Eph. 4.17-24). All Scripture is about Jesus (Jn. 5.39), so we need to apply ourselves diligently, daily, and dutifully to reading and studying all of God’s Word, looking for the revelation of Jesus in every section. This is what the writer of Hebrews does in his epistle, as he draws from a wide swath of Old Testament revelation to show how it all leads to Jesus.
Others can help us by their writings and insights. Church history offers many excellent writings about Jesus and how to know Him. Jesus is one of the most popular subjects of contemporary Christian writers, and we can greatly enhance our theological understanding of our Lord by taking recourse to these excellent resources.
Looking to Jesus is the starting-place and substance for attending to, rather than neglecting, our great salvation. But we’ll have to work at it, taking full advantage of all available resources, and making good use of both contemplation and analysis.
Into His image
Each of these exhortations to consider Jesus involves the soul and its various components. The first (Heb. 3.1) will engage what Paul calls the eye of the heart (Eph. 1.18, following the Greek), and the second (Heb. 12.3) involves us with the mind of Christ and the protocols of reasoning. By the first we see Jesus as He is depicted in His glory, garbed in splendor and majesty, bearing the emblems of office, wearing the crown of righteousness, and attended by worshipful saints and angels. We see Him in His majestic loveliness, which is impressed on us by images, sounds, smells, and sweeping vistas of conquest.
By the second we trace out all Biblical arguments, explanations, reasons, hopes, and joys – all teachings, causes, and events – as they lead us to Jesus, Who is the focus of all Scripture, the consummation of all things, and the end of all meaning and purpose and life. By considering Jesus in this way, logically and theologically, we become persuaded that He alone can fulfill God’s purpose in restoring all things to Himself, and that He is indeed Lord and Christ.
The end of all our work of considering Jesus is that we should be transformed increasingly into His image (2 Cor. 3.12-18). Our great salvation is not limited by our present circumstances, state of spiritual life and growth, or perceived sense of our abilities. Our salvation is as great as Jesus in all His greatness and glory, and by considering Him we may be daily renewed and transformed in our souls, so that outwardly, in all our words and deeds, Jesus will make Himself more consistently and compellingly real. We may not at present be enjoying as much of our great salvation as the Lord intends, but if we will look to Jesus, He will set us on the course to increasing in His image and growing in our great salvation.
1. What is your practice of consideringJesus at present? Can you see ways to improve this?
2. How can we know when we’re being transformed more into the image of Jesus Christ?
3. How do you expect to see Jesus making Himself known through you in your Personal Mission Field today?
Next steps – Preparation: Lay out a plan for considering Jesus more consistently, then share that plan with a Christian friend and ask your friend to pray for you.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.