Eyes Fixed On Jesus!
14 August 2016 Trinity Lutheran Church
Pentecost 13 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
What does the life of faith look like? In other words, when you believe that Jesus died and rose for you what does you life look like?
Hold on tight folks. Buckle your seat belts. Because the answer will surprise you. Shock you.
Your Christian life is a race. A foot race. Not a 100 meter dash but a marathon! Have you ever run a marathon? It’s one of the most difficult races. Watch it this week in the Olympics at Rio! A marathon race is what the Christian life of faith in Jesus looks like. To be a Christian is like running a marathon. Like running a marathon the Christian life of faith calls for endurance. It calls for renunciation. Discipline. Repenting of your sin. Believing in Jesus for forgiveness. Leading holy lives according to God’s Word. It’s the life of living in and from your baptism into Christ’s death (Romans 6)!
Like a marathon living the life of faith, living in and from your baptism, comes with pain. Burning legs. Blurry eyes. Aching lungs. You don’t think you can take one more step of being a Christians. Your entire body aches and you debate about whether to stick it out or just drop out of Christianity and living outside your baptism.
But then you enter the stadium for the last lap. The crowd rises to its feet. The crowd cheers you on. “Go! Go! Go!” Then you see the finish line ahead of you. You aim for a point beyond the tape as you ignore everything else.
Again, this is how Hebrews describes the life of faith in Jesus. The most common virtue that describes Christians in the Bible is: “patient endurance.” Patience in the midst of suffering for being a Christian – a disciple of Jesus! This is the point of our Lord’s words today in the holy gospel from Luke 12. When you confess Jesus as the Lord many people won’t like that. Such a confession is by its very nature divisive.
If you haven’t already, you will soon learn what that means very quickly in this country. You Lutherans as well as all faithful Christians will soon be called enemies of the state and prosecuted accordingly. You will suffer for defending God’s Word, worshiping Jesus only and not the state. Like Jeremiah, you will be demonized by false teachers in the church as unloving, uncaring, bigoted, etc. for telling the truth of God’s Word to every situation. Like Moses who “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt …” You will suffer for defending the unborn or speaking for holy marriage according to God’s mandate and institution. You will lose close friends, immediate family members, clients, jobs, reputation, property and perhaps even your life. Yes, suffering is THE distinctive mark of being a Christian. Of running the race that began when the Holy Spirit called you to faith in Jesus by the preaching of Good Friday Jesus who died FOR YOU!
However, Hebrews tells you that you are not alone in your race that is full of pain and agony. You are surrounded by a cheering mob. “The angels, archangels and all the company of heaven!” The saints and martyrs who have run this race of faith before you. They serve as examples to you. Especially when it comes to trusting only in Jesus especially when times are the toughest in your life. These are the people that trusted in Jesus and His Good Friday death for their salvation. Who died believing that only Jesus could save them. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Jeremiah, etc. Having run the race and finished before you they now cheer you on in the race God has marked out for you.
Now, beyond the finish line is who? Yes, that’s right, Jesus! He has gone the way ahead of you. He lived, died and rose from the dead FOR YOU. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Salvation begins and ends with Jesus. He endured the pain of the cross for the joy of redeeming you. He scorned the shame of His death to save you from your shame. He reigns in glory at the Father’s right hand to lord His Good Friday forgiveness and salvation over you. Yes, Jesus has gone ahead of you through suffering and death to resurrection and glory.
Keep you eyes of faith fixed on Him. Through the eyes of faith you see Jesus as He really is. He is the Savior! Your Savior! But only through His holy precious blood and by His innocent suffering and death. He is the author and perfecter of your faith. He is the only One who saves you. And like a runner straining toward the finish line, reaching to break through the tape, you push forward, through life, through death and on to the resurrection focused on Jesus.
No need to look at the cheering crowds. They can’t get you across the finish line. Don’t look at your fellow runners. Don’t look at your feet to see how you’re running. Look only to Jesus.
When the pain of being a Christian is so great, look to Good Friday Jesus. He suffered and died FOR YOU. More than you can ever imagine. More than you could ever bear. He carried all your sin in His suffering and answered for them all. So quit trying to bear and answer for your sin yourself. That’s a lost cause. It’s a hellaciously colossal waste of time. Instead, as the text says, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” How do you spell that sentence with one word? How do you throw off the sin that hinders you in the marathon life of being a Christian? It’s spelled:
R-E-P-E-N-T! And that heart of repentance is spelled:
F-A-I-T-H. Faith in Jesus who died FOR YOU AND ATONED COMPLETELY FOR ALL YOUR SIN WITH HIS GOOD FRIDAY BLOOD. To say that, “Jesus died for me the sinner” is the life of faith. Faith in Jesus who alone saves sinners.
So I tell you one more time. With the eyes of faith look only to Jesus. His promises will see you through. Promises like this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16). “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life,” (John 5:24). “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mk 16:16). “My body. My blood. Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” (Matthew 26:26-28).
Happy running the marathon race of faith! With Jesus beyond the finishing line, “you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
In the Name of Jesus.