[Fix your] eyes on Jesus, . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2–3
It was the evening of April 3, 1968, and a fierce thunderstorm was lashing through Memphis, Tennessee. Weary and feeling ill, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hadn’t intended to give his planned speech in support of the striking sanitation workers at a church hall. But he was surprised by an urgent phone call saying a large crowd had braved the weather to hear him. So he went to the hall and spoke for forty minutes, delivering what some say was his greatest speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”
The next day, King was killed by an assassin’s bullet, but his speech still inspires oppressed people with the hope of “the promised land.” Likewise, early followers of Jesus were uplifted by a stirring message. The book of Hebrews, written to encourage Jewish believers facing threats for their faith in Christ, offers firm spiritual encouragement to not lose hope. As it urges, “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (12:12). As Jews, they would recognize that appeal as originally coming from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 35:3).
But now, as Christ’s disciples, we’re called to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2). When we do so, we “will not grow weary and lose heart” (v. 3).
Certainly, squalls and storms await us in this life. But in Jesus, we outlast life’s tempests by standing in Him.
How do you respond to life’s spiritual storms? As you look to Jesus and His promises, how does He encourage you?
Jesus, You calm every spiritual storm. When tempests rage, speak peace to my soul as I put my hope in You.
Because of severe persecution (see Hebrews 10:32–39; 13:3), Jewish believers were pressured to abandon their faith in Jesus and revert to Judaism. Based on Hebrews 13:24, the unnamed writer of Hebrews probably wrote from Italy to discouraged believers, encouraging them to remain faithful by “fixing [their] eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (12:2). The author emphasized the superiority and sufficiency of Christ through His position as God Himself (chs. 1–4) and His once-for-all sacrifice for sin (chs. 5–10). In chapter 12, the writer used the imagery of a long-distance foot race where a stadium full of supporters cheer on the runners to complete it. The apostle Paul also used the foot-race metaphor to encourage believers to persevere by keeping their eyes on the finish line—to “[finish] the race” (2 Timothy 4:7; see 1 Corinthians 9:24–27; Philippians 3:12–14).