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March 25, 2016

Text: “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Hebrews 12:2-3

Life is not easy for anyone. We all know what “trials, tribulations and temptations” are. (In fact, we may sometimes reason that we ourselves have been afflicted more than any other person who ever lived: “poor me!”) NOT SO! Our sufferings may be burdensome, but, due to their distribution, some have vastly more, some have appreciably less. (Don’t ask me why!) Don’t worry, everyone will get his share!

The writer of Hebrews insists that we consider the sufferings that everyday life brought to our Lord Jesus. D0 not think that Jesus led a charmed life up until the time of his death on the cross! Those that preach that Jesus was always happy, jovial, and smiling are misrepresenting the scriptures, replete as they are with accounts of his woes. Take into account that the gospels are merely  sketches of the anguishes that Jesus encountered on the way to the cross. Though we have several recorded incidents attributing sorrows and burdens to Jesus’ earthly experiences, we must conclude that they were far more abundant than our records were able to include. Refresh your memory on this prophetic passage about him. “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed  him smitten by God and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:3-4

Moreover, Jesus was under constant temptation. Do not think that the temptation in the desert in the early chapters of Matthew (chapter 4),  Mark (chapter 1), and Luke (chapter 4) were the only time Jesus was assailed by the persistent Satan. There are undertones of the pressure that Jesus was under to forsake going to the cross to die for man’s salvation all the way until the struggle of Jesus to win the battle in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus fitted himself to minister to us in our temptations by being tempted himself. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to  sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15  Contemplate all his strength in fending off temptations; couple this with his deep sympathy; and cast yourself upon him.

Perhaps the key word in our text above is “endured”.  Jesus endured! When Jesus was faced with opposition he endured. When his enemies tried to entrap him he endured. When his own brothers taunted him he endured. When his disciples were weak, unbelieving, cowardly, and contentious he endured. When one of his disciples betrayed him and another denied him he endured. When he was vilified, beaten, and hanged upon a cross he endured. Having great faith in his endurance on our behalf empowers us to persist. “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Hebrews 10:36

God’s exhortation to us blossoms into full glory in these verses. We must cast aside our doubts, fatigue, and discouragements and go forward. We must not look back and yearn for past prosperity. We must not look inward and fester in hate. We must not envy those who seem to suffer less than we do. Go forth in faith in God! “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

I will end with what was probably my mother’s favorite verse in the Bible.  “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to  endure it.” I Corinthians 10:13






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