Summary: This is the last in a series on the Heroes of Faith from Hebrews 11. It looks at Jesus as author and perfecter of our faith. It is expository.
Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect.
— Hebrews 12:2 NCV
Do you know who holds the record as the world’s best free-throw shooter? If you’re thinking Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or Larry Bird—you’re way off. It’s probably not a fair question really. You’ve almost certainly never heard of the man—unless, that is, you make a habit of reading the Guinness Book of World Records. His name was Tom Amberry and, back in 1993, this seventy-one year old podiatrist set a world’s record by shooting and making 2,750 free-throws in a row! Each time he stepped up to the line, bounced the ball three times, focused, shot, and… swish! Every time. He would have made more, but they had to close down the gym. What was his secret, you’re wondering? When interviewed, he said very simply, “Concentration! The more I read about it and looked into it, the more I realized the only way you do it is—practice. You have to perfect all parts of your technique; then it’s just focus and concentration. You have to put all other thoughts out of your mind.”
Focus. Having delved deeply into the lives of seventeen men and women of faith, the author of Hebrews tells us that each one of their examples was intended to focus our attention in one single direction.
We have around us many people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne. Think about Jesus’ example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and stop trying. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NCV)
Focus. Focus. Focus. How do we live a life faith? How do we emulate the myriad examples of those who’ve gone before us? How do we become a hero of faith ourselves? The answer is—focus. Like Tom Amberry, the author of Hebrews prompts us to put everything else aside and then to focus only on Jesus, to “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end” (TEV).
First and foremost, we are obliged to focus our eyes on Jesus because he alone deserves to be the center of our attention. True biblical faith, as we’ve already discovered, means believing in God, believing God, and being willing to act on those beliefs—in other words, it’s a matter of the mind, heart and will. But biblical faith is also rooted firmly in the person and work of Jesus Christ from beginning to end. Jesus, as the Hebrew author points out, is the “author and perfecter of faith” (NASB). That is to say, Jesus himself planted the initial seed of faith within your heart by his Spirit and he will nurture and cultivate it your whole life through. What we need to understand is that it’s all about him!
The purpose of you life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with [Jesus].
The Bible says, “Through his power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, all powers, authorities, lords, and rulers. All things were made through Christ and for Christ” (Colossians 1:16 NCV). In other words, it’s all about Jesus! We look to Jesus because he is the pioneer of our faith. He set the course of faith, plotted its path, and now he waits for us at the finish line encouraging us along the way and helping us to reach the goal.
One Sunday morning, a moonstruck young man shared a church pew with a beautiful brown-eyed girl. Memorized by her beauty, his attention was clearly focused on her rather than the minister’s message. In the stillness of the sanctuary, he leafed through the hymnal until he found the song he was looking for. Finding himself cute and clever, he placed the songbook in the young ladies lap and pointed to the hymn title—I Need Thee Every Hour it read. She smiled a little and then started flipping pages until she could find an appropriate response. Settling on a page and returning the hymnal, she pointed to the song I’d Rather Have Jesus.