Fix Your Eyes Upon Jesus.
Jesus is the author and finisher of the faith.12:1-4.
The author exhorts the readers to fix their eyes upon Jesus the supreme example of faith. "Therefore , since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us". Christian life is a race and it must be run with patience looking unto Jesus. These heroes of faith have set us an example of what it looks like to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). They testify us of the power of faith. But Christ is our ultimate model of faith. He is the beginning and the end of Christian life. He is the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith. Consider the example of Christ who willingly endured the cross despising the shame of death because of the joy set before him (12:2). Likewise Christians should look to the reward and endure to the end. As we set our eyes on the One who gave his life for us, he will give us his strength to run the race with endurance. Christ's example should motivate us to lay aside every form of sin that hinders our spiritual progress. We must consider Jesus who endured hostility from sinners, so that we may not grow weary or fainthearted (12:3). The writer reminds the readers that they too must be willing to pay the ultimate price against sin. Though they suffered scorn and opposition, they have not yet resisted to the point of death. So let us run the race set before us by looking to Jesus who is seated at the right of hand God in heaven. Christians should draw courage from Jesus to resist temptation no matter what it may costs.
Do not despise the disciplining of the Lord.12:5-13.
Believers should appreciate those who suffer and die for Christ. The writer exhorts that it is a privilege to suffer the fatherly discipline of God. The Lord disciplines the one he loves. Here the author quotes proverbs 3:11-12. When God chastises us, he is treating us as his sons (12:6-7). This suffering is actually a growth process in their spiritual life. Suffering is not always the proof of sin. Though Christ was sinless, He learned obedience through suffering and became the author of eternal life (5:8, 9). The chastening of believers is compared with the suffering of Christ. God's children receive His chastening for their good. Believers who sin and have never been chastened are not actually saved. God disciplines us so that we might share in His holiness. In fact chastening is a training process to get in shape spiritually. Chastening gives assurance of God's love towards us. No discipline is joyous for a while but afterward it will yield peaceable fruit of righteousness (12:11). Pray that you would be humble and teachable during God's loving disciplining process.
Without holiness no one will see the Lord.12:14-17.
Christians should strive for peace with everyone. The readers are encouraged to stand firm on their shaky legs so that they may not become spiritually disable. Pursue straight path, so that you may not be dislocated and get worse. When few believers slip away from faith, it is easier for many to fall. So encourage each other and live in harmony. Christians must try to live in peace with everyone. Also they should live a consecrated or holy life. Without holiness no one will see God. Practical sanctification is essential part of growing into the likeness of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The writer warns here the danger of apostasy. Apostates would not receive the blessings of the grace of God. They are the defectors from the truth though they profess to be Christians. They are like poisonous root that corrupt many by their doubts and denials. It can lead to immorality and ungodliness (2 Peter 2:1). Esau is an example of it. He traded his birthright for a single meal. Afterward when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for Isaac to change his mind or reverse the blessing (Gen 27:38). Those who willingly renounce Christ for worldly gains or pleasure cannot be renewed to repentance. Such is the solemn warning against apostates.
The blessings of the new covenant. 12:18-24.
Here the the author draws a comparison between old covenant and new covenant. The writer warns the danger of obeying the old covenant and rejecting the new covenant which Christ established. Those who are in Christ have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. (12:22). The old covenant was inaccessible and intimidating. Like rest of the warning, the purpose of this warning is to prevent the readers from turning way from Christ and His blessing. The scene of Mount Sinai was one of blackness of darkness and fearful. Men and animals faced death even by touching Mount Sinai where God appeared (Exodus 19:12, 13). Moses said about this place that "I am terrified and trembling" (12:21). But Under the new covenant, we come to a figurative mount Zion, which is the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Those who believe in Christ have access to this place and the heavenly community under the new covenant. All true believers enter into this s heavenly fellowship. But it is very difficult to appreciate fully while on earth. But when believers gather to worship and partake of the Lord's supper, they may have a foretaste of the future heavenly fellowship. Someone has said "The weekly Spirit filled gathering of the church is the clearest picture of heaven on earth".
The promise of unshakable kingdom. 12:25-29.
Those who believe in Christ have already entered into the New Covenant. Figuratively angels minister there. This is the place of the general assembly and where the church of the firstborn is assembled. There we see God, the judge of all people. Here believers are made perfect by Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. His sprinkled blood speaks of cleansing and pardon, unlike the blood of Abel which cry out for vengeance. Those who disobeyed God under the old covenant have perished. Then, how much more the punishment of those who reject Christ? Now God speaks from heaven through Christ. When God spoke, it shook the earth and heaven (Exodus 19:18). God will shake the earth and heaven again (Haggai 2:6). Probably this is going to happen at the return of Christ. All things are temporal and will be destroyed. Only the spiritual and heavenly things will remain. Believers will inherit a kingdom that cannot be destroyed. So let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with reverence. We should live a life of devotion to our great Savior because our God is gracious and loving. The writer closes the chapter with a warning. “Our God is a consuming fire"(Deuteronomy 4:24). Now God is speaking through Christ. His grace is not cheap and does not give us permission to live a life of halfhearted commitment. God wants us to walk in the newness of life. Do you hear God's voice today and obey Him?