STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end“ (Hebrews 3:1-6).
The Epistle to the Hebrews was first sent to Jewish Christians who, after coming to faith in Jesus, experienced hardship and persecution, especially from their own countrymen. The more opposition they faced, the less confidence they had. They wondered if following Christ was a mistake; if the Old Covenant was better than the New. Increasingly anchorless, they began to drift from substance toward shadow; from the “Done!” of the Gospel toward the “Do!” of the Law.
Understanding this, the inspired writer of Hebrews sent a letter solemn in its warnings, but also rich in its encouragements. “Don’t give up! Hold on! Keep moving forward!” The letter hums with these exhortations until it reaches a loud crescendo in the “by faith” of Hebrews 11 and the cheering “cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 12.
And throughout Hebrews the means to “keep on keeping on” is always the same: focusing on Jesus Christ, His Person and Work, His Deity and Humanity. The “consider Christ Jesus” of Hebrews 3:1 is the essence and invitation of the entire epistle. The Greek verb translated as “consider” in this verse is in the imperative mode—think capital letters, underlining, and exclamation points—because it is imperative that we consider Christ Jesus, if we are not to “become weary and discouraged” (12:3).
Yet, what does it mean to consider Jesus? Significantly, Jesus Himself used this same word in His Sermon on the Mount, saying, “Consider the lilies, how they grow” (Luke 12:27). You can’t consider how lilies grow by racing past the lily patch, thinking, “Nice flowers, but I’m late for supper.” Instead, you must stop, study, touch the petals, note the color and texture, smell the fragrance, take a picture, make an album. In other words, to “consider Jesus” means to meditate on Jesus, to reflect deeply on WHO Jesus is and WHAT Jesus has done. And in Hebrews 3:1-6 the inspired writer offers four descriptions of Jesus meant to lift us up and spur us on in “the race that is set before us” (12:1).
Jesus is the “Apostle and High Priest of our confession” (Hebrews 3:1). With stunning brevity, using only two titles, the writer of Hebrews summarizes the entire mission of Christ, from incarnation to crucifixion, from being sent to being sacrificed. Aren’t these realities alone—“Jesus was sent to seek me, save me, and die for me”—enough to keep us moving onward and upward when tempted to give up?
In Hebrews 3:2 Jesus is also called “Faithful.” Faithful to God the Father, yes; but equally faithful to us. Faithful in word and deed. Faithful to the point of enduring the cross and scorning its shame (Hebrews 12:2). “God is faithful,” as Paul stated in I Corinthians 10:13. THEREFORE—a frequent word in Hebrews; drawing an inevitable conclusion from divine fact—what God starts, God finishes. When God calls, God gets you there. So, don’t give up.
Next, the inspired writer refers to Jesus as a “Builder.” “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). How many times have you driven through a subdivision, thinking, “That house built itself”? Nonsense. And it is also nonsensical to think that we can build our faith, families, marriages, ministries, congregations, and Christian lives apart from Almighty God. GOD BUILDS EVERYTHING. If we remembered that message and blueprint, would we ever give up?
Finally, in Hebrews 3:6, Jesus is called “Son.” The Son of Man was also the Son of God. And that, in a single sentence, is the message of Epiphany. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). When God wanted to say “I love you” in the loudest, fullest way possible, he didn’t send a Hallmark card. He sent his Son. Consider that fact carefully, and you’ll never give up on problems, relationships, life, or God. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
Mark Weis is pastor of the Church of the Lutheran Confession in Northport, Florida.