Looking unto Jesus

Verse of the Day for July 27, 2017 is the perfect follow-up to yesterday’s discussion of Hebrews 11:1, the introductory verse to the entire chapter known as the “Hall of Faith.” This celebrated chapter offers a series of brilliant examples of men and women, champions, who accomplished astounding exploits “by faith.” For a more comprehensive view of the Verse of the Day, take a look at the first three verses of Chapter 12 of Hebrews which focus on the greatest example of faith in action, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 12:1-3 (Amplified Bible):

[Jesus, the Example] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us,

2 [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

3 Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In thinking on this passage, my mind recalls a backpacking experience that occurred at TFI (Total Fitness Institute) in California back in December, 1975. During this outdoor wilderness adventure I was assigned to a platoon of believers, and we portioned out our food supply for the week among the group. I volunteered to carry the food for the last day, which meant that my load stayed the same while the load that everyone else carried got lighter.

On this particular day, we were told that we would hike for a mile and then take a break and rest for a while. After a considerable amount of time, I was certain that we had hiked more than a mile, but we continued. When I realized that I was carrying the food for the last day and that the load of everyone else was lighter than mine, I became agitated and began to complain in my mind that “This is just not fair. . .” During this time of frustration and agitation as I struggled under my heavy load, I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that he gladly bore on my behalf. As I took my mind off myself and turned my thoughts toward the Lord, the distress and exasperation seemed to fade, and we arrive at our destination in a short time. That unforgettable experience inspired this poem:

The Burden Bearer

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,
When I lay my burden down.

I stumbled up the rugged road;
I almost fell beneath the load
And spurned the pain inside my head,
Recalling words of one who said
“Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

The yoke I bear cannot compare
With all he took upon Himself:
All sins, disease, and guilt, despair
That I could not forebear myself.
His burden was not made of wood,
His cross beyond all words can name.
Have I resisted unto blood?
Could I for joy endure such shame?

From a glimpse into his face
I’m strengthened by a second wind;
My mind’s renewed to keep the pace
The load is lightened by my friend.

I feel better, so much better
since I laid my burden down.

In reflecting upon that unforgettable experience, two musical compositions come to mind. First of all, “The Burden Bearer” includes lyrics from an old gospel song that I recall my childhood, back in the day, recorded here by “Pops” Staples and the Staple Singers.

A second selection also captures the essence of my experience in light of the Verse of the Day: “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” by John Lamacang

When we “turn our eyes upon Jesus,” we see he, indeed, is our “Burden Bearer.”

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