Let us … [fix] our eyes on Jesus … . For the joy set before him he endured the cross.
In rapid succession Paul illustrates Christian living by comparing it to the life of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. I have never served in the military, I am not an athlete, and I was not raised on a farm. But I get the point of Paul’s examples. He brackets his images with the words “Join with me in suffering … . I endure everything for the sake of the elect.”
Soldiers endure discipline, separation, combat, and at times a seemingly arbitrary commanding officer. Athletes endure training, sweat, sore muscles, and at times defeat, which can be heartbreaking and humiliating. Farmers endure uncertain weather, cantankerous animals, balky machinery, and at times devastating loss.
But endurance is not limited to three professions. Plumbers, accountants, teachers, students, parents, nurses—all endure. Add your own occupation to the list.
Being human requires endurance. And endurance requires grace. That’s why Paul prefaces his call to endurance with these words: “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
No one endured more than Jesus. He endured the cross as he took on himself the penalty for all our sin—that we might have life. So we fix our eyes on him, who focused on the joy of winning that victory for us.
Lent is a good time to fix our eyes on Jesus—to ponder his grace and his endurance.
Father, may the endurance of Jesus enable us to endure for him. In his name we hope. Amen.
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