who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” — Hebrews 12:2
Back in Jesus’ day, when ships would travel to various destinations, the oceans were uncharted territory. To make sure that a given ship stayed on course, the vessel would stay close to the shore for navigation purposes. When the ship arrived at its destination, the vessel would be moored just off shore. Then someone would jump off the ship carrying a rope and swim to shore. The passengers would get off the vessel and follow the rope as a lifeline to the shore. The above passage is telling us that Jesus, the “author and perfecter of our faith,” is the one who jumped out of the boat, swam to shore and became the lifeline for all those to get from the ship to the shore — or, metaphorically, from the ship of life to the shore of heaven, because of the lifeline of salvation.
By grace, we now hold onto this salvation. It is our only lifeline, even eternally so. And not with our physical eyes, but with eyes of faith, we are fixed on Jesus, who won that salvation for us. To be sure, at different times in our life, we may be tempted to cut loose and do our own thing. Or we may find a false security in moorings of our own making, often constructed with phrases that contain the words, “all you have to do is…,” in order to feel safe or even saved. Yet doing our own thing isn’t freedom; it’s slavery to the world, our flesh and the devil. And nothing that you or I could ever do could add one iota to him who would endure the cross and its shame utterly alone, even to the unfathomable point of being forsaken by his own Father.
Because of that, you and I are never alone, no matter where we are, at home, work or play, or even somewhere as traumatic as a hospital. We are part of something much bigger: specifically, the Church, the Body of Christ, made up of those who have received this Gospel invitation, which calls us all to “fix our eyes on Jesus.”
• The Rev. Gregory Gerendas is a minister of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. Sermon Notes is a column by ministers of the Patterson Ministerial Association.