|Volume 23 Number 3 March 2021
Edward L. Anderson
In Mark 9:19, Jesus said to a father seeking help for a son tormented by an evil spirit, “Bring him to me.” The disciples had been approached first by the man, but they had been unable to cast out the “dumb spirit” (v. 17), which had tormented the boy from childhood (v. 21). Jesus healed the man’s son (v. 27), much to the dismay of His disciples (v. 28). The father, no doubt, rejoiced and was forever grateful, as surely also was the son. It is always a mark of wisdom to seek the help of the Lord.
Bring your child to the Lord. “Lo, children are an heritage [inheritance] of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Fathers, “bring them [your children], up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21). Have them in “subjection” (1 Timothy 3:4, 12) so that they might be “faithful children” (Titus 1:6). Further, fathers, love your children’s mother, too (Ephesians 5:25)! Mothers, love your children and their father (Titus 2:4). Like Hannah, bring your child to Shiloh and present him or her to the Lord (1 Samuel 1), and that child will more likely bring you joy and not tears.
Bring your cares to the Lord. Jesus warned, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life…” (Luke 21:34). If you have no “cares,” you are an exceptional exception! The Greek is merimna, meaning division or distraction. Be forewarned. The Word of Christ can be and often is choked out by such “cares” (Luke 8:14; Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19). What can we do? What are we to do? “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
Bring your commitment to the Lord. A wise adage needs to be applied to the Christian’s life: “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” There is no more noble life than that lived in service to “the King of kings and the Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 16:19). Commitment is evidenced by one’s loyalty to a cause. It is demonstrated by faithfulness, devotion and steadfastness. Slothfulness and slackness are never complimented or condoned but often condemned (Proverbs 22:13; 26:13; Ecclesiastes 10:18; Matthew 25:26). Hebrews 6:12 reminds us not to be “slothful” (KJV) or “sluggish” (NKJV) in our service to the Lord.
Essentially, Jesus lovingly said, “Bring Me your sins and I will forgive you; bring Me your cares and I will carry them for you; bring Me your life and I will bless, keep and crown you.”
The Captain of Our Faith
Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition into the Louisiana territory is remembered and taught in American History classes because they did something no one had done. They blazed a trail through new territory previously undocumented and unknown to the people who lived on the eastern coast of the continent. Because of their success, the middle part of North America was opened to people looking to settle west of the Mississippi. If it had not been for the efforts of Louis and Clark showing people the way, they might not have had the confidence to strike out on their own.
Spiritually speaking, we have a pioneer, a trailblazer, a “Lewis and Clark.” Hebrews 2:10 reads, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” A careful study of the original word “captain” is particularly important in understanding who Jesus was and what He has done for humanity.
The original word in Greek is “archégos.” Strong’s simple definition is founder or leader. Helps Word-Studies reads, “properly, the first in a long procession; a file leader who pioneers the way for many others to follow. [It] “arxēgós” does not strictly mean ‘author,’ but rather ‘a person who is originator or founder of a movement and continues as the leader – i.e., pioneer leader, founding leader.’” When one breaks down the word, we find two underlying Greek words that really drive home the definition for this author – “arxe” meaning, “the first” and “ágō” meaning, “to lead.” We have an English term “arch” meaning, “first or head.” Jesus was the first, the beginning. He was the trailblazer of our faith. Not only was Jesus first, but He blazed the trail. Jesus also lights the trail and leads from the front rather than from behind.
As we study, we find we have a great need for a “captain” of our faith. We also can see that Jesus is the absolute best “Captain” of our faith. Man’s great need for a Captain can be traced back to the Garden of Eden when sin entered into the world through Adam and Eve’s failure. From that point forward, man’s relationship with the holy God was strained. When one sins, he puts a strain on the relationship between God and himself. Because God is holy, He cannot be around sin. There is distance; God must keep His distance. It is interesting to read when a sinful man comes near to Holy God. Moses’ face lit up like a candle. Isaiah cried, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips.” Peter, recognizing his own shortcomings, said to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” People had great fear when they came into the presence of holy God. Most of the time, you read the messenger of the Lord saying, “Do not be afraid.”
The strain in the relationship is because of man’s doing. The man who claims to feel far from God must ask the question, “Who moved?” God has not moved away from us. Man moves away from God when he chooses to walk away. The problem of the strained relationship with God is there was no one to restore that relationship. Isaiah 64:6 reads, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” Time and time again, man has fallen on his face. From the time of the Garden, man found himself in a dreadful place without hope and with a frightening expectation. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” Snapshots into mankind’s history from the Old Testament show examples of both good men and the men who chose evil. Yet, there are no examples of complete perfection. However, there was a time in mankind’s history when there was perfection.
Before Genesis 3, there was a world of perfection. The Garden of Eden and a pre-sin world was a type of perfection for which humanity longs again. After sin entered and the relationship was strained, God did not abandon His creation. Instead, He had a plan to redeem us back to Himself. In the context of Hebrews 2, the writer quoted from Psalm 8 asking, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Hebrews 2:6).
Jesus is the Captain but not only a captain. He is the very best Captain. He is humanity’s best hope. It did not seem that way before Jesus’ resurrection. The Jews had developed their own ideas of the Messiah, embracing the idea of a warrior king in the form of David. Yet, they struggled with the suffering Messiah in passages like Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53. The Book of Hebrews reveals some spiritual sluggishness upon the part of Jewish Christians. They had once come to believe that Jesus was that fulfillment, the Christ. However, they were constantly surrounded by a Jewish world that rejected Jesus. They were told they were foolish for believing that the Man hanged on a tree could possibly be their Savior.
Human wisdom cannot always see the reasons why God did things the way He did them. First Corinthians 1:24 says of God’s wisdom, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men.” When we properly understand the nature of sin and the nature of God, we can come to an understanding of why it had to be done that way. Consider when Jesus knew when the cross was coming and prayed to God asking if there was any other way to let it pass from Him. When there was no other way given, He said, “Not my will but yours” (Luke 22:42).
Irrespective of how good a man one could find, none are perfect. The only One who could overcome sin would have to be God Himself. We know God is a spirit. What help can a spiritual being offer physical man? God overcame this. Hebrews 2:9 states Jesus was “made a little lower than the angels.” God had to come in the flesh for several reasons.
First, Jesus had to suffer not because He was guilty of any wrongdoing but because of humanity’s wrongdoing. If God simply pardoned sin without compensation, He could not be fully just. Sin carries the penalty of death. Hebrews 9:22 states, “Almost all things are purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” Therefore, where there was humanity’s sin, there was the need for sacrifice. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were to take a pure, first born bull or a goat to sacrifice for sin. Those were simply types of the ultimate sacrifice found in Jesus. Hebrews 10:4 states, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins.” In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul said it this way, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Second, the suffering made Jesus perfect. Perfection, in this sense, is not that Jesus was somehow morally less than perfect. The perfection under consideration is the experience of going through human life: the experience of the flesh, temptations, feelings of pain, suffering and death. If Jesus had not experienced humanity, He would have a difficult time sympathizing with the struggles that come into our lives. Scripture says, “He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18) and “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Thirdly, the suffering allowed for the overcoming of death. Hebrews 2:14-15 says that “through death, He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
When God came in flesh offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin and overcoming death, He took care of the problems and needs of mankind. From Hebrews 12:2, we see that Jesus thought of it this way: “For the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.” Because of Jesus’ accomplishments, we can also go to be with Him. In John 14:1-4, Jesus promised, “I go to prepare for you a place.” Hebrews 6:20 says, “We have a hope, which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us.” The veil here separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, but when Jesus died, the veil was torn (Matthew 27:51). Thus, it symbolized the separation between holy God and sinful man being torn down. Hebrews 10:19-20 says, “Brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.”
Jesus suffered for humanity so we might gain because of Him. After He had suffered, Jesus was exalted. Hebrews 2:9 says He was “crowned with glory” only after going through the suffering. Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. He suffered and died, but Jesus is now out on the other side.
Do you see the Captain of our faith? We are promised Heaven on the other side of death if we are faithful to Christ. How can we have the assurance of this? We can have the assurance because the Captain has gone ahead of us Himself, and He also opened up the way for us to follow after Him.