The sweet taste of hope in Jesus’ power over death.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Have you ever tasted hot homemade chocolate gravy poured over hot homemade biscuits? There is simply nothing like it and nothing sweeter, especially when it is made lovingly by your mom. As I grew up, mornings with that delicious breakfast became some of my best memories.
The only sweeter memories of that home life are of my dad and mom’s love and teaching us the Word of God. These include regular and ample doses of Bible reading about Jesus’ joyful resurrection and His promise of the resurrection. Now at age 75, I consider the sweetness of the resurrection promise the most valuable, exceeding even those precious memories of chocolate gravy and biscuits. Ours through faith in Jesus Christ, that promise is by far one of the best gifts ever!
Old Testament sweetness
Job knew the sweet promise of his Redeemer and His resurrection power. That knowledge gave Job courage to strongly hold on to faith through every trial and trouble the enemy tossed his way. This was perhaps two thousand years before Jesus’ death on the cross and glorious resurrection. How then could Job have possibly known and tucked into his faith system this confidence-building truth? Through God’s Holy Spirit, Job said:
I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes — I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27).
Chapter 14 speaks of this promised truth in greater detail. Job asks, “If someone dies, will they live again?” He then concludes, “You will call and I will answer you” (vv. 14, 15).
New Testament sweetness
In the New Testament, Hebrews provides a detailed faith theology that builds on the resurrection truth revealed to Job.
We speak of Hebrews 11 as the Faith Chapter, but this presentation of faith actually begins in Hebrews 10:19 with the word Therefore. The appeal begins there for us to build our life of faith, holding strongly to our hope of the resurrection that gave Job his courage. This teaching on faith doesn’t end until we read another Therefore in Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. . . .” All that falls between these two therefores is about courageous perseverance of faith: ours and those who have come before us.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. . . . By faith Abel . . . By faith Enoch . . . By faith Noah . . . By faith Abraham . . . By faith even Sarah . . . All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance . . . (11:1-13).
We presently live in this marvelous faith. Without it, we have no hope to sustain us. How do we personally build our lives on that faith and hope? The Faith Chapter gives us the answer. It provides reminders that strengthen us to hold on to our relationship with Jesus and His joyful resurrection promise.
Hebrews 11 in my Bible has many more names in it than yours has. About forty years ago I began adding in the margins the names of those faithful people who impacted my life. The first one I wrote was Davy Crowson from Monroe, Oregon. This young man had muscular dystrophy and was confined to a wheelchair. I do not think I ever saw him without a beautiful smile.
Davy and I were baptized together in 1962 when I was eighteen. I carried him out to the river, where about thirty of us were baptized that day. God used that very moment to call me to be a pastor. After Davy passed away some time later, I wrote his name in Hebrews 11 as a reminder of his hope and mine. I look forward to the day we will rise to meet Jesus together in resurrection life. This hope is a super, solid, promised, eternal life gift from God.
I now have nine family members, twelve church members, and five ministers named in my faith chapter. The personal commitment of each one impacted my life and gave me deeper courage and strength to hold on to the promised power of Jesus’ resurrection. My faithful mom and dad, their three faithful daughters, and their five sons (who all became pastors) will be in that resurrection. Mom may just set us all down at the table and make us chocolate gravy and biscuits.
I feel as Job did: “How my heart yearns within me!”