(For an explanation of Lent, please see “Introducing Lent to Evangelicals” under the tab: “Lenten Devotions.”)
Hebrews 11:1-40; John 12:20-36
Which World Are You Living For?
In the Gospel of John, some Greeks come looking for Jesus and ask Philip if they can get an interview. We never read of what happened about that. The episode serves a more important purpose, which is Jesus’ declaration of the standards for eternal life. He says that whoever loves his life shall lose it, and whoever hates his life in this world keeps it for eternity. It seems that he is saying that Christians are people who do not live for this world, but understand that they are living for another, that this life is preparation for the next. They walk by faith in God, searching for a different kind of city whose designer and builder is God. The things of this world do not attract them. Their calling lies beyond.
And this is what Hebrews 11 is all about. It’s called the “roll call of faith.” And, no doubt, it is one of the most inspiring chapters in all of Scripture. In it, the great Old Testament saints are presented before our eyes as models of faith, men and women who looked upon this world with utter disdain compared to the world that had stolen their hearts. Abraham left his comfortable homeland and went to a place he didn’t even know, where he lived in tents. He was told that his offspring, which as yet were none, would inherit the land after being enslaved in another land for four hundred years (Genesis 15:13). Moses “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” I have only named two; Hebrews names several, and then says there are plenty more. These conquered but only by suffering and the forfeiture of their lives.
And how were they able to do so? By faith! And here is the central theme of Hebrews, the central theme of Scripture. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” The Gospel of John says it best: “These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31). And it is this faith that changes lives. It is this faith that cherishes the invisible God, knowing that this world is not all that there is, that something is terribly wrong with it, and that is because of our sin. Yet, faith reaches ever upward, responding to the One who answers the deepest yearning of our hearts. He has formed us for Himself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Him. He, and not this world, is the believer’s desire. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).