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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, June 11, 2017

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

This verse explains the good news of Christ. I cannot think of a clearer verse in all the Bible to give you as a plain statement of what real Christians believe.

Now, you must listen very carefully to this sermon, as I take apart this verse and explain it to you as carefully as I possibly can. May this text open your heart so that the light of Christ will shine in, where now there is darkness and confusion.

A person can go to church and still be in great darkness. A person can learn much of the Bible and still be confused, and darkened in their understanding of what they read. It is my prayer that God Himself will open “the eyes of your understanding” (Ephesians 1:18) as I preach. Only when God does that will you be able to digest some of the truths in this verse.

The text gives us three basic truths:

1.  What Jesus did for you.
2.  Why Jesus did this for you.
3.  How to receive the benefit of this.

I. First, what Jesus did for you.

“Looking unto Jesus [who]…endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2).

The Greek word for “endured” means to “undergo suffering patiently” (Strong’s). Jesus patiently went through great suffering and persecution to save your soul from punishment for sin. As Poole puts it:

(Christ) endured the cross, with all the (accompanying sorrows) of it, the sorrows in his soul, the torturing pains in his body, of (beatings), smitings, piercing of thorns, tearing his flesh with scourges, boring (holes through) his hands and feet with nails, with all the evils that either malice or rage of devils or men could inflict on him; he was neither weary of his burden, nor shrinking from nor fainting under it. With what invincible meekness and passive fortitude did he undergo all that was foretold of him (in Isaiah 53)! (Matthew Poole, comment on Hebrews 12:2).

Then, too, Christ went through the crucifixion “despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). “Despising” means “to think slightly of” or “to think little of” (Vine’s). Jesus thought little about the great suffering He went through because He was thinking about saving you and glorifying God. “Despising the shame.” Shame here means “disgrace” (Strong’s). Jesus had to be disgraced for you to be saved from punishment for your sins. He had to be disgraced in your place, so you will not have to be disgraced at the Last Judgment.

Jesus was disgraced by being beaten. He was disgraced by being spit on and having chunks of His beard pulled out. He was disgraced by an angry mob yelling, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” He was disgraced by having all His clothes stripped off, and hanging naked on the Cross.

He was disgraced, shamed, in your place.

“For Christ…hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust” (I Peter 3:18).

“The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

Jesus took the punishment you should have received for your sins. Jesus was punished in your place.

Jesus was shamed in your place. At the Last Judgment every sin you have ever committed will be read out by God. This will shame you before the whole world. But if you trust in Christ, He was shamed in your place. Instead of you standing naked and being shamed by your sins, Jesus stood naked in your place, on the Cross – if you trust in Him!

The Bible teaches the “vicarious atonement” of Jesus Christ on that Cross! Dr. P. B. Fitzwater says:

His atonement was vicarious, which means acting on behalf of, or representing, another (Christian Theology, Eerdmans, 1948, p. 426).

The English word “vicarious” means “the place of one person assumed by another” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1960).

And that’s exactly what Jesus Christ did for you! “The place of one person (you) was assumed by another (Christ).” He took the punishment you deserved for sin.

The Bible says:

“Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3).

Christ paid the penalty you deserve for sinning. He paid the price.

My stepfather was a tough old Marine. Once he kicked a policeman in the seat of the pants. They threw him in jail. At midnight my mother called Ed Gallick to bail him out. Ed went down to the jail and paid the bail. They let my stepfather out. As he walked out of the jail, and saw Ed, he said, “What are you doing here?”

That reminded me of what Jesus did. He paid the bail to get you out of being punished for your sins in Hell. We look on the Cross and say, “What are you doing here?” The answer is – He’s paying your bail – to get you out of God’s jailhouse of Hell! Put your faith in Jesus now!

II. Second, why Jesus did this for you.

“Who for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus went to the Cross deliberately. He was powerful enough to escape at any time. Instead, “he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). Why did He go meekly to the Cross to pay for your sins? He did it “for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2).

First, there was the joy of entering Heaven. Christ knew that He would immediately enter Heaven when He died on the Cross. He told the thief who was dying beside him, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Then, He also expected the joy of seeing you enter Heaven. What joy Jesus felt when He saw the converted thief! And what joy He will feel when He sees you.

Yesterday I saw several men I led to Christ. One of them is now the chairman of the deacons. Another is assistant to the pastor. It gave me great joy to see these men, whom I led to Christ over forty years ago. This also is part of the joy Christ expected to experience in Heaven. And that’s why He deliberately let them crucify Him – to bring “many sons unto glory” (Hebrews 2:10).

That’s why Jesus is both the “author and finisher of our faith.” He creates the faith in us and He perfects us and protects us. Salvation is all in Christ!

III. Third, how you receive the benefit of this.

“Looking unto Jesus…set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

The Apostles in the Book of Acts hardly preached a sermon without direct reference to the ascension of Christ into Heaven, to be seated at the right hand of God. I am convinced that we, in our day, need to preach the ascension like the Apostles did. Here’s the reasons I think that:

1.  Preaching the ascension of Christ to the Father’s right hand makes it crystal clear that Christ and the Father are two distinct – different – Persons. The Biblical doctrine of the Trinity has become blurred today. Many are modalistic heretics on this crucial point without knowing it.

2.  The great Bible doctrines of reconciliation, propitiation, and justification are virtually lost when God the Father and Jesus the Son are not seen as separate Persons in the Trinity. The mediatorial work of Christ is clarified dramatically by the ascension.

3.  Decisionism is cured by preaching the ascension. Turning people to the ascended Christ cures all forms of decisionism.

Some time ago I heard a preacher give a brilliant sermon on the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14). He exposed nearly all forms of decisionism, showing that salvation does not come by saying the “sinner’s prayer,” coming forward, going to church, etc. Then he said, “you have to believe in Jesus.” I thought, “Perfect!” But then he said, “Believing in Jesus means you believe that He died to pay for your sins.” I thought, “Oh, no! He confuses believing this doctrine with believing on Jesus, Himself!”

How I wish this preacher had ended his otherwise excellent sermon by asking lost sinners to look up – to the ascended Christ – on the right hand of God – in Heaven itself!

“Looking unto Jesus (who)…is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

That’s where to look! That’s who to believe on! That’s how to be saved!

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Look and live, my brother, live!
Look to Jesus now and live!
‘Tis recorded in His Word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”
   (“Look and Live” by William A. Ogden, 1841-1897).

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Noah Song: John 12:28-32.
Solo by Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Look and Live” (by William A. Ogden, 1841-1897).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

I.    First, what Jesus did for you – “endured the cross, despising
the shame,” I Peter 3:18; Isaiah 53:6; Hebrews 9:28;
I Corinthians 15:3.

II.   Second, why Jesus did this for you – “who for the joy that was
set before him,” Isaiah 53:7.
1.  The joy of entering Heaven, Luke 23:42.
2.  The joy of seeing you enter Heaven, Hebrews 2:10.

III.  Third, how you receive the benefit of this – “Looking unto Jesus…
set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” Acts 16:31.