The Wycliffe Bible Commentary now notices a final example of faith unequaled by any mentioned so far. It’s the obvious refrain of the entire book of Hebrews: Jesus is better. It says, “Each of the people mentioned in this chapter illustrates some phase or aspect of the life of faith – whether obedience, acting on promises of things to come, separation from the world system (Moses), or some other. But the writer still has not completed his argument concerning the superiority of the life of faith over the practice of Mosaic legalism. One example remains, the Lord Jesus Christ. The final phase of the argument by example culminates in the ‘consider him’ statement of Heb 12:3. Having considered all of these other witnesses, the readers are now to ‘consider him that endured . . . lest ye be weary and faint in your minds.’”[1]

Jesus calls us to himself with the promise in Matthew 11:28. He says, “come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It’s not just any kind of rest that is promised. It is “rest for our souls.” I will argue that Hebrews 12:3 speaks to us about thinking seriously about Jesus and understanding His victory on our behalf. This will give us that rest whereas all efforts to earn it for ourselves result in failure. It says, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

In his sermon on this passage, John Piper argues that there are two sides of the Christian life. One is “resting” and the other is “wrestling.” Jesus calls us to himself with the promise of giving us true “rest” for our souls. Yet the author of Hebrews uses athletic illustrations exhorting us to wrestle with adversaries as we live our lives. Piper explains, “These two sides are not related in such a way that you rest one day and wrestle the next. They are interwoven in two ways. 1) First, the main aim of our wrestling is to rest in God and not in money or position or looks or achievement; the aim of our wrestling is to rest in the promises of God and not the promises of sin. 2) Second, all our wrestling and fighting and running are done with a deep restfulness of spirit that Christ himself has already won the decisive victory for us and is sovereignly working in us and will bring us to glory.”[2] In life we will need to “wrestle” to remain at rest in the full sufficiency of Christ, but even in that wrestling we’re at rest in the reality of our eternal security which is based on God’s promises, not on our prowess in the ring!

[1] Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett Falconer Harrison, eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), Heb 11:32.

[2] John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (1990–1999) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007).