In order to be encouraged and have the endurance to go through adverse circumstances our author specifically counsels us to think of all the opposition Jesus faced during His earthly journey.
Jesus did not have to put up with any opposition to Himself. He is the Lord of glory! He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords! He could have blinked and all those who stood against Him could have been vaporized in an instant. He could have called for armies of angels to descend and annihilate His oppressors. But it was not the hatred of Satan or of mankind that kept Him on the cross. It was His great love for us that kept Him there. Everyone and everything that Jesus endured, He did, not because He had to, but because He wanted to. So, the writer declared in Hebrews 12:3-4, “Think of Him who endured such opposition against Himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed in your struggle against sin.”
May we never forget what our Lord endured. There was rejection, denial, and betrayal. There was slander, mocking, animosity, and ridicule. There was public humiliation, scourging, a crown of thorns, and being nailed to a wooden cross. There were the haunts of hell and the malice of mankind. Jesus told His followers, “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first” (John 15:18). Pretty strong and yet accurate words from our Savior. We may love Him now but at one time we were all His enemies until His love penetrated our hearts. Has any one individual absorbed more hatred than Jesus?
Because of this, we know that He understands our struggles. He understands what it feels like to be alone or stand alone. He knows what it feels like to be insulted and persecuted for righteousness. He understands spiritual pain like no other when, for a moment in time, He experienced separation from the Father. He understands physical pain like no other. Is there a more inhumane way ever devised by man of putting people to death than crucifixion? Jesus gets it. He knows spiritual, emotional, and physical pain beyond what you and I will ever have to endure. But because He endured, he not only can sympathize and empathize with us in our pain, He also can help us to navigate through our most difficult days on earth. He alone provides us with that supernatural staying power.
There was a motto that caught on during the Protestant Reformation: “the anvil breaks many hammers.” How does it do this? Not by striking the hammers. The anvil simple endures the blows time after time. It keeps its place and lets the hammers fall over and over until they are broken upon their handles. This is exactly what Jesus did. “He was despised and rejected by people, one who experience pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from Him, He was despised and considered insignificant. He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; He endured punishment that made us well, because of His wounds we have been healed. He was treated harshly and afflicted, but He did not even open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not even open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:3, 5, 7).
Contemplating Jesus, His sufferings, His endurance, His reward, is the great preventative of growing weary in our souls and giving up. He died and rose again not only so that we could live, but so that we could endure. “So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).