Monday, March 31, 2014

Jesus the Pioneer

I'm from the West Coast of the US, Washington and Oregon. In the 1800s people took the Oregon Trail west to seek their fortunes. Pioneering is in our blood. My father found his bride in England during the war, settled in Nebraska (mid west) for a while, then took the family to Washington state where I grew up. Ione's great grandfather was a rogue who travelled across the US from the East Coast to the West and joined the gold rush in the Yukon. He painted and decorated famous homes up and down the West Coast of the US, and some of these homes still sport his artistry and craftsmanship. Recently Ione transcribed his diaries and has been putting them online. Great grandpa Atwood did not go to the Yukon territory alone, he followed a guide, a leader, a pioneer who knew the way and understood the dangers. The guide knew what time of year was safe for a mountain pass crossing. He knew when to pull the boats onto shore and carry them around rushing rapids and waterfalls that would have drowned everyone in the expedition. He knew the way, because he had travelled it many times. Their leader was a pioneer.

In Hebrews 12 Jesus is described as "the pioneer and perfecter of our faith" and we are told that we "must keep our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith". The Contemporary English version puts it this way

We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. 
Heb 2:10 says "For it was fitting for him, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
When reading this I felt confused by the word "pioneer" so I looked it up in the dictionary. says a "pioneer" is:
a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.
Jesus is the pioneer who opened the land of salvation for you and me. He is the leader who prepared the way for us through his sacrificial death on the cross, and he personally leads us into the amazing kingdom of God. There is one thing you and I need to know about the journey...

The way through this wilderness is dangerous. The Oregon Trail and the Yukon trail were littered with the graves of those who didn't make it. They fell behind and lost sight of their leader. Like stragglers from a herd of wildebeasts they were picked off by the lions along the way.

Modern life is also filled with dangers that can lead to the death of our spirits. Distractions: smart phone notifications, news bulletins, telephones ringing, people constantly interrupting, easy access to pornography, ladies on the street offering 'massagee, you like?'. Then there are the temptations to covet and envy others. Most of our customers make a lot more money than we do. Their lives seem glamorous compared to ours. If I don't keep my eyes on Jesus, my leader, I can and will easily go astray. The path will look wide and smooth at first, but before long I will find myself lost, trying to hack my way through briars and brambles, with no idea where Jesus is. There will only be the quiet terrifying sounds of wild beasts following my trail, waiting for me to injure myself or give up, so that they can move in for the kill.

What should I do? Keep my eyes on Jesus!

"Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come". But there are still more to come. Keep your eyes of Jesus, the leader, the pioneer, the one who has gone before and prepared the way. Don't get distracted, don't turn off to the right or the left. Go straight after him.  And if you have strayed off the trail that he has blazed for you, cry out to him. "Jesus, help me. I'm lost. I need you."  He will come. He will rescue you and lead you in the way.