You Can’t Understand Faith Without Understanding Jesus

Jesus’ life was a powerful example and inspiring blueprint that guides us in living a life of faith that changes the world.
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No story can be either inspiring or compelling if the author does not finish it. 

JK Rowling, the renowned author of the Harry Potter series, was particularly stuck writing chapter 9 in her best-selling book, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Rowling recounted to a fellow writer how she rewrote chapter 9 “more times than I can now remember” and how “it nearly finished her” before she would complete her novel. 

The final version of chapter 9 turned out to be one of the favorites among fans of Harry Potter. Much to the relief and delight of her readers, Rowling persevered and finished writing that chapter and novel.

The Scriptures describe Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith.  

Let us look to 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 seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 MEV

We can’t understand faith without first understanding Jesus. He is essential to creating faith in our lives. His life was not just a story, but a powerful example and inspiring blueprint that guides us in living a life of faith that changes the world.

To develop a faith in God as unwavering, transformative, and genuine as Jesus’, we must first examine where we turn and who we look to when we need faith to help us in our journey to becoming a finisher.

Who do I look to for faith?

I have pursued you, coming here in My Father’s name, and you have turned Me away. If someone else were to approach you with a different set of credentials, you would welcome him.

44 That’s why it is hard to see how true faith is even possible for you: you are consumed by the approval of other men, longing to look good in their eyes; and yet you disregard the approval of the one true God.

John 5:43-44 Voice

True faith is impossible when we turn to the wrong source for it. Too often I’ve been in pursuit of approval and assurance from people to find the security and deep confidence that can only be found in God. This has left no room for God, because I’m placing my trust in people and humanism, rather than in God and spirituality.

Although people can encourage us and provide insight or human solutions, they are not authors of faith. The faith that Jesus authors is a faith that can move mountains (Matthew 17:20), bring forgiveness from God (Mark 2:5), and compel us to love and forgive others (Luke 17:4-6).

So when we lack faith, our faith is not growing, or our faith is wavering, we need to examine who or what we are putting our faith in, other than the Word of God.

  • Do you place your faith more in people than God?
  • Do you pursue and prioritize approval from people more than from God? If so, how does this affect your faith in God?

Learn from the greatest finisher of all time

When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Hebrews 12:3 MSG

Jesus authored and perfected faith in his own life. He resolutely lived for God’s purpose from start to finish, despite a long litany of hostility and adversity. By learning to imitate Jesus’ faith, we will also experience a spiritual “adrenaline” to change lives, to tackle and overcome the sins that so easily entangle us and reach God’s destiny for our lives.

Here are 4 ways Jesus authors and finishes our faith to resiliently complete the race God destined for us.

Jesus’ faith was rooted in Scripture

[2] He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was famished. [3] The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” [4] But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Matthew 4:2-4 NRSV

Our faith is influenced by the spiritual battle we face every day, whether we are aware of it or not (Ephesians 6:10-12). We are constantly susceptible to temptations due to our human desires living within us (James 1:13-15).

At a time when Jesus was weak and susceptible to temptation, he chose to hold to the Word of God rather than give into his desire for relief and comfort because trusted that God would meet his needs. What gave Jesus the courage and strength to resist the temptation to compromise was the truth and hope found in Scripture. He relied on God’s Word, not people, emotions, or humanistic solutions.

Jesus didn’t just read and recite the Scriptures, he obediently applied them.

Understanding Jesus and Faith

The times I compromise, quit on relationships, or give into my physical and sensual desires are the times when I’m not rooted in the Bible – reading, studying, applying, and making decisive changes in response to it.

Jesus didn’t just read and recite the Scriptures, he obediently applied them. He understood that God’s promises and direction for his life would outlast immediate temptations and emotional turmoil. This allowed him to keep pushing through and not give up despite any setbacks.

  • When your faith is tested, where do you turn to replenish and reinforce your faith in God?
  • Do you turn to the Bible or do you turn to people?
  • Do you blame circumstances and people for your difficulty to believe, or are you willing to examine whether there is distance between your heart and the Scriptures?

Jesus’ faith kept him focused on what mattered

Then Jesus left them and went again into the synagogue, where he encountered a man who had an atrophied, paralyzed hand.2 Everyone was watching Jesus closely to see if he would heal the man on the Sabbath, giving them a reason to accuse him of breaking Sabbath rules.

3 Jesus said to the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stand here in the middle of the room.” 4 Then he turned to all those gathered there and said, “Which is it? Is it against the law to do evil on the Sabbath or to do good? To destroy a life or to save one?” But no one answered him a word.

5 Then looking around at everyone, Jesus was moved with indignation and grieved by the hardness of their hearts and said to the man, “Now stretch out your hand!” As he stretched out his hand, it was instantly healed!

Mark 3:1-5 MSG

While the crowd’s focus on keeping rules blinded and distracted them from seeing the needs of others, Jesus was sensitive to and aware of the man’s needs. His care for the man allowed him to push through despite the status quo.

Too often I’m blinded to the needs of others because of self-focus — anxiously consumed with my own agendas, goals, and status in the eyes of others, unable to recognize the people God wants me to love and help. Living for self takes no faith in God. But faith is essential for God to work through us (Mark 6:4-6). Faith sees and responds to the needs of others, believing God will provide the wisdom and strength for us to take action.

  • Take time to reflect, pray, and ask God to help you recognize what you are most focused on that undermines your faith.
  • Are you so focused on yourself that you miss seeing the people God is calling you to love and have compassion for?

Jesus’ faith wasn’t easily fazed

31 Just then some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Go away from here and hide. Herod wants to kill you!” 32 Jesus said to them, “Go tell that fox, ‘Today and tomorrow I am forcing demons out of people and finishing my work of healing. Then, the next day, the work will be finished.’

Luke 13:31-32 ERV

Love turns distracting opposition into a determined resolution to change lives. Jesus was more concerned about the needs of others than he was for his own life. He chose to love rather than give into fear. He wasn’t fazed by any possible threat or opposition, because he was so focused on healing and changing lives.

For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

Galatians 5:6 MSG

Faith takes action to love others. Jesus’ faith grew stronger and resilient in the face of opposition because of his conviction to love others more than his own life.

Faith takes action to love others. Jesus’ faith grew stronger and resilient in the face of opposition because of his conviction to love others more than his own life.

Jesus’ faith grew stronger through prayer

39 Jesus left the upper room with his disciples and, as was his habit, went to the Mount of Olives, his place of secret prayer. 40 There he told the apostles, “Keep praying for strength to be spared from the severe test of your faith that is about to come.” 41 Then he withdrew from them a short distance to be alone. Kneeling down, he prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup of agony away from me. But no matter what, your will must be mine.”

Luke 22:39-40 TPT

In the face of suffering and severe testing, Jesus shows us how to find the strength and resilience to finish the race God has set before us. Through prayer Jesus vulnerably admitted all that tested and threatened his faith in God – the internal conflict between his will and God’s will, along with his emotional agony and fear about sacrificing his life on the cross.

Prayer is where Jesus found emotional and spiritual strength to finish what God had started in his life. We can become stronger in faith through prayer, just as Jesus did.

  • Does your prayer life strengthen your faith to live for God’s purpose over your desires?
  • Make a decision to pray vulnerably and consistently for God to give you a stronger faith and determination to please God.
  • Whose life could be changed if you had a faith strong enough to allow you to deny yourself for them?
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