In Hebrews, chapter 11, there is a whole list of people who had exceptional faith. I’d like to read part of the list to you.
[Read verses 32-38]
One of the things I find fascinating about these people is that their faith was based on limited information. It is true that God sometimes appeared to them in ways which He does not appear to us. But, those appearances were quite rare. Also keep in mind that the people in the Old Testament did not have the Bible as we know it. It wasn’t written yet. They were living out the stories which would later be written down in the Bible. But most of all, the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 did not have the advantage of hindsight. Though they had been given the promises of a coming Messiah, they did not have the opportunity to see those promises fulfilled. I’m sure that many things which we can now see and understand were a mystery to them. But whether they fully understood or not, they believed. Verse 13 says, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” (NIV)
But there is something which I find even more remarkable. Verse 39 reads, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (NIV)
It boggles my mind that not only can we find inspiration from the lives of those who have gone before, we have the opportunity to share in the same kind of faith for which they were commended. It is only together with us that they are made perfect. Verse 1 of chapter 12 goes on to say, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)
Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. The people of faith in the Old Testament were looking forward to His coming. It was that hope which kept their faith alive. Their hope was fulfilled, long after their earthly deaths, in Jesus. It is in Him, that they are made perfect. In order to keep our faith alive we, too, need to keep looking at Jesus. The difference is that instead of looking forward in anticipation of what Christ would do, we have been commanded to look back and remember what He has already done. That is why we take communion each week. It’s a reminder to help keep our faith alive. It reminds us that only through Jesus are we made perfect. The bread and the juice remind us of the price that Jesus paid so that, not only the people of faith mentioned in the Bible but, we also can be made perfect.