- Eldon Peterson
Jesus, the Pioneer of Our Salvation
If you have visited Alaska, you know that it lives up to its nickname, “The Last Frontier.” It is fitting for Alaska is the largest and least densely populated state in the US. To put this into perspective, in Alaska there are 1.2 people per square mile while in Utah there are 33.6 and Cache County 96.7. In fact, according to the Alaskan Department of Fish and Game, there are an estimated 950,000 Caribou in Alaska compared to its 735,000 two legged residents.
When I think of the frontier, I think of pioneers exploring and settling these areas. While we no longer would consider those moving to Alaska as pioneers or frontiersmen, visiting the state helps one visualize the obstacles that these early explorers overcame. The dictionary defines a pioneer as, “A person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area.”
Your translation may use a different word, but “pioneer” is the literal meaning of the Greek word used in Hebrews 2:10, “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” Jesus was the founder, author, captain, and pioneer of our salvation. As a pioneer, Jesus went on ahead to make it safe for us to follow.
Hebrews tells us that before Jesus led us into salvation that He had to be made perfect “through suffering.” Because we suffer in temptation, because we know pain and hunger, Jesus had to be like us in every way if he was going to bring the help we needed. He not only serves us through his suffering but by going ahead of us as the pioneer of our salvation, He was made perfect or complete. This is the inheritance of righteousness that is promised to those who believe.
In Hebrews 12 the same Greek word is used again to describe Jesus as a pioneer, “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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (1-3)
Once again, these verses testify of how Jesus has gone ahead of us to lay claim for us the salvation that we could not obtain without Him. It also repeats the idea of the perfection that he claims for us. Jesus was the real pioneer, the one who prepared the way that is to be followed. Rather than speaking of Jesus as our pioneer, other translations read author, founder, the “champion who initiates” and one tell us to “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.” He has not only cleared the path for us but having been made perfect himself he has laid claim to the perfection that we need.
God isn’t calling us to be the pioneer – Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For every man, woman and child there is one final frontier that we are to explore – that is the frontier of salvation. What does this mean? Hebrews tell us what Jesus has done for us but unless we “consider him who endured such opposition” for our sake the words will not apply for us.
The promise of the New Covenant is that we are made perfect, righteous, when we accept Christ by faith. What does this mean? 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that as Jesus went to the cross, bearing our sins, we are made righteous, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
Jesus, our pioneer, entered death to make it safe for us to follow. That is the good news of the gospel in Jesus Christ. My prayer is for you to consider Jesus, the pioneer of our salvation, so that you too may be made right with God through Christ.