“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 NET)
Therefore … because of the the great cloud of witnesses that surround us, we need to do something. The “great cloud of witnesses” are those from the previous chapter listed in the hall of fame of faith. These are people whose lives were characterised by faith, who followed God no matter what might happen to them or was happening to them. Their encouragement to us is that we need to be a people of faith.
The picture is of the races which characterised the Greek/Roman/Olympic Games; but this is a marathon, not a short sprint. Because there are those who have finished their race it should help to spur us on to complete ours. They are there, cheering us on to do what they did and finish the race we are in. We are each running in this race. And the race we are in is our lives.
We need to get rid of the weights that hold us back. Runners train with weights on their legs so that they build up endurance and strength. American baseball players before they take their turn at bat add weights to the bat as they prepare to hit the ball. But when it comes to running the race or batting for their team they take off the weights so they can do their best. The runner wants to run with endurance.
The weights that hold us back as Christians is our sin. Sin obstructs us. It keeps us from running our race. Sin holds us back from growing to maturity (we read about this in Hebrews 5-6). Sin does this by easily distracting us from what we should be doing.
If we do not deal with our sin, it will keep us from finishing our race. Sin makes us lose sight of our goal. It can trip us up and keep us from continuing in the race and therefore not completing it. If we want to be able to “run with endurance”, to be able to keep going, we must get rid of anything that is holding us back and causing us to waste our energy. Sin must go!
The runner keeps his eyes on the finish line. In our case this is Jesus. The Christian, as he runs his race, doesn’t look at anything around him, either the other runners or the crowd, but keep his eyes focused on Jesus.
Jesus is worth keeping our eyes on because he is the “pioneer” and “perfecter” of our faith (it is about our faith). Those who have gone on before us supply encouragement, but in Jesus we find the one who is the greatest encourager. He is the pioneer, the one who blazed the trail first and finished his race.
When we think of all that Jesus endured this should give us encouragement. He has been there. No matter what we go through, he understands because he also lived as a human and endured all that we endure – and far more. We keep our eyes on him so that we do not grow spiritually weary and give up.
As we live our lives, keep our eyes on Jesus. We do this through spending time with him each day, through our studying his word and our prayer. He is there to help us complete our race of life.
Readings for next week: Hebrews 11-13; Romans 1-2