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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
- “Therefore” (since what he just wrote in Hebrews 11 about the countless ones who had faith and were faithful)
- Metaphor is a race we are running – crowd of observers/fans, hindrances to finishing the race, someone in front whose pace we try to match, promise of reward at the end (Jesus is our example – he endured the cross for what it brought at the end)
- Contrast? Cloud of witnesses from the previous chapter vs. shame, opposition of sinners
- Suggestion the readers face the same: opposition that will make them lose heart and grow weary
Last night I watched some coverage of the Pluto flyby. What an incredible achievement, lost in the midst of so much noise and negativity. Human beings launched a spacecraft that flew to the last unexplored planet (or whatever it is) in the solar system. A two hour flyby was nine years in the making (not counting the years of planning and construction that preceded its launch).
I love these words from Hebrews but they always challenge me. They are meant to challenge, convict rather than comfort. Don’t lose heart in the race you are running. Don’t let being tired make you stumble or drop out. Don’t quit because Jesus, who is out in front of you, didn’t.
I am sure during the nine years that the Nasa folks waited for last night’s climax they grew tired, bored, uncertain. Earlier this month there was a moment when they couldn’t get a signal from the spacecraft and were afraid it had all been for nothing. But the pictures so far? They have been stunning. And I am sure today and tomorrow the ten year old boy still in me who remembers men walking on the moon will be just as excited at what we see.
I want my race following Jesus to be the same. It is a long race – a lifetime one. And my journey from 15 to 48 has been filled with hindrances, sin, opposition, weariness, heart loss. But others have run this race. Others have been faithful and faith-filled. Jesus most of all has been victorious and shared the joy of his victory with those who are still running the race.
I can’t post stunning pictures of my journey’s end and I am not there yet – by the grace of God still far from it I hope. But I can do this. We call can. Because Jesus did it and won.
Oh Jesus, Pioneer and Perfecter, it is easy to forget that I run the same race you ran. What I face daily you faced too. You ran the race and you achieved a victory – THE victory. As I gaze these days on the beautiful images of a distant planet that was, until now, unknown, may I also gaze at a victory that is still far away but awaits the race’s end and the journey’s conclusion. And unlike Pluto… today may Jesus’ victory give me victory in the here and now while I still run the big race of life. Amen.