Keep Running the Race
During Lent, we consider the faithful example of Jesus the Messiah. His life, death, resurrection, and ascension made it possible for us to live faithfully and persevere.
1. Recognize the Context:
The preceding context, Hebrews 11, is often referred to as the “faith chapter.” The author began with creation and continued through the Old Testament, emphasizing characters and events that demonstrated faith. However, none of his examples reached the fullness of their promise which was realized in Christ for his followers (11:39-40).
2. Read the Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-3
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.
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
“Therefore” begins chapter 12 and points back to the list of Old Testament men and women who were commended for their faith. They made up the great cloud of witnesses. The first-person pronoun “we” connected the author with his readers and demonstrated he, too, was a runner in the race.
Continuing with the race analogy, he encouraged his fellow runners to do three things for successful completion of the course.
1. Get rid of everything that hinders. This is a general appeal to resist those things that can be obstacles to the Christian faith, which aren't necessarily bad but can be a hindrance.
Get rid of the sin that so easily entangles. The weight of sin can ensnare the runner and make it impossible to compete in the race.
2. Run with perseverance the course marked out. This path marked out is one of hope (Heb. 6:18), and it has been marked out by the one who endured the cross
because of the joy marked out before him (verse 2). Remembering, of course, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so endurance is vital.
3. Believers are to run fixed on Jesus. There is to be total concentration with no distractions. He is the ultimate example of how to live. He is the initiator of our faith, and he is the one who brought it to its ultimate goal through his death and resurrection.
As Leon Morris writes in his commentary on Hebrews, “Jesus went to the Cross because of the joy it would bring. He looked right through the Cross to the coming joy, the joy of bringing salvation to those he loves." Jesus scorned the scorn of the shame of the cross. He looked down on it, and saw it of little consequence.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, prayerfully reflect on what it means to
-Throw off everything that hinders
-Get rid of the sin that so easily entangles.
-Run with perseverance
-Fix your eyes on Jesus
Today, prayerfully consider what Christ endured for you to continue in the faith.
To do: (Actions with the Holy Spirit's help)
Given the prayer suggestions above, how do you need to respond today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, and co-workers.
Identify things that are hindering your walk with God. Identify any sin that is entangling you. What can you specifically do today?
What can you do to fix your eyes on Jesus this week?
Is there someone in your faith community with whom you can share?
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)
Read and study the passages listed above.