“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” Hebrews 12:1
The Hebrews in the Old Testament that were converted out of Judaism through faith in Jesus Christ were persecuted to the point of utter discouragement, and discouragement continues to be a challenge today for believers in Christ! The enduring challenge in the Christian life, as well as Christian ministry remains “growing weary in heart” (v 3b)! The author of the letter to converted jews continues to speak to Believers today about both how to recover from discouragement and how to prevent it!
The instruction is written in an athletic context, and our life and ministry are seen as a race to be run! The witnesses are to be seen as examples for and to us, not so much as their witnessing of us. In light of their examples, we should put away any distractions, or defilements that distract us from running the race and run with endurance the race that is set before us (v 1b).
Just as these men and women did before us, we should fix our eyes on Jesus (v 2a, 3a), the One Who was and is the Author (Forerunner) and the Perfector (Finisher) of our faith, despite the fact the race is characterized by a difficult and painful racetrack! Just as the Union soldiers testified that marching from Manchester to Gettysburg to make a victorious difference. They called it, “the hardest experience of the long war experience!” Yet, because Jesus purchased our redemption, we can persevere in the race!
What should be our expectation for running the race that our Lord has set before us? First of all completing our Heavenly Father’s will, “Let us” (v 1a)! Keep foremost in your heart and mind that in finishing His race, Jesus suffered for our sins, then He “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (v 2b)! Keep in mind, there was no chair in the temple in the old testament, because the work of the priesthood was never finished! But Jesus “sat down” after his finished work! This speaks of a certain Hope Believers now have. This makes the Cross we bear the preamble to a victorious and celebrated victory in heaven!
The book of Hebrews emphasizes the crucial importance of Hope, not uncertain hope, but the sure Hope we are given in Christ! Trusting Christ in the midst of the challenges of our race releases His power enabling us to endure!