Steve and I would ride our bikes for miles. We’d push each other faster and longer. After the ride we would wobble onto the road and run. Steve was more than 20 years older than me, but he could lap me on the run. That is embarrassing for a young guy, but exhilarating for an old guy. He knew running was my weakest event training for a Tri and he would remind me, “Justin, this is your cross to bear. Fix your eyes on the cross and run.” It did help to endure the middle of the run when I was tempted to walk or even quit.
I was a sprinter on my middle school track team. I ran the 100m and 400m. Running long distances was not my thing. Likewise, in life I would much rather endure a sprint than a marathon. However, this life resembles an Iron Man more than a quick jaunt.
We have just walked through the Hall of Fame. Hebrews 11 is a gallery of examples that help you to know what faith looks like and what God can do through a human vessel. Each name is an example for your benefit. That you too would exercise faith, endure through the trials and resist temptations in this life (Hebrews 12:1a).
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV
Now it is time to run (v.1b). The author of Hebrews describes life like a race. The course is not flat or oval like a track. It has high mountains and low valleys. There is pain and heartache. There are injuries and insecurities. In this life there are innumerable “weights” that taunt, trap, or trip us up.
Often our eyes are fixed on the weights and we worry what will come next or what will come of us. Yet those who have gone before us have given some valuable advice: keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (v.2).
That might sound nebulous. How do I fix my eyes on Jesus when I can’t see him? Or what exactly am I to fix my eyes on? The key is keeping your eyes fixed on how Jesus endured the cross and shame. Do you remember Jesus final days? Do you remember the trial, the rejection, the flogging, the walk through the streets of Jerusalem, the blood, the tears, the prayers, the cries? Do you see how he endured? Remember this.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus is hard but helpful. Ultimately, Jesus is our example. He shows us what faith looks like. He is the founder and perfecter of our faith. He shows us what endurance looks like. He endured with joy and obedience. He shows us we are not alone. He is seated at the right hand of God as our intercessor.
Like my friend Steve, we need running buddies. One who will encourage you from time to time and say, “This is your cross to bear. Fix your eyes on the cross and run.”
Questions for Reflection:
- Why do you think the author focuses on endurance after exploring the role of faith?
- Read Philippians 3: 12– 14. How does this passage compare to the message in Hebrews 12? How is the example of a race so helpful?
- Read 1 Corinthians 9:24–27. To what does Paul liken the Christian faith? How does he say we should live this life of faith? What does this mean practically for us as individuals and churches?
- What are the weights Christians should remove so they can run the race? What are some of the things that believers cling to that hinder a their faith?
- How is faith at times a grueling race? What sorts of “hardship” will believers endure as they grow their faith?
- How can one have joy and endure at the same time? What can you learn from Jesus about melding of joy and endurance?
- What are ways today’s church looks backward instead of forward? How can you follow the example of the heroes of faith and look ahead to the joy that awaits you? What role does faith play in the ability to look ahead?