“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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” ( Hebrews 12:1-3 )
No matter what circumstances life brings, this passage of scripture is the remedy. Whatever trials come your way, this is the key to success in the middle of it. We even have an entire chapter of faith examples preceding this to encourage us. So whatever comes, if we fix our eyes on Jesus and consider what He endured while here on Earth, we will never lose heart.
Every time I read this, I picture countless men and women lining the streets of heaven cheering for the saints still in the race. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witness who have borne testimony to the truth and have finished their course in this world. Learning from their examples, the writer encourages us to run with patient endurance the race marked for us.
He mentions two things to get rid of, so we can run well. First, he says to strip off and throw aside everything that weighs us down, hinders or encumbers us. This could be fear, this could be excuses, it could be a lot of things. This is unnecessary weight and we are to throw it aside and leave it. Secondly, we are also to remove sin that so readily entangles us. The Greek word here is hamartia, in which the first definition means ‘to be without a share in’ as well as ‘to miss the mark, to err, to be mistaken’. Given the context of faith examples in this passage the writer is talking about unbelief. We are to get rid of any unbelief as it clings and entangles and it hinders us from running well. Remember, faith pleases God ( Hebrews 11:6 ) and it is impossible to do the things of God without faith. So to run our race, we need to get rid of unbelief so we can run with patient endurance, steadily and consistently making progress.
In the middle of life, it is easy to get distracted and off course. So we must always look to Jesus and focus on Him. The Amplified Bible paints a wonderful picture of this, “Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God” ( Hebrews 12:2 AMP ). We have an amazing example in Jesus, who endured the unimaginable to obtain the prize of redemption. He looked forward with joy to the cross because he knew it meant restoration for mankind. He disregarded the shame of dying a criminal's death because the outcome far surpassed it. We are to consider this in comparison to our trials so that we do not grow weary, become exhausted or lose heart.
When we focus on the example set by Jesus and fix our eyes steadfastly on him, then we will have great encouragement to faithfully continue moving forward with our mission in life, the race that is set before us, until we run through the glorious finish line. We must consider Jesus who endured such opposition and bitter hostility and yet finished what He was called to do so that we too will continue moving forward with great joy and steadfastness.