“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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12.1-3).
In this well-known passage, we are encouraged to endure the race before us by looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. We are then encouraged that if we look to Jesus, who endured the cross and the hostility of sinners, we will not grow weary or lose heart.
Running with endurance is difficult, both in actual running and in the analogy used in Hebrews 12. Endurance is even more difficult when we are isolated. The Hebrew writer reminds us that as we run, we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12.1). If you are having a hard time enduring the race set before you, or you are unable to lay aside the encumbrances and sins that are entangling you, look to the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11. This chapter references sixteen people from the Old Testament who are commended for their faith for what they famously endured. Hebrews 11 emphasizes the amazing faith of Biblical heroes while reminding us that if these people endured under such difficult circumstances, then so can we. If the sixteen examples from the Old Testament were not enough to encourage you to run with endurance yourself, the writer puts Jesus as the ultimate exclamation point to this encouragement.
Run with endurance “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12.2). When the race set before you feels too hard to endure, look at what Jesus endured for you. He endured the cross for you. The Hebrew writer reminds us that Jesus despised the shame of the cross. He endured it for you, but He hated its shame. There could be something you despise that you are needing to endure right now. Look to Jesus who also hated that He had to endure the shame of the cross, but He endured it for you anyway.
The picture these verses create is amazing. Imagine you are surrounded by these examples of faith like Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, or Moses and you are all running together. Not only are you all running together, but you are all looking toward the same thing. You are looking toward “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12.2). Hebrews 11 is amazing because of the faith of those 16 Old Testament heroes, but Jesus is the author and perfecter of their amazing faith. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. It is Jesus who we all fix our eyes on as we run with endurance. We run with endurance because Jesus endured the cross. We run with endurance because Jesus endured the hostility of sinners. We have Jesus to look toward, so we will not grow weary or lose heart. Looking back at the cloud of witnesses who went before us is helpful, but their stories of faith do not mean anything without the author and perfecter of their faith. We have a great cloud of witnesses around us, but we must fix our eyes on Jesus so that we do not lose heart.
If you were running aimlessly and alone it would be so hard to run with endurance. But that is not the race God has set before us. We do not endure alone, nor do we run in vain. Jesus endured the cross for us so that our run would lead us to Him. We fix our eyes on Jesus because He is the goal. Our goal is to get closer to Him and to be with Him in heaven. If we fix our eyes on Him, we will continually be closer to Him and one day will be with Him. With this to look forward to, how could we grow weary? How could we lose hope?
Remember the cloud of witnesses. Remember their faith is authored and perfected by Jesus, who has also authored and perfected your faith. We run together and we all look toward Jesus. Do not grow weary and do not lose heart. Fix your eyes on Jesus and you will endure.