Let us 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. Hebrews 12:1-2
The cross. The bloody, horrific, shameful cross. The object that brings tears to our eyes while watching films of Jesus nailed to it, gasping for air on it, being mocked on it, bearing the FULL WEIGHT of the world’s sin on it. This passage says that he “endured” the cross, of course, unto death. Most of us know this, as it is the basis of our faith, but what we tend to forget, or just plain skip over, is the phrase before it – “for the joy that was set before him.”
First of all, lets be honest with ourselves and not try to compare our suffering to Christ’s suffering. There isn’t enough strife in all of us combined to tip the scale of what Jesus went though for us. However, the concept applies – “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, LOOKING TO JESUS.” He set the groundwork for us to faithfully endure this “race” of life in all of it’s temptations and hardships. The instruction leads us to find joy in our suffering, or at the very least, joy in the outcome, namely an eternity with Him.
What does this mean for us? It frees us to be hopeful in the face of despair, joyful in the midst of joy-killing circumstances, hopeful when life gives us no reason to, and strength to resist our sin. The author of this chapter in Hebrews encourages you and me to “lay aside every weight (hardship of life) and sin” so that we can “run WITH ENDURANCE the race (our life) that is set before us.” This is done by “looking to Jesus” as he is our perfect example to show us how to endure (lay down life’s burdens and sinful ways) “for the joy that <is> set before <us>.”
Is it possible that what “perfected our faith” was Jesus’ joy in his endurance, motivating his strength to suffer well? If Scripture is correct, the model He represented can be reflected in our lives, if we simply look to His example.
I, for one, hate not being full of joy, and since my troubles are guaranteed to never cease, I think I’m going to take the author up on His suggestion!!