What an incredible chapter! If you got off track last week with Spring Break (for many of us), pick up your Bible right now and read Hebrews 12. It is a great way to start back. There is something for everyone in this practical chapter.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is right here in verses 1-3, so I can’t help but be drawn to them. Wright has done a nice job making them fresh in my mind:
What about us, then? We have such a great cloud of witnesses all around us! What we must do is this: we must put aside each heavy weight, and the sin which gets in the way so easily. We must run the race that lies in front of us, and we must run it patiently. We must look ahead, to Jesus. He is the one who carved out the path for faith, and he’s the one who brought it to completion. (12:1-3)
I am certainly no runner, as all who know me in the real world know. In the sports I played, running was punishment. But from the comfort of the spectator’s spot I can say without a doubt that I have the utmost respect for runners. By all appearances, it takes an extra level of inner fortitude to run long and run hard and not give up.
Of course, this passage fits the context of Hebrews perfectly. These Christians are thinking about giving up, so the author pleads with them not to. This is no 100-metre dash. They will have to reach down deep inside for “patience” or endurance and run on. Like some heavy backpack, they would do well to throw off their thinking that the right path to run is the way of the Jewish law and customs. And they don’t need to let sin turn into hurdles on the track before them. I am told by my students who run cross-country that it helps to run as a group, to have one strong leader in the race who helps the others keep pace and then runs back when he is done to encourage the others. For the Hebrew Christians that leader was Jesus. Why would they give up on him now?
Just keep running!