Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1b-2 HCSB)
How To Run
As I’m running I need to keep my eyes on Jesus. Obviously this isn’t referring to physical sight but mental attention. The Greek word aphoraō comes from two root words apo (off, away) and horaō (to stare). You could think of this phrase as “Don’t stare at anything else.”
It reminds me of the time I ran my best mile. I was late to gym class that day and we were testing for the mile. The boys had already run and so I had to run with the girls. There was a guy from the track team who wanted to run a second time to see if he could get a better time. He told me to stick with him and I would get a great time.
When the race started he took off like a shot. I struggled to stay with him but I managed to until the last half of the last lap. I couldn’t keep up with him but when I finished I had run a 6:11 mile which is my best time ever. The thing that made it possible was that I kept my eyes on him and tried to run the way he ran.
The source and perfecter of our faith. These two words describe Jesus and the race he ran. He is the archēgos (Capitan, Pioneer, Chief Leader). The primary example. The headwaters of the river of faith that runs through us today. The word teleiōtēs (Completer, Finisher) speaks of his faithfulness to the end. He finished the race of faith without ever stopping or stumbling. Like that guy from the track team I couldn’t keep up with him the entire way but I did my best to fix my eyes on him.
He Sat Down
…who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
Whatever we may have to endure it is nothing compared to what Jesus endured. How did Christ endure, hupomenō )He despised the shame. There was a tremendous shame in crucifixion. The entire spectacle was designed by the Romans to show their power and to shame the one on the cross. Think of it
- Stripped naked….
- A sign over their head describing their crime…
- Helpless to move, nailed hands and feet
- Slowly dying…
- People gawking…
- They hurled insults at him…
If I were on a cross the thing that would hurt the worst is that people would see my death as a sign that I was a failure. Where are all the miraculous powers now? He saved others, but he cannot save himself. Jesus knew that there would be a great deal of shame attached to the cross but he endured it because he made up his mind to kataphroneō (think against, despise) the shame.
How do you think against something? How do we do the equivalent of despising the shame?
- Focus on the joy that lay before us at the end of this race
- Think against the shame, real or imagined, that Satan seeks to get you to focus on
I remember my first 10K race. As I neared the end the course led into a stadium. People were gathered near the finish line. My heart and lungs were struggling but I had to run one last lap around the track. I crossed that finish line and walked onto the infield and sat down. There I spoke to a man who finished the race before me. He was much faster than I was but at that point I felt no jealousy. I was just glad to have finished the race, and he was glad for me as well.
Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. (Hebrews 4:9 HCSB)
One day I will cross that finish line. As I round the last bend I will see a stadium full of witnesses cheering me on. My heart and lungs will be bursting but somehow I will find the strength to make it across that finish line. I will cross over and sit down. I will praise my God for delivering me by his mercy and grace. It won’t be my strength that takes me across that line that day, it will be his.
With my sickness I may get there before you. It won’t matter though. When you get there we will both worship our King.