Let’s take our Bibles this morning and let’s turn to Hebrews 12. Hebrews 12 is a great epistle that is in the Word of God. It debunks almost every religious system.If not all religious systems to the true One.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says,
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 of the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat 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.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you this morning for this Word. I pray that You would use it. To bring it to our hearts in a way that shows us the grand plan of God.
And the power that we have is believers to endure this race that You have called us to and to finish it. May you receive the glory this morning. In Christ name, Amen.
Last time I left you with the thought that we are God’s unfinished symphony. That the final movement of the symphony, that which completes the whole, will not sound forth until we stand before the Throne of God and of the Lamb in our glorified bodies.
This always must be kept in faiths site. That even faiths reward in this life is only partial fulfillment of the promise. The fullness of what God has in mind for us would not be known until we stand before God beyond the grave.
That’s why we need faith. We’ll never fully realize what God has for us in this life, only in heaven. If we look to the end of Hebrews 11:39-40 it says that they,
..did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
It is our turn to live on this earth and to endure by faith to believe the unseen, to trust God promises, to wait and hope expectantly on our great God and Savior who will bring His promises to an ultimate fulfillment. I guarantee it based on His Word. Why? Because we have a great cloud of witnesses that have finished the race and are waiting for us to finish.
In verse one of chapter twelve it says,
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
Those are all the people that I’ve mentioned already in chapter 11. All those people who have been listed there and that’s not all of them.
That’s only some of them. It’s the kind of faith the Ancients had and that faith enabled them to endure through all kinds of difficult situations. Not an easy life.
None of them. Difficult life right up until the end. Here in verse number one, we are grouped in with those who have gone before us. It says:
Therefore, since we have we have
so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us..
We’re grouped in with this whole group of those who have gone before us, who live by faith. And They did it, you do it. What they have, you have and we have more. Why? Because your many ways we’re like them. Our faith comes to us in the same way.
Our faith has the same object. The true and only God. The creator of the heaven and earth Who’s given us a special revelation in the scripture. Our conflicts are similar because we both live in a sin cursed world.
Its current thoughts are being pressed upon every generation to oppose god and oppose God’s rule. Our weaknesses are the same. We are blood and flesh. We’re going to die. We get sick we bleed.
We can get hurt. We need strength from on high. Our spiritual needs are the same. We need a savior. They were before the cross. We are after the cross. We both need a savior. Old and New Testament both looking at the cross. You’re saved the same way.
Abraham was saved by faith looking to Christ. We are saved the same way. Therefore, we both need a savior. All people need a savior. Our hope is the same which are God promises.
Our destination is the same, the city of God. In all the Old Testament figures, these were examples of enduring faith. Even though their life of faith is presented as unfulfilled. The goal of their journey and the fulfillment of their faith was to be found in the person of Jesus Christ and so it will be for us who live right now.
We are called to emulate their faith. We are called to press on, just like them. We are called to finish what God has called us. What has He called us to? He’s called us to a race.
All of us know something about races. Really, this is a foot race. Why are we to press on in faith? There are three reasons that I want to let you in on.
The first one is this, We are to press on because of the race. Look at the last part of Hebrews 12:1,
..and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Who is He talking to? He is talking to believers. He’s saying listen you’re going to race now. Before you were in a race as a hell bound sinner. You were in that race. Now you’re in a new race.
You all have to run it. God wants us to run it well, but there’s a way to run it well. There is a proper way to run a well. If you remember back in Hebrews 10:36, we all have a great essential need. What is that need? Hebrews 10:36 says,
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done all the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
That is what we need in this life. We need endurance. He uses the word in that passage as a verb meaning to persevere. To absolutely and emphatically persevere under all kinds of misfortunes and trials. While you’re doing that to hold fast your faith in Christ to hold fast your faith in the promise.
Hear the word in chapter 12 is in its noun form. It means steadfastness. It means constancy. It means endurance. Ours is a strenuous race. That the mans steady perseverance, constancy, and endurance and you’re in that race.
Now if you are a believer. You will want to take special note about three important facts concerning the race. The first one is found in verse one. It says,
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us now.
The first reason why we run this race is because we have witnesses. Someone who’s bore witness to something for our sake. Cloud here refers to a large massive flock of faithful people that have gone ahead of us and they are now in a sense a large heavenly flock.
At any time on the earth there’s just kind of a small earthly flock. They have finished their in heaven, there in the great crowd of those who’ve gone before us and live by faith and their innocence waiting for us.
The crowd of witnesses they are not surrounding us like spectators. They have gone on to their heavenly rest, but their past life that has been cataloged for us in Hebrews 11.
Their death, the way they died, how they looked at the future, how they looked at eternity eternity still speaks to us about what it means to be faithful and what faith really is. That is what i’ve been preaching on.
That’s what it is, when you look at their life. This is what faith is, this is how it looks when it’s lived out in your life. They were witnesses who have gone before providing meaning to our present struggle. They were witnesses who have gone before us to bear testimony to the certainty of our success.
They finished. They are with the Lord in heaven. We can finish. See it is an encouragement to us. The certainty of success in this race is guaranteed to the believer, but it doesn’t mean that God just does everything for you and that He runs the race for you. He doesn’t that. He says you run the race. You learn to live by faith in the promises I’ve given you, in the word I’ve given you.
You learn to trust Me in this life and show it in your life. That’s what faith is. Show it. Let me see evidence of how you live by faith.
They bore witness to the possibility of a life of faith. It’s possible live by faith. Even though when you look in the Word of God and you look at your life, it seems impossible to do what you’re supposed to do.
Here is this great cloud of people in heaven who’s done it and they’ve done it on less than we have. They didn’t have the whole canon of scripture.
They didn’t even have the cross yet in the sense, we have it. We have way more than them. That means that our race is more informed than their race and they made it.
The possibility of faith and living by faith is real and they bore witness to the faithfulness of Gods promise. That’s before the incarnation. They showed living by faith in God’s promise and God’s presence and God’s power is all worth it.
I don’t think any one of them would have said, ” I would do it different.” Every one of them are not coming back. Why would you want to? Every one of them are there in God’s presence.
See we run this race because we have witnesses that have gone before us for our encouragement and have left us with tremendous legacy to carry on the baton and keep going.
There’s a second fact in this verse about this race and it’s the nature of the race. Look what it says in Hebrews 12:1,
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of
witnesses surrounding us,
let us also lay aside every encumbrance..
and then it says,
and the sin which is so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Now the nature of the race is simply this that it is a race and that you are in it. I’m in it. You’re in it. Where to give all the effort that we can to cross the finish line, but get this it is not a race to determine how fast you run.
Neither is it a race that is competition with others. It is simply a race to determine success or failure. Success or failure on reaching the goal. The point of the race is not the one who is first. Because we have a great cloud of witnesses already there. The point of the race is finishing. You started it out, you believe in Christ, You’ve discovered from the Word of God that you’re in a foot race.
The point is finish the race. You’re not done until you’re in heaven. Don’t worry about that that’s already covered. It’s your concern to be responsible. It’s your concern to run the race.
So you see we need to think that the Christian life is a foot race. It’s more like a cross country race than any other kind of race I can think of. If you ever ran cross-country, cross country races have ditches.
They have rugged fields filled with briars. They have hills and steep declines. They have briars and protruding roots that you trip over. A cross country race has has all kinds of obstacles.
That’s how life is. That’s how the Christian life is. God never said that He would give you a bouquet of roses. He never promised that in scripture. He never promised that you would be healthy, wealthy and fine scripture.
Never. He promised this, that He will give you faith and He would enable you to run the race so you don’t run it on your own will power and your own power of the flesh.
You can’t do that. He promised that He would run the race with us. The purpose of this race is just to finish the course. Finish this long-distance race, despite the hardships, despite the exhaustion, despite the pain, despite what you’re going to go through because you’re a believer in this world.
Just finish. Part of running this race well is removing those things which will slow you down and hinder you from making good progress. See there is a next thing that the Word of God tells us about this race. The nature of this race and that it has hindrances to it.
We have to remove those hindrances. In fact, there are two general areas, which we must pay close attention. Then be deliberate about and responsible about laying those things aside.
What am I talking about. In Hebrews 12:1 it says,
..let us also lay aside every encumbrance…
Let me just stop there. Every encumbrance and encumbrance is a weight. That’s the literal word for it.
Weight, bulk, mass. Here translated in encumbrance to burden. It’s really an athlete in the ancient times who would strip for action both by the removal of extra body weight by rigorous training and by removal of all clothing before he runs. Therefore, nothing would hold him back.
What must we do according to this passage? We must strip off everything that impedes performance in our life. If you’re going to travel far you travel light. You probably don’t do it the first time but the second and third time when you travel long you travel light. You know why? It’s a burden to carry all those luggages all over the place, right? If you can buy it there, you buy it there. If you can send it ahead, you send it ahead, but you don’t carry it.
I’ve learned that. I’m learning that. The first time you go on vacation with kids and carseats. There’s more stuff in that thing just to go and spend a week somewhere.
It’s amazing. You got to get rid of the stuff. Before you were a Christian. These things did not hinder you. These things were part of your life. Now that you’re in the race, they must be discarded.
A hindrance is something otherwise good that weighs you down spiritually. In other words, it is not necessarily in this part of the passage of scripture sin that were talking about here. We are talking about looking to yourself.
Looking at your life, you now have come into this race. You now have trusted in Christ. You are now a believer. You have the Word of God in your hands now. You have the spirit of God living in you. Therefore, now you’re beginning to look at your life.
The Bible is saying listen. These are the things you must discard from your life. What are they? There’s no list here. Just look at your life. You have to make a massive adjustment as to how you use your time? what you think about? How you use your talents? How you use your resources? You have to think about all those things.
In fact, just look at your life. Look at the habits that you had when you come into the christian life. You may have to get rid of that habit. It may be just a habit of being lazy.
It may be the habit of being self-centered about everything you do. It could be earthly pleasures. That you were so involved with. It could just be your desire to have a leisurely fun.
You work and on Friday, it’s fun time. It could be just being on Facebook all the time and trying to figure out everybody’s information. What’s going on IN everybody’s life. It just consumed your time.
You may have to get rid of that or scale it down to a manageable. Why because it impedes your spiritual growth. It holds you back in the race. In fact, it sometimes gives you negative information and information for gossip that you have to get out of your life.
It could be blogging, internet stuff and video games, craving for good times, entertainment or self indulgences, or prosperity you desire to get enough money. So you can what? Be comfortable, live nice, right? So all you do is work to get money and get game.
So you can have worldly ease and you can take the path of least resistance. Well, if you’re in this foot race, and it’s like a cross country race, you have to be ready for the ditch in front of you.
You have to be ready for the tree that fell down not too far along the way. You have to be ready for those things. If you got too many weights on you, you’re not going to get there.
You’re not going to make it. You’re going to fall on your face. You have to look at your life. You have to say, “what is in my life that is not necessarily sinful that needs to go because it hinders my spiritual growth.”
Hinders my testimony for Christ. It hinders how much time I give to the Lord into God’s people remember when you became a Christian is no longer about you. It’s about us.
That’s why He’s using in this passage of scripture us us us us. It’s the let us bowl scripture. It’s the church. It’s about us, together, running the race. Keeping each other in the race.
It could be that you need to lay aside associations. Clubs you belong to. Groups you used to hang out with and maybe still do. Friendships. When I became a Christian lot of my friends went.
I gave them the gospel and I never saw them again. My life was different. I didn’t do what I used to do anymore. I didn’t like and desire what I should do anymore.
Friendships have to go. It doesn’t mean when you get stronger and grow you couldn’t have contact with them again but inn this whole different way, whole different manner of relationship because now you know what you ought to do, you know, what’s going on in your life, you know, you’re in this race and you want to run well. Sometimes friends have to go.
You can’t spend the time you used to spend you know why? They are living a totally self-centered and worldly life and their pursuits are totally different than yours. If you hang around with them, you will become like them.
Doesn’t mean that you’re not a believer, it means that they’re holding you back from what you could be and the spiritual growth God wants to accomplish in your life.
It will finally go because you’ll finally realize that groups of friends or other people, whatever it may be, the list can go on and on, you better look at your life.
I don’t know you, you know you, It is different for you than me. Along the way start discarding the stuff. So that you can run the race and it doesn’t mess up your mind.
So that it doesn’t clog up your thoughts. So the cross ever becomes clearer as you dump off stuff yourself wanted all the time. See, these are all weights and they keep us back from running the race.
We must shed them as an athlete sheds their tracksuit. When they go to the starting mark, you always see the athlete taking off his tracksuit getting down to the skimpiest little thing possible.
Why? Don’t want any resistance. That goal line. That’s all they have in their mind. Is that goal line. They have in mind in a sprint race of just finishing quickly.
In a long-distance Race too, it’s about the long haul. It’s about the pace. It’s about the obstacles along the way. It’s about thinking about your strategy. It’s about listen I got to watch out for my body.
I got to watch out for what I’m doing. I got to watch out if I have enough water. I got to watch out for all these things . Why? Because the goal is to finish. That’s what the goal is and that’s what the Christian life is.
It’s like some long clean robe in those days. It would have been not a tracksuit. It would have been some kind of long robe. That probably went down to the ground to keep their body warm.
That robe would be restrictive and they would have to unravel it from them and they would have to throw it off so that they could run. Could you imagine running in a robe? You would be falling all over your face in just no time. That’s the point. Get rid of those thing in your life. What are they? Start looking. If you haven’t been looking, look. This is practical stuff here.
Look in your life and get it out. Get it out. There is a second thing it says in verse number one, not only are we to lay aside every encumbrance, every weight, every burden, but we are to lay also aside the sin. Notice what it says,
which easily entangles us.
Little qualifier on that. We’re to lay aside the sin that easily entangles us. The word actually connected to this word
means surround you.
Ensnares you. Just a few buttons need to be pressed and you’re off in the sin. It doesn’t take long. What is it? By way of illustration. An illustration from the sundew plant.
You may not heard of that. It has a great illustration of entangling sin. Sundew plant is really a plant that flies like because it has a sweet nectar connected to it.
It oozes with sweet nectar. Of course, you know anything that is sweet you will have a lot of flies. When we were over there in Algeria they told us it was fly season.
I didn’t see too many flies. I put my half-eaten apple in front of me and I looked over and I couldn’t see the Apple. It’s one of those pictures there. They all were drawn to the apple and in a desert place there are not too many apples you’re going to find anywhere. Here the fly lands on the leaf of the sundew plant to taste one of the glands that grow there. Instantly three crimson tip finger like hairs bend over and touch the flies wings, holding it firm by a sticky grasp.
The fly struggled mightily to get free but the more it struggles the more hopelessly it is coated with adhesive. Soon the fly relaxes. In the flies mind things could be worse.
It extends its tongue and feast on the sundew sweetness while it is held there more firmly by more sticky tentacles. When the captive is entirely at the plants mercy the edges of the leaf fold inward forming a closed fist.
Two hours later. The fly is an empty sucked piece of skin. Isn’t that what sin is? Isn’t that how sin does it? Just kind of slowly get its sticky hands around you.
You kind of enjoy it, sweet, pleasurable. Then what happens? It entangles you and you can’t get out. Sin is bondage. That’s what it is. The Bible is saying to us here.
Listen, you need to
lay aside every sin that easily entangles you.
You must put it all, put off everything that hampers you from running this race.
These could be any sin, anything particular to you. That easily ensnares you. You have to ask yourself what sin easily ensnares me? Could it be anger? Little chip on your shoulder all the time and somebody knocks it off and you’re ready. You’re off.
That needs to be put aside. If you are a believer you can put it aside. Hatred may be?You always have the secret hatred going on for people in your heart.
They may not know it but you know it. I don’t like that person. I don’t like this girl. I don’t like that student. I don’t like this person sitting next to me.
I don’t like my coworkers. You do all that kind of stuff and yet you have to realize those are the very things you need to get out of your life.
Their sin before God. Criticism always. I never saw the spiritual fruit of criticism in scripture. Have you? It’s just not there. It doesn’t mean that we don’t objectively make arguments or in a good way help other people by correcting their behavior, by admonishment and rebuke. Criticism is different than that. Critical always critical about everything.
You’re the sun’s out it should be rain today. It is raining today the sun should be out. No matter what you say somebody will take the opposite approach. Maybe it’s covetousness.
You want what your neighbors have but you know, you probably will never get it, but you still covered and wish you had what they had. Maybe it’s laziness.
You’re just not motivated about anything. Especially not this christian race. Envy and lust. We live in a culture that feeds our eyes with images and sexual innuendo that temps both men, women and young people alike and it is entangling.
It needs to get out. It needs to be laid aside. Finally, why? because you know it’s holding you back. You know that it needs to be out. It could be slander, complaining, grumbling, hypocrisy, pride or just an unthankful spirit about everything. It could be greed. It could be as Hebrews brought out, unbelief. I know this is true but I really am not believing it. That’s not faith. That’s sin and unbelief leads to all kinds of sin. It leads to idolatry because you will end up making your own God and worshiping that God and call that God Jesus.
It’s not the Jesus of the Bible. It’s your own made idol Jesus. We have to be careful and cause a root of bitterness to rise up in us. Which causes a multitude sin to come out.
Whatever it is, whatever must be laid aside and left behind. Please do that. Why? It will hinder you from running the race. It will hold you back from running the race and no conscientious runner is going to keep that kind of burden in their life.
Many times runners who are really serious or going to take a long distance run, they don’t even have contact with people a week before they run. So they have no negative stuff coming into their mind.
Their full focus could be on running and seeing the gold and finishing. They lay aside those things for the purpose of finishing the race. The word of God often brings up, brings to the attention of the readers of scripture, these very principles.
For example, take your bible for a minute. Let’s look at a few passages. Romans chapter 13 Paul writing to the Roman church at the end of much theology that he is given in Romans begins in chapter 12, more and more in a practical level.
He says to the church in Romans 13:12-14,
The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
He’s staying there listen, if you want to grow and offer your body, in chapter 12, as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. You may know the good and perfect will of God.
Then you have to lay these things out, get them out of your life and lay them down for good. Lay them down and leave them there. Don’t go back and pick them up. A runner never goes back.
They always go forward. There’s another passage Colossians 3:8-10. Paul’s saying something quite similar to them and he says this,
But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him
Put on righteousness. Put on the right garment. You can’t be walking around, in a sense, spiritually naked.
There’s always the principle of lay this aside and don’t let there be a void. Fill that void with the right things. With the right way of living. In Ephesians 4:22-24 again Paul is writing to this church about living in the heavenlys. He says in 22-24,
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
James 1:21 says,
Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your soul.
1 Peter 2:1 says,
Therefore putting aside..
He is saying, if you don’t want the sincere desire of the milk of the word to be distinguished or extinguished or put down, then you got to lay aside these sins. Sometimes you can’t hear the Word of God because you got all this garbage in your life.
You got all this stuff in your life that you have to drop off. He says this to them, 1 Peter 2:1-2
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander, like newborn babies,long for the pure milk of the word,
He’s not saying here that a newborn baby longs for the put milk of word and that new born babies don’t need that anymore. He is saying that you, who are believers, always should be like newborn babies and long for the pure milk of the word. The unadulterated milk of the word. The word that hasn’t been fooled around with by men.
That’s what you need to desire. That’s what christians want. They want the Word of God. That’s what’s going to sanctify you and set you apart more and more to God.
In fact, it’s going to cause you to lay aside those weights. It says it says in 1 Peter 2:2
…by it you may grow in respect to salvation,..
This race. It’s far more important than you think because it has eternal consequences. It even shows who you are. It shows your desire on who you serve. It shows in your life what you love and what you’re not willing to spend your time and your money on. That’s what it shows All those things are very clear in your life and in my life.
Therefore, you need to lay them aside. Everything that handicaps you must be cast off and laid aside so that you are not needlessly hindered but run at peak performance.
That’s what he’s saying here in this book. These things, and things like them, can no longer be our focus. Look at Hebrews 12:2 We’re to look at ourselves but if we look at ourself too long, we’re going to get in trouble. He says in verse 2 very clearly that we are to press on because of the source and focus of the race. That is my second point. What is that focus? Simply this fixing our eyes on who? Jesus. Look to yourselves see what you need to drop off. Get rid of your sin and don’t keep your eyes on yourself. Now fix your eyes on Jesus. Focus on Jesus. The word actually warns us to be proactive.
It literally means to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something else. Look away from the distractions, look away from the sins and fix your gaze upon Jesus. Why? because Jesus, our high priest, imparts to us everything necessary to help us finishmthe race. That’s why you’re not going to get your strength from anyone else but Christ Himself. What does the writer in Hebrews mean by that? The second thing we’re to focus is Jesus as the source.
Hebrews 12:2 says we are to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of faith. He in other words the One who started it.
In Hebrews 2:10 it says there that Jesus is the author of faith. Another way of putting it is He’s the pioneer of faith. He’s the one who is the forerunner, the one who blazes the trail.
Hebrews 2:10 says,
For it was fitting for Him, for whom all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through suffering.
The son Jesus Christ had undergone infinite debasement in order to be in a position to meet the need of undeserving sinners. It was fitting for him because the grace that saves hellbound sinners does not come without a price.
Justice must serve a holy God. Payment cannot be simply overlooked. By the grace of God, it was necessary that Jesus fully tasted death for all of us. For what reason? So that He can not only be the starter of the process, but He will be the finisher.
That’s why it says it and verse number two that he is the author, the starter, the beginning but He is the perfecter the completer, and the one who finishes it.
The completer of faith. In Hebrews 5, the saving role of Christ as high priest accomplishes what no other high priest could have accomplished before Him. It says in Hebrews 5:9,
And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,
It was always through Christ that we would be saved. When Christ gives Himself as a propitiatory sacrifice He satisfies what God requires. God requires the death penalty for sin and is justice demands that life is poured out and Jesus is the one who pours out His life for us.
That means when a repentant person, sinner, obeys Jesus, the source of their eternal salvation, than God’s wrath and justice towards that person is satisfied. How? By faith. It starts by faith. It ends by faith.
Christ sacrifice then set aside sin. Purifies the people who come to Christ and makes them clean. Delivers men and women from judgment from God’s judgment and then averts the wrath of God and sends it off. Deflects it.
Jesus as the great and eternal high priest takes care of everything that pertains to our relationship with God. He also enables us to and empowers us to finish the race.
Hebrews 10:14 says,
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Jesus makes us complete and perfect before a holy God. Then sets us apart while we’re in this world for God himself.
The focus has to be on the cross and what the Lord done. Our focus is on Jesus but specifically Hebrews 12:2 It’s on His humanity. It says,
..who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,..
That’s what He did. That’s His humanity. That’s what Christ came to do that Jesus is the supreme encouragement to persevere in the race. Because Jesus in His humanity has something laid before Him.
He has joy set before Him. Some people may say what what is that joy? I believe it’s the joy of finishing. It’s the joy of what happens after the work is done. After the race is done. For Jesus to win His race meant the way of the Cross and that’s what Satan was trying to get Jesus not to do. Even speaking through Peter when he says get behind me satan.
He says you’re thinking like men. Jesus just told him I’m going to the cross. I’m going to suffer at the hands of sinful man. I’m going to die there and on the third day on the rise again, but they didn’t get it.
That’s the worldly way. Let’s avoid suffering in the cross and the hard way. Let’s avoid that. Let’s not go there, we will put our heads together and get another way going. That is what we try to do but to win the race Jesus had to go the way of the cross.
Are you willing to drink this cup that I’m about to drink? He said to his disciples. He meant the suffering and death on the cross. The joy set before Him was the glorification, the kingship, the enthronement and bringing many sons to glory once the cross was accomplished.
Abraham could not have been saved unless Jesus died on the cross. No one could have been saved if Jesus didn’t die there on the cross and satisfied the complete and full justice of the Father.
They could have never been saved. What does Jesus do? verse number two, He endures the cross. It’s a race. It’s suffering. It’s extreme suffering. It’s extreme pain. It’s extreme humiliation. For who? for His sin? No. For our sin.
That’s why we look to Jesus. It’s about what He did for us. What He did for us benefits Him. It says there too
despising the shame.
What is that? That is the shame of dying the death of a criminal. When you died on the cross you died as a criminal. As someone who has been found guilty, sentenced, and the penalty was death. It was a public humiliating shame before people who crowded around when someone was crucified. Not only that, the shame of dying the death of a criminal was only one part of it.
The other part of it was to be accounted accursed by God Himself. Cursed is everyone who dies on a tree. The curse of God. Jesus felt all that on the cross for us.
We can’t save ourselves. That’s ridiculous. No religious system that is void of the cross can save anybody. What God demands and what God says in His word is true. To persevere in the face of crucifixion is the supreme example for us. That Jesus sacrifice was so perfect,
so final, so sufficient that He gave all who believe in it a permanent justification before the Father and a continuous position before God that will be enjoyed forever. That cloud of witnesses, they don’t want to come back.
Do you want to leave this earth? or do you want to hang around? You know that it’s all about extending your life. Oh, I’ll live to 100 right? Is that no the gold today, but the problem is you’re going to die.
I don’t want to live that long. I’m going to live as long as God wants me to live and so are you. Along the way I want to be used by God.
I don’t want to be so encumbered by all my stuff and all my sins that I like. That all of a sudden somehow the cross doesn’t mean anything. To look away from myself and look at Jesus, the cross means everything.
In fact, this is the next thing it means verse number two. It says,
..despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The focus on Jesus is on His exaltation and His enthronement. He’s not only the crucified one but He’s the glorified one. He sat down and that’s in the perfect tense.
What does that mean? He’s still there. He’s still sitting there. Why? the plan of God’s not done yet, right. Thank the Lord it’s no. For many people have not entrusted Christ yet.
Jesus in other words
means Jesus finished. The work of salvation is done. After the work is accomplished Jesus sits down and He takes and assumes the position of authority.
To sit at the right hand or left hand signifies mite, majesty, and deity. The seat on the right hand and the seat on the left hand of a king are just another way of saying this is the two most dignified stations in the kingdom.
Sitting on the throne at the right hand of a king indicates that that person sit there and reigns alongside the king. Jesus Christ bears this designation and is equivalent to saying that He’s the ruler of the universe.
He is the author of salvation. He is the perfecter of your faith. He is the one who finished everything. If He endured the cross, He will enable us.
In all this we will need the help of Christ. Why? So we don’t slack. You know why? We’re slackers. You’re a slacker. Sometimes we just gradually let down our effort.
Why? Because we got all the stuff we have to handle it. We have these sins that we are not getting out of our life yet. Sometimes we just give out.
Here’s the next thing we’re asked to do and the last thing. looking for Hebrews 12:3 it says,
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Now this is different then saying fix your eyes on Jesus. This is saying to fix your thoughts on Jesus. Why? Because Jesus is the goal. We are to press on in the race because of the goal. Jesus is the goal of our race.
He is the companion along our way. He has reached glory because He has already made the journey. Endure to the end and reach the goal. He is now a reigning king and the Bible says here
for consider him
and consider means to think over.
It also includes to weigh. This is not some light thinking it’s some heavy thinking. What are we to consider about Jesus? We are to consider, number one, the perseverance of suffering Jesus underwent. The endurance He went through and suffered for your sake. Secondly, we are to considered the opposition that He encountered from sinners against Him.
Everybody was against Jesus. Read the gospels. He had twelve guys one was a demon for satan. They were people but they weren’t jumping on the bandwagon to follow Jesus.
He endured such hostility by sinners against Him. It really means to carefully estimate one object with regard to another. In other words, compare His unparalleled sufferings with the little you and I pass through on the earth. Have we gone through what Christ went through? Are we going to ever go through that? Let’s face it, Satan kind of has us in America because he makes us so comfortable and so safe.
When you go to another country that’s not like European you immediately sense a military presence everywhere. When we were in Algeria every mile it seemed there was a checkpoint.
They have these big metal things in the road that you have to go around. It’s kind of frightening. They can check your passport and say we don’t like you and take out in the side and shoot you and dig a whole in the sand and thats it. It’s over.
In America everything is just too soft and it makes soft Christians. I’m part of it. I’m part of that fight. That struggle. To want meaning in my life when it comes to serving the Lord with everything.
If I compare it and consider it in my mind, this is unparalleled suffering with the little that I have gone through, passed through, or will pass through. As it says in Hebrews 12:4 which I’ll pick up next time.
You have not yet resisted the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin. We’ve not gone there. In a very real way we don’t have to go there because our Lord’s gone there.
If we’re elect in the beloved were elect in Christ, right? He’s done what we could never have done. We therefor are to rely on Him for support and help.
Did It not already say in Hebrews that He comes to the aid of those who are hurting as the high priest. Doesn’t it say there that He understands more fully what you’re going through because when He was tempted He was tempted to the fullest extend. He never gave in. We give in way too soon.
We don’t even know the power of temptation. We just sin. Jesus resisted, and never gave in. The forces of hell against Him and He never gave in. He intercedes for you and on behalf of you He prays for you in His position in heaven. We know He is the perfecter of faith, who is seated at God’s right hand having endured the cross and shame for us.
We know that and that is something we ought to think about every single day. Why? Why should we do it? Well, here’s the purpose clause. The last part of verse number three.
That is the purpose clause. Overtime you see that it always answers the question why. Why do I do that? For this reason the purpose for considering Jesus. For laying aside encumbrances and sin. For looking to Jesus is so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In what? In the race.
That’s why. By considering Jesus it will prevent us from growing weary and fatigued in our race. Jesus will enable you to remain under and hold out even under the most severe trial.
Remember He has His hands on you. He has His hold on you as a loving father does. If you don’t want to or if there’s some reason you haven’t gotten the encumbrances out of your life and you haven’t taken care of your sin.
You know what it’s going to say next in Hebrews 12. God’s going to chastise you as a loving Father. He’s going to say you’re one of my kids you’re in the race and you going to live like that.
I’m not going to let you live like that. I am going to spank you. I’m going to spank you until you get it out of your life. I’m going to spank you until you get rid of the sin and I’m going to get it out of your life.
Then once you’re done with discipline, you’re going to find the joy of living for God are of being holy. Hebrews 12:10 says,
For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
God is not just saying, “Listen, if you wanted to take out the encumbrances and the sin that’s up to you.” No, He’s not saying. He says, “You better do it.” If you’re a believer you will do it.
You’ll want to do it. You’ll desire to do it. It’s holding you down in all kinds of ways in your life. It’s causing unnecessary guilt in your soul and it’s causing you to be ever so used by the enemy. To be a bad testimony to everybody around you. Christ starts our faith and lead it to its intended goal and confirmation. Christ fills us with faith.
Christ keeps us in faith. Christ perfects our face. Don’t slow down. Don’t sit down. Pace yourself and finish well. Lay aside everything that restricts endurance. Streamline your life and think upon Christ’s sufferings on your behalf and think upon His finish work and His exaltation on your behalf. As it says chapter 2 verse 10.
Why does He do that? Why has He done it for this reason. In bringing many sons to glory. What’s the goal? I’m going to glory. It’s based on nothing I’ve done or could have offered God in good deeds and works.
That is absolutely ridiculous. When you come to a passage of scripture like this. It’s by faith alone in Christ alone.
That’s how someone gets saved. It continues in faith. By virtue of Jesus suffering and death he has achieved the crowning glory, not only for himself but the crowning glory for us. I and you can finish the race. Can go to glory by God’s grace. That is by God’s blessing in Christ towards helpless sinners who only deserve His curse and wrath. By His grace, He’s given us His love. Amen. My friend, run well.
Run well the race and finish. If there’s one thing you can have on your tombstone. It should be this, “I finished well.” That would be a great one. Especially if it goes along with actually the evidence that you did finish well.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you. Once again for the awesomeness of Your Word. Lord, Your Word does cut down deep in our heart. It is sharper than a surgical knife. It does reach down to the recesses of our minds and our hearts that we don’t often go to. I pray, Lord, that you would bring to light, this morning, anything in all of our lives that would be hindering us in this race. I pray, Lord, this week that we would soberly think of what they are. Even list them and then pray, Lord, that you would enable us to make no provision for the flesh concerning that encumbrance or that’s sin. That we would put it to death by the power of Spirit who lives in us by the authority of the Word of God given to us and by our position in Christ Jesus.
I pray Lord that you would make us people who run well. Thank you. In Christ I pray. Amen.