Read: Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
What Does it Mean?
The writer of the book of Hebrews (no, we don’t know exactly who wrote it!) reminds us that we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” and, because this passage follows chapter eleven, which is often referred to as the “Hall of Faith”, we know that these aren’t just onlookers or spectators – these are witnesses who are bearing witness to the fact that God can do the impossible, that faith in the things not seen isn’t just one of those Christian phrases that doesn’t mean anything in reality. Those guys in the Hall of Faith went through trails and struggles, but God came through – maybe not in the way they imagined He would, or in the time-scale they would have liked, but He came through nonetheless.
The passage continues to build a picture of a race. We’re the runners, the Hall of Faith is there to cheer us on and encourage us, and that means that we can throw off the heavy, entangling weight of sin and fear and doubt (and whatever else it might be that could trip us up) so as to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. My race will look different to your race. In fact, everyone’s race will be unique to them, because God doesn’t use copy and paste when He plans out our lives – He treats each of us as the unique people that we are. But although the race – the terrain, the gradient, the distance, even – will be different, the goal for all of us is the same. Our prize, the writer of Hebrews tells us, is Jesus, who is “the author and perfecter of our faith”. When our eyes are fixed on the prize, we will “not grow weary and lose heart”.
The writer of Hebrews makes a big deal about future hope. As humans, we have a frustrating tendency to spend a lot of time looking back or even wanting to go back, but what we need to do is look ahead by faith. To look ahead means to trust – trusting, often, in things that we can’t yet see but that we have faith for. Trusting Jesus and fixing our eyes on Him as our prize (and eternity with Him as our goal) is a catalyst to releasing His power in our lives. We can trust Him because He has run the race – not our race, but His personal race. He became flesh and endured shame and suffering – but the key is that He endured and finished His race, and when He was done, He sat down at the right hand of God the Father. That’s what we have to look forward to – eternity.
The Bottom Line
When we fix our eyes on the prize, on Jesus, our race, with all its sorrows, trials and troubles (as well as joy and blessings) doesn’t get easier, but our attitude towards it is altered and we can move from looking back over our shoulders to focusing on the future. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, He increases our faith and enables us to run the race.
Do you find yourself looking back as you run your race? How does that affect you?
How does it make you feel to think that Jesus is cheering you on?
Do you, or have you ever, felt weary or lost heart? How does fixing your eyes on the prize change that perspective?
What does it mean to trust completely and have a continual attitude of faith?
What happens when you take your eyes off the prize?