Pondering the Passages: Hebrews 12:1-3

This Weeks Memory Verse:  Hebrews 12:1 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.

This Weeks Passage:  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 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him 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 sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

So I’ve been up in the stands before rooting for my favorite team and favorite players. You have too. Sometimes the fans are on their feet applauding a great play. Sometimes they are trying to cheer their team on to greatness. Sometimes stunned to silence by lackluster play. Sometimes silenced because of worry due to injury. And sometimes vigorously booing because their team just stinks.

So I’m trying to imagine this cloud of witnesses from Hebrews 11 who are in the celestial stands watching me compete (so to speak) in the 2011 Spiritual Olympics. Are they on their feet? Are they stunned to silence? Are they on the verge of walking out? This passage begs the question, “How am I doing as I run the race that God has called me to?” Am I running well? Is the crowd on their feet or have they been silenced? Are they murmuring among themselves about the pitiful performance they are watching?

This is a picture I need to keep in mind so that I take seriously the rest of this passage and work diligently to run a great race. I have a tendency to get lazy and if I am not careful or deliberate then I fall into bad exercise habits – both physically and spiritually. Here are a few thoughts about the passage…

“throw off EVERYTHING that hinders” – this would be the stuff in my life that is not sinful – just not helpful. Even good things can be a hindrance. I would say that I have thrown off some things that hinder but not EVERYTHING. So difficult to do in the culture in which we live.

“the sin that so easily entangles” – Reminds me of the phrase “O what a tangled web we weave…” We (and by we I mean me) kind of play with sin. Flirt with it. Not realizing that all the while it is entangling me. And by the time I realize it, it is messy. So I end up trying to run this race for God with ropes wrapped around my legs. No wonder I get tripped up.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” –  I can’t even begin to tell you how easily distracted I get. Probably the thing that commands my undivided attention more than anything is a good movie – especially a riveting drama. And yet the gospels portray a a drama that is second to none – one that involves action, adventure, romance, and even some comedy. Me thinks I need to read the story of Jesus again “for the first time.”

“for the joy set before him” – One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is run a sprint triathlon (a  1 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run). I can remember pushing through the pain at the end, telling myself to just keep moving because of the joy I would have in finishing the race – which was true. I felt incredibly satisfied to accomplish my goal of completing the race. And yet this feeling will not come close to comparing to the JOY of crossing the finish line upon death and hearing the thunderous applause of heaven. Again as we ponder these passages I seem to be reminded to keep the goal of heaven ever present in my mind as I push toward the finish line.

“Consider Him” – Is there anything that I have ever gone through that even comes close to what Jesus went through on my behalf? I think not! But consider Him! Have I ever been mocked and spit on by an angry crowd? I think not! But consider Him! Have my friends ever denied knowing me because they were ashamed of me? I think not! But consider Him! Have I ever been stripped naked and nailed to a cross? I think not! But consider Him! Have I ever felt the wrath of God fall upon me because my sin so completely repulsed and disgusted Him? I think not! But consider Him! When I intentionally take the time to “consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men” I am forced to make a life transforming decision: Am I willing to surrender my allegiance to Jesus knowing that I may be called upon to endure what he endured OR do I just pack it in and say I’m not willing to pay that kind of price?

“grow weary and lose heart” – It is easy to start something strong and with enthusiasm, it is another thing to finish something strong. It is so easy to get tired and discouraged and distracted – especially in a race that can be so painful and difficult at times. I’m reminded again by these verses that not only do we need Jesus to finish strong but we also need each other to finish strong. We cannot run the race alone. We were not meant to run the race the alone. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us daily from within. We need the crowd of witnesses to cheer us on from afar. And we need the encouragement from those running the race with us to  finish the way that we started.

I’d love to hear what grabbed you as you pondered this passage. You can post your comments by clicking on the bubble at the top right. But if you have questions or thoughts that you don’t want to post but want to dialogue about then feel free to e-mail me at sreyner@Ridgecrest.cc.

Next weeks passage: John 15:1-8
Next weeks memory verse: John 15:5

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4 thoughts on “Pondering the Passages: Hebrews 12:1-3

  1. Kim Stewart on said:

    That was awesome. Your “consider this” section was particularly powerful and caused me to stop and consider yet again. As you know I tend to be a bit long winded when I write so I posted my personal comments on my blog. I wrote mine before reading yours. Its always so cool to see where ideas converge and where they diverge. Thanks again for doing this. It is very awesome. Love to ponder.

  2. Jennifer J Smith on said:

    Shay,

    I haven’t completely abandoned the Pondering. My Theology class has been stretching me in many ways. It concludes in another week. I hope to be able to add my thoughts to the post again once this class has concluded. I know this Pondering process will assist me in my next class starting Monday, Interpreting the Bible.
    Know that there are still those who are staying in the background still enjoying your Pondering.

    Jennifer J. Smith

  3. fran tucker on said:

    Here again is “therefore” so I went back to ch.11. I looked to see why they are called great. Their faith in GOD!!! CH 11 verse 13…” and they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. Vse 16…they were longing for a better country,a heavenly one.
    And now they are that “great cloud of witnesses” OOOHHH the faithfullness of GOD.
    I have to ask myself, Do I live a life that shows I am “in this world but not of it? When people look at me do they see the world or Faith in God? Do I live like my life on this earth is temporary?

    Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that entangles- I go back to the cloud of witnesses . Each one at some point was hindered or entangled in sin . This just makes me praise God even more for His Faithfullness. I have to praise my Reedemer for His forgiveness of the sin that entangles me. Then I think of His words to cast my burdens upon Him for He cares fro me. I can only sprint for a short distance on my own but with Christ supplying all my needs I want to run the marathon.

    “Fix our eyes on Jesus”:
    I got tickled as I read the next verses because I kept thinking of when I had my son Carl. I took Lamaze classes to have natural child birth. I was taught to pick a spot or object on the wall and let my focus be totally on it when the contractions came. I was in labor for 24 hours but it seemed like ETERNITY! I would take deep breathes and focus, focus ,focus. When I held my precious son in my arms nothing else mattered.
    Jesus is my “spot” , my focus and though the trials may come I am to keep my eyes on Him!!!! What is so beautiful to me is as He endured the cross His focus was on doing the Fathers Will- saving that which was lost MMMEEEEE!!!! I am forever His focus because He is my Shepperd, I am His sheep and He will never leave me nor forsake me
    I was the joy set before Him as He endured to redeem mankind.

    He sits at the “right hand” of God, the place of Authority. He is mine and I am His. Now that is fuel for the race!!!

    Father ,
    I praise you for never expecting me to run the race alone . You tell me in Zec. 4:6 ” not by might,nor by power, but by my Spirit” Father that is how I want to run the race.
    Please continue to reveal to me the sin in my life so I can confess and run the race my Author and Perfector has set before me. I love you
    Fran

  4. Susan Thayer on said:

    Run the race. Train for the race. Seperate yourself from everything that hinders you from running the race. It’s the seperate and train part that require commimentment and dilligence. I pray for more daily.

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