World English Bible translation
12:1Therefore let us also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 12:2 looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 12:3 For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don't grow weary, fainting in your souls.
In the last chapter of this epistle were listed some of the greatest men and women of Jewish history. They were lauded for their faith and for the endurance of their dedication to God. But, it was not only the great names of Judaism that were praised. There were also those that were unnamed that have suffered for their faith and yet endured until the end. There were hundreds and thousands throughout the decades that have given their life in this world in order to earn a better life in the next.
We are the inheritors of their faith. Christ is the foundation for all that God is building, but these men and women of faith are the bricks and the mortar. Or, as this passage illustrates it, they are a "great cloud of witnesses" that surround our lives in Christ. These great clouds of witnesses are not only worthy models for our lives, their examples spur us to live lives that are worthy of our heritage.
It is as though we are competitors in an ancient track meet. Around us the witnesses look on as we prepare to run our race. Now is the time to lay aside all encumbrances that may slow us down in the race. The sin and the unbelief that entangles us must be set aside. And the goal of our race, the prize for which we strive, is Christ - the author and perfecter of our faith.
It is Christ who has led the way and showed us the path of faith. Jesus endured the shame of the cross in order to accomplish that which God had given Him to do, even the saving of our souls. When He had accomplished our salvation, Jesus set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Christ is the one on which we should always concentrate.
There may be times when we grow weary. There may well be times when we are faint and feel as though there is nothing we would like better than to just give up the fight. But when we feel this way, we should remember Christ. Though the whole world had turned against Him and though all of His friends had deserted Him, He still endured until the end. He gave all that He had to accomplish the will of the Father. Can we who benefit from His sacrifice do less?
Who are the great cloud of witnesses that are watching you today? And what have you endured for the sake of God's will?
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