Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
The metaphor of running the race is a common one in the New Testament. It is used here, and Paul makes regular athletic references to encourage believers to be disciplined and committed in their pursuit of the righteous life in Christ. This passage is unique in that it gives us some powerful external factors to consider. It lets us know who is "watching" our race.
The first group of spectators is found in the past example of a vast group of "witnesses'. Obviously the "cloud" referred to here are all the Old Testament saints whose examples spur us to faith in Chapter 11 of Hebrews. And they testify to us of the faithfulness of God. They have run the race and their inspiring stories keep us moving on at a good pace. They are also witnesses of our run, watching from the stands and encouraging us to continue and to run at our very best.
The second factor to consider is the goal of our race and just Who awaits us at the finish line. We are looking to Jesus, whom the text says is the founder and the perfecter of our faith. It is His example that sets the race course for us. And it is His strength and coaching that will strengthen us to have a good run. He showed us that the race is not easy, but it is rewarding.
Jesus will help us through the most difficult parts of our run through life. He endured a cross for us. We can endure the race for Him. He despised the shame and suffering in light of our salvation. We can "suck it up" and face public scrutiny for His sake. He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. And we see Him there, cheering us on from the finish line!
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13