STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
“Religion is a crutch for the weak.”
This comment is often made to disparage religious people, as though those who reject religion are somehow not weak. The truth, however, is that all humans are sinners, and so all humans are weak. And as such, all people have crutches that they turn to in their moments of weakness. Some turn to alcohol and drugs, while others turn to sinful pleasure or other amusements. Some rely on self-help techniques and practices. And there are also those who turn to various false religions, or mere “spirituality.” These things truly are crutches, and poor ones at that. But the expression, “Religion is a crutch for the weak,” does not apply to Christianity. It is true that we are all weak, but the Christian faith is no crutch!
It is faith that runs.
That word crutch is a fine description of the world’s attempts at dealing with sin and its consequences. All of the world’s crutches can only deaden the pain or mask the symptoms, but Jesus cures the disease! The Christian faith is not one of limping along; it is a faith that runs. The Bible repeatedly refers to our faith in this manner. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
(Proverbs 18:10) “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength . . . They shall run and not be weary.” (Isaiah 40:31) “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) And here in Hebrews 12 we are invited to “run with endurance the race that is set before us,” just as did all of those heroes of faith that we have read about in the previous two chapters. This is the “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us. The accounts of their lives are recorded there in Scripture for our learning. And those lives witness to the faithfulness of God’s goodness. Yes, this great cloud of witnesses testifies to the steadfastness of God’s promises of grace and mercy in Christ Jesus.
Those accounts of Old Testament believers reveal the race of faith to be one of endurance, but if we are weak, then where does such endurance come from? Our text gives the answer: look unto Jesus. Fixing our eyes on Jesus gives us the ability to run and endure the race of faith knowing that Jesus met sin and its curse head on for us, and He won! Through faith His victory has become yours! May God grant us the grace and endurance to run after Jesus, so that at the end of our race of faith we may gladly sing
My course is run.
My Jesus took for me
Upon Himself my guilt.
Upon the cross, the bitter, shameful tree,
For me His blood He spilt,
Thus by His death and grace abounding
For me a refuge surely founding.
My course is run.
My course is run. Amen! (TLH 599:2)
Chad Seybt is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming.