Wednesday of Holy Week (April 12, 2017)
Hebrews 12:1-3 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
John 13:21-32 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”
The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. So Judas left at once, going out into the night.
As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once
Keeping our eyes on Jesus…This passage from Hebrews is a favorite of mine, probably even more so since I run as a past time. We often fix our focus in this passage about stripping off the weight. Yes, that is important. I know that over this winter I have put on some pounds and that has kept me from running as fast as I would like. The extra weight is like sin – it weighs us down – it trips us up and keeps us from running this life the way that we would like. It’s also important to remember that this life is an endurance run – not a sprint. You run an endurance run – like a marathon – much slower – much more steady – than you would a sprint – not that some of the elite runner run a marathon as fast as I would a sprint. I don’t even know what a five minute mile would feel like – and they run that for 26 miles. While it’s not what they might call a sprint, but I certainly would.
Let’s zero in on the next part, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…” How to we win an effective, Christian race? We fix our eyes on Jesus. Jesus is the prize. There are times when I am running that I cast my eyes downward…there are times that it is discouraging to look at how much further you need to go – especially when you can see two or three miles in front of you. But that doesn’t make for the most effective running form. Proper posture is important in running – keeping your head up and body straight is important.
If we fix our eyes on Jesus, he will help us run with endurance-he will help us be a champion. I love the way the writer of Hebrews calls Jesus the initiator and perfecter of our faith. Jesus is the one who does the work in our lives, so let’s keep our eyes on him. We also see that He is our great example – He had joy in the midst of facing the cross – this is not a happy, go lucky, pollyanna-ness…no…it is know what awaits on the otherside. Jesus, knowing that the salvation of humankind was at stake, endured the cross, endured the shame, endured the humiliation. There are times in our lives when we face the same things as followers of Christ and it is at those times that we need to follow Jesus and keep our eyes on Him. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people, then you won’t become weary and give up.”
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.