Hebrews 12:1-3 Running the Race to Jesus

I didn’t write a manuscript this week, below are my notes as i tried preaching without a manuscript for the first time.

Hebrews 12:1-3 Preaching Notes

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.

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.



1 Therefore,

b/c all folk in chapter 11 lived thru difficulty and even shined in their respective situations

b/c of all the unique hardships that were endured for the sake of remaining faithful to God

b/c we will one day join the saints of old


since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,

since we come from a line of faithful people both past and present

since we are not the first to have met trials and difficulties and to have withstood

we can take courage, we can bear up under hardship for the cross of Christ


Surrounded – like clothes on a body, wet suit on a diver, water in a swimming pool that can’t be gotten away from are our forebearers in the faith.  They have set the standard, broke the curve, set a pace for living the devoted life.


Great Cloud – hoard, throng, multitude, Seattle on a Mariners/Seahawks Game Day, Vancouver Cannucks Game.  A lot of people.

Rev. 7:14  These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

144,000 of them, that is 12×12,000 – the complete number from the complete number of tribes.  Symbolic for all God’s people.



  1. Our life can be faithful in our circumstances like theirs
  2. We should read and know the lives of the saints of the Bible and Church History to spur/encourage us on
    1. David Brainerd and his prayer, Mother Teresa and her acts of selfless service, Francis of Assisi and poverty for the sake of gospel, Brother Lawrence and living in the presence of God, Foxes Book of Martyrs and those who died for the faith, Amy Carmichael and caring for orphans.
    2. We should know more about these folks than we do about contemporary cultural icons, sports facts – RBI, %free throws.  These aren’t going to last, but our great cloud of witnesses will be there cheering us on, because they have already completed the course and are waiting for us.
  3. We are not alone.  Radical discipleship isn’t an anomaly, there are plenty of examples.  Don’t take cues from present, take them from the past and what God has approved.


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.

How we live faithful life, ridding ourselves of impediments, things weigh us down, keep us from being free to pursue God with abandon.

These are athletic metaphors refer to Greek games, particularly the first event, the run – only event to test stamina of athletes

Run naked, without robes, cloth that limit movement and get in the way of giving every ounce of energy

This is a marathan, not a sprint, it is a 100 mile extreme run, except this one tests endurance through years, decades

Gladiator or fishing metaphor, getting feet caught in net – story of first time working with fishing net in yard, totally tripped up, laying on floor.


Rom. 13:12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness…

Eph. 4:22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;

Eph. 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.


We have a race marked out for us – unique, calls us to Christ likeness and our race is not going to be the same as everyone else’s, there will be things we must give up that others can keep and things they give us that we can keep, but we must run our race.

“This [verse] was revolutionary [for me]. What it did (and I hope it does the same for you) was show me that the fight of faith – the race of the Christian life – is not fought well or run well by asking, “what’s wrong with this or that?” but by asking, “is it in the way of greater faith and greater love and greater purity and greater courage and greater humility and greater patience and greater self-control? Not [by asking]; Is it a sin?…[We must ask]: Does it help me run! [Or] Is it in the way?”  [Piper on Hebrews 12:2]


Race to be conformed to the Image of Christ, to the arms of Christ who is waiting for us at the finish line.

Take everything we have  –

1Cor. 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

         Won by prayer for self and others, takes others – surround by great cloud, can’t be done alone

Rom. 15:30 I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.

Spiritual first and physical second

Eph. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

That can be won – Others have won, Christ has won it!


Over the next few days, take time to seriously reflect on your life.  What has hindered you in devotion to God?

May be sinful activity – porn, alcohol, obsession with money, unforgiveness

May be something not sinful, but it is distracting – social media, video games, TV, movies

May be attitude of mind – concern for how others think about you, need approval, acceptance

Scripture gives very clear directions – cast it away.  Get rid of it.  You might say I can’t, its too hard, I am not strong enough, but you can, it will be hard, and you are right, you aren’t strong enough, but Jesus in you is strong enough.



2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,

Heb. 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.

Many things we could stare at: Television (35 hr/wk Nielsen[1]), internet 5 hr/wk Nielsen1, book, magazines (123 hr/yr US Census Bureau[2]) new born baby, waves crashing up on the shore, porn.

Things we stare at we become like, head towards, like driving car and staring off the road, find yourself in ditch, or try walking and looking sideways, find yourself pulled.  Why told “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”


We are told to stare at Jesus with no mind to the distractions of life

Horse on a carriage with blinders on so that he can’t see things coming from the sides or behind that would scare them

Intense focus and concentration, fighter pilot flying mach 9.6 X43-a, which is equal to 7000 miles per hour, <2 mps.

Glance and death is a high probability, standard cruising alt airliner 30000ft, ❤ seconds before hit ground


Stare the way you used to stare at a gorgeous girl in school, lost in pondering her beauty and what it would be like to be her beau

Stare the way you used to stare at the man of your dreams

Stare at Christ.  Contemplate him from every angle – his humanity, his divinity, his incarnation, his death, his perfection, his resurrection, his ascension, his reign, his suffering, his exaltation, his glory


the author and perfecter of our faith,

This is where it gets good

He is the writer of our faith, first born among the dead, salvation begins and ends in him

That means our faith can reach is ultimate destiny because it rests on/in his power, not our own

Sure we must cast stuff off, run the race, eschew sin, etc. but we can do it because he is at work in us

This is the doctrine of election, sanctification, glorification, perseverance of the saints all grounded in this phrase

We can complete the race because of him!


who for the joy set before him endured the cross,

We can complete the race because he completed it.  He could have easily taken residence with Father without ever incarnating, that would have been his joy but he choose to live our life first, a stopover in human form so that he could conquer sin for us.

Phil. 2:7-8 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross!

scorning its shame,

Christ paid no attention to what the world thought of him

Kept his eyes on the Father what he was doing and saying and he let the chips fall

He was willing to fulfill the Father’s plan even if it was painful and hard, for he knew pleasing the Father was all that mattered


and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

And so he is exalted

Phil 2:9-11 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

And he rules

And nothing will every thwart his desire again


3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,

so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

         b/c of Christ’s life that we are to reason and think about our own

can we expect anything different – if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also John 15:20

But if Christ could endure it, being fully man, we too can be strengthened to endure, to run to not get tired of pressing into holiness when all around us are unholy

We can live a dedicated life and the power to do so comes from our union with Christ, from thinking about him, making him the center of our thoughts and desires

Gal. 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Just as his exaltation didn’t come until after the hardship and the suffering, so our too will come when the race is finished.

2Tim. 2:11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;

It is easy in life to give up, to think that situational ethics are more important than holiness, or being approved by others is more beneficial than being approved by God.  It is easy to let the guard down and find oneself caught in the fishing net of Satan, but there is a solution.  Think on Christ.


Jesus humiliated offers Christians the supreme example  [vol. 47B, p. 429] of endurance whenever they experience humiliation. Jesus vindicated and enthroned provides certainty that Christians will also be vindicated when they demonstrate the necessary endurance, which validates the life of committed faithfulness.” [WBC-NT Hebrews 12:1-13 Explanation]



On this New Year’s Eve, take Hope.  Hope

b/c you are not alone, there is a body of Christ cheering for you and to which you can turn for encouragement and examples

b/c sin can really be defeated in your life.  It need not always haunt you!

b/c we can compete in the race and be victorious

b/c your faith will be perfected into Christ like beauty


b/c our Lord reigns and he will sustain you!

About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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