The recipients and readers of Hebrews were up against a struggle. They were starting to doubt what they believed. They started to wonder whether this Christianity thing was all it seemed cracked up to be. They were having second thoughts about whether Jesus is really better than Moses, or better than Joshua, or whether the new covenant was really better than the old covenant, and they were pondering the idea of quitting the race of the Christian life altogether.
Our author steps on the scene with these wonderful verses and says, no, no, no, keep on running. Following Christ has cost some of them and they want to quit. Some had lost property; some had lost their freedom (imprisoned); some of their friends had lost their lives. They’re wondering if it’s worth it and if there’s a way to cope with the brutal realities of life. The writer wants to bring us to a place of resolve: Jesus is truth and I will live for God’s glory.
So how’s our author going to do that today? What is he going to lay out before us in this passage to help us run? Here’s what’s fascinating. Our author does something very interesting here. He pulls into his discussion imagery from the Greco-Roman world of athletics. He actually paints a picture here, a picture he knows his audience would resonate with, saying just like in the earthly world of physical running you need certain things to succeed, so in the spiritual life and the spiritual world of running you need certain things to succeed.
First you need fans and fellow athletes to cheer you on, second you need freedom from entanglements, third you need focus on Your Champion, and then fourthly you need a finish line to run to. Fans, freedom, focus, finish line.
Fans to cheer you on. Freedom from entanglements. A Focus on Your Champion. A Finish line to run toward.
The spiritual athletes showcased in chapter 11 are ushered off the track and into the grandstands for chapter 12, where the author of Hebrews pictures them cheering us on as we take our places in the race. In Hebrews 12, the writer gives the baton to us. It’s your race now. How will you run?