Right now my boy, Matt Baker, is bringing the Word strong in his preaching class. He is preaching from Hebrews 12:1-2, and though I was not allowed to come and hear him do his thing from the pulpit, I was blessed to hear some of what he gleaned from the text.
The author exhorts the believers to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” and to run “with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Matt was telling me that in the days of this letter to the Hebrews, athletes would compete in the nude. They entered the arena with these long, majestic robes, but when they came to run they threw off anything that hindered them. And more importantly, though they were naked (or neked as my boy Bert Watt from Georgia says), they ran without shame.
Verse two says, “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 author’s exhortation to run without hindrance was based upon the fact that Christ already ran the race, hanging naked on a cross, and in triumph, rose from the dead. In humility He took off His robe and despised the shame because the joy of obeying the Father was worth infinitely more.
The Christian life is often compared to running in Scripture. We are encouraged to run in such a way that we may win (1 Corinthians 9:24). And at the end of Paul’s life he says that he “finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7). Here the author of Hebrews tells if we want to run well we must despise the shame like Jesus did and run for joy.
In this passage we are encouraged not only to run with endurance but to run hard. We must throw off anything that hinders us even if it is strange to others, even if it makes us vulnerable, even if we are mocked or persecuted. This is a call to humility; to leave our robes to the side as we run for the joy set before us.
This verse is so convicting to me and all my insecurities. I am so afraid because I fear man. I am afraid of being ashamed in front of them. This is my robe of pride and I don’t want to lay it aside. But if I want to run well I must take off this robe of pride and conceit. If I could just look to Jesus and how He ran with reckless abandonment then maybe I can also despise the shame. Maybe I too can run with everything I am for as long as it takes until I reach my prize, the eternal joy of seeing Him face to face.
I want to despise the shame so I may run well. It is easier to despise the shame if we can just look at the joy set before us. The joy of being with the Father.
Post Script: I would rather youtube Matt’s sermon on this website. Maybe he will let me.