by Pastor Mark Jordan
“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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2a, NIV)
Today is All Saints Day. This is the annual celebration in faith remembering those who have gone on to be with the Lord. It is a day that can bring back folds of memories as we grieve loved ones, but look forward in faith to the time when we will all be united in heaven.
Today’s passage is an important one. It refers to life like a race that we are running where Jesus himself is the finish line. Jesus modeled perseverance, and encourages you to keep running. Can you imagine seeing him standing there, cheering you on, telling you that you can make it? He is reminding you to breathe, keep your pace, and run with purpose. Jesus isn’t alone, though. All those who have gone on before you joined Jesus on the sidelines, cheering you on to your finish line. They are your great cloud of witnesses, standing alongside the Lord, calling your name, and motivating you to keep running.
One of the things I love about this passage is it comes on the heels of a listing of the saints; names you’ve probably heard before, like Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Imagine those figures standing on the sideline, cheering your name. Standing alongside them are your ancestors and loved ones. Maybe your grandparents, and parents. Maybe a sibling. Perhaps a child. A host of friends, all standing there cheering you on, pointing you to Jesus. All these saints leading you on for your race, cheering you on to your finish line.
There’s one more important point to make here, and that is that the runner needs to throw off the things that hinder and entangle. You don’t want to wear bulky clothes, or shoes ill-fitted for the race. Spiritually, you don’t want to weigh yourself down with the sin that seeks to slow you down at best, or trip you up at worst. Still, Jesus stands ready to help…forgiving your stumbles, lending you a helping hand, and healing the inevitable bumps, bruises, and skinned knees. And your great cloud of witnesses is there, too, helping every way possible.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for my great cloud of witnesses helping me along the race of life. Forgive me the times I get hindered and entangled, and through your mercy, help me to throw off everything ill-fitting for the race. I know Jesus is my finish line, and I thank you for all those who have gone before me, cheering me on to you. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.