Read verses 1-2
Q: What does the reference to “so great a cloud of witnesses” refer to?
A: All the examples illustrating faith in the previous chapter of Hebrews. They are not merely examples to us, but since they continue to actually live in the presence of God, their earthly example effectively becomes a testimony by which our own faith is measured. They are therefore “witnesses” to the quality of OUR faithfulness.
Q: What is significant about the author’s phrase “let us also lay aside”?
A: It’s encouraging us to put into practice the example of faithfulness of all these noted role models. A common behavior shared by all of them is that they made the choice to lay aside anything interfering with their ability to be faithful to God and God alone. They set aside earthly circumstances in favor of focusing on His will. So should we, in the same manner, choose to lay aside all distraction and sin.
Q: Is it enough to “run...the race”? Although we know we can do nothing apart from God, what is OUR responsibility in this relationship?
A: We must “run with endurance”. It takes effort and patience and persistence on our part—endurance. It’s more than just casual participation.
Q: How is it indicated here that God will help us to “run with endurance”?
A: “...fixing our eyes on Jesus...” To finish a race, one must focus on the end goal, in this case “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” who is the most involved in our successfully achieving this pursuit.
Q: How did Christ Himself provide to us an example of these very things?
A: He “endured the cross”. He saw beyond the temporary suffering to “the joy set before Him”. In other words, He was fixed on the goal rather than the temporary circumstances. “Despising the shame” means that He did not allow the temporal difficulties to overwhelm His faith that God would bring about all things for His good in the end.
Application: Do you seek “endurance” or “escape”? Have you considered what God is trying to accomplish through even the most difficult of circumstances, that there’s a greater purpose?