Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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. (Hebrews 12:1–2)
Hebrews 12:1–2 tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Part of our motivation is that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” These are the runners from chapter 11 who finished the race of life before us. They have come around to line the way and cheer us on because “apart from us they will not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40). When the last Christian crosses the finish line of death, Jesus will return and raise us together from the dead, made perfect (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
But we do not look sideways to the saints as we run. Our main motivation comes from looking straight ahead at Jesus. He finished the same race of human life. Only he never sinned, and so his race was perfect. When he finished his race, he finished our salvation. So we run, “looking to Jesus, the founder and finisher of our faith.”
When Jesus said “It is finished” (John 19:30) and died, he crossed the finish line. He became the “finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The resurrection was the elevation of the one perfect finisher to the podium called “the right hand of the throne of God” (verse 2).
This is where we look as we run — not to the side, but straight ahead, through the finish line of death to the one exalted for his perfect race.
There is more. We are told to look not only to his exaltation, but to his motivation. Joy. A joy so strong it made shame powerless. That is what we look at tomorrow.