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42) Hebrews - Chapter 12:1-2
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Therefore let us also seeing - This is done with our spiritual sight.  We have just gone through God's memory album
to behold the monuments to the saints of God.

We compassed about - Whatever way we are turned in trials or tribulations, there before us are people who had to
suffer like experiences or more.  As Israel was under a cloud on the way to Canaan, so are we surrounded by the
breath of all time.

"Cloud" is a classical metaphor used for a multitude.  Homer speaks of "a cloud of footmen, a cloud of birds, and a
cloud of horsemen."  Livy speaks of "a cloud of footmen."  "Witnesses" refers to those of Chapter Eleven (Hebrews).
It does not mean that this crowd is watching us.  Our feeble efforts surely would cause them too much anxiety.  A
witness is used as a bit of evidence for us, but not necessarily a present observer of us.  We are surrounded by
these great examples of faith.  In the midst of such a company how can we shrink back?  Some feel that a
grandstand of present people is meant, but I think the word "great" refers back to Chapter Eleven (Hebrews).

Lay aside every weight and sin - The figure here is that of a race, which requires light equipment.  The "weight"
would be burdens which delay or impede our progress.  An Olympic competitor strips himself of everything but
essential equipment in order to run his best.  You may hear people say, "What is the harm or sin in doing this or
that?"  Is it a weight, a sin, or a wing?  "Does it help or hinder?" is a good question.

Which doth so easily beset us - Some sins are besetting sins.  Someone once called this "upsetting" sin.  Sin so
easily sets in our lives.

Sin is as natural to the flesh the moment you take your eye off Christ you have the certainty of the sin besetting you.
The sin will be different with individuals.  Each one must lay aside his own peculiar weakness and sins, and run the
race.

Let us run with patience - "Patience" is also translated "steadfastness."  Look at the examples of it.  Moses chose ill
treatment with God's people rather than sin, David proved true in great danger as Saul sought his life, Paul says,
1st Corinthians 9:24-26: "I therefore so run as not uncertainly."  See Philippians 3:12-14, Acts 20:24, 2nd Timothy
4:7-8.  First we had the preparation for the race; now the running.  A race has three stages:  preparation, patience
and prize.  The figure is a race that requires endurance, for it pictures the Christian's life.  Sin will slow us down in
the Christian race.

That is set before us - The course is set for us; we have to run under every condition that befalls us.  The runner
does not prepare the course; he runs.  The runner prepares only himself, not the course.  We are not to complain
about our race, but rejoice in the privilege to run because of the cloud of witnesses, the reward and the company
who run with us.

Looking unto Jesus - this is the Goal.  Keep your eye on Jesus as you run.  Many an athlete has lost a race by
losing sight of the goal.  He is our Peacemaker.  This gives us our strength, our second wind.  With eyes on Christ
we see the perfect Example and Energy for the Way.  Christ is not only the beginning of our race but the Finisher
likewise.  This word, "perfecter," also rendered "finisher" occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.  It means a
completer, perfecter, or finisher.  It carries the idea of one who brings any plan to its full and perfect consummation.

Who for the joy that was set before Him.  Joy in spite of suffering.  Isaiah 53 pictures Him as a Man of sorrows and
acquainted with grief, yet He was joyful to bring salvation to the world.  Philippians 3 pictures Christ's glad
willingness to show the love of God to the world.  A bitter, cruel experience was endured by Him so that He might
bring joy into the world.

McKnight says it was not a joy which He was in possession of, but one to be received.

Endured the cross - Jesus' race required some endurance likewise.  His race course was set for Him and He faced
it.  Angels could have rescued Him.  Matthew 26:53.  His disciples tried to change His course.  Luke 9:51.

Despising shame - He endured the awfulness of the cross, and the shame of sin.  He did not rejoice in it, but
despised it.  This verse lends credence to a later phrase interpreted, "endured such contradiction."  Joy was in it,
but shame was there, too.  It is impossible for us to understand how Christ was joyful in the saving of those who
were His enemies.  While we were sinners Christ died for us, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of
God.  He ran His course and this was His privilege, to be seated at the side of God.  If we run our course, someday
we will have the privilege to be where He is, John 14:1-4.