Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…
As we have seen thus far, the Bible places great importance upon steadfastness and faithfulness. In order to encourage us, the writer of Hebrews directs our attention to our supreme example – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
The Bible says that Christ – “…endured the cross, despising the shame…” While on the cross, Jesus suffered more than you and I can possibly imagine. First of all He suffered physically. Scripture teaches us that Jesus was beaten and whipped to the point that He was beyond recognition. Some believe that He suffered to the point that He no longer looked like a human being. In addition to His beatings, He also suffered the excruciating pain of the cross. Experts teach us that death on the cross was one of the most horrible forms of execution ever devised by man.
Jesus suffered physically, and He suffered spiritually as well. During His time on the cross our Lord cried – “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Mt 27:46) Scripture teaches us why the Father had forsaken His Son. The Bible says that while Jesus was on the cross, He became the object of His Father’s wrath against mankind’s sin. (see 2 Cor 5:21)
The cross was painful and shameful; yet Jesus faithfully endure it. How? The Bible says that He did so by focusing on the joy that was beyond the cross. What joy did Jesus see on the other side of His suffering?
- He saw the joy of doing His Father’s perfect will
- He saw the joy of being seated with honor at His Father’s right hand
- He saw the joy of us providing for us eternal salvation
- He saw the joy of us one day being with Him and His Father in heaven
The Apostle Paul was someone else who was well acquainted with the difficulty of the Christian race. Yet he, like our Savior, did not let suffering keep him from being faithful. In his letter to the Romans he wrote –
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:18)
Paul did not say that suffering wasn’t real, or that it wasn’t painful. He only said that the delight on the other side far surpasses the difficulty you and I might experience today.