1 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12: 1-3 (NIV)
Whenever I think of Palm Sunday I recall the scene from the 1979 movie Jesus Christ Superstar when Jesus comes into Jerusalem knowing his fate. The crowd is waving palm fronds and singing “hosanna, heysanna, sanna, sanna, hey.” They seem to cheer and jeer at the same time and for the audience, who also knows Jesus’s fate, this scene is awkward and troubling. We know that Jesus could have avoided the cross, but then prophesy would not have been fulfilled and there would be no basis for the Christian faith.
These few verses in Hebrews 12 are so powerful. Verse 1 tells us that life is a marathon, not a sprint and we should let go of things that hinder and trip us up. Just recently I told my husband that one of my biggest regrets is not hiking the Appalachian Trail. Long-distance hiking is an analogy to this verse. Nearly every hiker packs for the trip with every possible scenario in mind. They bring all this extra gear in case this happens or that happens. What really happens is they start out with a 75-pound pack and that weight drags them down. There are boxes at the shelters filled with things the hikers no longer want to carry. It doesn’t take long to realize the lighter the load, the easier the hike. This is what sin does to our lives. It makes it heavy and difficult to move forward.
God calls us to persevere though and finish the race he has called us to run. Just as hiking those first few hundred miles gets you in shape to walk the entire 2,200-mile trail, walking in God’s grace prepares you to run life’s marathon. God doesn’t promise everything will be easy once you follow him, but he will give you the strength and hope that the struggle will be worth it.
Jesus knew what he faced when he arrived in Jerusalem. He knew he would face the pain, scorn, and humiliation that came with the cross. He even asked God to change his fate:
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NIV)
Hebrews 12:3 says that Jesus endured his fate so that we would not grow weary and lose heart. What is the opposite of growing weary and losing heart? It is hope. Jesus died to give us hope.
When Jim and I hiked across England in 2015, we faced a “mountain” the third day into our trek. I remember standing at the bottom filled with doubt that I could make it to the top. Side note: the “mountains” aren’t that high in England and they do not use switchbacks. It is ALWAYS straight up and straight down! Jim told me to take my time and just do it at my own pace. He even carried my pack to make it easier for me. I remember thinking I would just do it 100 steps at a time. I would count 100 steps, stop and rest, count another 100 steps, rest, another 100 steps, rest, over and over again until I made it to the top. It took forever but I finally made it to the top. When I got there, I turned around and looked at the vista I had just climbed and burst into tears. It was so beautiful and I realized that every step had been rewarded with this magnificent view.
Jesus was able to look past the cross and see the glory that awaited beyond. He carried the burden so we can have the view.
Women of the Bible Blocks 15 and 16
Block 15 represents Miram, who was the sister of Moses. She is mentioned in Exodus. Block 16 represents Deborah, who was a judge. Her story is told in Judges 4:1-5.
For those of you who are Christian, I wish you a blessed holy week and if you are Jewish, Chag Pesach sameach!