The Perfect Example of Faith

Hebrews 12:1‑2  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 8
" 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, 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."-Heb. 12;1;2.
There is nothing that our hearts need more to be brought up to, than the practical exercise of faith. It is, essential to enable the saint to take his proper path and course through the world; and nothing in the way of light or instruction can ever supply its lack.
The measure of my faith will determine the measure of my devotedness and the acceptance of my service, whatever may be my path, as to outward circumstances through the world. " Without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that cometh to God. must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." The dispensations of God may change, and the light of divine revelation may vary as to degrees of clearness, but faith is the essential characteristic of those who are owned of God in every age.
All those witnesses that are spoken of in the eleventh chapter of this epistle, are presented to us as examples of the practical power of faith, and are spoken of for our encouragement in the same path; and the Lord Jesus is also introduced to us in the beginning of the twelfth chapter for the same end. For the particular aspect in which faith is presented to us here is, that it allies with God in a knowledge of His ways, and in obedience to His will; and that in a world of evil, which has its course in separation from God and in opposition to His ways.
But there is a difference between Jesus and these witnesses, and therefore the apostle singles Him out from them all, and says, " Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus." I may see Abraham, who by faith left his home and kindred, and sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country: or Isaac, who by faith blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come: or the wrestler Jacob, who would not let the angel go until he had blessed him: or Moses, who by faith turned away from Pharaoh's court and all its ease and honors, to share in the reproach of the people of God: these all, and more than can be enumerated, have run their race before, and they are set for our encouragement; but in Jesus we have a far higher witness. They, in particular instances and in trying circumstances, are shown in the exercise of that faith which sets the will of God above the love of ease, or the world, or life itself. But in the Lord Jesus, we have a witness, that in the midst of the rejection of every claim to that which was His right, and in the face of Satan's malice and seductive power, and the unmitigated hatred of the world, pursued His course even to the end without one faltering step.
But there is more than this in this blessed witness. In Him there is the needed grace to sustain us in our race; and in "looking unto Jesus," we get a motive and an unfailing source of strength. We see in Him the love which led Him to take this place for us-" who when He putteth forth his own sheep goeth before them!' For if a race is to be run, we need a forerunner in the course; and in Jesus we have one who did run before us, and has become " the author and finisher of our faith," so that in looking to Him we draw fresh and unfailing strength into our souls. But while Abraham and all the rest filled up their little measure in their several places, Jesus has filled up the whole course of faith; so that there- is no position I can possibly be in, no trial that I can be called to endure, but Christ has passed through it all before me and overcome." Thus I have got one who presents Himself to my soul in such a character as to know what grace I constantly need, and who will as certainly supply it. For having Himself overcome, He says to me, " be of good cheer, I have overcome." He does not say, "you shall overcome," but " I have overcome." Hence, we learn that however rough the storm may be, it only throws us the more thoroughly upon Christ; and so that which would have been only a sore trial to the flesh, serves but to chase us nearer to Christ.
Whatever, therefore, attracts our eye off Christ is but a "weight" and a hindrance to our running with patience the race that is set before us. When Christ has become the one object of our souls, we shall feel that whatever averts the eye but for a moment from Him is a weight and a hindrance in our Christian course, and must be got rid of. If we were to find a home in this world, instead of being strangers and pilgrims in it, nothing would be more proper than to gather around us the things of nature, in order to make ourselves a comfortable home. But if we are to be the followers of Christ, and to be running a race, the whole aspect of things will be changed. If I am running a race, for example, a cloak will not do; I must get rid of it. It is all very well at proper times, but now it is simply a weight, and I must get rid of it. It will hinder me in running, and entangle my feet, and that is just what I do not want; I must therefore throw it aside. It would seem strange in other circumstances to see a man throw away a comfortable cloak; but if he is running a race, it would be as strange to see him wrap it round him. Every bystander would tell him his cloak would hinder him, and make him lose the race.
Here it is that the effect of the Lord Jesus being thus presented to us is so encouraging. For whatever encouragement we may find in the history of the witnesses of the 11th chapter, it is only in the Lord Jesus that we find a source of strength. Hence our eye must be turned off from every other witness, and be alone fixed on Jesus, the true and faithful witness; and it is beyond all price to be able thus, at all times, to look to Him; it is above all price to know that there is not a trial nor a difficulty that I can pass through, that He has not passed through before me, and found the grace of the Father sufficient; and that He will, in looking to Him, not fail to supply all needed grace to my heart and conscience.
There were two ruling features that marked Christ's life down here: the exercise of constant dependence on the Father; and the undividedness of his affections. "I live (says Christ) by the Father;" and " that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment even so I do. ' The new man is always the dependent man; and the moment we get out of the spirit of dependence, we get into the flesh. When Christ was down here, He was the object of heaven; and hence the voice which said, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased;" and thus the divine person of the Lord is always being witnessed to, that He may become the object of our hearts. Christ, " for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame;" and this in dependence on the Father: and it is a comfort in running the race to know that we have all that He has accomplished, and all that he is as our resource.