“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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)
The Scripture does not conceal the truth that Christians will face hatred, sufferings, tribulations, or persecutions in the Christian race for the sake of Christ (John 15:18-19).
The Scripture plainly states, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12 NKJV).
“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22 NKJV).
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21 NKJV).
Nevertheless, the Scripture offers Christians the hope, comfort, and strength to run the race and endure to the finish line.
The Scripture explicitly presents the testimonies of the victorious saints who have gone ahead of us in the race to glory so that we may learn from them and find the strength and courage to march forward in the race.
Paul states, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4 NKJV).
Like every other race, the Christian race is not without rules or guidelines (2 Tim. 2:5). These rules or guidelines are well spelled out in the Bible.
Hebrews 12:1-2 – NKJV
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
First, the Christians running the spiritual race must lay aside every form of weight – anything that can hinder, retard, or slow them down while running the race.
Second, the Christians in the race must also lay aside the sin that so easily ensnares or entangles them.
Any Christian who always chooses to pamper or indulge the flesh in fulfilling its lusts and desires will not finish his race successfully and obtain his crown.
Third, Christians must run the race with perseverance or patient endurance.
Like Apostle Paul, you must press on in the face of suffering, tribulation, or persecution, forgetting those behind you and reaching forward to those things ahead.
You must always press forward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12-14).
Above all, the Christians running the spiritual race must continually, consistently, or constantly look unto Jesus.
The Scripture commands every believer in the Christian race to be “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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2 NKJV).
No one can finish the Christian race successfully or victoriously without fixing his eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to be looking unto Jesus while running the Christian race?
The word translated as “looking” in Heb. 12:2 is the Greek word “aphorao,” and it is from two words, “apo” and “horao.”
The word “apo” implies “separation” while the word “horao” implies “to see with the eyes; to see with the mind, to perceive, know; to see, i.e., become acquainted with by experience, to experience; to see, to look to, to stare at; to take heed, beware, to care for, pay heed to” (BLB Lexicon).
The word “aphorao” implies “to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something.”
Therefore, looking unto Jesus Christ implies turning your eyes or attention away from all other people or things and fixing them only on Jesus Christ. It speaks of keeping or setting your heart, mind, or affection only on Christ as you run your race.
It simply means to constantly, consistently, and continuously seek to see, perceive, know, and experience Jesus Christ more deeply, intimately, and increasingly and to listen to His voice, words, commands, or instructions as you run the Christian race.
Why must Christians be looking unto Jesus Christ while running the race?
Firstly, God the Father from heaven called our attention to Jesus Christ, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5 NKJV).
Therefore, not looking unto Jesus or listening to Him above anyone else rejects God’s testimony concerning His Son, thereby calling God a liar (1 John 5:9-11).
Secondly, Jesus Christ is the author and the finisher of our faith, or the Pioneer and the Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10).
The Lord Jesus was the first to run and successfully finish the race we are called to run. He was the first to tread the path we are called to walk. He was the first to bear and endure the cross we are called to accept and endure daily. He was the first to live the life of faith we are called to live (Heb. 2:10, 5:8-9).
In the Christian race, the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Perfect Example, Model, or Teacher worth looking at steadfastly, obeying and trusting implicitly, emulating completely, and trusting and following wholeheartedly (Heb. 4:15-16, Heb. 2:10-11).
While it is good to learn from the saints of old and contemporary saints, we must be very wary of mindlessly following any spiritual leader or obeying him implicitly. The Scripture admonishes us to follow or imitate men as they follow or imitate Christ.
Paul cautions, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1 NKJV).
Thirdly, we must continually and steadfastly fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ lest we become weary, fainting, and discouraged in times of trials and tribulations.
The Scripture admonishes, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Heb. 12:3 NKJV).
While your fellow Christian in the race may not understand what you are going through or may not be available or able to offer you any encouragement, support, help, or succor when you need it most, the Lord Jesus is ever-present with you. He is always willing and ready to encourage, comfort, strengthen, or help you in the race till you finish triumphantly.
Therefore, it is wise to turn your eyes away from mortal men and fix them only on Christ, who can never forsake or fail you.
The Scripture assures, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15 NKJV).
“For inasmuch as He has Himself felt the pain of temptation and trial, He is also able instantly to help those who are tempted and tried.” (Heb. 2:18 WNT).
Beloved, God has set the Lord Jesus Christ before you as your perfect and ultimate example and standard. Therefore, as you run the race God has set before you, ensure that you fix your eyes constantly, consistently, and continuously on the Lord Jesus Christ.
At the end of your race, in the presence of God and His holy angels and saints, the Lord Jesus will deliver your imperishable crown to you, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matt. 25:21 NKJV).
Friend, the Lord Jesus is saying to you, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” (Rev. 3:11 NKJV).
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me a Perfect High Priest, Christ Jesus, who can sympathize with my weaknesses and help me when tempted. Help me, Holy Spirit, turn my eyes away from all others and fix them steadfastly on Christ alone, in Jesus’ name. Amen.