Several years ago, I took up running. I had never run beyond what was required of me in school PE class, and then only begrudgingly. I needed to make a change in my health and running became that change. When I began, I could barely run the distance between two light poles without huffing and puffing uncontrollably. My brother happened in be in Marine boot camp at the time. Each day when I went out to run, trying to go just a little bit further than the day before, I thought of my brother. His experience was certainly more challenging than trying to run a single mile without stopping. Somehow, his perseverance inspired my own.
In Hebrews 12:1-3, the author encourages believers to get rid of all distractions and persevere, fixing their eyes on Jesus. Jesus sets the example of persevering obedience in the face of hardship. His entire ministry was directed toward the empty tomb, but he had to pass through the cross. During the week of his death, his eyes were fixed with unwavering focus on the task set before him: submitting to death for us and for our salvation in full trust that God would raise him to new life as a foretaste of the redemption that awaits all Creation.
No doubt, his disciples and other followers struggled to understand his steadfast focus. Why come to this dangerous city where those who seek your life await? Why not allow the praises of the crowd to initiate a movement to bring about change? Why not assemble your followers and overthrow the Romans once and for all? But no. Jesus’ eyes were fixed on the race set before him. He would endure shame and suffering in obedience to God, to set Creation free.
This Holy Week, let us look to the persevering obedience of Jesus and fix our eyes on him, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. May we find hope in Jesus’ example and trust that the Lord has not called us to something he will not empower us to do. Do not grow weary or lose heart, Beloved. Eyes on Jesus.
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Grace and Peace.