The secret of our victory in the race of life is not trying harder, being more dedicated, practicing more, struggling more fiercely, but rather trusting more deeply. Hebrews 12:2 reminds us that it’s looking to Jesus, the ultimate savior, that is the answer. It says, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Looking to Jesus, as the children of Israel looked to the bronze serpent lifted up in the wilderness, was the way of healing and salvation. Jesus endured the hardships of his calling as this verse says, “…for the joy that was set before him.” We know what that joy was. It’s as Long says, “The goal of the race for Jesus was not only a seat at the right hand of the throne of God (1:3; 12:2), but the joy of bringing with him the other runners, of ‘bringing many children to glory’ (2:10), of crossing the finish line and saying, ‘Here am I and the children God has given me.’ (2:13).”[1]

We often want to see this passage depicting Christ and his endurance through suffering to be the example for us to follow. I think not. Lenski doesn’t think so either and for the same reason. He writes, “Rationalism and modernism rob Christ of his deity, reduce him to a mere man, and thus depict him as being no more than a perfect example for us to follow. But what good does a perfect example do us who cannot possibly achieve perfection? We need vastly more than a perfect example, which by its very perfection may well cause us to cry in despair: “We cannot hope even to approach such an example!” From start to finish we need the divine Christ as the One who can fill us with faith, keep us in faith, and finally crown our faith.”[2]

Jesus “endured” the sufferings associated with the cross along with the ridicule and scorn of sinful men. Thankfully, none of us, and none of the Hebrews of old suffered in the same way that Jesus suffered. Jesus however, is not an example for me to follow. Again, I side with Lenski who says, “This is again reduced to an example by some: as Christ was crucified, so we should suffer; as he looked beyond the cross, so we should; as he sat at God’s right hand, so we shall receive glory. Such are ‘the lessons’ we should learn from Christ. We refuse to accept such a reduction.”[3] Jesus is the founder and finisher of our faith. Our confidence begins in believing in what he endured for us, and will end in our confidence and assurance in what His work has accomplished for us when He presents us holy and pure to the Father in the Kingdom of Heaven.  The race for me is to remain firmly fixed on the full sufficiency of Christ’s victory over sin and death on my behalf.

[1] Thomas G. Long, Hebrews, Interpretation, a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997), 128.

[2] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James (Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern, 1938), 428.

[3] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James (Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern, 1938), 429–430.