“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great crowd 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, 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.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
Horses wear blinders on their eyes for a proven purpose, which obviously works: race horses, carriage horses, horses pulling wagons, etc. Horses are easily distracted, especially from their sides and from behind. If you want the horse to focus straight ahead, you use blinders on their eyes to keep them headed where you want them to go. Blinders allow them to fix their eyes, and hence their every effort, on the goal.
Our text in Hebrews emphasizes the many entanglements of sin, the enticing distractions of this world, which cause our eyes, and hence our energy and purpose, to wander all over the place; away from the prize which brings honor and salvation. We are easily distracted from the very best pursuit of our eyes and our hearts. We too need a type of “blinder” to direct our eyes in the right direction. What do you think constitutes the best blinder for we willful, wandering-eyes people?
The text tells us we are not lone actors on this life stage. We often are led to believe that we pursue our goals freely without blinders or constraints. All is open to our desired purposes. We can fairly freely pursue whatever and wherever our likes and dislikes take us. The world is open before us. And no one is really watching us with non-approving eyes.
But are we really our own? Are we master-free? That is, except for the false notion that you are master of your own destiny, captain of your own fate. Hebrews tells you, that is, if you believe the Hebrews’ author is addressing you, that you are surrounded, whether you know it or not, by a great crowd of witnesses, made up by the men and women of faith recounted in Hebrews 11. These are those who exercised faith in their God and the Lord Jesus Christ on the hostile battlefield of this world. They were tested, persecuted, challenged, martyred, all for their faith. They are your brothers and sisters, members of your family; they are your compatriots, your fellow soldiers, bound together with you, and, as you are told, “only together with you will they be made perfect.” They have a stake in your success! This is your personal audience, truly witnesses of your race and your perseverance. It is not fought in private, it is not done in a corner. They witness your race and your effort, and they encourage and cheer you on.
In essence, they act as your blinders, to keep your eyes on the prize and away from the entanglements of the hostile and seducing world. Your belief in this “crowd of witnesses,” stirs your conscience, your resolve, your pursuit to fix your eyes on your Captain, your Master, to fight the good fight, in concert with them, and, hence, with them share the victory and the glory.
You have a pursuit to engage, you have a prize to keep before your eyes. You must individually fix your eyes on Jesus. You must nurture a relationship with him, just the two of you, reading with him, praying with him, conversing with him, sharing your heart with him, listening to him, being rebuked by him, being led forward by him, and, especially, being loved by him. It is an exercise of faith, your personal faith, to believe he is, and that he is your rewarder; that you welcome this crowd of witnesses, and even know some of their names; they witness your perseverance, your walk of faith. You need to look on them as your fellows in a great endeavor, the endeavor that distinguishes your life, characterizing everything about you. You are a soldier of the Lord’s Army, and you actively and joyfully accept their witness of your fight.
Consider this great crowd of your witnesses as your blinders to keep your eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of your faith. Nothing, no one, not one thing or event, can separate you from him and his love for you.
“Simply trusting thee, Lord Jesus, I behold thee as thou art, and thy love, so pure, so changeless, satisfies my heart; satisfies its deepest longings, meets, supplies its every need, compasseth me round with blessings: thine is love indeed. Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what thou art; I am finding out the greatness of thy loving heart.”
(3rd verse of Jean Pigott’s hymn, ” Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting,” 1876)
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