Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
1. The author of Hebrews has described those, from Abel, Noah, Abraham, and many more, who lived by faith and were commended by God. Now the readers are addressed.
2. “Therefore” is a key word here, meaning that as those who went before were faithful, so we are to be as well. And those who went before actually “surround” today’s followers of Jesus and serve as “witnesses” to these now. (We must understand that this does not mean we are to pray to these witnesses nor ask for their prayers.)
3. Since we today, as in the days of the early Church, are to lay aside every distraction that would hamper our work and compromise our focus. And the image of the athlete comes to the mind of our Hebrews’ author, those who carefully and diligently are running the race. And the “race” is our Christian witness and ministry.
4. “Sin” clings so closely and this must be laid aside. Here all of us can identify as we constantly battle against the pull of the lure and power of disobedience, the breaking of the Law of our Creator. To do this requires endurance, which every serious athlete is aware of.
5. And how do we followers of Jesus do this? It is by “looking to Jesus” who is the “founder” and “perfecter” of our faith. He did this by going to the cross, despising the shame (He hung there naked and charged with crime worthy of death), and who is now “seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
6. Jesus is our strength, our encouragement, our Lord, that one great “Coach” who is urging us on.