Hebrews 12:1-13 … Following the “faith chapter” of the Bible, we enter an even greater portion of Hebrews. The writer has illustrated the importance and power of faith through historical figures who have all passed away. The expression we use in our contemporary fallen world is that “they’re all dead persons.” But consider for a moment an incident we’ve mentioned before when Jesus was refuting an argument from a group of Sadducees (Luke 20:27-40) where He quoted from God’s word to Moses at the burning bush. Referring to long dead patriarchs of Israel, God said (Luke 20:38 … talking about those we call dead people): “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” That’s the theme as Hebrews 12 opens with these great words: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great a cloud of witnesses … let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” This is a great call to action; to be faithful to God in everything we do and to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
When we think about death (we don’t do that frequently, but it is useful at times) we ought to recall that Jesus said to Martha (John 11:25-26): “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Death is something that we who are living in a fallen world must contend with, but to those who placed their faith in Jesus Christ and have breathed their last breath … there is no death … they pass from mortal life to eternal life and become a part of that great cloud of witnesses. That should be a tremendous motivation to us … knowing that there is a great cloud of witnesses and that there is a race set before us to live a life that is honoring to God. That’s a wonderful thing to recognize, but there’s even more here in these opening verses of Hebrews 12 … that will acquaint us with the fact that God does send discipline into our lives. My testimony is that we definitely need it! The wonderful thing about it is that God disciplines us as His sons and daughters because we’re part of the family of God and He does it for our good. Be thankful for it!