Hebrews 12: 1-3 – The World of the Text

This week we are starting a series in worship here at St. Matthew’s entitled Running the Race.  We will be looking at Hebrews 12: 1-3 as our base text that we jump from as we consider different passages.  Today we are going to look at the world of the text of this passage.  

This passage is dripping with references to things and concepts that are athletic in nature.  Yesterday we talked about how the references to ancestors really appealed to the Jewish tradition of those who were listening, today within the text we see an appeal to the Roman (and Greek) concepts of athletic competition.  Athletic competitions where ways in their culture to show one’s worth and strength.  It is interesting, as we look at this text, we see it almost play out like an athletic completion.  One of the commonplaces built in every Roman town was the hippodrome, where horse and chariot races were held.  This passage lays out as such, the cloud of witnesses is watching as the race is being run. 

Just as the crowd would cheer for those running the race, so are they cheering for us as we run the race of faith.  See in this passage, the trouble of sin,  It weighs us down.  It is a restraint that keeps us from being able to fully run.  We have to lay it aside.  We have to run.  We have to endure.  We cannot grow weary. 

Run, work, endure.  You are being cheered on!  Everything within this passage points us to that athletic completion that is being run with our faith.   Don’t give up.  We see chapter 11 directly points us to this.  The crowd is there cheering.  Now we must run, just as they did. And just as Jesus did.  

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