The book of Hebrews makes a compelling case for the superiority of Christ over all who came before Him. Our Lord is superior to the angels. He is superior to Moses, and His covenant is superior to the covenant of Moses. The Lord is our high priest and His priesthood is superior to the priesthood of Aaron. As a result, the writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers to give even more attention to Christ than they had given to the Law of Moses.
In Heb. 11 the writer gave a summary of some of the worthy people of ancient times who demonstrated their faith in God by their obedience to His will, and by the many mighty deeds they performed. The reason for this reminder was to exhort his readers to persevere in their own walk of faith. In Heb. 12:1-2 he said, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Two aspects of this statement catch our attention. First, the writer warns us that we must be wary of “the sin that so easily entangles us”. In other words, we must not become lackadaisical about sin. Paul warned that if we think we are standing we should take heed that we do not fall (1 Cor. 10:12). Just as God warned Cain, sin is crouching at the door and we must master it, or it will surely entangle us.
Second, we must keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, who is the author and perfecter of our faith. This is the secret to successfully running the race that has been set before us. If our focus is on Jesus Christ, we will not lose sight of the goal. If our focus is on Jesus Christ, we will not be distracted or deterred from our race. If our focus is on Jesus Christ, we will not become entangled in sin and we will lay aside every encumbrance that could hinder our progress toward our home in heaven.
Focus is a fragile thing, as is evident in many aspects of life. For example, a slight error in focus can make a shooter miss the bulls-eye. A photographer whose camera is out of focus will not get a clear picture. A driver who allows his focus to stray from the road ahead risks death or injury in a traffic accident. As a result, we correctly stress the importance of maintaining proper focus in these and other areas of life.
Without diminishing the importance of focus in these areas, we need to pay heed to the exhortation of the inspired writer of Hebrews. There is nothing more important than the eternal destiny of our souls. Therefore, there is nothing more important than keeping our focus on Jesus Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith. He endured the cross, despising its shame, to give us the opportunity to live in His Father’s house forever. If we focus our attention on Him and on His word, that sacrifice will not have been in vain.
We are like gladiators in the arena. We are on the field of competition and the prize is our souls. We face a determined enemy whose sole goal is to turn our focus away from the Lord. He entices us with sin in all its forms, but if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, we will not be distracted by it. If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, we will not be deterred in the race that has been set before us.
All around us the faithful cloud of witnesses who persevered in their own faith are cheering us on to the goal. If we keep our focus on Jesus Christ, and on His word, nothing will keep us from winning the crown of life.