LAYING ASIDE AND CONSIDERING JESUS

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
12 April 2017

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

WHAT WEIGHT DO YOU NEED TO LAY ASIDE?

After reminding his readers of the “Hall of Fame / Hall of Faith” members of Israel’s history in Chapter 11, the writer of Hebrews turns to the example of Jesus in the beginning of Chapter 12.  We are surrounded by this great “cloud of witnesses” - Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel and the prophets among them - and now we have the example of the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith”... Jesus.

We are encouraged to “...lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely”, and run with perseverance the race that is set before us.  When I was in my early 20’s, I ran the Peak to Peak Marathon, from Allenspark to Estes Park.  Did I “hit the wall” the first time I ran it in 1979?  You bet I did!  And I am sure glad that I was not trying to run that day with a full pack on my back!

The journey/race of following Jesus into love is much longer race than a marathon.  It is a lifelong race, in fact.  There will be some challenges, some suffering, some dying, and some unbelievable joy along the way.  (See Exhibit A: Jesus.)  According to this passage from Hebrews, at least two things will be very helpful to us in this race:

- “laying aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely.”  This is dying to ego and the old life - life without God at the center - that both Jesus and Paul talk so much about.
- “looking to Jesus...” and considering “... him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.”  While we are letting go of dead weight, we must also keep our eyes on Jesus, always considering - and emulating - his example.

This little passage invites us to consider a number of questions:

What weight or sin do you need to lay aside, so that you can complete the race/journey of following Jesus?
How has God been present and redeemed the suffering that you have experienced in your life?
Which witnesses - whether dead or still alive - have been instrumental in supporting you in your journey of faith?  Could you say a prayer of thanks for them today?
As you keep your eyes on Jesus, where is he calling you to go this day... this week... this year?  Are you willing to follow him.... wherever he is leading you?
How have you shared in the joy of Christ, as you have followed our Lord?

Remember, there are a number of opportunities to consider Jesus’ example over the next several days.

April 13, Maundy Thursday - 7 pm - Foot Washing and Holy Communion / Stripping of the Altar / All-night Vigil

April 14, Good Friday
12 pm - Reserved Sacrament Communion
1 pm - Stations of the Cross
7 pm - Ecumenical Good Friday service at Mountain View United Methodist Church, Boulder

April 16, Easter Sunday
5:45 am - Great Vigil / Easter Sunrise service
8:00 am. - Holy Communion (traditional)
10:30 am - Holy Communion (contemporary)

May we all remember that this “race” that is set before us is leading us to love, reconciliation, and joy.