Our study in the book of Hebrews left off explaining that every Christian is in the same race that has already been completed by a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before him; those witnesses have finished the race by faith, enduring hardship, suffering, and temptation along the way. Likewise, we as Christians who are running the race of salvation will only make it to the finish line as we endure hardship and understand it to be the discipline of a loving Father.
Our text in Hebrews chapter 12 can seem to be a letdown, especially after the glorious heights to which we have soared in the book’s previous chapters; after all, who enjoys the idea of discipline? But the importance of these verses cannot be underestimated in assuring the believer’s perseverance in the faith. The main theme of the book of Hebrews is the supremacy of Christ – how He is greater than the law, angels, prophets, priesthood, Moses, and anything and everything that has ever come before or will come after Him; for He alone is the eternal Son of God. The unknown author of Hebrews puts this magnificent Messiah on display before his audience, who are being tempted to return to their former Judaism while drifting away from their faith in Christ. His goal is to show them by comparison how great Christ is and the folly of forsaking Him in favor of anything else. This was a time where this new fledgling church, comprised primarily of Jewish believers, was being tested. Persecution was just beginning at the hands of both the government and their own families. If they failed to understand the reality and divine purpose of suffering and trials in their lives, if they believed that their new-found faith promised only ease and comfort, they most certainly would forsake the faith.
Understanding this text correctly has the potential to enable God’s children to persevere as we grasp not only the reality of trials and suffering in life, but the greater purpose that God has for us in them. Just like the original audience receiving this epistle, if we fail to understand the nature of discipline, we too will find ourselves at great risk for falling away from the faith. The exposition of this text holds great power to strengthen your faith so that you might finish the race well.