Wisdom revealed shines a light on the figure of Jesus running undaunted towards the cross. He is the Champion of all champions, carrying the weight of the sin of the world untiringly towards its death, through his. I have been grounded by the centering presence of God, and with feet on the ground, he now shows me how he ran his race, not only to finish, but also to win.
‘Consider him,’ Scripture tells us, ‘so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’ And ‘throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and finisher of our faith.’—Hebrews 12:1
Jesus went first and we are called to ‘consider’... not simply to notice or identify but to give deep thought to what he did. ‘He steadfastly and determinedly set his face to go to Jerusalem.’—Luke 9:51
Jesus’ death was not an event that happened. It was a goal that was achieved.
And he tells us how he did it; how, like an athlete, he prepared himself for the ultimate test, and he invites us in to the secret—to practice the unforced rhythms of grace.
‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’—Matthew 11:28-30
As we consider Jesus in the homestretch of his race we notice this outstanding feature:
He was not tired and STRAINED by walking at a pace that wasn’t his, and by carrying burdens that weren’t his.
We were never designed to run with the unbearable burdens of worry and resentment and addiction or obsession with anything other than God. Jesus had but one race to run and the burdens of our sin he alone was able to carry to the cross. He has run his race, carried the burden asked of him and we, therefore, get to run without our sin weighing us down.
But Jesus did not hinder himself with burdens that weren’t his to carry. Even Jesus laid aside the things that only a heaven-enthroned God can carry in order to constrain himself to an earthly form—for an earthly mission, an earthly race.
The disciples goad him: ‘Everyone is looking for you…’—Mark 1:37. And a loving Jesus turns away from real people with real needs and sets his face towards Jerusalem. He embraces his limited race as a gift for a God self-trapped in time, self-constrained in human form.
Can we, too, disentangle ourselves from what is beyond our personal calling?
I practice this in daily offices of prayer throughout the day: God, I give everyone and everything to you.
And as I handover situations that have grown big on me, I am surprised to see how small they look in the hands of a heaven-enthroned God. His capacity is boundless; mine is so limited. As I release the things that hinder me, I find space for invigorating union with God again.
Does this disentanglement mean we don’t lay down our lives for the sake of others? By no means! Jesus laid down his life for others and we are called to do the same.
BUT, Jesus did not spend himself on everything and, therefore, purchase nothing. He saved himself first, and then spent himself on the Father’s will, and therefore purchased everything.
This is the first lesson I learn as I consider the race of this Champion of champions. I am saved from undue strain by casting my burdens onto Jesus. I am freed to run unhindered as I embrace this most beautiful grace:
Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.—1 Peter 5:7