Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which 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,1 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. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:1-3)
Thomas Dove Keizur was the pioneer who settled Keizer, the city I live in now.2 He was born in 1793 and left Independence, Missouri, in 1843, with a family group of twenty-three. He helped lead the wagon train, which blazed the Oregon Trail. The Keizur family settled in the Willamette Valley and made some of the first land claims in America under the Donation Land Act.3 Thomas organized the first militia in the Northwest, which became the Oregon National Guard. The achievements of this short, wiry man, riding a Morgan horse and carrying only a rifle and some basic supplies, were remarkable. When the city of Keizer unveiled a statue of its founder, 140 of his descendants attended, down to the eighth generation. Thomas Keizur illustrates the meaning of the word archēgos, translated “author” in many Bibles. Greek society used the word archēgos of men like Thomas Keizur who pioneered routes and founded cities. Archēgos implies originating or initiating something or taking first place.
The word “perfecter” expresses a contrasting thought. The root of “perfecter” is telos, meaning “end” or “completion.” When Hebrews 12 says that Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith it means that He blazed the faith trail and He leads the way, but He also stands as our example at the end of the race. Plenty of faith heroes cheer us on from the pages of Scripture but Jesus is at the finish line, He went farthest.
Like everyone mentioned in the Hebrews 11 hall of faith, Jesus persevered because He had conviction about an unseen objective—joy. He acted on that conviction, to the point of His excruciating and shameful death at the hands of hostile sinners. Hebrews does not explicitly state what Jesus’ joy included but sitting at God’s right hand is its epitome—intimately sharing the glory and reign of His Father.
As we run our race, Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, encourages us in different ways:
- Those who have shed blood for Jesus or seen their loved ones do so—He went farther still by giving His perfect life. His vindication in resurrection provides our greatest hope and joy.
- Those who have suffered other forms of persecution or had to make lesser sacrifices—His grace will carry us through anything because He has been there first.
- Endurance is part of our discipline from God (v.7), a discipline that shows we are adopted children of the Father of spirits (v. 9). That is an honor in itself, but He provides fatherly discipline so that we may share His holiness (v.10). Our heavenly Father cares so much for us that He uses everything to mold us into His likeness.
Fatigue and discouragement (as well as distractions) swipe at the heels of every believer to deter us in the race. Lift your eyes and focus on Jesus at the finish line of life. He’s there to encourage us and assist us.
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