Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1, 2).
We think of Jesus in many ways. Of course we think of Him primarily as Prophet, Priest and King but there are also many other roles filled by our Lord related to His role as Prophet, Priest and King. The Hebrews writer, in his primary discussion of Jesus as High Priest (Hebrews 8:1), refers to Jesus as “the author and finisher of our faith.” Let us contemplate the relationship this pictures Jesus as having with His people.
The word translated “author” is literally “pioneer” or “chief leader.” It is the same word found in 2:10,
“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
And again in 6:20,
“…where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
We really get a more accurate understanding of the Hebrews writer’s intent when we see the manner in which he uses this word, especially considering that he is the only New Testament writer to use it. He is essentially saying that Jesus, our High Priest, has gone before us, blazed the trail, to show us the way. When it comes to living faithfully before God Jesus has gone before us as our forerunner, chief, captain, pioneer, blazing the trail for us to follow. This is the race that is set before us, the course that Jesus has laid, in Hebrews 12:1, that is the trail that Jesus has blazed for us to follow. It speaks of His life as an example for us to follow and therefore the author of the way we are to live before God. “It was Jesus who first taught the ‘great salvation’ (2:3), and it was He who led the way in it” (Lightfoot). He is the perfect example of faithful obedience to God (Heb. 5:7-10; Phil. 2:8) and therefore becomes the perfect example for us to follow. The Hebrews writer has appealed to several Old Testament examples of great faith in that Hall of Fame for the Faithful (Heb. 11) but now says that in all of these examples the real trail blazer of faith before God is Jesus, look to Him as your goal, just as all these others were faithful because they looked to Him (11:26, 39). He is the author of the way of faith.
Jesus is also referred to here as the “finisher of our faith.” The word here is literally “a perfector.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says of this word “one who has in his own person raised faith to its perfection and so set before us the highest example of faith.” Many believe that this is in reference to the work that Jesus has done as our High Priest in offering up the “once for all” sacrifice of His blood before God (7:27; 9:12; 10:10). He is the Perfector of our faith, having lived a perfect example for us and bringing to a completion the scheme of redemption in the offering of His own blood for the sins of the world. Everything that could be done to bring man back to God has been done, the once for all sacrifice for sin has been made, and now, the way of faith having been completed, it is up to us to take advantage of that sacrifice (Romans 6:3, 4). Again, this shows that the course of the Christian race has been set. It is not up to us to determine the way we will live any more than it is up to us to determine the sin offering that will appease God. It has been set before us, now we can either run in that course, looking unto Jesus, or we can refuse but we cannot set our own course and expect to finish the Christian race successfully. We must look to Jesus as the finisher of our faith, the One who has completed the only way in which anyone can be saved and be right with God.
Are you “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith“? If not, the only place your racing will get you is in a dead end with nothing but failure and misery to haunt you for all eternity. It is only by looking to Jesus that we will be able to finish our race to eternal glory with God. It is only by living like He lived, serving like He served, obeying like He obeyed, and being justified through His sacrifice that we may enjoy that eternal home with Him— “the author and finisher of our faith.”
Paul Brockman says
Such a wonderful verse. It's always been one of my favorites. My Dad used to quote it years ago when I was a child. I've heard it many times in sermons, and many other times. It always rings true.
It's one of those Bible passages that is so resounding you have to accept the challenge of it.