Ever wonder how so many of our brothers and sisters of the past submitted willingly to martyrdom for the faith? It’s hard to conceive of those times in our modern world. Yes, there are those who even today are killed for their belief in Jesus, but they often are far away in different cultures and countries. Maybe it is just a sign of our culture, where the individual is king and the thought of giving one’s life up for Jesus seems to many to be the act of a fool. Yet, as we read in today’s passage from Hebrews, it is the sacrifice of ourselves that marks us as disciples of the Son of God.
Brothers and sisters:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us
and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and perfecter of faith.
For the sake of the joy that lay before him
Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.
Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners,
in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
This is the race that lies before us, that we shed our own blood in our struggle against sin. Do we have the courage to do it, or are we self-satisfied with our piousness and our good works that don’t quite equate to real sacrificial living?
Can we take the next, most profound step?