So great a cloud of witnesses

Published 8:00 am Sunday, November 12, 2023

“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 set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” — Hebrews 12:1-2a (NKJV)

We have all heard and been taught that this passage refers to those Saints who have gone before us into their eternal rest, and to those who yet remain as our mentors. Since we owe such a debt of honor to the ones who led us by example, taught us through the Word, and encouraged us to be better at being better, we should be diligent to live lives that honor their investment in us.

Our greatest debt is to Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith,” without whom we could not hope to have a relationship with God. He, above all others has shown us the way, leading by example, as affirmed by the Scriptures. Giving His all for our sake, He made a way where there was no way. We ought then to be men and women of integrity, obedient to His word, and of the sort of people that others may look upon as having been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). We should be determined to put aside sin from our lives and live as disciples of Jesus so as to not cast aspersions on His name.

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As with most scripture, this passage has (in my opinion) another application or focus. Rather than looking only to those men and women of faith as the “so great a cloud of witnesses,” might we also consider ourselves to be surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” who are observing our behavior solely because we claim to be Christian? Like it or not, if we claim Jesus as our Savior this world is watching and waiting for us to falter do that Jesus can be maligned for our failures.

We have an obligation to live as we ought as Christians; not allowing ourselves to be entangled in sin, we should be positive witnesses before the world for our Lord Jesus. As we had examples and mentors while we were babes in Christ, so too should we be of such character that those who regard us will be encouraged in their Christian walk.

It is our turn now to run with endurance the race set before us.

The Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.