I may not have run a marathon but I know that in order to complete one that you have to persevere and to push through the pain barriers and exhaustion that are felt at various points in the race.
As I have been thinking about the days leading up to Jesus’ death, it occurs to me that there were lots of painful barriers that Jesus had to push through and past in order to save us.
I’m astonished by how well that Jesus coped and dealt with the foolish questions that he was asked by the religious leaders. Jesus was trying to prepare himself for the cross but the religious leaders wanted to trip him up and make him look foolish (you can read more about that here). Jesus must have been so frustrated with their actions but he persevered to the cross.
One of his closest friends Judas betrayed him and led the Roman soldiers to arrest him.
As Jesus shared the last supper, he told his disciples that he was going to die and that they should remember him. In response, the disciples started arguing about who was the greatest (you can read more about this here) which must have been so, so disappointing.
Jesus was feeling real emotional turmoil as his arrest drew closer and so he asked some close friends to pray while he too cried out to God. These friends fell asleep nearby (you can read more about this here) leaving Jesus without any human comfort and support.
Peter, who was Jesus’ closest friend denied knowing him.
Jesus was tortured and executed despite being innocent.
At any of these points Jesus could have given up but he didn’t. You would probably expect a well-balanced and secure individual to cope with most of these individual circumstances but to have to face all of them in a few days must have been absolutely horrific.
Jesus had so much that could have caused him to give up but instead he persevered and pushed through these pain barriers.
Jesus overcame great pain and suffering so that he could win the prize and astonishingly that prize is us lot. Jesus died to save the world and to offer humanity a way back to God.
The Bible compares a life of faith to a long distance race:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.(Hebrews 12.1-3)
The key to persevering is?
- To focus on and to be inspired by Jesus. If we think about all that he overcame then we ‘won’t become weary and give up’.
- To throw off the things that slow us down, especially sin
- To remember the prize: We can join Jesus in his mission to rescue humanity by being honest about our faith and telling people what Jesus has done and is doing for us.
As I reflect on all that Jesus put up with as he approached the cross it is really quite astonishing that he went through with it. Jesus was willing to give his life for people who included those who were betraying, letting him down and hurting him!
If you are going through a tough time then I hope and pray that you will be inspired by Jesus and that you would be wiling to throw off any negative emotions and hurts that are holding you back. I also pray that you would know Jesus with you and that you would experience him alongside you, inspiring, guiding, equipping and strengthening you.
If you want to think more about this Bible passage and perseverance then you might find The one about the race helpful.
I am hoping to write something each day this week to explore aspects of what happened during the lead up to the first Easter Sunday. If you are interested in finding out more, then you might like to look at the other posts I have written.