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Summary: the main message of the empty tomb is the power of God. that very same power of God at the resurrection is for me and for you.

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Time To Run: Hearing God’s Heart Through Hebrews 12

Heb 12:1-4 Resurrection Sunday, Apr 8, 2006

Intro:

Many years ago, when I was in Junior High, I did a run. I joined the track team.

Now, here is a picture of me in junior high…

that is one chunky grade 9 kid… if it isn’t clear enough from the picture, here are some of the comments in the “autograph” section, scanned for your amusement:

so you can see that getting some exercise was probably a good idea… lose some weight, get some exercise, develop some healthy lifestyle habits… all excellent motivations for me to join the track team. But that is not why I did it. You see, everyone on the track team got to miss an entire day of school, to go to the track meet. That sounded pretty good to me, so I signed up.

Now, I was a bit of an athlete – I played soccer, and street hockey, and there my size actually was an advantage. I was always the goalie… even a pretty good one, especially when I already blocked more than half the net… So Track and Field: next problem: which event? Long jump? Nah, all that icky sand gets you dirty. High jump? Are you kidding – I weighed like 150 pounds! Shot put? Don’t be fooled by the picture, the bulk was all flab, not muscle. 100 meter dash? Nope, that is for the people who can actually run fast... 1500 meter run? Ha! I’d never make it. Then I spotted the perfect event – the 400 meter. Once around the track. Didn’t have to be fast – those people ran the 100. Didn’t have to have endurance – those people ran the 1500. Sounded like the perfect event, so I signed up.

And then I started training. But since my motivation was to miss a day of school, and since I had already concluded that “real” athletes entered other events, I didn’t train very hard. In fact, I think I ran twice. Over two weeks.

And then the day came… The “meet”… I got to miss a day of school. I got to sit on metal bleachers, on a freezing Calgary spring day, bored to death by events I didn’t care about. And then it was my turn. The 400 meter. And I ran. It seemed like an eternity, but I ran, and ran… and ran… and – wait for it… – I finished second. Second last, that is. I beat my friend, Anthony, who happens to be totally blind and who ran holding the arm of a 40something year old school aid in worse shape than I was.

There Is Another Race… Heb 12:1-4

Thankfully, there is another race – a more important race, a more worthy race, a more exciting race. The author of Hebrews puts it this way: “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. 2 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. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.”

Jesus’ “race”: (vs 2b):

Let’s start with the second half of verse 2: “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.”

This was Jesus’ race: to be born into the human experience, leaving behind all of the privileges of heaven, to live and breathe and walk among us, to introduce the Kingdom of God with His words and with His miracles of healing and His demonstrations of the power of God, and then to be betrayed and tortured and, at the end, nailed to a cross where he hung in agony until He died. But that was Friday. The race wasn’t over then, the cross was not the finish line, it was the final hurdle, the worst moment, but it wasn’t the end! Not by any means the end! Jesus’ “race” went through the cross and then to the empty tomb – Jesus’ race went right straight through death, defeating it, and then being risen to new life as the great victor over death and over sin. Jesus “endured” the cross – I love the next line – He “scorned” it’s shame: “scorn” means to “reject or dismiss as contemptible or unworthy… to show disdain or derision” (Mirriam Webster On-line). It is a great word – how does Jesus feel now about the shame of the cross? With disdain, dismissing it, treating it with derision.

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