Seeing them there should serve to encourage us to press on and give us hope of victory ahead. After all, they have already run their race. They have finished their course. Their names are written in the annals of God’s word. Seeing them in the stands, we know the race can be won.
But this text does not give us support just by pointing to others who have successfully run their race. The second verse provides the real focus: “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.” We can run this race, we can endure to the end, we can know there is victory ahead because Jesus is waiting for us at the finish line.
The third verse reminds us of what He went through for us, and counsels us to think of that when we get to feeling overwhelmed by obstacles and challenges we face. Then, the fourth verse calls to our attention that we’ve not had to shed blood for our faith. While we may feel discouraged, while we may get frustrated, while things may seem to continually go wrong in spite of our dedication to our Lord, the writer reminds us that we’ve not yet faced the prospect of having to shed blood for our faith. Jesus left Heaven, went to the cross and died there for us, but we’ve not been called upon to shed blood for Him.
But even if things are as tough as they sometimes seem to be, we still know how the story ends. We will be victorious! We will win our race! The greatest assurance of that is Jesus standing right there at the finish line, waiting for us with our gold crown. We can make it, we can win, no matter what, if we just keep our eyes on Jesus…