The Great Cloud.
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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
In this picture, my wife, Margaret, is standing beneath a larger than life size statue of Martin Luther at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis. Does standing in the shadow of great men and women of faith intimidate you, making you feel small and useless?
The writer of Hebrews has a different take on the heroes of the faith that have come before us. After listing many heroes of the Old Testament in chapter 11, he states, “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off … sin, and run… the race marked out for us.”
Standing beneath the shadow of the heroes of faith like Doctor Luther, the Apostle Paul, or the prophet Elijah is not meant to intimidate us, but to encourage us. Gaining hope from their example of faith, we too can throw off sin and run the race marked for us. These heroes were heroes not because they were without weakness and temptation, but because they called on the Lord of Hosts, the Redeemer of Israel, the King of Kings, the Almighty God. They were heroes not because of their own strength, but because they relied on the strength of Jesus Christ and gloried in His name.
You and I do stand in the shadow of the giants of faith, and because we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we shall throw off sin and run the race marked out for us. Since we are not alone, we shall fight the good fight, run the race, and keep the faith.
Lord, thank you for all the saints that have gone before me. Give me faith in Your Word and perseverance by Your great might. I am weak but You are strong. Jesus keep me all day long. Amen.
Copyright Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Colorado Springs, Colorado