“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”
(Hebrews 12:1-2, NRSV)
How did Jesus endure the pain, the humiliation, and the shame of the cross?
The scripture says that Jesus “disregarded” the shame of the cross. He looked past the shame, humiliation, and even the unspeakable physical pain of the cross to what lay before him: the joy set before him, sitting his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Paul speaks of “hope” that comes to us by the Holy Spirit, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NRSV).
All of us need hope. Hope is not “positive thinking” but rather the knowledge of the certainty of what lies ahead, even though yet unseen. In the spiritual realm, we have already been seated with Christ at the right hand of God (Ephesians 2:6). Yet, we live in these bodies beset with “sin that clings so closely.”
The sin that clings so closely is related to both our “presumptions” and “despair.” Presumption that we “know” all there is to know and there is nothing “beyond ourselves;” and despair that we deny the reality of the promises of God that guide our future. That there is no future goodness that God wants to bring to us.
On the other hand, hope is realized through the humility to see our human limitations and accept the gracious gift of God's life for us both now and in the age to come. Hope is realized as we act as Jesus did, looking beyond the trials of this temporary life, disregarding the “shame” of our disappointments, and looking to the joy that is set before us in Christ-in hope, by the power of the Spirit.