Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover and was greeted by a crowd of people waving palm branches and praising God for sending him. He had a Passover meal with his disciples, and, after the meal, he went to pray at the Mount of Olives. While he was there, he was arrested. And by the next evening, he was crucified.
For the followers of Jesus at that time, this week would have been an emotional roller coaster. They didn’t have the benefit of knowing that Jesus would be raised from the dead. When Jesus died, all of their hope died with him.
But let’s try to think of it from the vantage point of Jesus. He rode into the city of Jerusalem hearing shouts of praise, knowing he would be unjustly accused and murdered in a matter of days. During that Passover meal, while he and his friends were honoring the tradition of celebrating God’s rescue of his people, Jesus was foreshadowing his ultimate rescue plan for them. And when Jesus went to pray at the Mount of Olives, he prayed for hours, experiencing so much agony that he was actually sweating blood. He prayed for strength to stick to God’s plan as he waited to be betrayed and arrested. He wrestled against his natural desire to save his own life.
Not once during the time he was arrested do we see Jesus trying to escape. He demonstrated unimaginable restraint as he was beaten, mocked, and killed. Jesus experienced the very worst kind of pain and suffering. He knew it was coming and he chose it anyway. When he could have rescued himself, he chose to rescue us instead.
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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1–2
The race marked out for Jesus was pretty awful. But for the joy set before him (which includes us!), he ran the race, endured the cross, conquered sin and death, and sat down at the right hand of God.
We can run our race with perseverance because he showed us how. And because of what he did on the cross, we don’t have to run it alone. He promises to be with us—even carry us—every step of the way.
What hard thing can you see on the path in front of you? Ask God to give you strength, and remember that he’s with you as you run the race marked out for you.