Why do we call it, Good Friday? Just in case it seems confusing to you, Good Friday commemorates the day Jesus yielded Himself up to suffer and die as the only person in history to live a perfectly obedient life. God’s holiness demands perfection in order to gain access to the presence of God. The essence of the Good News of the Gospel is that upon our conversion we are clothed with the righteousness that Jesus earned by His perfect obedience. Isaiah correctly refers to salvation as a “robe of righteousness” (61:10).
We cannot ease our guilt, nor overcome our sinful tendencies by accumulating good deeds. Jesus did what we could never do for ourselves on that first Good Friday. May this day truly become “Good Friday” for us, as we confess our sins and put our faith and trust in Christ—perhaps for the first time.
Let’s consider Hebrews 12:1-2…“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
I’d like to try and address three important issues in these two verses…
- What does it mean to “lay aside every weight and sin”?
- What was the “joy that was set before Him”?
- What does it mean for Jesus to have “endured the cross”?
I will address these questions in reverse order…
3. What does it mean for Jesus to have “endured the cross”?
First, we need to notice that Jesus suffered physically, emotionally, and spiritually…
Physically, Is. 52:14: “everyone who saw Him was even more horrified because He suffered until he no longer looked human” (CEV).
Emotionally, Is. 53:3: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.”
It’s thought that Jesus suffered from a rare condition while He was praying at Gethsemane called Hematohidrosis, when some capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing bleeding. This condition occurs under extreme emotional (and sometimes, physical) stress.
2 Cor 5:21: “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.”
1 Jn. 2:2: “[Jesus] is the propitiation [appeasement] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Spiritually, Jesus bore the weight of every sin; past, present, and future.
It’s been said that whatever Jesus endured physically and emotionally, were like a fleabite compared to what He suffered spiritually, bearing the weight of our sin.
2. What was the “joy that was set before Him”?
In a word, it was you.
Eph 1:4: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.“
1. What does it mean to “lay aside every weight and sin”?
Once our heart is awakened to what Jesus endured in willingly going to the cross and that you (and I) ARE the joy set before Him, we can more freely and more joyfully lay aside every weight and sin.
The phrase “lay aside” could easily be transliterated, “lay down,” as it is in Acts 7:58 when men “laid down” their cloaks at the feet of Saul (when Steven was being stoned to death).
So, because of what Jesus has done, we lay aside, or lay down, those things that weigh us down and our sinful tendencies.
It’s “get to” instead of “have to.” It’s always better to “get to do something” instead of “having to do something.” Right?
And we must ask the question, What’s the difference between a weight and a sin?
The word “sin” literally means to miss the mark (think of a bull’s eye), so anytime we deviate from God’s perfect will we miss the mark – or sin.
So, what’s a weight? This is where we take hold of the rock that we were given on the way in tonight.
A weight is anything you’ve already been forgiven for but you’re still holding on to. One example would be that God has forgiven you but you can’t forgive yourself.
Another way to view a weight is a besetting sin in our lives. A besetting sin is something that keeps cropping up in our lives.
In my experience, besetting sins are often tied to our family of origin. We will tend to deal with stress the same way our parents did. Or, anger, conflict – even parenting styles.
One Christian author has said, “You may have Jesus in your heart, but you have grandpa in your bones.”
The most important question of our lives is: How can I run like this?
- Take notice of what Jesus endured.
- See yourself as the joy that was set before Him.
- And in the light of those two certainties, let’s lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us.
 Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World, Zondervan 2015.