12 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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow wearyand lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

The Great Cloud of Witnesses – the 12th Man

The Texas A&M 12th Man is something like the Grand Canyon. You can see pictures and hear stories, but when you experience it first hand, it is an awesome thing to behold.

Pam and I joined some friends and our daughter, Melody, at the Aggie stadium yesterday with a sell out crowd of 108,000 for the University of Alabama football game. Just for numbers sake, let’s say that 90,000 were all A&M fans, their 12th Man. Before the game started three men, Yell Leaders, led the entire 90,000 in a series of unified chants just by synchronized arm motions. Not just the student section, not just the band, not just one side of the stadium, BUT the whole 360 stadium were responding in a unified chorus of shouts and cheers.

During the game, the entire stadium would swirl their towels over their heads and cheer for their team while trying to defend against the Tide. The noise level was so loud, I could barely hear myself try to talk with Zachary or my daughter, Melody who were right next to me. For my football friends, that noise contributed to at least half of the illegal procedures for the Tide.

The 12th Man cheered before the plays and after the plays. They cheered the entire game. They swayed back and forth like a field of wheat swirling under the winds of the approaching cold front. They were not on the field of play, but they were most definitely a contributing factor of encouragement for their team.

The writer of Hebrews has a similar view in mind concerning the great cloud of witnesses. Chapter 11 is designated as the Hall of faith of the great patriarchs of the Jewish and Christian faith. Unseen, these and others not mentioned by name, are cheering for us to endure to the end, to finish strong, to stay engaged in the battle. Their lives then and now, shout for us to battle onward.

This great cloud of witnesses was not perfect. They were flawed, all of them. They struggled just like we do. They did not have a perfect picture of how it would all work out. They walked out the path that God presented before them. Their faith, not their perfection, made them acceptable.

TODAY, I want to cheer you on to love and good works. I want to speak some of what I believe the 12th Chapter of Hebrew Witnesses might be saying to each of us.

  • It’s not too late to get up again and start fresh and anew.
  • Forgiveness is not a theory, it is a gift to receive. Open it and be free.
  • Jesus believes in you, loves you, is praying for you, talks about you in loving ways to the Father.
  • You are not damaged goods, you can fulfill the plans and purposes for good that Christ has prepared beforehand for you to walk out.
  • You, yes, YOU! Jesus calls you by name and you hear Him and are able to follow Him to green pastures and fresh waters.
  • You’ve fallen, let your pride stay on the ground and get back up to walk humbly with others who have fallen like you and that are still pursuing the finisher of our faith.
  • Don’t settle or compromise with sin that so easily entangles. Focus on Jesus your savior and not your sinful failures.
  • Because of Jesus, you have the capacity to forgive others and to love at deeper levels than you can imagine. Don’t leave the planet harboring unforgiveness, you can forgive.
  • Singing and worship allows you to join in the ongoing “now” worship of angels and the cloud of witnesses. You don’t have to wait until you get to heaven.

Be encouraged. Don’t let the trials overwhelm you. You can do this. Jesus has provided everything you need pertaining to life and godliness.

I spoke with one fan after the game and told him, “I fell in love with the 12th Man today”. He replied, “I went to school here in the 90’s, it was not like that back then, today was something special”. I agreed.

Blessings Love y’all