The Race 
a Preparation Sermon Rev. Samuel Rutherford, before the communion, at Kirkcudbright, in the year 1634 
published by Rev. Andrew A Bonar, Glasgow, 1876 (reproduced in https://archive.org/stream/fourtcomm00ruth); 
minimally updated, edited and footnoted by JJ Lim 
Part 3 of 3: Looking unto Jesus 


“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. &c”(Hebrews 12:1-5).

[In the first part of this sermon, Rev. Rutherford expounded on the apostle’s call to run the race. Towards the end of the first part, he speaks of three kinds of runners who fail to reach the finishing line: (1) those who start not; (2) those who fall out of the way; and (3) those who wishes to run encumbered. In the second part of his sermon, Rev. Rutherford counsels us to lay aside every weight and sin that entangles us and hinders our race. Now in this final part, we are exhorted to Look unto Jesus to find our encouragement in our race. –JJL ]

“Looking to Jesus.”—Well bend the Apostle that the devil would come our gate in his holiday clothes, with an “All these will I give thee.” And when we are running, he will cry, “Here away!” But, said the Apostle, Give him not one look, although he should burst. What have you to do with him? “Look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Look to your forerunner, and follow Him in the race.

Then in this our following, we must look how Jesus ran. We must observe all the properties of His running, and do just as He did.

(1) He yoked to the Jews, early in the morning, and was obedient to the law in the cradle. At twelve years of age He disputed with the doctors in the temple; He was still about His Father’s business, late and early. Yea, even upon the cross He was running. So run, young men, in your youth; start to the gate, break off, and run to your dying day; halve not your lives. If you have lost time, and were too long in beginning, be like a man far behind, when he looks to the sun and sees it low, and remembers he has far to go; he sets the spurs to the horse. So rouse up your lazy souls and post. Post, post, heaven is waiting for you. A special virtue, or property, in a runner, is to look even before him: for it you look over your shoulder, you may possibly not break your neck, but you will certainly miss a stride. If you look at meadows, houses, and worldly pleasures by the way, you will possibly fall and break your toes; therefore look aye[1] home, straight out before you. Give not the world a look for the world. But very often, after we have taken our leave of the world, and of sin, we have a strong inclination to be back again. While taking a hearty look of the world, a stone may take a man’s foot in his journey, and break his leg.

(2) Christ, in His race, got many lets, the devil came in with, “All these things will I give thee,” to turn Him into [his][2] Inn, and to lay Him over the board.[3] The world set on Him; but they could not all make honest Jesus come one foot out of the road. Keep aye the high-way. Smart men will not come under trysting with juggling knaves, nor subscribe any writs, for fear they bring them under a sum, and then take their lands from them. Never, never come in communing with Satan and sin. Some fools give the devil writs, and subscribe a submission to the world and sin, and take the devil and their own hearts to be overseers. Beware of that work. Christ would have nothing to do with the world, in His journey. When they offered to make Him a king, He refused, and ran to the mountain, and there He prayed (Jn 6:15). He took but His meat of it, and all He had was borrowed. He looked blunt-like on it; like a man who would fain have been away; and so was seen on it. We should be like some old men that want children, who quit all to their friends, and get a bond, for meat arid clothing, all their days. Our love and affection should quit the world, and seek a bond of our Lord, for food and raiment, all our days, and be content therewith.

(3) So run as Christ; He ran so as He left nothing undone. “[Father], I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (Jn 17:4). See that you have all ended against night, that you may say as Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). There are many who run as Paul, when a Pharisee, ran; but they know not where-away. Many forget their conscience by the gate, as a drunken man forgets his sword at the Inn in which he lodged. Take all with you, your conscience, and faith. They who go to sea take all with them: for when the wind and tide has put them off land, they will not [be able to get][4] back again, to fetch anything they have left behind.

But what good will our looking to Jesus do us? — Very much, He is the Captain of our salvation, “the author and finisher of our faith.” For Christ is all, He draws with His Spirit, and He leads us through the mire, and goes before us. And we have this advantage, when we faint, He looks back over His shoulder with a smile, takes us by the hand, and says, “Fear not, little flock, &c” (Lk 12:32); “Yet a little while, and I am with you” (Jn 13:33[5]). Even as a loving guide says to the tired man, “We have but a little water or two to pass through: and see there is but yonder hill betwixt us and the town, ye are near the city.” He will see you again, for He is a Captain indeed. In taking in a town, the soldiers will venture sometimes to scale the wall where the captain is; but it is not so here. Jesus Himself took the castle of heaven first: it cost Him blood to [enter][6] in and break up the doors. Now He stands in the entry, and cries, Come in, I have broken up the gate, I have [entered][7] the city; be not afraid, I shall warrant you. Therefore, Hebrews 6:10, He is called a forerunner, He went before to open the doors, and the park-dykes,[8] and take the stones out of the way, and says, “Step forward, my brethren, be not frightened.” So then, when we run, we are not to lean to our own strength, for fear we get a fall. He who thinks he has little need of Christ’s help is ready to fall. He who knows not his own weakness fears not; and he who knows not his own heart has good cause to fear he may get a fall, and dash out all his brains.



“The finisher of our faith.”—We will not have Jesus pulling us to the gate, and leaving us there. No; [for] “[He] shall also confirm you to the end” (1 Cor 1:8). It is a work of Christ as Mediator, and written in the commission His Father gave Him, that He should lose none, but raise him up at the last day (Jn 6:39). In Ephesians 5:27, He presenteth His church to Himself, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle. He shall get His bride, the church, all arrayed in His Father’s clothes, in at heaven’s gate, and slip her in His Father’s hand, and say, Father, there her now! I have done my part; I have not laboured in vain. Let them be confounded who take this glory from Jesus, and give it over to that weather-cock, freewill. For, here [is] an argument that hell will not answer. The Father promised Christ a seed (Isa 53:10). And a willing people (Ps 110:3). And the ends of the earth (Ps 2:8) to serve Him as a reward of His sufferings. Now, shall God crack His credit to His Son, and shall Christ do His work and get the wind for His pains, except freewill say, amen? This were a [childish][9] bargain. No, it is a part of Christ’s wages, that men’s freewill shall come with cap in hand, and bow before Him. He shall have a willing people.

We must digress a little, and speak of Christ’s race. Observe, this is the apostle’s manner, Christ comes in his way, and he cannot pass by Him: but he must stand still and speak a word with Him, and give Him a kiss by the way. “In whom we have redemption, &c” (Col 1:14). And there, ere he goes further, he must run out upon Christ, and His nature, and offices. Verse 15, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature.” See Revelation 1:4, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from [Jesus].” Then he runs out, who is the “faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, &c.”

Learn a lesson. When Jesus comes in your mind, leave your way, and go and speak with Him a while, and go not soon from Him. Is He come? Let Him not go without a kiss. Oh! and alas! we oft times let Him go as He comes. But why do His friends commend Him so much? Even that you and He may fall in love together.

“Who for the joy that was set before Him.”—He sets down a special virtue in Christ’s running: who, for the eye-look[10] to joy, “endured the cross, and despised the shame.” Here is a question: What an eye-look to joy was this, that Christ had? What made Him run? What needed He rejoice to be at home?

Answer: (1) As He was God, nothing could be added to His joy. Yet, howbeit He carried the God-head about with Him, the sight and sense of the God-head was covered in the days of Christ’s humiliation: there was a bar and a lock put on the God-head, that He saw not as He now sees. In that, He took the pilgrim’s lot with us, and was a traveller in respect of sense and clear light;—for, He as man was ignorant of some things then, as of the day of judgment, and fruit on the fig-tree. He knew He would be nearer God; the God-head stood aloof from Him then.

2) The joy before Him was, the contentment He would have in His new Bride; the joy that He had won through hell, and gotten His errand. Sad and heavy would His heart have been, to have missed us: He was glad of the hire His Father had promised Him. It is natural for a man to rejoice when he gets the fruit of his labours: and there is thanksgiving, and joy in heaven for the conversion of sinners. And He gives thanks far more when they are redeemed fully (Heb 12:12). In the midst of the congregation, He sings praise to God His Father, for the children He had given Him; but more especially when He shall have ended all, and got the goods in His hand, that He bought so dear. He shall then sing for joy; and when Christ sings for thy redemption, and gives thanks, thou hast far more cause to sing than He.

(3) The joy set before Him was the glory to be manifested in Him, which He prays for (Jn 17:5) which “He had with the Father before the world was:” that joy that His Father will welcome Him with and (to speak with reverence) clap His head for His pains. As He rejoiced from all eternity with His Father (Prov 8:31), and was His Father’s delight: so now He shall rejoice with His Father, He and He together in redeemed mankind. And the manhood with all His members, and the angels (for they rejoice at the conversion of sinners) shall rejoice with Him to see His body fulfilled, and to have them all under His wings.

(4) Consider the sadness Jesus had, and the tears He shed in the days of His flesh; but that His Father dried, and wiped the blood and sweat off His face, and set Him in a place, where He should shed tears, and die no more. So do as Jesus did. And why? Because never man endured out his longsome race but He who got a sight of heaven. See wherefore Abraham dwelt in tents, and Moses “[chose] rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin” (Heb 11:25). He saw a sight that every one cannot see. You know a man who has been seven years away from his wife and children, coming home again and seeing the smoke of his own house, his heart rises a foot higher than it was before. Would you run? Get a sight of the city. Get Christ’s prospect, to see the joy set before you. Get the earnest of the inheritance, and you will never [break][11] the bargain. Whosoever has a mind for heaven, runs a while in blind zeal, until they sweat, and then grow lame, like a horse that is ill taken care of, after hard riding; so are those who never saw heaven afar off by faith. But a sight of the gold makes the runner spring and run. O what wrought this joy that was set before Him! It made Him endure the cross; His Father laid the cross on His back, and He carried it thirty-three years, and never gave it a shake to put it off. Oh, what crosses! Never man was handled as He was; for some are under some crosses, and free of others. When Satan and men struck Job, the Lord blessed him and upheld him: But on Jesus, all at once fell God, man, devils, law, justice, sin, and the curse! Ye cannot tell me what comfort Christ had, when He cried, “My God, my God!” That was a sore thraw[12] for His back. O! the fire was hot then. But, when Christ was in His prison, in this dark night, there was a hole to let Him see day. He had His eye by faith upon the hope of the joy of the fair day before Him. He got a foul black day, all clouds of darkness about Him; but He said within Himself, I will get my fair day when all this ill weather is away.

Now let me speak to a heavy heart; that looks for a shower upon this land. And indeed it is black in the west; the clouds are gathering; the shower is coming. Take a house in time, yet fear not, a shower will not melt you, and Christ has a fire in His Father’s house to dry your clothes. O! but he who has faith to look up through yonder blue sky to see the throne of God and the Lamb, and to wait for the rending of the heavens, when Christ shall get through His fair head, with a great crown of gold upon it; I say, he who gets faith to see, and wait for these, will give a leap, and a skip in his journey. Let us suppose Christ were bodily upon the earth, and a water betwixt you and Him: yea, a lake of fire betwixt you and Him; I think you would venture to be at Him. Now set out in your journey, set down your feet, and be not beguiled with the devil’s apples, which he casts down in your gate. Christ, in the end of the journey, holds out His long arm, with a crown of glory, and shouts, and cries, Silly, tired [children][13], Look here-away! look up the [hill],[14] come this way.

You may ask what power had Christ to give His manhood to die for others. This would seem to be against justice; as a king’s subject has not power to slay himself, because in so doing he takes a subject from his prince. Answer. The subject is not altogether his own; he owes his life to his king, and may not dispose of it, except he fails, against the king. But, howbeit, the manhood was God’s creature, yet it was by the law of a personal union God’s manhood, and God’s flesh and blood; and the God-head gave to the manhood absolute power to give his life for men, and to pledge Himself as the price of our redemption. See, then, here a sweet mystery; the God-head furnished the sum to Jesus, and gave Him the price to pay; and the manhood gave it back to justice, as suffering and dead, for a ransom: law furnished the sum, and justice received it, and gave Christ our bond to tear in pieces.

Another fruit of our Lord’s to-look to the joy that was set before Him, was, “He despised the shame” What shame? Lighted there any shame on Christ? Ay, in truth! Heaven and earth wonder at an ashamed Christ. Look if Christ got not His part of it; when [deep][15] black shame came upon Him. But how. Shamed by men, and shamed by God, I shall prove both.

One rascal struck Him on the head, another villain spat on His fair face: a great shame; they wagged their heads, and broke a jest upon Him. Take up holy Jesus now! say they. He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him! Think not but that went to Christ’s heart, to hear those black mouths make a mock of God’s glory? Herod, and his men of war mocked Him. And see more shame yet; howbeit He was an honest man all His life, they conveyed Him out of the town, and the guard at His back: His enemies scoffing at him, and children wondering at Him. And what more? Dear Man! He went out at the [gates],[16] bearing His own cross on His back! Of seventy disciples, twelve apostles, and all His friends, not one to help Him, or take an end, or a lift of the cursed tree! And they put a crown of thorns on Him, scorning His kingdom. Was not this to put the thief’s mark on Him? And what more? Might they not have said, This poor man has few friends? But His friends would take no part of His shame, and yet He took all their shame.

God shamed Him also. His Father said a curse and malediction light on Him, shame light on Him. Start not at this. I shall clear it. Sin has aye shame on its back: you know that God made Him sin; and if God made Him sin, and a curse, He behoved to bring shame on Him. For the shame that should have come on us, and the reproachful words that justice would have given sinners, they lighted on our Lord. You see when a thief is [caught red-handed];[17] and brought before the judge, and put to an assize, and challenged; he looks down, and thinks shame to look any man in the face. When the judge says, “How durst thou do it?” Silly man, he blushes, hangs his head, and never says a word. So God put Christ upon the pannel,[18] arraigned Him before His tribunal, and accused Him for our sins. Christ could not deny them, but stood as a sheep dumb before her shearers. He hung His head before justice, and the honest Man took with the fault. He said he would die for the murderer, adulterer, swearer, idolater, drunkard, &c. Now there was reason here, that God should put Christ in this plea, for the shamed man: because God’s wise will is the rule of all justice. God made the first covenant that Adam should be legally for us, and the second covenant was so contrived that Christ should be for us. For Christ’s manhood has a personality, not of its own, but of the God-head; and by the law of a personal union, Christ should enjoy Himself. Now, because Christ had a legal personality from us, and as in His person under His sufferings He enjoyed not the fruits of that personality, but was plunged in fear and horror, while He said, “What shall I joy?” (Jn 12:27) yet the God-head (to speak so) was like cork to make the manhood [swim][19] above, that it was not swallowed up with God’s infinite wrath; and the manhood had personal legality from us, to bear the strokes by law due to us. Hence come and learn and be willing, with Christ, to want a limb of your credit for Him. He was shamed for you. O wonderful! An ashamed sinner is nothing, an ashamed devil is ordinary: but God ashamed, an ashamed Christ is a miracle! One honest man will suffer loss for another; but to take another’s shame is a different thing: yet this rarity was in Christ. A man who is a cautioner for his waster friend, the judge counts not him the waster, he is still thought an honest man; only he pays the sum. But Christ our Lord, besides the sum He paid by law, He was as the [debtor],[20] for our sins were laid upon Him: for He and we are so near here, that He is as us, and made sin for us.

“And is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”—He was a good man, and endured all patiently, and so it was seen. He got much glory in the end; there could not but grace come of Him, He was so mild under His sufferings. “Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, &c” (Phil 2:9). Wherefore, then, is His sitting down nothing but an exaltation, a state of glory above men and angels. To Him is all power given; and He has received a name: “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).

Now to understand this the better, note that His sitting as God upon His Father’s right hand is but the open manifestation of His glory, which He had before the world was. His rising as a man to this state hath two steps going before it.

1. The nature of man in Christ is made of the same [matter][21] with our nature, and therefore deserved a personal union: and therefore the God of grace raised the manhood above itself, to be married to the God-head. This is the first step of the Headship spoken of (Heb 1:1-3), God has made Him “the heir of all things.” For God indeed lifted man above Himself, in giving to the manhood no created personality, but the personality of the God-head; so as that blessed manhood, at one moment should subsist in the Word, and subsist in the infinite personality of the God-head: that the man Christ, and the God-head should be in one person.

2. Upon this, He resolved a free donation of Christ to the manhood, to be King, Priest, and Prophet, sufficiently qualified to grace us. This was grace also to the manhood, yet this grace was not given in such a measure to Christ, in the days of His flesh. Howbeit this grace, and the personal union did sufficiently bear Him up under all His sufferings.

3. After His sufferings, the manhood saw the God-head, in a more glorious manner, and enjoyed Him after an admirable manner, and is made a personal worker, and absolute commander of the world; a Prince, a Judge, a Lord, and next to God; over and above all creatures. That our Husband is so high, is great matter of comfort to the faithful. Men who have a friend at court are aye troubling him with suits and writs; we write not half many letters up to our Friend at court. He delights to speak of us to His Father, and to carry us in His heart, as the High Priest did the names of the twelve tribes on his breast: and to engrave us on the palms of His hands. Then see the gate, and follow Christ Jesus on the cross; the cross is your way. Christ got a deeper gate; His way was the cross, and the crown. Now, says the apostle, “Consider such an one,” and yet spoken against by sinners: for sinners gave Him the lie. Look upon Him lest ye faint. “I said in my haste, I am cut off before thine eyes” (Ps 31:22). “Zion said, the Lord hath forsaken me, my God hath forgotten me” (Isa 49:14). Think not, you will [always][22] be alike stout in the journey; sometimes you will fall down, and Christ will have you a lifting;[23] but He is near you with His flagon of wine to comfort you. Amen. Ω


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[1] I.e. “ever.”
[2] Was “Him” in original. Prob. a typo.
[3] I.e. “On the table.”
[4] Orig. “win.”
[5] Orig. “John 17.” Prob. momentary confusion on preacher’s part.
[6] Orig. “win.”
[7] Orig. “win.”
[8] I.e. “gates of the park.”
[9] Orig. “bairn’s.”
[10] I.e. “regard.”
[11] Orig. “Rue.”
[12] Prob. “torture.”
[13] Orig. “bairns.”
[14] Orig. “brae.”
[15] Orig. “mickle.”
[16] Orig. “ports.”
[17] Orig. “taken in the fang.”
[18] One of the meanings of “pannel” is “a wooden saddle used on a donkey.” But it is not clear if this is what the preacher meant.
[19] Orig. “sweem.”
[20] Orig. “dyvour.”
[21] Orig. “metal.”
[22] Orig. “aye.”
[23] I.e. “He will lift you up.”