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Way of the Cross - A Twenty-Six Mile Marathon.

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

The words of this morning's Gospel may have suggested the difficulty of the mission of Christ. Jesus' mission was to oppose and overthrow evil. It was, in a very real way, a battle with sin, which was not an easy venture.

Evil and Sin are all around us; evil manifests itself in the people who would do us harm and wish to bring us down in some way; Sin appears in our own self-centeredness, and our wanting to have full control of life around us. To a large degree it is driven through our lack of faith in God.

Jesus speaks of his own death as a baptism. The new order he came to establish, the kingdom of God here on earth, was to be brought about only through his own costly confrontation with the sin of this world. It is a baptism that results in His death for us, stretching out his loving arms on the hard wood of the cross, giving us His life for us and our salvation.

If we tum our attention to the Epistle, the New Testament lesson, we see a wonderful summary of what it means to be a Christian. Dr. William Barkley the great interpreter of the Bible, has called this passage from Hebrews, ""One of the great, moving passages of the New Testament; and David, the writer has given us some exceptional analysis of the Christian life."

As we consider this passage, we will discover that it establishes the meaning of our faith. It gives us inspiration to reach the goal, it identifies the barriers to attaining the goal, but also provides us with the means to overcome the barriers. Indeed, the barriers are all around. So, it is important to embark on our Spiritual journey with an awareness of the barriers we face.

Remember, our goal, as Christians, is to obtain the likeness of Christ in ourselves. Our journey, the race that is set before us, is to move from our own self-centeredness to being more and more Christ-like each and every day. In our baptism,we promise to seek and to serve Christ. As we do this, we become more like Christ ourselves.

And let us never think that we embark on the journey alone. We can't do it by ourselves, and the journey is not easy. The great clouds of witnesses, fellow travelers on the Christian journey, that surround us on every side, continually inspire us.

The 'me first' world regards those who seek a life of servanthood to be a little odd. The world around us, which is based on an assumption of scarcity, does not understand those who experience the abundance of God's household. So, the popular culture provides us with diversions, distractions and detours. So, the popular culture provides us with diversions, distractions and detours.

We must be steadfast as we follow the Way of the Cross. But there should be no question that the most important barrier is our own sinfulness. Our sinfulness comes in many forms. It comes in the form of our own lack of faith, our desire to be in control and our own unwillingness to be generous with our God-given gifts. Sinfulness arises when we put our own needs and conveniences ahead of others.

Sinfulness also comes about when our ego gets in the way, and we begin 'Edging God out. ' When we edge God out, we get side-tracked; we lose sight of our spiritual goal, or we forget the goal altogether. Thus, our own sin is the largest stumbling block to attaining the prize of entering God's kingdom. However, the writer in the letter to the Hebrews suggests that we can overcome the barrier. Our endurance, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, is the way we get back on track and stay the course.'

How do you suppose marathon runners, those men and women, who run a 26.2-mile race, finish the race? Somewhere between 18 and 20 miles, their muscles begin to ache, and their minds begin to say, "I quit, it's not worth this much discomfort and pain. I want to stop now!" They've hit the proverbial wall. In essence, it is their very own barrier to completing the race.

But the weeks and months of training that they have put in pays off because they have built up their endurance. Their endurance helps them to overcome their pain and drive self-doubt and resignation out of their minds. Their endurance gives them a new source of resolve and energy.

Our steadfast endurance, provided by the example of Jesus Christ and sustained by the great cloud of witnesses, keeps us focused on the goal and enables us to persevere. It is in Jesus Christ in which we find both the meaning of our faith and a means of our journey. And most importantly, we are blessed with the absolute privilege of having Him as a companion along the way.


For Morning Prayer on the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Published on August 19th, 2001 {Revisedon August 27th, 2021}

© Dr. Charles Warner 2021

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