The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games, are being held in Sochi, Russia and all eyes were on the opening ceremony last night. The teams entered the stadium proudly lead by their nations flag with broad smiles as they waved – they have arrived. Years upon years of hard work inspired by the dream of being an Olympian have brought all of them here. Today. For this, and now they are here! From the veteran members who have taken this walk before, to the newcomers who can hardly contain themselves, the faces can not hide the excitement of the moment. Tomorrow they will compete. Some will fall. Some will cry. All will strive and give their best but ONE will win. OK, Three will win (Gold Silver and Bronze) but you know what I meant.
I can appreciate the level of commitment and hard work these athletes have endured to get to Sochi. They set aside the better part of each day to train. They worked through the pain, self-doubt, discouragement, fatigue and distractions. They had a goal in sight and their gaze was unwavering. Day after day and year after year. What commitment! What determination! What devotion! To reach the Olympics and WIN the prize!
Jesus was such an athlete. He knew what He needed to do and set His face towards winning the Prize. He endured so much on His way to win the prize. For 3 1/2 years He traveled teaching and preaching to both the eager and the skeptic. His Haters tried to trip him up and bring Him to shame. Even His followers disowned Him when the road got rough. Yet, He endured. Who knows which was worse for Him to bear. The rejection and hatred from the people He loved or the lash across His back? The pain of being spat in the face or having His skin pulled off with fistfuls of His beard? The hanging on the cross like a common criminal or the separation from His Father as the sky turned black? Yet, He endured. For the Prize.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 Living Bible
We are the prize! We are the Joy that He endure it all to reach! We are the Gold medal around His neck! We are! The Word of God tells us the He would come and that in coming He would be the Lamb Who would take away the sins of the world. John the Baptist announced this while standing in the Jordan River. Jesus knew what course of action He must take to win the prize as He walked from the Jordan River that day.
Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. Luke 3:21,22 KJV
In Thee I am well pleased! – Before Jesus healed a single person, preached a single sermon, raised anyone from the dead, opened any blind eyes or deaf ears. Before Jesus did any of the things we hear the most about – God the Father said He was well pleased with Jesus. Why or what was His Father so pleased with? I believe He was pleased with Jesus’ decision to take the first steps towards the goal of winning the Prize even though He would have to walk down a road that would be hard, painful and discouraging. In spite of the years it would take. No matter how hard or lonely. Even when self-doubt and temptations came. Jesus’ resolve was firm. His eye was on the prize and no one and nothing would stop Him.
We are that prize. Our freedom was WON for us by Him on the cross. No Olympic grandstand holds the glory of the Cross of Jesus Christ because He won something more precious then Gold or Silver or Bronze. He WON YOU!…….. and now its your turn to run the race and win the prize. This short life we live is our race and the prize is Eternity with Him in Heaven. He secured it for us on the cross but we have to claim it for ourselves and reach the goal…….. Paul encouraged all of us with theses words….Let it become our anthem…..
….. In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow-boxing or playing around. Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside. 1 Cor 9:24-27 Living Bible