It occurred during the Olympic Games in Mexico, 1968.

The marathon is the final event on the program. The Olympic stadium is packed and there is excitement as the first athlete, an Ethiopian runner, enters the stadium. The crowd erupts as he crosses the finish line.

Way back in the field is another runner, John Stephen Akwhari of Tanzania. He has been eclipsed by the other runners. After 30 kilometers (just over 18.5 miles) his head is throbbing, his muscles are aching and he falls to the ground. He has serious leg injuries and officials want him to retire, but he refuses. With his knee bandaged Akwhari picks himself up and hobbles the remaining 12 kilometers (about 7.5 miles) to the finish line. An hour after the winner has finished Akwhari enters the stadium. All but a few thousand of the crowd have gone home. Akwhari moves around the track at a painstakingly slow pace, until finally he collapses over the finish line.

It is one of the most heroic efforts of Olympic history.

Afterward, asked by a reporter why he had not dropped out, Akwhari says, “My country did not send me to start the race. They sent me to finish.

As Jesus, the Son of God, hung on the cross, “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (John 19:30).

His work was complete. What was His work? Primarily to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). His death on the cross was the price for our redemption for sin (Ephesians 1:7). Through the blood shed on that cross, our debt for sin is “paid in full.”

We can accept His offer of salvation and receive the gift of eternal life by placing our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). When we do so, the blood of Jesus washes away our sins (Revelation 1:5; Acts 22:16).

That’s a wonderful start.

Now we must finish the race.

We finish the race by keeping our eyes fixed on Him (Hebrews 12:2), being faithful to Him (Revelation 2:10), “walking in the light” of His Word, and trusting His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). The promise is that “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Won’t YOU run the Christian race? You must be in it to win. Jesus has won the victory for us! You can share in His victory if you’ll begin the race through your trusting obedience… and continue to follow Him faithfully all the way to the finish line.

Then, you can say with the Apostle Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

David A. Sargent

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