by James Merritt

The Race of Redemption
James Merritt
Hebrews 12:1-2


1. I believe that if the apostle Paul were alive today the first piece of the newspaper he would pick up and read would be the sports page. Paul I believe was a sports fan. He enjoyed the thrill of competition, the excitement of winning and the lesson that you can learn from losing. On several occasions Paul likened the Christian life to a race. He talked about winning the victory crown. He was enamored I believe with sports.

2. Today we live in a sports minded generation. Nothing excites people more today than sports. Sports have become a religion and its champions have become Gods. I read the other day about a husband who said to his wife, "Now before football season begins is there anything that you would like to say to me?"

3. In Paul’s day there was a great thirst for sports just like there is today. As a matter of fact there were four sets of athletic games that were world renowned. There were the Olympics which were held quadrennially. That is, every fourth year. Then there were the Pythian Games which were also held quadrennially. These games were mainly musical competition. They were the musical Olympics. And then there were the Nemean games which were held biennially, that is every other year. Then there were the isthmian games which were held the first and the third years of each Olympian. These games were staggered so all of the wealthy and elite people of that day could go and watch all of these various Olympic events.

4. These games included everything from gymnastics to horsemanship to wrestling and to boxing, but the main event of the Olympics and all of the major athletic events of that day was the marathon, the long distance race. I want you to picture a stadium in Rome that is packed with over 100,000 people. You are one of the runners. You enter the stadium. A hush falls over the crowd. You remove practically all of your clothing. You stretch your legs. You loosen ...

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