Meet Balto, a Siberian Huskey sled dog pictured here with Norwegian immigrant Gunnar Kaasen. Balto became famous in 1925 when he was the lead sled dog in the final relay carrying life-saving medication from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. This relay has come to be known as the “Great Race of Mercy.”
An epidemic of diphtheria had broken out in Nome, several children had died, and the lives of hundreds of other children were endangered by this highly contagious disease. The life-saving serum was carried 674 miles by relay teams that involved 20 mushers and 150 sled dogs. The dangerous journey across subarctric terrain took 5 ½ days as the rescuers faced brutally cold temperatures, a blinding blizzard, and wind chills as low as 70 degrees below zero.
Today the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is held annually in March and runs a similar path to that taken by the rescuers. Unlike the Great Race of Mercy, the Iditarod is a sporting event.
As followers of Christ, we need to remember that our mission is also a great race of mercy. We have a life-giving message that can bring hope for eternity to those who will perish otherwise. Living the Christian life is not a sporting event or a game, but a serious responsibility.
Jesus’s longest recorded prayer in Scripture is found in John 17. This is the prayer He prays just before He is arrested. In it He prays for Himself, for His disciples, and He prays for you and me – those who believe through their message (v. 20). The gospel has been relayed to us – -generation by generation – -and we, too, must be faithful to pass on the truth.
As Jesus prays, He is preparing to pass the baton of responsibility for carrying the gospel message forward on to the disciples.
Take time now to read John 17. Be blessed as you hear Jesus the son pray to God the father. Jesus has left heaven’s throne. He has willingly chosen to set aside His glory to put on human flesh. He has walked the earth for 33 years, the last three devoted to teaching and ministry and preparing His disciples. Now as He is heading to the cross, as He prepares to entrust the truth to be carried on, He chooses to prepare Himself and his disciples by praying.
Jesus is about to face the most horrific death ever put upon anyone. He is about to face not just the grueling physical death of crucifixion, but the heaviness of carrying the weight of the sin of the world upon Himself. And He prepares for what He knows is coming…by praying. Let’s listen to His prayer with attentive and grateful hearts, as we are challenged to consider how prayer is also the best way to prepare ourselves to run our race well and complete our assignment.
In the next few weeks I’ll be unpacking five Run-the-Race truths found in John 17. I hope you will continue to read along and PRAY about how you can run your race well!
Here’s the link to the teaching lecture for John 17: http://fbcsiloam.podbean.com/e/the-gospel-of-john-chapter-17-lesson-17/
Photo attribution: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunnar_Kaasen