Around 2,000 years ago, Julius Caesar and his naval armada set out to conquer England. England was a great distance from Rome and the Celts were skillful and aggressive soldiers. The Roman ships held a finite number of soldiers, yet there were hundreds and thousands of the enemy. In addition, if Caesar and his men planned to retreat, they would have to sail back across the channel, cut off from relief or additional supplies. As the Roman ships drew near the coast, the enemy could be seen lining the Cliffs of Dover, eagerly awaiting battle.
Caesar is said to have directed the ships away from the cliffs, and after a valiant effort, the Romans established a beachhead, though one entirely surrounded by Celtic soldiers. According to legend, Caesar then made an incredibly daring move. He knew his men were tired and he questioned their commitment and resolve. As long as the Roman ships remained along the coast, there would be thoughts of retreat. Caesar ordered the ships to be burned. This way, there would be no escape, no retreat. If the Roman soldiers were going to be pushed back, it would be into the sea, and thus to be pushed back would be to perish. Caesar needed commitment from every one of his soldiers and he needed them to realize that defeat was not an option. They had come to conquer – and stay. (Taken from The Reverse Review, Feb. 2012)
Around 2,000 years ago the King of Kings walked this earth, born of a virgin, and began a battle against sin, death, and the grave and won victory once, and for all. There was a defining moment in the garden of Gethsemane where our Savior’s commitment to the task was finalized and seen. Scripture records it in Matthew’s gospel like this. Matthew 26:36-42
36 Then Jesus *came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and *said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” 39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 And He *came to the disciples and *found them sleeping, and *said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.
Caesar’s victory was a great victory for Rome. His motivation was for the power of the Roman Empire, and of course, his advancement to become the supreme ruler of that empire. The victory of Jesus was an ultimate victory for the sin condition of man. His motivation was love, and nothing less. His great love was lavished on us in the sacrifice of His life and blood for the redemption of you and me, and all who come to Him for salvation.
Caesars advancement on the Celts was well known and they were waiting for him, but to not avail. His resolve was firm and unwavering. Jesus’ assault on satan was well prophesied and the evil one was hoping for the defeat of Jesus and worked hard at making that defeat complete through Jesus’ time in the wilderness recorded in Matthew 4:1-11; The constant attack from the religious leaders of the day recorded throughout the Gospels; The betrayal of one of His inner circle recorded in Matthew 26:47; The laziness of his closest followers at Gethsemane recorded in Matthew 26:40-41; The public spectacle of a trial for something He did not deserve recorded in John 18:26-30; And of course being unjustly crucified on a criminals cross as recorded in the gospels. Caesar had thousands of Celts on a cliff overlooking their beachside landing and still he fought forward with dedication and won victory. Jesus had the scourge of mankind against Him and finished the course set before Him and won the victory without turning back.
So where does this put us. Where does this put you? We are living out of the great victory of Jesus on the cross and that victory has assured us an inheritance of this wonderful grace provided by the sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son. Where do you go from here? We have been put in the middle of a very spiritual battle that is waged every day by those who know Jesus. Jesus has put the Holy Spirit in all of us who have accepted Him by faith so that we can fight this battle out of victory, not defeat. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus in 6:12 and said this For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. In this battle there is no turning back. But sadly, some have chosen to turn back in their efforts in this battle and it has lessened our effectiveness as “the church.” The church is plan A in spreading the gospel, but if “the church” is not committed to it God will still spread the word of salvation. Are you committed to the task? Are you fighting the good fight? Have you taken up your cross to follow Jesus as commanded in Luke 9:23? If so, are you still fighting? It is time to live an all out commitment to spreading the gospel and it is time for His church to come alive and be vibrant once again. Paul speaks to this in Ephesians 3:10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. So, fight the good fight and fight it with all your heart. Be totally committed. I mean all out commitment!!! Burn the boats!! Peter calls us to an earnest heart in 1 Peter 4:7 7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. What makes us different than Caesar being surrounded by his enemy on all sides is this. We are surrounded in a very positive way as the writer of Hebrews writes in Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Step 1 – Burn the boats!! Put away sins that are holding you back. Step 2 – Burn the boats!! Take up your cross for Jesus. Step 3 – Burn the boats!! Don’t give up anymore territory to the enemy and move forward taking back more territory for Jesus. Step 4 – Burn the boats!! Unify around Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5: 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
BURN THE BOATS!!!
The Pilgrimage continues….