Grab the Baton and Run

Lee Morgan, Associate Campus Pastor, Huntley | July 7, 2023

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. 

Matthew 5:17-20

I ran track in school, and I always felt like it was both an individual and team sport. When I stepped up to the start line, I felt the pressure—it was up to me. But, when I ran the relay, there were four of us, a team. As we handed off the baton, we would sometimes yell, “Catch up!!” which meant we’d lost ground during the race, so push a bit harder to gain it back. As each of us took the baton, there was no time to judge or correct the runner before us, we would just dig in and help the team win together. The four of us trained together, won together and lost together. We had mutual high expectations but also gave each other equally high amounts of grace. We needed every leg of the race—it took all of us to win.

In Matthew, the religious leaders were more concerned about correcting the “runners” than winning the race. Instead of understanding that we were all in it together and Jesus was the only one who could win—fulfill the law in His divine perfection—they judged themselves and all of the runners around them, not giving enough weight to the laws to “love God” and  “love your neighbor as yourself.” They deemed themselves more worthy than those around them and thought they were the only ones gaining ground in the race. So you can imagine how they must’ve felt to be told that Jesus was the only way to win, and they’re no different than the “slower” runner next to them. 

If you happened to read the Willow devotional from Monday, you know that Jesus gave us a beautiful instruction for living individually AND together when He shared the Beatitudes.

We walk our own faith journey, but we’re together in this world, all equally unable to win the race. Together, we can help each other to live as Jesus teaches—spurring each other on to grace—as we live out our faith. Just grab the baton and run!

Next Steps 

  • Read through all of The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 (NIV)
  • Watch or listen to this summary of the first part of Matthew from the Bible Project for more context around Jesus’ reception by religious leaders.
  • King of Kings is one of my favorite songs to reflect to, especially when reflecting on Matthew and Jesus’ intent to fulfill the law, not abolish it. It’s His story and ours.

Going Deeper

Wow! We’ve spent all week in one chapter of the Bible. Well done! Today, review the chapter once more. What stands out to you the most from the week? Consider memorizing the verse that speaks loudest to you. If you’re more on the creative side of things, consider how you can artistically convey what God taught you this week through a drawing or word art, perhaps. Then, take some time to pray and ask God to show you how this chapter of the Bible speaks to your current situation in life.