Staff Corner – Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
In the early 1800s, the people of Great Britain lived in fear of an invasion by the French. It was no secret that Napoleon was working with Spain to have the naval power necessary to overcome Lord Nelson and the seemingly unstoppable British fleet.
The Battle of Trafalgar engaged on October 21, 1805, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Spain. Despite being outnumbered, Lord Nelson scored a decisive victory over the French. He lost no ships while destroying 22 ships of the enemy. Nelson himself died of a gunshot wound before the battle was ended. However, with this victory, the French fleet was so decimated that Britain was assured Napoleon was powerless to invade.
An unlikely junior officer was dispatched to take the message of victory back to England. John Richards Lapenotière was captain of the HMS Pickle, a schooner assigned to pulling British sailors out of the water during the battle. He was given a dispatch to hand-deliver to the First Secretary of the Board Admiralty that contained only 13 words, “Sir, we have gained a great victory. But we have lost Lord Nelson.”
Lapenotière made the 1400 mile journey in under two weeks. When he arrived at the English Channel, the winds were against him, so he made landfall at Falmouth. He then traveled overland 271 miles on horseback without stopping in under 37 hours. To make such good time, he had to change horses 21 times!
As he expected (along with the other junior officer who expressed jealousy at his being selected for the task), he was greatly rewarded for delivering the good news of victory. He was promoted to Commander, was given a cash bonus, and received a personal gift from the King of England.
Notice what the Bible says about sharing the gospel in Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” The gospel is the good news of a victory even more significant than the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. The gospel tells the world that Jesus has won the victory over sin and death. All who believe in Jesus participate in that victory.
Like the Admiral that dispatched Lapenotière with good news, we have been dispatched with good news too. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The victory is already won. The job for the messenger is to make sure that everyone hears the good news.
Why is it difficult for those of us who have trusted Jesus to share this good news? One reason is we are worried that people will not believe. What if we fail, and they reject the good news of Jesus? However, we need to be reminded that the messenger's job is simply to provide the message. It isn’t the job of the messenger to make someone believe it. Faith is a matter of the person’s heart and the work of the Holy Spirit.
One other reason it is difficult to share the message of Christ’s victory is we don’t want to experience rejection. When people reject the message of Christ, it feels like they are rejecting us, too. Nobody likes experiencing that. It is helpful to remember what God said to the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:7 when Israel asked for a king, “for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.”
We need to also keep in mind that, like Lapenotière, there are great rewards for the messengers of good news in the Kingdom of God. In the parable of the talents, Jesus reminds us what is in store for His faithful servants in Matthew 25:23, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
We have been given the great privilege and honor of being the heralds of Christ to a world that desperately needs good news. May God give us boldness to tell others of the victory and power of Jesus to forgive sin and give eternal life.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Romans 10:14-21.
Praying with you,