6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: A sermon about reaching beyond the limitations of the flesh and spirit into the extraordinary.

Matthew 5:41 -- “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”

Psalm 92:12_13 -- “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” “Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.”


The picture series are frozen both in time and in memory. The scene unfolds from the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Two runners, one American, the other from South Africa, although of British descent. The starter’s pistol fires and around the track the runners race for the finishing line. The constituents of the race were eight in number, but the world was watching only two. One Mary Decker Tabb, an American, and Zola Budd, a bare-footed runner, from South Africa. They had developed one of the most intense rivalries of any two runners since the days of the Grecians. Each wanted to defeat the other, because this time it was for the Gold Medal.

Shoulder to shoulder they ran the first one thousand meters, apparently sizing up the one another, preparing for the strategic moment that they would send a burst of speed toward the finishing mark. Over half way around the track, Tabb and Budd bumped just enough to disturb the balance of Tabb. In the jumble of runners, Tabb stumbled and fell to the infield grass, clutching a pulled hamstring. The close-up picture of her face was a myriad of emotions. There was pain, anguish, rage, and defeat all summed up in that single instant. She never got up until the trainers reached her. From that point on in her career, there was that seemingly defeatist psychological tainting that never allowed her to rise above her circumstances.

Back in time further, a little over sixty-five years ago, we meet another runner. The world has been warily watching the Germans, who are beginning to push their political ideas in the European regions. But it is during this historical time that we find a second runner. A man named Eric Liddell. He too, was involved in a race. He too, was the focal point of the world. He too, began to break for the lead. He too, was thrown off balance. He too, crashed to the infield grass. He too, looked up at the pack of disappearing runners. He too, felt the defeat, the pain, the anguish of having gone down. But the picture totally changes from that moment. He got up!!! He leaned into the wind and assuming his awkward running style, tore after the distant pack of runners. The results were far different. He caught up and won the race. (Adapted from Rebuilding Your Broken World – Gordon MacDonald)

-Those two runners are visual and mental symbols of what happens in the race of life when men and women fall to the infield because of terrible choices or because that someone or a set of circumstances seemed to jostle them enough to fall.

-After years of dreaming, preparing, conditioning, and fighting their way to a particular point, they fall. But there is something that separates some runners from discouragement, apathy, distress, defeat, bitterness, jealousy, and all the other elements that Satan would attempt to destroy men with.

-I am preaching about A Two-Mile Man in a One-Mile World.


Matthew 5:41 -- “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”

-The first reading in the Gospel of Matthew is taken from the Sermon on the Mount. It was the first public teaching and preaching that Jesus ministered before the multitudes. Inside of this single sermon, are forty-two principles to help us in our walk with God.

-The emphasis of what Jesus was placing in this particular setting (Matt. 5:38-42) of Scripture is concerning the retaliation of men toward each other. The Law stated that an injustice to the eye deserved another eye in exchange. The Law predetermined that a tooth would cost a tooth.

-Yet Jesus Christ came along and was the fulfillment of the Law. One who did not come to destroy the Law but rather to propel it into a greater spiritual sense. With this enlightenment, he began to unravel the Law, only to weave a greater binding by those who would walk in the Spirit.

-When Jesus came to the response of going the second mile, He was painting a picture in the mind of those who were hearing Him.

-In those days, the Romans had a public access system and set of roads. At any time, the Romans could summon any able-bodied man to come and help them with the transport of goods through the regions of Israel.

-The demand of such services are best illustrated with the Lord on His way to Golgotha. It was at the point of His own sheer exhaustion that Simon the Cyrene was called from the crowd to shoulder the Cross. (Another thought: Life’s Unexpected Crosses -- Simon had two sons: Alexander and Rufus. Both of these men are saluted at the end of the Roman Letter by Paul. Could it be that this unexpected cross in the life of Simon was the thing that saved his boys?)

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David Hudson

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Excellent well thought out message. Special thanks for sharing.

Jeremy Poling

commented on Mar 29, 2014

Great word Bro. Harrelson!

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