Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.
My 95 year old mother-in law was complaining that there was nothing on the television these last weeks other than football. She of course was referring to Euro 2020, delayed by a year because of Covid-19, with Italy lifting the trophy last Sunday in Wembley.
There were many memorable moments but one standout moment for me was not about the skill of a player, or a super goal that was scored, but rather the incident involving the Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen. He was the player who suffered a cardiac arrest during the match with Finland. In the forty-third minute he stumbled and collapsed on the pitch. To resuscitate him the medical team used a defibrillator.
As many of you will know, the defibrillator was the invention of Professor Frank Pantridge, a native of Hillsborough (now Royal Hillsborough) in County Down. He was a pioneer in cardiology and because of this many lives around the world have been saved through his amazing invention.
In the world of agriculture, Harry Ferguson was also a pioneer. Again a County Down man, Ferguson invented the 3 point linkage: patented in 1926, it was to revolutionise farming and is still in use today. These are but two examples of pioneers who have achieved something unique with life changing results.
How wonderful that the New Testament book of Hebrews speaks of the Lord Jesus as a ‘pioneer’, who also achieves something unique with life changing results for all who believe in Him. Chapter 2 verse 10 says, “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and though whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect though what He [Jesus] suffered.”
Jesus did something that no one else could ever do. Jesus, who is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, took on flesh and blood and was born into this world, becoming a real human being. So when we pray, when we struggle and the cares of the world are upon us, we come to one who fully understands because He lived in this world with all its sorrows and woes. So don’t think that whatever you are facing, God doesn’t care, or understand - go to Jesus the Pioneer who understands perfectly.
This verse in Hebrews also tells us that Jesus is the pioneer of salvation. In other words He does what no one else can ever do - he brings salvation, he comes to rescue us, to save us from our sin, our disobedience and our rebellion against God. As the Bible says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Only Jesus can save us.
Pioneers are successful and the success of Jesus the pioneer is that He brings ‘many sons and daughters to glory’. It is Jesus alone who gives everyone who commits themselves to Him the joy, the peace and the assurance of heaven. The only reason anyone will be in heaven will be because of what Jesus did on the cross, and the wonderful promise is “that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:15).
Someone has described a pioneer as ‘a person who goes on ahead of the others and thereby makes it safe for others to follow.’ Are you following Jesus the Pioneer?
Robin Fairbairn is pastor/evangelist with Ballygowan Presbyterian Church in County Down and also works as ministry development officer with The Good Book Company. He lives in the country and has been farming every Saturday for more years than he cares to admit.
If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at [email protected] or call him on 028 9753 1234.