We remembered lately the story of brave soldiers who found themselves at the Alamo in San Antonio. They’d faced heavy opposition for 12 days in 1836. Then on March 6 it was over in a few minutes. Texians repelled the attack twice, but not the third time. Forces under dictator Gen. de Santa Anna overran the fortress, took no prisoners and burned the bodies in a final act of humiliation and triumph.
Commander Jim Bowie was gravely ill and confined to bed when Co-Commander William Barrett Travis convened a meeting in the courtyard. Travis dramatically took his sword and drew a line through the dust.
“Those prepared to give their lives in freedom’s cause, come over to me,” he said.
All but one of the men crossed the line. Bowie shouted for his soldiers to pick up and move his cot across the line. Estimates are some 200 men died in this commitment of their lives.
This story is one of the enduring legends of history. A brass line embedded in the cobblestones represents the story at the Alamo today.
Jesus Christ never raised a sword but did draw a “line in the sand,” according to the gospel writer Luke. Jesus told his followers that they must count the cost and be prepared to love him more than any other (Luke 14). Luke’s fellow gospel writer, John, said that after similar “tough talk” on the cost of discipleship, many left Jesus to follow him no more (John 6).
The modern church sometimes is accused of soft-pedaling the cost of following Christ. We rightly say he paid our sin debt, and when we accept his offer of forgiveness, he freely gives. But the Bible also says we make a commitment to him as Lord (Romans 10:10).
We don’t use this word as much today, but it was significant in the Roman world. The emperor claimed to be Lord, and acknowledging his Lordship was often a demand of citizenship. To worship another as Lord endangered many. Emperor Nero fostered the first full-scale persecution of the church and had many Christians sent to horrific deaths, including the Apostle Peter. Their crime was doing acts of benevolence as they followed Christ.
Sometimes we in the modern church lament the difficult times we know in serving our Lord. “It’s so hard to serve,” or “someone criticized me,” we say. What most of us face in opposition bears no resemblance to what the early church faced. We should learn from the first disciples who believed the Lord Jesus Christ worthy of their best in life and in death. As the chorus reminds us, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.