“Stand firm, and you will win life.”
At 31 weeks the uterus may tighten and contract periodically in “false labor,” known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. Baby’s nervous system is now controlling his body temperature, rather than relying on the temperature of the amniotic fluid. Still laying on fat, his weight will more than double between now and birth, but he still has space to stretch his legs out and cross or curl them up over his head.
The human leg is a complicated machine, made up of different components: Bones provide rigid structure, muscle provides ambulatory power and the tendons and ligaments tie everything together. Our legs are the foundation of our bodies, used for standing and locomotion, running, jumping, lifting weight – and dancing! The fore-foot of a 150-pound runner can experience forces of up to seven times his body weight (or 1000 pounds) at the point of the power surge that propels the foot off the ground! During the course of any day, our feet accumulate the forces of thousands of tons!
We even communicate with our legs! Standing with one’s feet together communicates anxiety; legs planted apart communicates strength and dominance; crossed legs with one bobbing up and down signals impatience. Our knees shake, “turn to jelly” and give way when we are frightened.
Scripture describes “legs of faith” standing, following and running. We are to “follow after Jesus,” (Matthew 16:24; John 8:12; I Peter 2:21), but sometimes God finds it necessary to “hobble” us to keep us from running ahead, wandering off and to teach us to trust God (Genesis 32:25; Deuteronomy 8:2-3; I Samuel 2:7; Isaiah 55:8-9; I Peter 5:5). You may have heard a story about ancient shepherds “breaking the leg of a wandering sheep” so the animal would have to be carried and learn to trust the shepherd. Nathan Griffith, Editor of Sheep! Magazine, writes: “It is not true that any shepherds break a lamb's leg on purpose. What they sometimes do in certain sheep-raising nations is to ‘brake’ a leg. This means they attach a clog or weight to the animal's leg, which keeps certain ‘rogue’ sheep from getting too far from the shepherd until they learn their names, and not to be afraid of the shepherd…”
God “hobbled” Jacob. In Genesis, Jacob was afraid to meet with his estranged brother, Esau. The night before their meeting, Jacob went off by himself and began wrestling with God, who eventually dislocated Jacob’s hip. After God “hobbled” him, Jacob had no other way out than to trust his life to God’s grace for the outcome of meeting his brother (Genesis 32:25).
Following after Jesus is sometimes described as a footrace. The writer of Hebrews describes the Christian life as a long-distance race to be run with endurance (Hebrews 12:1) and Paul likens it to a cross-country marathon (Philippians 3:14; 2 Timothy 4:7). No marathon runner wants to be hobbled: The key to finishing the race is to keep your eyes on the goal and press on towards the prize without veering to the left or right (Deuteronomy 5:32; 28:14; Proverbs 4:27).
The bones of the Passover sacrifice could not be broken. 1,500 years before Christ, God decreed that when a Jew killed a lamb for the Passover sacrifice, that none of its bones should be broken (Exodus 12:43-46). John emphasizes that during His crucifixion, Jesus’ legs were not broken:
"Therefore, because…the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath…the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken [to hasten death in anyone still left alive]…Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs… For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken.’" (John 19:31-36).
If the soldiers had broken Jesus’ legs, then Jesus’ death would have been the work of humans. Jesus’ death was the work of God alone. They did not murder Jesus - He gave His life voluntarily out of love for you.
We are not expected to be fast, but we are urged to run. We are not all strong, but God has promised to help us stand. Whether we are called to run or to stand, the goal is Jesus and the prize is eternal life. We can trust that our Savior will carry us over the finish line – on his shoulders, on unbroken legs.
“…they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”