On Monday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox will begin the process of repeating as World Champions. After 5 months of waiting for the season to begin, our hometown baseball team will take the field in defense of their World Series trophy. The Sox, due to their success last year, is at a distinct disadvantage this year: every other team in Major League Baseball would like nothing less than defeating the champs. In addition to that, every team, including the Sox, have had their records wiped clean; everyone starts the season on an even footing with no wins and no losses.
Athletic competition is merciless. This was demonstrated last month at both the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl. Gold medalists must compete and if they have a bad day on the ice, in the half-pipe or on the slopes they are no longer gold medalists. And just because you enter the stadium with football’s most potent offense and have secured a number of the NFL’s scoring records doesn’t guarantee you will leave with the Lombardi Trophy. Unfortunately, for the athlete the competition is new every season and one is not able to rest upon past successes.
Imagine that there was a contest where, upon the final victory, the competition ceased and the final records were secured for all time. What if there were no more boxing matches, basketball games, swim meets or marathons and whoever is the current champion maintains the title forever. Now imagine you are that contestant, the competitor who secures the final win. There would be such joy in knowing that the victory can never be taken away and that you will henceforth be known as the victor. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Whatever your athletic ability, or intellectual power for that matter, God has afforded you a victory against a formidable foe. From the beginning of all time death has been our enemy and each and every human being, when challenged by death, has lost the battle. Every human being, that is, until Christ.
In about three weeks we will celebrate Easter, the date on the Christian calendar where we rejoice in the sudden and certain victory of our Savior over death. Like many epic battles, it looked like it could have gone either way: the aggressive offense of the Devil in the early moment s of the game, the apparent lack of a defensive game by Jesus, a team defection in the second half, and the killer blow as the clock was winding down. Satan started the celebration before the final bell rang, savoring his apparent win. It was at that moment that the champion, Jesus Christ, rose up and claimed the final and lasting victory – and we, the bench players who never needed to do anything more than dress for the game, were awarded the victory with Him.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55–57 (NIV)
Hallelujah and Happy Easter! I encourage you to participate in the “holy rolling” rally on Sunday, April 20th.