Tonight is the night… the national championship game for the NCAA. Louisville and Michigan are both exciting teams to watch; I love both teams’ guard play; I love Louisville’s intensity on the defensive end; I love Michigan’s efficiency on the offensive end; it truly looks to be a great game. (I did two brackets on ESPN and had Louisville in the championship game in one of the brackets; had Michigan in the championship game in the other bracket.)
Predicting the outcome of games is difficult; but isn’t that the beauty of March Madness? There are Cinderella stories due to unexpected victories; underdogs having that special night to upset the favorite; or maybe a favorite team just stinking it up on a particular night…
I consider myself to have a pretty good grasp of the game of basketball. I had one bracket where I am only in the 45% range on accuracy; I did a second bracket based upon other scenarios I saw and I am in the 90% range on that one. (ESPN Tournament Challenge)
Tonight one of the teams is going to hoist a championship trophy and the other will go home broken hearted; after all isn’t second place just the first loser? I don’t mean to sound harsh or sound like the guys that thinks winning is all that matters; but the simple truth of competition is that the goal is winning… and no matter how good you are there is no certainty in that outcome.
Can you imagine what it was like for the disciples immediately following that first Easter? They had been following a guy they thought was a sure winner, yet He seemed to have gone down in defeat to death… therefore the scene is set for them to go into hiding, fearing their own defeat… John 20:9 records that the disciples still did not fully understand the resurrection…
They were in the same boat as all the religions in the world; they were left with uncertainty about their future –would they win or lose when the game is finally over? Are they good enough to hoist the championship trophy? [Yet we know the answer to that simple question; no the disciples were not good enough to win in the end; no religions don’t make one good enough o win in the end; none of us are good enough.. we all have sinned… we all need a Substitute (Savior.)]
So let’s get back to the scene according to John 20… here are the disciples hiding in a locked room (vs. 19); and then we read that Jesus “came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’” In other words, “Hey boys, the game is over! We win!” And instead of hoisting a trophy for them to see He showed them His scars! (vs. 20) [I heard a pastor yesterday state that it appears that Christ will be the only one in Heaven with scars…]
Thank God for those scars! They are our hope! They are our assurance! They are our victory! Yes church, we are the champions! [I know many of you are breaking out in song in your minds right now.]
Those scars and the resurrection insure that we are able to have confidence no matter how the “game” appears to be playing out… they insure that we can follow through with God’s game plan…
That leads us to the rest of the story from that locked room in John 20… as the disciples were rejoicing in the presence of the risen victorious Jesus He again told them “Peace be with you!” [Don’t be afraid; you don’t have to hide in here!]
Not only did Jesus grant them peace but he went on to say, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (vs. 21) [There is a job for you to do.]
I am not sure of the outcome of tonight’s championship game; but I am sure that the only way we win in the game of life is through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! We need to be sharing this truth with a world in desperate need of Christ’s peace… Christ is a sure winner!