“So all those in the synagogue….were filled with wrath and rose up…..and they led Him to the brow of the hill….that they might throw Him down over the cliff.  Then passing through the midst of them; He went His way.” Luke 4:28-30

“I do not pray for these alone but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one….”  John 17:20

Ahh sports.  It is one of the human endeavors most often used to teach life’s lessons.  We speak in such terms as the “game of life”, someone; “drops the ball” or someone tries a “Hail Mary” (a Hail Mary is a play with so little chance of success; the team attempting has to call upon Mother Mary for success).  It seems around the world that there is always a season starting or a championship being decided during any given week.  And if you think people don’t care about sports then ponder this; it is estimated over 400 billion dollars (that’s billion with a B) is wagered legally and illegally annually on professional sports.  Also there has been over 2000 deaths from fans rioting around the world at various sporting events from 1950 –  2000.

So as sports enthusiasm has hit a fevered pitch, at least here in the United States, I thought I might try to use a sport analogy to speak to the promise, power and success of the Life of Jesus and how that affects us who want to be on “His Team”.  And when one thinks of sports, especially team sports, and thinks in the context of the “holy grail” of success.  It is the perfect season.  The perfect season; every time a team enters an arena; it emerges victorious.  A truly rare and magnificent feat.

Thus perhaps; let’s look at Jesus life and ministry as a season.  It would seem to have started off in much an underdog status.  Let’s face it; to be born of a poor mother and father in a stable no less and then right after being born; having one of the most powerful opponents in your country (King Herod) come after you, willing to murder many just to see you dead, seems to indicate that there’s a tough season ahead.  Yet at every turn; Jesus, through the leading of His Heavenly Father, thwarted the game plan of His competition.

Now let’s move ahead to the time of His ministry.  First, let’s take measure of His team.  Jesus has a loving mother, but most of the rest of His family thinks that He is mad.  He chooses twelve stout-hearted men, but none of them have any formal training or experience in the ministry game; plus one is player for the other side.  Even as time goes on; Jesus’ team has a tendency to argue with one another and at times Him.

How about the competition?  Okay, there’s the very powerful Jewish, entrenched religious aristocracy; they hated him.   There’s the even more powerful Roman Empire; they were against Him.  Half of His own people; the general population; didn’t believe in Him.  And, as if earthly opponents were not enough, Jesus had to face off against Satan; who would try all in his considerable power to destroy Him.

We have the team and the opponents; now let’s look at some of the plays.  Miracles; the sick, the lame, the demon possessed, the hungry are brought to Him with His enemies hoping that He will be stymied and fail to be able to help them.  Each and every time, with confidence, ease and compassion; Jesus triumphantly heals them.  Testing; the wisest opponents come up against Jesus to trick Him with their wisdom, to show His ignorance through their learned questions; to uncover to the world; the foolishness of Jesus.  Each and every time, Jesus silences their foolishness with His wisdom and they slink away defeated.  Physical danger; several times they pick up stones to stone Him, plan to throw Him off a cliff, even nature seems to be against Him to drown Him in a storm. Calmly, victoriously, Jesus walks through their midst; unscathed.

Wait you say!  Jesus did lose once!  The enemy was able to try Him and crucify Him; they at least won that round!  That round, the round of sacrifice was Jesus Christ’s greatest victory.  To conquer death; Jesus had to die.  He went toe-to-toe with the greatest of all enemies; and won the greatest of all victories.

Jesus Christ had the ultimate undefeated season.  How?  First it starts with the game plan.  His game plan came from God Almighty.  Second Jesus loved His Team and His Team loved Him.  He lost only one and that goes back to the perfect game plan from God.  Third, Jesus knew where His strength laid; by following the plan of His Father; not wanting to be the star Himself but being completely subservient to the Will of the Coach.

Yea Jesus Christ but where does that leave us?  Jesus Christ tells us in His prayer.  You see we are also on His Team.  We are those who believe based on the Gospel of His disciples.  Jesus Christ prays for us to be on His Victorious Team just like the disciples.  The Season of Jesus Christ has not ended and indeed will not end until He comes again in Power and Majesty.  And here’s the wonderfully merciful part.  We don’t have to be the best to be picked.  There is no spiritual tryout where we have to be righteousness enough, religious enough, pious enough, better than our fellow person to make the team.  The only stretching we have to do is what it takes to get down on our hands and knees and prayerfully ask.  Ask Jesus Christ to be our Eternal Coach and we have made the team.  And in Him and Through Him; by the Power of Almighty God; testified to by the Holy Spirit; no opponent can defeat us; no circumstance steal our victory.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father; we praise Your Most Holy Name for sending us Your Son who is both Savior Coach and beloved Friend and Teammate.  Forgive us; Merciful Father when we look out and despair only seeing defeat.  Give us Your Strength that we may see the triumph that You have planned for us compelling us to go out and live victorious lives.  That in our victory in You; all would see Your Power and praise Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen