March Madness. Hoopsteria. Bracket Busting. It is that time of the year when college basketball comes to an end. I love this season. On Saturday mornings I wake up, go outside to get the paper and the first thing I look for are the scheduled games that are playing that day. It is fun to cheer for my favorite teams. This year has been different because my “favorite” teams have not done that well. One was not even invited to the party, much less the big dance. This next weekend I’ll find some reason to cheer for another team whether it is because of a touching human interest story or the fact that I know a friend of a friend who wants me to cheer for their team.
During this tournament, you either win and continue, or you lose and are booted. Coming close to a win does not count. My Dad always said, in these situations, that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. I never felt like I could identify with this because it had been years since I had tossed a horse shoe and I had never thrown a hand grenade. His point, though, was that you either win the game or lose the game.
More important than basketball games, we are entering into the most sacred time of the year for believers in Christ. Holy Week. I realize there is no comparison of the magnitude and importance of these two events, but I have thought of a similarity. In basketball, you need to either win or lose. When you lose it is over. You have the memories for a scrapbook and you may even have the chance to try again next year if you hang around. No matter how hard you try there is a death of a vision of what might have been.
This week many of us will read our Bibles about this holy time in sacred history. We may begin reading with Jesus riding into town on a donkey with shouts from the crowds of Hosanna or to his crucifixion on a cross with taunts and mocking. Finally, there is resurrection that has changed our lives.
How can this even compare to the NCAA tournament? During March Madness there is such a focus on winning and losing. Winning is good because you go on. Losing is bad because you are out. The emotions that run with these temporary wins or setbacks are high, but soon wear off.
In the Bible followers of Jesus must have been thrilled that He was recognized for who he was when there were shouts of “Hosanna to the King”. Did they feel like they were on the winning side? How about in the coming days which brought betrayals, denials, abandonment, questions, arrests, hatred, cop outs, mocking, darkness, torture and eventually death? Did these followers feel like they had lost? Did they feel like it was over? Did they feel that all they had believed in and had abandoned to follow Jesus was just a bad joke? Did they feel that the game was over?
It would be easy for us all to feel that way if it wasn’t for the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning. When Mary Magdalene ran back to tell the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”, everything changed. He was alive and the entire ballgame had changed. There was no “close” ending. There was no one saying, “I hope this is all true.” There were no plans to wait until next year and see if we still think this man is the Son of God. It was a win. It is the only true win that matters in our lives.
So much of our lives are filled with the idea of winning. No, it doesn’t have to be a big trophy or even recognition from others. We want to know that what we are doing is right for ourselves and for those we love. No one wants to be on the the “outs” thinking they have done a bad job in what they consider important.
We can celebrate Easter this year knowing that we are right with God. Jesus death on the cross has placed us on the winning side. There is nothing more that we can do or extra time needed to get it right for him to accept me. I don’t need to compete with anyone to know that when he died for my sins and all my shortcomings the game was over. March Madness will be over but the Easter story will continue to be lived out everyday in our lives.
“It is finished.” John 19:30 (NIV)
2 thoughts on “March Madness”
Great analogy, Lindy! Have a particularly blessed Holy Week! We have an Easter Vigil on the beach at Yorktown on Holy Saturday to which all are invited! Join us if you are able. Kathie Price+
Right on target. Funny thing, too, my husband describes being “close” just like your dad. 🙂