As a kid, I played hours and hours of basketball in my driveway. In fact, I even “invented” a one on one and two on two basketball league for the kids in my neighborhood that we called the Youth Outdoor Basketball Association (YOBA). We had a schedule, season, playoffs, and I even wrote a newsletter about the league, though (admittedly) circulation and readership was poor!
When I wasn’t playing official YOBA games, I would play games in the driveway against pretend opponents . . . imagining each possession as we staged epic comebacks ALWAYS ending with me hitting the winning shot. Now, when I say “ALWAYS ending with the shot going in,” I am not implying that I always made the shot . . . I am simply saying that in an imaginary game, any missed shot could be corrected by the declaration “HE WAS FOULED!” resulting in free throws, and any missed free throw could be corrected with a fake lane violation. In a make believe world, you always get a do-over.
The sad reality is, though, that real life does not always seem so forgiving. Sometimes, you miss your shot . . . sometimes the other team wins. This is not just true in sports, it also applies to our moral life. In our imaginations, we may always be the hero – our actions always justified and noble – but upon further review, we are often selfish and sloppy and sinful. In fact, personally, I lose a lot — can anyone relate?
Wouldn’t it be great if we were to find out that what often looks like the “end of the game” is not really the end at all? Wouldn’t it be amazing to find out that when it looks like we are dead and buried, hope rises from the ashes? AND, wouldn’t it be even more amazing if this kind of hope was not confined to our imaginations, but actually resurrects in the real world?
Think about it . . . what if the affair that led to so much loss was not the end of the game? What if the web of lies you are telling that lies below the surface of your life could be replaced by a firm foundation? What if your broken dreams could be replaced with the brightest future? What if the loved you you lost, you might be able to see again one day? What if . . .
At the end of Matthew 27, the followers of Jesus felt like the game had been lost. Some had deserted Him. Some had denied Him. All had watched Him die . . . and be buried . . . and the tomb was guarded. Their dreams and fantasies of the Kingdom seemed lost. No “do-overs” seemed possible or allowed. But then . . . God shook the world at its foundations. Then Jesus rose from the dead! Then the disciples were given a new shot! Then the “Game” that looked lost was forever won! The resurrection changed everything.
It changed the fate of the disciples. It changed the necessary loss that our sin demanded. The enemy of death was defeated forever, and you and I have a chance to live out this fantasy in the real world because Jesus is . . . well . . . JESUS! He has defeated death and made a way for you and I to do the same. And it happened in the real world . . . in history . . . so that our future could really be changed forever!
This Easter Sunday (April 12), Wildwood Community Church in our 11AM Livestream (found at wildwoodchurch.org/live ) will be celebrating this victory. Jesus “Defeated Death” . . .He is RISEN, just as they said. Make plans to come . . . and invite friends to do the same.