I went through this stage of life where my body periodically decided breathing was an optional biological function. My lungs would jet off to Hawaii for the weekend, and I’d get to have a nice little party at the local hospital. During one of these lovely episodes (also known as asthma) I found myself hooked up to some O2 in the hospital watching the Major League All-Star game. In a solid game, the AL came back from a 4-0 deficit, and the game was knotted at 7 after nine innings. In the middle of the 11th inning, with the game still tied, the two managers and league commission held a summit meeting along the first base-line. They decided that if the inning ended tied the game would simply end. Despite a near riot from the fans, that’s exactly what happened. I was furious, first because there are three major no’s in baseball: no crying, no PEDs, and no ties! Second, there was absolutely nothing else on TV, which seemed like a pretty major problem at the time.
In many ways, Jesus’ death on the cross is the run that breaks the tie between life and death, light and darkness, and good and evil. His death pays the debt for all us sinners, a debt payable only by death. The debt is paid on the cross, but the power of death is not yet defeated. In Jesus’ day resurrection was such an out there idea that even the most zealously religious people believed that not even God could resurrect the dead. One could perhaps earn a tie with death (like Elijah, who simply rode into Heaven), but there was no coming back and defeating death. For 99.9999% of people, however, there was no tie. You won or loss, and it was pretty close to impossible to win on your own. That’s why Jesus is such a big deal. Not only did Jesus die to pay our debt, he came back on the third day. He hit a walk-off grand slam that forever defeated death. Because Jesus both died for our sins, and was resurrected, death is no longer something that can defeat us, nor is it something we should fear. Here’s how Paul’s puts it in Romans 6:5-8:
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
There seems to be so much to be afraid of and angry about right now. In the midst of all this garbage and difficulty remember that, in the end, life doesn’t end in a tie. It ends in Heaven or it ends it Hell. Yet, because of Jesus’ love and sacrifice, we can be guaranteed a victory if we confess our sins and believe in Him. Here’s to celebrating our victory all together in Heaven some day!