Faith and Sports by Eric Jensen


In 2016 the Cleveland Cavaliers were down three to one in a best of seven game NBA Championship series against the Golden State Warriors. But the world didn’t turn its back on the Cavs. America watched and saw one of the greatest sports comebacks of all time, as the Cavaliers won the series in a dramatic Game 7. We as a society love the comeback of not just professional athletes but anyone in society who has fallen on hard times;  the ones who get back up and claw their way to the top.

I wonder if people turned away when Jesus was crucified. It seems likely. Here you are, someone who believes in this Messiah, and suddenly he's killed. It’s over.  You begin your life anew and prepare to go back to living under the crushing fist of the Roman Empire. No one knew Jesus was going to come back. The three women lead by Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to perform last rituals on Jesus’s body. They thought he was dead, and when Mary found the tomb empty she was devastated until the angels told her the good news.  If that isn't a comeback, I don’t know what is. Why do we love comebacks? Why do we need to see someone get so low in life to begin rooting for them? Why can’t we pick an average Joe who is doing fine to root for?  Why do we need rock bottom, even near-death, to succeed? Is it because of Jesus?  Throughout the history of sports people have loved the comeback because they love seeing people fight through adversity.

Not everyone gave up on Jesus thought.  On their owns crosses next to him were the two thieves, one of whom in the end is considered a true believer. For a comeback story to exist, not only does the comeback have to happen but the fan must be like the thief: down on their luck, at their lowest moment, but even at the moment of death of their dreams, a pure unhindered belief resides in their spirit that their team will win.  Again they must carry the human spirit.  Jesus on Easter Sunday is the personification of the human spirit. The personification of why we love a good comeback story; a story of someone betrayed, beaten, dragged through the mud, killed. But in the end though, he comes back and gives us the biggest W in human history: forgiveness for all of our sins.