Won and Done

For many basketball leagues around the world, early Spring (in the Northern Hemisphere) marks playoff time, or “championship season.” It is the time when the result of winning and losing becomes seemingly final.

Playoffs re-set a sense of hope as each team has the potential to achieve meaningful victory. However, in reality, playoffs filter out all but one champion…leaving the rest as NOT champions (some say, “losers”).

Each season, the playoffs represent an ending/finality for both winners and losers…until the next season when we all re-enter the pursuit of winning a championship.

For Christian’s, early Spring is also when believers around the world celebrate the Easter season.

Easter commemorates the day Jesus, the Nazarene, rose from the dead after being unjustly arrested, unfairly tried and crucified three days prior.

At first look, the crucifixion represented a devastating loss for Jesus’s followers as they left all they had in order to follow Jesus as the long-awaited, and self-affirmed, Messiah (a.k.a the Savior of the nation of Israel)(see our previous post: Good Loss).

However, Jesus’s miraculous resurrection stands as the ultimate victory over sin and death, providing salvation for ALL people through faith in Him (Jesus).

The basketball season of playoffs, and the celebration of the Easter season carry a few similarities, but also one massively significant difference.

Here are a few similarities:

✅ Heightened consequences of winning/losing between opponents:

  • Basketball: “Win and advance” or “lose and go home.”
  • Easter: Many of Jesus’s followers were hoping He came to overtake the occupying Roman Empire, so if they win, their nation “advances“…if they lose, the stay under the foot of an oppressive regime.

✅ Narrowing of number of competitors:

  • Basketball: The field of competition starts broad with multiple teams vying to move forward. But, again, win and advance or lose and go home.
  • Easter: The initial competition/conflict surrounding Jesus included multiple groups but ultimately ended being a fight between the Jewish religious leaders, the regional Roman government, Jesus’s followers, and Jesus.

✅ One final competition to determine a “champion”:

  • Basketball: Championship Game!
  • Easter: The act of crucifying Jesus was the final “contest” between the powers represented.

One MASSIVE difference: ⬇️

Basketball playoffs end with one champion for the season, BUT the next season re-opens the title of “champion” for each team to pursue…and the cycle repeats indefinitely.

Conversely, Jesus resurrection stands as THE ultimate and final victory…the eternal championship for all seasons…the win to end all wins.

In the Gospel account of John, some of Jesus’s final words were “it is finished” (John 19:30). This phrase in the original Greek language is “tetelestai”, meaning “complete” or “paid in full”.

The Apostle Paul further explains this idea when he states, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.“ (Romans 8:37 ESV)

The phrase “more than conquerors” refers back to Jesus’s resurrection as proof of Jesus’s famous words, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.“ (John 3:16 ESV)

Further, “more than conquerors” translated from its original Greek, “hypernikomen”, suggests “hyper-conquerors”, or “super-victory”, once again highlighting the ultimate/final nature of the eternal victory found through faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ.

So, as Basketball players and coaches, we are engaged in a continuous cycle of pursuing a championship that re-sets each season, regardless if we are the last team standing or not. We will never hold the title of ultimate/continual/final champions over a league or the game of basketball as a whole…that’s simply not how it’s set up.

In short, we are playing FOR victory.

However, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the ability to be part of the ultimate/continual/final championship/victory over sin and death because of the life, sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection of Jesus.

In short, we are living FROM victory.

How might your life look different if you truly lived FROM victory instead of continually fighting FOR victory?

Here are a few songs to hopefully encourage you in your journey to understanding that following Jesus allows you to fight/live FROM victory: 

Picture of Tim Bieri | News Release Basketball Director
Tim Bieri | News Release Basketball Director

Tim has served with NRB for nearly 20 years and coached at the collegiate level for the past 13 years.