Before you get offended by the picture, don’t worry, thats not really Jesus. We, of course, don’t know what Jesus looked like, and pigskins were not around when He was here, so this is the best we could do. I like the idea of Jesus being a football fan because I love football. This is what we do, right? Whenever we like something we want to believe that Jesus likes it to. When I am tempted to make Jesus like me I imagine that He loves to read, watch sports (and occasionally get mad at the refs), drink black coffee, and eat Mexican food. Just typing that sentence seems ridiculous. Except for the coffee part. The questions that I kept hearing after watching the super bowl unfold is this, “Does Jesus like football?” “Would He get involved and help determine the outcome of a game because certain players pray and ask for the victory?” I want to point out a few things about these questions, and then give you some examples of things that I know Jesus really does care about, and at this point, I don’t think football will make the list.
Point #1: Unashamed Believers
I absolutely love when professional sports players, coaches, and staff are bold in their faith and are not afraid to speak the name of Jesus on a worldwide scale. Those holding the mics or conducting the interviews usually don’t know how to respond, so they typically just act like the statements were not made. It was exciting to hear the Eagles head coach, Doug Pederson, give a shout out to his “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” in the interview directly following the super bowl win. Yes I typed that correctly, Coach Pederson said on live television, and in front of the entire stadium, that Jesus Christ is his Lord and Savior. This is amazing, and I commend him for being unashamed. He didn’t have to be so specific. Christians would have been satisfied with a less direct response. But Coach Pederson wasn’t saying it for the Christians who were listening. He said it for His Savior. He said it for all to know that Jesus is alive and well. There are multiple players in the organization who have referenced their faith in Christ, and I know that Jesus is pleased by this. So, did the big guy upstairs influence the game a bit because of the faith of these men and others? Because we can safely assume that some of the good fans in Philadelphia were praying during the game. I’m sure none of them were involved in the crazy “happy violence displays” (I’m really not sure what to call it) on the streets after the win. I don’t think God got involved. At least I certainly hope not, and I will explain why in a minute.
Point #2: The other unashamed believers
Just like the Eagle players and fans were praying for a victory, so were the Patriot players and fans. Perhaps God didn’t like their prayers as much? Maybe God likes eagles better than patriots? We would all agree that both of those questions are foolish. There is no doubt that some in the Patriots organization and some of their fans are believers in Jesus too. So, why would God not give them the victory? One thing I am thankful for is that we know God is not into giving out participation trophies. By the way some people portray what God is like we would expect the game to end in a tie, everyone share the trophy and meet up at the 50 yard line for a group rendition of Kumbaya (yes, this is sarcasm). But seriously, if both sides prayed, and both teams had believers in Jesus, why did God allow the Eagles to win? To avoid getting into an extremely deep theological discussion regarding the sovereignty of God, lets look at some things that we know Jesus really does care about.
Jesus cares about His Father’s Will
If there is one thing we know about Jesus, it is that He was all about pleasing God. He made multiple references in Scripture about His goal being to accomplish the will of the Father. When he was just twelve years old he told his parents (after they had left him behind on a road trip) that they should know he would “be about my father’s business” (Luke 2:49). When he was approaching the darkest moments of his life on earth, just hours away from being murdered, he surrendered his body and spirit to the will of the Father, knowing that God’s plan must be fulfilled (Luke 22). Jesus went to the cross because it was God’s will. When his disciples were worried he wasn’t eating enough he told them that his food was to do the will of the Father (John 4:32-34). Everything He did on earth was for that purpose. Jesus was serious about accomplishing the will of God, and He still is.
Jesus cares about people
One of the most amazing passages in Scripture is found in Matthew 9. Jesus was people watching, like some of us do at times, and he was physically moved within himself at the state they were in. He saw that they were lost and desolate, and it broke his heart. You cannot read the gospels about Jesus without seeing his love and care for the people he came into contact with. He was willing to embrace and engage the people that no one else cared about. He gave his life for people. For you, me, and everyone else who has ever lived. While I don’t think Jesus cares about the outcome of a football game, I know he cares about the people who care about the outcome of a football game.
Jesus cares about His name being proclaimed to the nations
Jesus says some amazing things in Scripture. He also made some very exclusive statements. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to know and be with God, they have to go through me” (John 14:6). This is a strong statement. With those words, and there are plenty of others to go along with them, Jesus tells us that any and all religions that teach a way to God apart from him are false. After Jesus had risen from the grave, he instructed his followers to do certain things and live a certain way. In Matthew 28 Jesus told them to, “Go, and teach all nations the Truth about me and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to observe all things that I have commanded to you, and I will be with you always.” Jesus could have instructed many important things at this point, but he focused on one thing; that his name should be proclaimed to ever person in every nation, so that they can know the Truth, that Jesus is the only way to salvation and to God.
Jesus is concerned with much more important things than a football game. He is concerned with things like the eternal destination of every soul on the planet, he is concerned with the glory of his father, and he is concerned with His name being proclaimed to the world. If Jesus was wrapped up in the outcome of a game like we are, he would suddenly seem way to much like us, and not enough like God. One thing is for sure, Jesus is delighted when anyone is unashamed to speak the truth of who he is to others. Jesus is also delighted when his children experience joy and purpose. When the coach made that statement after the game, what he was really saying is, “winning the super bowl is great, but it doesn’t compare to who Jesus is.” I stand with Coach Pederson. Everything is for the glory of Jesus Christ, and I am glad my God is concerned with my eternal well being and His own glory instead of who scores more points by throwing an oddly shaped brown ball.
Love football if you want, but make sure you love Jesus and people more. Maybe football will be in heaven, but football certainly won’t get you there.