Buzzer Beater–1 John 5:6

This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.–1 John 5:6

As I write this, the NBA Finals are about to get started. Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers will be squaring off against Paul Pierce (formerly of the University of Kansas) and the Boston Celtics. By the time you see these words the series should be about half over, but it’s all a mystery to me.

I’m not a big fan of professional basketball. When guys, especially the big stars, get to take six and a half steps with the ball in their hands as they slash to the basket, it just doesn’t seem much like Dr. Naismith’s game. However, you cannot deny the history and tradition behind the Celtics-Lakes match ups. This is the pair of teams that has met more often than any other in the history of the championship, pitting Celtics like Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Kevin McHale, and Larry Bird against Lakers like Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In basketball, as in most any sport, there are good players and then there are special players, players who seem to always bring their A-game in the biggest situation. All of the guys mentioned in that last paragraph were cut from that cloth. I remember an enormous game in which Larry Bird–not the tallest, fastest, or shiftiest guy to ever lace up sneakers–came down in absolute crunch time, set up outside the three-point line and let fly. And what did he do then? The moment the ball left his hand, he broke for the defensive end of the floor, absolutely knowing that ball had to go in. Is Kobe that kind of player? Pierce? Time has yet to tell if either or both of them is truly special or just very, very good.

As special as special athletes might be, they are, after all, just humans. Tiger Woods, Bjorn Borg, George Brett, Wayne Gretzky–these are all just men. Cut them and they’ll bleed–before they knock you down for cutting them. They’re good enough for the hall of fame in sport, but they’re not good enough for what John is talking about in the current passage.

John has been calling us to a radical life of love, a life that, if not lived in the service of a truly special, truly divine figure, will just wind up with us feeling cheated and abused. Let’s face it–there’s a lot of truth to the old saying that “No good deed goes unpunished.” If we were living a life of love for a mere mortal, we’d be in deep water, but we’re not. Jesus stands as someone unique, someone born of water and blood, a part of the Godhead testified by another part of the Godhead.

Don’t you know that when the game is on the line and things look grim, the average players look to the special players for something miraculous? If they can do that, often finding a reward, how much more should we, as the average teammates of Jesus Christ, rely on him for that buzzer-beating score?