March Madness is here. If you are like me then you have filled out your bracket and are about to watch more college basketball then you have, well…., since last March. (Its truthfully the only time I watch it.)
If you are also like me, which is statistically highly improbable, my wife says I am one in a million, then you are also trying to figure out if there is anyway to redeem any of the hours you will spend rooting for teams you hardly care about, except for the fact that you thought a #9 seed just might upset that #8 seed and so you put it down on your bracket.
Here is one simple way to redeem your bracket, your basketball watching, and maybe even point you to the Gospel, if just a little.
The Under Dog
It never fails. Dick Vitale, Greg Gumble, and all the other basketball guys are just waiting to be the first ones to pen the term “Cinderella Story” on some teams this year. Its like they compete to try to figure out who it will be. And each year there seems to be at least one team that fits that mold. You remember last year there was that team that beat that better team with that shot right before the end of the game. You know, that kid that no one knew one night, and then everyone knew the next night, made that shot to win the game. You remember, right?
That is the story each year. Here’s the thing about it. It never gets old. We love the underdog. Unless you grew up in North Carolina, then you probably love one team or another that is always in the Final Four. Other then North Carolinians, when it comes to basketball, we love the underdog. It is the basic plot line for every good/great sports movie/book/biography/, you name it. Rocky, Karate Kid, Rudy, Miracle, Mighty Ducks (yeah I put that one in there) Hoosiers. They are all made great because we love the underdog. There is just something inside us that wants to root for the underdog.
Here’s were the redeeming comes in. I don’t think that is by accident. I think we were made in the image of God and that God has set eternity in men’s hearts (Ecc. 3:11) And part of God’s eternal plan was to save us from our sins through the world’s biggest underdog, Jesus Christ.
Now I hope many don’t get offend by my calling Jesus Christ the underdog. I do not for one moment deny his fully divinity. But look at his story. Look at the Gospel. The Savior of the World comes to us through a poor family, born in a barn, raised as a lowly carpenter, befriends the outcasts, shows no military strength, is betrayed by his own disciple, his community rejects him, his followers reject him, and he is tried and killed in the most humiliating way by a foreign government that was oppressive to his people.
This is not the story that you would write had you been given the task of making up the grand epic of a Champion. The Gospels are so un-Messianic as compared to other messianic stories of their day that it actually helps prove that they are valid. In that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John would not have said some of the things they said about Jesus if they were trying to impress people. You don’t write about your “Savior” being tired, hungry, weeping, or hanging out with women and lepers. And you certainly don’ t write about him being tried, convicted, and dying with other criminals. You write the Iliad, the Odyssey, or the stories of Hercules, Superman, or any superheros.
You don’t write the Gospels.
But they did, because the story of redemption is an underdog’s story.
And so I think there, hidden within our brackets and basketball watching is a small amount of common grace poured out by God onto us all. When we cheer for that underdog team, from that school that no one has heard of we, might just be participating in a little part of the Gospel beauty and it might just help point us to the most wonderful underdog of all time. Jesus Christ.