In the world of professional football, a winless streak can seem to last forever. My favorite team in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns, finally broke a 19-game losing streak. To put things into perspective, the total time between seeing my Browns win a game was a whopping 635 days! But, the real fans hung in during the long drought to enjoy our victory over the Jets last Thursday. Funny thing: The losing streak hardly matters at all now that we have broken it, and all the disappointment has been swallowed up with one glorious win.
I know that sports do not fully compare to something as important as the Gospel of Jesus Christ but indulge me for a moment as I make an analogy. The world before Jesus had given way to darkness and spiritual defeat. Even the seemingly religious people who sought to please God were incapable of keeping the righteous demands of the Law, often leading to feelings of despair and hopelessness. When Christ began to teach and heal, there was a fresh breeze of expectation that began to stir. The victory had not yet been won, but the possibility of hope excited the people who heard Jesus speak.
One of the bleakest hours for Christ's followers was the day that their Lord was crucified. The darkness that filled the land represented the horror gripping their hearts in seeming defeat. My disappointment as a Browns fan pales in comparison to what followers of Jesus felt at the foot of the Cross. But, hang on a moment... three days made all the difference! Resurrection victory consumed any lingering despair and hopelessness. Death had long been viewed as defeat, but Jesus changed everything: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Cor. 15:55) Just one victory, and all the residual pain and defeat of life is gone. Light has broken upon the earth, and Jesus has sealed the victory over death. It's a good day for the few of us who follow the Browns, but an even better day to be a Jesus follower!