May 3, 2018:

Ephesians 2:1-7 (NIV)
1  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
3  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
4  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
6  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

 

Every batter on team Heaven that went to the plate to one look down the third baseline and saw their player-coach.  They received the signal from the coach and they entered the batter’s box with a calm strength they had never displayed before.  AOTB (Accuser of the Brethren) turned up his heckling but it had no effect.  With each pitch that Goliath threw they connected with greater force.  The harder Goliath threw the better hit Team Heaven had.

It was now the bottom of the ninth, the score was tied 10-10.  Bases were loaded.  Team Heaven’s player-coach now made a change in the lineup. He stepped in to pinch hit for their best player who for some reason had become extremely ill during the inning.  All the players on Team heaven knew that it had to be something Team Hell had done.  Someone had put some poison in the drinking water that made them sick.  AOTB was laughing at the ill player. “What is wrong, are you too afraid to hit off Goliath?  I knew it, you are all too scared and weak to finish this game.”

While the hecking grew in intensity there was a change in the lineup.  The player-coach of Team Heaven put himself in the game to pinch hit for the best hitter on the team who was so sick he could not stand up.

When the crowd saw the player-coach substitute himself for their best hitter they began to laugh.  The player-coach did not look like he had the strength to pick up a bat, let alone swing it.  He was not the best-looking player and certainly did not look like he possessed any strength of one that would make anyone chose him to be the one that would rescue the team.  Boos and catcalls began to grow as the stadium watched the player-coach make his way to the plate.

AOTB began his rant against this player-coach. “Who do you think you are trying to save this game, why everyone knows you cannot even save yourself.  Aren’t you a mama’s boy?  Didn’t your dad die when you were young?  Everyone knows you were an illegitimate child.  Your parents were not even married when you were conceived.  What makes you think you can even help anyone.  Don’t you come from the wrong side of the tracks coach.”  The cursing and heckling grew worse.

“You can’t save yourself let alone anyone else.”  As those words came out of AOTB’s mouth he took a look at the coach’s hands as he gripped the bat and dug in his heels to steady himself for the first pitch.  What was that on his hands?  Wait a minute something is wrong here!  What did AOTB see when he looked at the coach’s hands? Were those scars on both hands?  They looked like nail prints. something was not right here.  Goliath took his signal from AOTB and threw his first pitch.  It sailed towards home plate with a vengeance and force that was different this time.  There seemed to be fire on this pitch no one had ever witnessed.

The coach took his swing and missed the pitch completely almost losing his footing and falling to the ground.  He looked quite foolish at the plate.  It sure looked liked he did not have what was needed to hit anything.  AOTB signaled to Goliath for a changeup, knowing that the batter would think the next pitch would be a fastball.  Goliath took his wind up and hurled his next pitch towards the plate.  The batter swung but he was deceived this second time and missed the pitch completely, once more looking like a fool.

Team Hell knew the game was in the bag now.  With everyone on Team heaven too ill to stand, let alone play, it was now just a matter of time before Team Hell took the bat and then finished off Team Heaven.

With two strikes and two outs, AOTB signaled for Goliath to make this next pitch his fastball.  AOTB knew he had the batter completely off balance so this next pitch would make the batter look like an utter fool.  AOTB made his living off of making this particular player-coach look like an idiot.  He often accused this coach as being in league with Team Hell and some people even believed that up until now.

AOTB took his position behind home plate. He settled in to receive the fastest fastball the game of baseball had ever witnessed.  Goliath took his wind up, looking towards home plate with a growing hatred.  The energy that filled Goliath would send this pitch hurtling toward home plate.  This would be the pitch that would go down in the record books as the fastest pitch ever to be thrown.

The crowds were on their feet chanting, “He claimed to be the best coach but he cannot even hit his own at-bat.  Some coach he turned out to be. There were some in the crowd that spit at the batter in disgust, others railed and called him all sorts of derogatory names.  Team heaven was more ill than they had ever been, unable to even stand to watch the coach at-bat. It sure looked like the end for Team Heaven.

Goliath made his stretch toward home plate and released his pitch.  All at once everything went into slow motion.  AOTB glanced at the batter’s stance and saw something that sent waves of terror through his body.  The batter’s hands were now drenched in blood.  The bat was beginning to be covered in blood.  He glanced at the batter’s feet and saw bloody footprints.  He glanced at the batter’s face and saw more blood dripping down.  He glanced at the batter’s jersey and saw a wound opened in his side.

NO, NO NO, this cannot be happening, AOTB said to himself.  Something about these wounds terrified him.  He could not understand it but the view of these wounds made him ill.  The pitch was now hurtling toward home plate and he saw the feet of the batter dig in deep and find their footing. He saw the batter begin his swing to connect with the pitch.  As the batter swung, AOTB and everyone in the stadium heard these words and they never were the same once those words came from the batter’s mouth.

The player-coach of Team Heaven took his swing at Goliath’s pitch and uttered this one word, “Finished!”  As the word came out of his mouth the bat connected with the pitch and sent it flying high over the centerfield fence.  The crowd that day said it was a hit that went out of the ballpark.  It traveled so far no one has ever been able to recover the ball that was hit.

It was a grand slam and the game was over and Team Heaven was the victor. There were many that day that asked the question, “What was it that brought about the victory?”  Some experts in baseball said it was the bat the coach used so they began to produce facsimiles of the bat that many began to wear to remind them of what it was that won the game.  But there were a few that saw through this belief and knew that it was more than some bat that was used that brought the victory

They knew the real reason for the victory.  It was not in a bat but in the batter.  There are some today that think it was the piece of wood that brought about the victory but then there are those who know the truth, it was never in the bat it was always in the batter.

So it is in our day in the real world, it is not in a piece of wood that some people wear around their necks that brought us our victory over sin and death, but it is in a the person of our Lord Jesus.  He is the one who died in our place and rose again that we might have life.  The cross is a great symbol of our relationship with Christ but it was never in the pieces of wood at right angles that brought us life it has always and will always be in the person of our Lord Jesus who offered himself upon the Cross that we might have life.

Team Heaven has gone on to win victory after victory because of what their player-coach continues to do for them. And so may we too realize that as we stay connected to our Lord, victory is assured for us as well, even when the score is against us and the world screams their ridicule.

It truly is finished and we are the victors.

 

Have a great day

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