The End is Near

LeBron James

Each generation has heroes they idolize and cling to for hope.

by Eric Elkin

Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!
— John 12:13

Wednesday night, LeBron James set another statistical mark on the basketball court. He scored thirty-five points, registered seventeen assists and did not commit a turnover. Hosanna to King James!

I do not hide my man-crush on LeBron. He works his way into many of my sermons and reflections. The imagery is too rich to deny. Out of poverty, James rose to become a boy king. In the eighth grade, he was dubbed the Chosen One. The intensity of pressure on him to win was only surpassed by a desire to see him fail. One of the most heavily scrutinized players in North American sports history, he delivered. He single-handedly transformed the “Mistake on the Lake” into “The Land.” But my heart weeps because you can see it is all coming to an end.

New England Patriot fans know what I mean. Tom Brady made the Patriots kings of the NFL. Let’s face it, Bill Belichick is a great coach, but he did not work the same magic with Vinnie Testaverde at quarterback. Brady continues to re-write what greatness means at the quarterback position. It is hard to imagine anyone achieving anything close to his level of success.

Despite nearly winning another Super Bowl title last year, the end is near. An athlete can only defy the odds for so long. Eventually, their bodies need more than a protein diet and a cutting-edge exercise routine. While it is not the end of the world, for sports fans, life without those once-in-a-generation athletes looks bleak.

When championship seasons end, they end. It is stunning how quickly they fade into a memory. At the same time, those stars we once admired, look so human in retirement. We see their faults more clearly when they are not winning championships for us.

Each generation has heroes they idolize and cling to for hope. They are not limited to sports figures. They are politicians, business gurus, thought agents, spiritual sages, and writers. Leaders emerge, inspire, fade and die. Few ever able to live up to the hype. In the end, they are all human.

The movement on Palm Sunday is one of joy to sadness. A scenario played out, again and again, in our life. An earthly celebration confronts the reality of life; death and disappointment. However, in this arena, death has a transformative power not visible in any other venue. It provides a hope the world desires but does not fully understand.

Click to read: John 12: 12-16

Reflection Questions:

  • Who was a hero you hoped would make a difference?
  • How effective were they in meeting your expectations?
  • What does Palm Sunday mean to you?
  • How does life out of death shape your daily living?

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