(heads up: phrases in bold are hyperlinks)
I love those Beats by Dre Commercials…
The ones with the athletes walking from the bus into the stadium…The opposing team’s fans screaming and spitting… Chanting and holding up hateful and insulting signs. Or sports writers and talking heads throwing shade on the athlete: how they are washed up…overrated…not living up to the hype.
Then, the athlete pulls up the headphones, blocks out the world around them, and just tunes in to a song.
Their Power Song.
A song that puts them in the mindset to overcome the pressure mounting around them. A song that empowers them to put the city, state, or school or whatever they represent on their backs, against any and all odds, and get that victory!
As it is the end of March Madness (I’m still alive in a few brackets, so I need some guys on their A-game right now. Kentucky and Michigan State I’m looking at you!) and leading to the NBA playoffs where my Thunder are clinging to that 8-spot, there has been a significant amount of basketball coverage on at the James house. And It seems every player is listening to something to get their mind right before the Big Game. Maybe you are like me, and always wonder what these guys are listening to when they warm up? What gets them in the zone?
Hip hop? … Classical? …. Jazz? …. Rock?
What gets these athletes focused and motivated to go out there in front of the lights, fans in attendance and watching all over the world, and perform at the highest level?
I’ve often wondered what song I might use if I had those huge moments. When I was a Public Defender, I had songs I’d listen to in the car before hearings or trial to get my head right. I’ve been all over the place with it too, from Kirk Franklin to Kirko Bangs and basically any song with the word “hustlin” repeated in the chorus. We all have our moments where we need a good Power Song.
So the other night, while watching one of the games, I listened to an interesting sermon by this guy, Judah Smith (Check him out sometime), to kind of get myself in the Easter spirit. He was talking about Jesus and the disciples going to the Garden of Gethsemane the night before the Crucifixion. He pointed out, that on this night, Matthew Chapter 26:30 says “they sung a hymn and then went to the Mount of Olives.” The Bible verse seemed random to him, so he looked into what that song hymn might have been. What he found was pretty cool…
This took place during the celebration of Passover where various songs, called “Hallels” were sung. The Hallels are in Psalms 113-118 and the conclusion is “The Great Hallel,” found in Psalms 136.
Read it real quick and come back. I’ll wait…
Now, understand what’s going on in this scene: Jesus is heading to the Mount of Olives with 11 of 12 disciples because he is already being betrayed. He is heading to his arrest, “trial”, conviction, sentencing, and execution in the next 24 hours… And He knows it. As if that weren’t enough, He also is going to have the pressure of carrying the hope and fate of every human being on his shoulders. He is going to have the weight of all the sins of the world on His shoulders. He is heading to the biggest stage and the biggest game. A much larger stage, though less glamorous, than the Final Four will see at Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend.
But coincidentally, on the way there, He stops off at the Garden of Gethsemane, which literally means “Oil Press.” It is also known as the “Place of Pressure.” How fitting!
At this point, Jesus leaves seven disciples behind and just takes, James, John, and Peter with Him.
(Now I’m going to take some freedoms here.)
So here is Jesus: Star of the team, on the way to the biggest game of His life or anyone else’s. The stakes have never been this high. The fate of all humanity rests on the outcome of this weekend. The Perfect streak of the Perfect One is in the balance. This literally is life or death. His life or our death. All that PRESSURE is falling on Him…. The weight… The gravity of it…
And He’s going to have to do it without the rest of the team:
7 disciples are riding the bench.
You have Judas, but he doesn’t seem like his normal self. He’s probably got money riding on the game.
James and John: Sons of Thunder kind of says it all. James is ride or die for sure, and John’s strength is his love for The Game, but their skills are still too raw.
No…this is going to have to be a one man show. The greatest prize is right there, but it’s going to take Jesus EVERYTHING to claim it!…and He knows it.
He’s been enduring the screams and spit. The chants and lies. The smearing of his character. People doubting His ability and His identity. The claims that He can’t possibly be living up to the Hype. He has heard the shouts and the whispers. He has heard it all.
But on the way to the Oil Press, he heard his Power Song.
He heard Psalms 136!
“His Love Never Quits!…….His Love Never Quits!…..His Love Never Quits!”
When the Greatest Of All Time needed to get in His zone; when he needed focus and motivation to put the sin of all mankind on, and replace it with the hope and salvation of His perfect performance, He pulled on the headphones and heard voices in unison chanting:
“His Love Never Quits!……His Love Never Quits!…….His Love Never Quits!”
26 times He hears this. 26, in recognition of the Name of God (YHWH)!
When the pressure was its highest, and The Christ was at His most alone, He was reminded that God’s Love Never Quits…
So He prayed.
He acknowledged that the pressure was mounting. He acknowledged His humanity in those moments, but yet He said
Your Love Never Quits!………..Your Love Never Quits!……Your Love Never Quits!
And it didn’t!
In God’s Love, Jesus endured all… surrendered all…. and overcame all! All for you!
Do you get that? Do you understand that victory has already been claimed, and it is yours?! You don’t have to hit the winning shot to share in the title, you just have to be on the team!
So quit watching from the sidelines. Come cut your piece of the net and start celebrating!
Happy Easter!! Enjoy the Final Four!! Go Thunder!! Thank You Jesus!!
[Pops: we know we are going to run into challenges that seem too big and fights we don’t feel like fighting. We know we will have moments where we are discouraged or just plain tired and rundown. We know will be accustomed, intuitively, to digging down and trying to find strength within ourselves. We we will try to stand under the pressure…seize the moment, but we frequently fail to realize that some pressure and some moments are just too big for us. So I pray that in those moments, remind us of what Jesus did in the Garden! Remind us that when we feel the pressure coming down on us that it is not our job take over for You, it is our job to take cover under you. When we face our fears and doubts, remind us to come straight to You; pull up the headphones to drown out the world, and tune in to the sweet relief of knowing:
“Your Love Never Quits! Your Love Never Quits! Your Love Never Quits!” – amen]