I only ever attended one pro-football game that I remember. It was a playoff game in Pittsburgh between the Steelers and the Oakland Raiders. The remarkable thing about the game is how it ended. On the last play of the game Terry Bradshaw threw a desperation pass. The receiver missed it, the ball was batted in the air, and before the ball had time to hit the ground Franko Harris scooped it up and ran it into the end zone, scoring the winning touchdown.
My Dad was there at the game with me, but he didn’t see the play. He was gathering up the blankets we had been bundled in. “What happened? What happened?” he asked when the crowd suddenly went absolutely nuts, “did we win? We won? How? What happened?”
We were both there. I saw it. He didn’t. But we both knew it happened. It was an absolutely unbelievable experience. Over the years we both enjoyed remembering that day, going back over the game, recalling that wonderland feelings. How fortunate we were to have been there, at the beginning of the rise of the Steelers to football dominance.
What an experience!
Friends, I tell this story to make a point, a very serious point, and the point is this. Our experience of that day had nothing to do with the Steelers winning the game. Neither did our experience that day have anything to do with the Steelers rise to football dominance. What Franko Harris, Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers did, they did on their own. What Dad and I experienced has nothing to do with their accomplishments. What they did is one thing. What we experienced is another.
I tell this story as a parable about Easter. Easter is about that moment in time, that last play of the game, when Jesus miraculously rose from the dead. Game over. Eternity won.
Easter is about Jesus, what he did, and whether we believe he did it. Easter is a fact, a done deal. Easter does not depend on anyone’s experience of it. It happened, thank God, and it changed the world forever.
I saw Franko catch the ball. My Dad did not. But we both know it happened, and in happening it changed the franchise of the Steelers forever. Steelers fans still experience that day with great relish. Raider fans still experience that day, but much differently.
Back to Easter for a moment. When all is said and done, Easter is a fact. Our feelings about it, whether affirming or denying, don’t change a thing. Jesus is Risen. That’s all that matters. Believe it or Not.