As a boy growing up in Baltimore, I had a regular Saturday regiment. First, I would finish the home responsibilities that my mom had assigned me. Then, when all of my chores were done – usually by noon – I would head down to the diamond. The diamond was a large field located just a few minutes from my house where the guys gathered every Saturday to play football.
I could never get enough of football. It was my passion. Even though I played in school during the week as a halfback, and even if there was a Friday night game the evening before, you could still locate me every single Saturday at the diamond.
On one occasion, we had all gathered down at the diamond for our Saturday afternoon games that would typically last from noon until dark. As we always did, we had chosen sides, and it was time for the game to commence. However, when we started to line up across from each other, we began to look around for the football. This is because on this particular Saturday, no one had brought a football.
While we had taken the time to go to the diamond, and while we had been proactive to choose up teams in order to begin the battle, everything came to an abrupt end simply because the football was not there. We were not able to do what we had gathered to do because the main thing was missing.
Isn’t it amazing how something so small can carry so much weight? The people were there. The field was there. The plan was there. The spectators were there. The teams were there. Yet, because the main thing wasn’t there, nothing else mattered.
We couldn’t play football without the football.
You see, in football – the football determines everything. First downs are measured by where the ball is placed. Touchdowns are measured by whether the ball crosses the plain. Out-of-bounds is tied to your control of the ball and its’ relationship to the feet of the person holding it. Fumbles are determined by who grabs the ball. Field goals are measured by whether the ball goes through the Up Rights. Men fight over it, rejoice over it, and strive to possess it. In other words, if a football is missing than there is no football game. Without the football, everything else that goes on in a stadium or on a field like the diamond where I once played is a waste of time.
In football – as we also saw through the Vince Lombardi story – the football is the main thing. And, as a reminder before we continue on – in Christianity, the cross is the main thing.
What Jesus satisfied and gained at the cross is the main thing. Without it, there is no power, no freedom, no forgiveness, no authority, no strength, no victory – nothing at all. The cross is the main thing.