Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh proclaimed the “Good News” of Jesus Christ following his team’s 37-31 victory over the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. The Ravens lead the American Football Conference (AFC) with a winning 11-3 record this season.
Harbaugh made the remarks in a press conference following the win; he shared with the media the devotional he had given to his team earlier in the day: the importance of the Advent season.
“This is your moment in life and this is your time. Five hundred years from now, none of us are going to be around,” Harbaugh told his team. “Five hundred years [ago], none of us were here, so we’re given this time with these people in this place for a purpose.”
“December football has a meaning to it. It’s preparation for great events to come. You have to put yourself in position with December football for what’s to come,” Harbaugh said, adding,
It’s also the Advent season. Advent comes from the Latin “adventus,” which means anticipation and preparation for an amazing event, which is the coming of our Savior and celebrating the Christ – the Good News that changes the world and changes it for all eternity.
Harbaugh, 61, was raised as a Catholic. While he went to church “every now and then” as a teenager, he now regularly attends mass. He also has strong ties to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
In an interview on the Sports Spectrum podcast, Harbaugh said that he gave his life to Christ his freshman year at Miami University in Ohio, after he was convinced by the evidence for Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
“Historically, if the resurrection didn’t take place, then Christianity – there’s no point to it. … [Neither the apostles nor their associates], nobody at any point in time, recanted what had happened. Nobody,” Harbaugh said.
“Even to martyring themselves and being executed in the most gruesome ways, they all held firm saying that this Man was crucified and rose from the dead, and they saw it. That is strong evidence to me.”
In his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul made the same argument:
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. … And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins (1 Cor. 15:14, 17, ESV).
Christianity rises to the level of true or false. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then our faith is false, and we have no reason to have hope or “look forward to the resurrection of the dead.”
But as Harbaugh correctly noted – praise God – there is good evidence to believe in the resurrection of Christ. And that should make a profound difference in how we live.
Harbaugh told Sports Spectrum,
Really, [walking with Christ] comes down to trust, I do believe. I trust providence. I trust God’s will, His plan. As much as anything, try to put it in His hands because when you look back, you can see where He’s brought you.
The Season of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, is intended to help Christians live out two mysteries of our faith, one in the past and one yet to come.
The first three weeks of Advent are focused on the Second Coming of Christ, when our Lord will “come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,” and fully establish His Kingdom which “will have no end.” Jesus will come again to defeat death, raise the dead to life, wipe away every tear from our eyes and make all things new.
It’s this hope that makes any present sufferings we must endure bearable.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18, ESV).
The final week of Advent, culminating with Christmas, is centered on the First Coming of Christ, when God was made man in the womb of the Virgin Mary and born in a manger.
Our culture, with its intense commercialization of the Christmas season, has largely forgotten the reason behind it all. We Christians should take care to remember what – and Who – we are celebrating: the beginning of the renewal of all things through the birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8-14, ESV).
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Check out Focus on the Family’s broadcast Celebrating Advent as a Family. In addition, you can sign up to receive weekly devotionals that focus on the themes of Advent, and to receive activities for your kids to help them learn more about Christ’s arrival. You can sign up by clicking here.
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