Who’s got the Chiefs to win tonight? Let me hear you. Who has the 49ers? This is Patrick Mahomes’ fourth trip to the Super Bowl. I was interested in his journey to the NFL and did a little reading about him. He comes from a family of athletes. His dad is a former Major League pitcher. He has a brother who plays football at Brown.
He played football, baseball, and basketball growing up. He credits training in pitching and playing basketball for readying him to be a quarterback. In football, he had 4, 619 passing yards, 50 passing touchdowns, 948 rushing yards, and 15 rushing touchdowns as a senior in high school. In baseball, he threw a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts in a game his senior year. He was named the Maxpreps Male Athlete of the Year for 2013-2014. All of the hard work in those early years and impressive stats led to him eventually being drafted.
He is an evangelical Christian. Before last year’s Super Bowl he said, “My Christian faith plays a role in everything that I do. I know why I’m here and it’s not about winning football games. It’s about glorifying God, and that’s why I have no pressure when I step on the football field.” How cool is that?
Brock Purdy, the quarterback for the 49ers, played football for the Iowa State Cyclones. Y’all, he was picked last in the NFL Draft in 2022 which earned him the nickname, “Mr. Irrelevant.” How would you like to have to work to overcome that title? (Picked last! Anyone see a little Scripture nuance there? The last shall be first!) His rookie season began with him being the third-string quarterback, but he wound up taking over due to the other quarterbacks being injured. Winning all five regular-season games where he started, he played a key role in the 49ers’ ten-game winning streak.
It’s interesting that his dad, Shawn, was a Minor League Baseball player for 8 seasons. His sister played softball at Southeastern. His younger brother was a high school starting quarterback. From the time he was 5 until he was 12, he was the quarterback in a flag football league and went on to have an impressive high school career.
Purdy also claims Christ as His Savior and has been outspoken about praying during games, especially as he prays for peace, steadfastness, and clarity from the Holy Spirit. He shared that he has been reading Psalm 23 each morning while also spending time in solitude. He recalled after one game, “When I’m down 17 at half, honestly I’m just thinking, ‘All right God, you’ve taken me here, and win or lose I’m going to glorify you.’ That’s my peace, that’s the joy, that’s the steadfastness — that’s where I get it from.” He says his peace and steadiness come ultimately from knowing Jesus.
“I believe that Jesus Christ did come down and died for my sins and rose again, and he is living and sitting beside God on the throne,” Purdy told Sports Spectrum. “I believe that. It’s not just some story fairytale thing; it’s real. And it allows me to stay level-headed and real with life. “My identity can’t be in football; it can’t be in the things of this world. It’s got to be in him. The minute you have fame, and if you’re trying to chase status and money and all this stuff, you’ll lose your life — rather than denying yourself, picking up your cross, keeping your eyes on Jesus and his promises … That’s life, and that’s a life worth living.”
There is a lot more I could say about each of these amazing athletes, but time won’t permit me to go into all they had to do to be recruited by the teams they are representing tonight. Do you know there are entire businesses devoted helping your child be recruited by a professional league? It’s a whole thing. There are hoops to jump through, processes to follow, steps to take, all that have nothing to do with actually playing your sport. Being noticed by the right people at the right time is a calculated and costly enterprise. There is so much you have to do to stand out!
It got me thinking about the people that were on Jesus’ team. Oh, lots of people followed Jesus, but there were twelve who became part of His inner circle. I don’t know if you know but back in that day, when a rabbi and his students were entering into a teaching relationship, a mentoring or discipleship relationship, the students would seek out their rabbi. They would ask a rabbi to become their rabbi. They would choose their rabbi and hope the rabbi agreed they were “good enough,” prepared enough, impressive enough to follow in their footsteps. Jesus broke the mold because He did the asking. He did the calling for people to follow Him. You might say, He was responsible for the first draft!
I love what He says to the disciples in John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” Those early disciples didn’t get everything right. They fumbled lots of balls, misread lots of plays and made lots of mistakes, but they lived with the confidence that they had been chosen by Christ to make a lasting difference in the world in which they lived. There is a huge difference between begging someone to take you as their pupil and trying to convince them that you have what it takes to “make them proud,” and simply being chosen by Christ whose only desire is to impart His life to you. When you follow Jesus there are no hoops to jump through. No agents to impress. No stats to keep track of. No connections to make. No special camps or schools to attend. No relationships to have to manipulate. No people you have to schmooze to be on Jesus’ team. Just a “Yes” to being chosen.
No one was picked by Jesus because of what they had to offer. They were recruited not because of what they could do for Him, but because of what He intended to do for and in them. I love this line from the Chosen, Season Four. “I make people what they aren’t.” -Jesus
Can anyone testify that Jesus has made you something you weren’t? I know I can. I wonder if many people don’t follow Jesus because they think they have nothing to offer Him. Perhaps they think they have to be impressive, have incredible training, be connected to the “right people,” be able to show lots of religious stats or be able to stand out in a crowd. Maybe they think they are too old or too young or have made too many mistakes or wouldn’t be considered “religious enough.” The truth is you don’t have to be anything special to be on Team Jesus. He will qualify you, train you, condition you, and position you on the field where you can be all He desires for you to be, and today He is calling everyone who hasn’t joined the team!
The recruiting or calling of those early disciples is reflected by the Greek word, proskaleo which is a compound verb. Kaleo means “to call,” and “pros” means, “toward.” Its literal meaning means to call someone toward you so that you are face to face with them.
Jesus wants to live face to face with us. He wants to do life with us. He calls us to look into His face and as we do, to realize we see the face of God. He calls us to turn our gaze toward Him, to listen for His voice, to understand His heart, and to gain our purpose from that relationship.
The stunning thing we read in the Gospel accounts is that when Jesus offered the 12 disciples a spot on the team, they left whatever it was they were doing and followed Him. They weren’t waiting on what they perceived to be a better offer.
Something else I want to note. I guarantee you that the teams who are playing in the Super Bowl have been well cared for by their organizations. They are all being fed well. They are being encouraged. They have trainers who will ready them and make sure they are in the best possible shape. No one on either team wondered, “How am I getting to the game?” They knew transportation would be provided. It wasn’t something they had to think about for a second. Because they are part of the team, they know they can count on some things. Everyone on the winning team is going to get that coveted super bowl ring. Whether they were a starting player, second string, a substitute for someone who gets injured or a bench warmer that cheers on the sidelines. When their team wins, they all win. Being on the team has incredible perks.
Why start a relationship with Jesus? Why help someone start a relationship with Jesus? Because life with Him, being on His team, gives us not only a sense of belonging and a role to play, but because Jesus provides us everything we need to thrive.
When you allow Jesus to recruit you, you gain salvation. You need salvation because each of us is born a sinner. We are born broken, and we can’t fix ourselves. The only One who can fix us is Jesus. By His life, death, and resurrection from the dead, He has secured forgiveness of sins for us and the ability to be in a relationship with God based not on our righteousness, but on His! Salvation gets you on the team. Jesus says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus also says, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37 Y’all, you’ll never be traded to the other team by Jesus. He will take you in and care for you from here into eternity.
Jesus also guarantees you’ll be used on His team. You won’t sit the bench. He told those early disciples that He was going to make them fishers of men. They would win other disciples. You will, too. In Ephesians 2:10 He says He has prepared good works for each of us to accomplish, assignments to give each one of us. He will give us special abilities to fulfill our role on the team.
Let me also say that being on Team Jesus gives you the best Life Coach you could ask for. You see, He promises to send His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to live in you, to lead you in the way you should go. He calls the plays for our lives and gives us the ability to walk in the ways God desires. We will be capable of making godly decisions. We will live with a winning strategy. We will always be victorious. If we mess up, the Holy Spirit will help us get back on the field, back in our rightful place as Children of God. You can’t come up with right plays, winning plays for your life on your own. You need the Holy Spirit. Google, “How does the Holy Spirit guide the believer?” You can study that this week.
There will be times that players will need to come out of the game tonight and take a rest. I want you to know that rest and renewal are promises of God to those who come on to Team Jesus. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 There is an energizing, life-giving quality that believers in Christ possess when they connect their life to Jesus, the Author of Life. That life-giving connection will give them endurance and vitality to stay in the game. We don’t have to live stressed out and burnt out. We can be renewed daily in Christ. The Bible says His mercies are new every morning, and we can experience them in a way that transforms the conflict and weariness of this life.
Jesus’ game plan for His team is to live with daily confidence, satisfaction, fulfillment, peace, and joy. He calls it abundant life or life to the full. Abundant life is only found in Jesus. If you want it, you can have it.
Mahomes and Purdy will do their best to lead their teams to victory tonight. One is a Chief. One is a 49. Both, however, are on Team Jesus, and that makes them both big winners. Both of them already have experienced the greatest victory because they belong to Christ. Both know the benefits of being on Team Jesus.
To experience the benefits of being on Team Jesus, you first have to join the team. By the way, He is recruiting you today. Those who are Christians, you are supposed to be scouts for Him, looking for people to recruit for His sake, right? In fact, we have a prayerful goal of seeing 50 people this year become Christians. Seven have come in so far in 2024. Who will be next?
Do you need salvation? Do you need a life coach? Do you need rest? Do you need abundant life? Join the team. Today is a recruiting day for Jesus. You simply have to say, “Yes, I will follow You.” He will make you what you aren’t. Do you have someone on your heart to recruit, bring their name before the Lord in prayer this morning. Don’t leave here without being recruited by Jesus and without committing to recruit others to the team.