The Ultimate Underdog Story

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Text: Matthew 27:32-28:6

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11

For a kid who was so skinny that he needed a belt to hold up his spandex pants, I didn’t do too badly at the arm wrestling game.

I remember being greatly inspired by Sylvester Stallone’s character Lincoln Hawk in the movie Over The Top; the story of a struggling truck driver who arm wrestles on the side to make extra cash while trying to rebuild his life and restore his relationship with his son. Hawk, a clear underdog with a size disadvantage to all the other competitors, ultimately sells everything he has to bet on himself in the “winner takes all” World Armwrestling Championship. Gaining emotional support from his son, Hawk is able to defeat his indomitable rival Bull Hurley, and win the tournament. A triumphant Hawk and son claim their winnings and drive off into the sunset to start a new life together.

Sure, this might be the stuff of Hollywood… but everyone loves the story of an underdog. Nothing is more inspiring than seeing someone overcome enormous odds and loom in the twilight of victory.

Jesus knew what it was like to be the underdog. The night before his crucifixion, the oddsmakers wouldn’t have favored him. The religious establishment was warring an aggressive campaign against him, public opinion was turning on him, one of his own disciples betrayed him for thirty pieces of silver, and most of his followers deserted him in fear of guilt by association. Jesus was left alone, even questioning the Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

The Son of God looked to be overcome. The chief priests, with the scribes and elders, finally had the Galilean rebel cornered and resolved to terminate his movement once and for all. They mocked him as he hung outwardly defeated on a cross that was reserved for criminals, frauds, and deplorables: “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him,” they scorned. (Matthew 27:41-42)

For the disciples, hope was shattered. They had spent three years at the feet of Jesus, having abandoned everything to follow him with the whole sum of their lives. Nothing was held back. They had forsaken all for the sake of the call. They had entrusted their entire future to this Messiah and the expectancy of his Kingdom being established in their lives. And now everything seemed lost.

Jesus had already warned them not to bet against the underdog, prophesying that he would indeed be crucified and on the third day rise. But that must’ve felt like so long ago as they agonized over his execution. Nonetheless, on the third day it happened just as he said it would—the grave could not hold him down.

The stone was rolled away.

The tomb lay empty.

The last enemy to be destroyed had been conquered—death gave way to victory. For Jesus had put all things under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:26). And today, this Champion over death is seated at the right hand of the Father where he ever lives to make intercession for you and me (Hebrews 7:25).

And that same Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in his beloved today (Romans 8:11), ready to give life where hope has diminished. Are you feeling like an underdog right now? Does it seem like the opposition is winning and your circumstances have got you cornered? Remember, my friend, there is nothing in your life that Jesus doesn’t have authority over, and there is nothing you will ever face that is too difficult for the One who has conquered the grave.

This week, may you abide in that same resurrection Spirit that gave the world a perpetual empty tomb, and our Savior an everlasting priesthood.


Heavenly Father, thank you for the victory that you have afforded us in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know that this same Holy Spirit who raised him from the dead, now lives in us. Help us to live in the present reality of the risen Christ, emerging victorious over everything the enemy throws our way. Greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—even our faith. We not only celebrate this resurrection holiday, we abide in that same resurrection Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

twitter-64There is nothing you will face today that isn’t already under the authority of Jesus. Live in this present reality. Tweet this

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. What is one of your favorite underdog stories?
  2. In what ways may the disciples have felt ‘lost’ or ‘confused’ after Jesus was arrested? How do you think you would’ve responded if you had been there to witness his trial and execution?
  3. Imagine going to the tomb and finding it empty. What kind of emotions do you think you would’ve felt?
  4. Are you currently living in the present reality of the risen Christ? What does that mean to you?
  5. How can the reality of Christ’s Spirit living in you change the way you face your life’s challenges right now? Pray about that.

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