There he was lying on the mat in the middle of the boxing ring. Defeated. Again. Cu-coo birds swirled about. Stars streamed out of his aching head. Once again sin hit him with its one-two punch and down he fell. Why did he lower his guard? Sin’s quickness landed their punches with lightning speed. As he regained consciousness, he thought about how his life has been nothing but a series of defeats and knock outs. As he staggered off the mat he resolved to change. “There has to be a better way,” he thought. “I want joy and peace in my life. Not this. It’s time I get a new coach.”
He had heard about a legendary boxing coach. Rumors floated that he might be available. For centuries, and to this day, people all over the world still talk about when Jesus was a young 33 year old boxer. They still celebrate what has to be the greatest comeback in sports history. There he was this small town boxer, famous throughout the region, the one that many thought was going to bring the crown home for Israel. Yet, on that grim Friday afternoon he seemed down for the count. Some said all was lost. In those days the fights were to the death and he died right there on the mat in front of the entire crowd gathered to watch. Saddened by the stunning upset, they peeled off and wandered away. Their hero was gone.
Three days later rumors began to surface. Within a few more days those rumors were confirmed. The king of boxing had appeared to his followers. Yes he had been down for the count. Yes he had been buried and lain in a tomb for three days. But then, baffling all of the pundits and sports commentators he had risen from the dead. Meanwhile, his opponent Satan, who had been gloating over his victory, fled the region and Jesus of Nazareth was named champion of all time.
Since that time Jesus has gone on to become the world’s most renowned boxing coach. He is revered far and wide for his caring treatment of the boxers he coaches. Soon after that heralded comeback, Jesus founded that first boxing school. His book on boxing, the BIBLE, has been translated in every language and is the number one selling book for centuries now. His training camps known as Christian Churches are attended on every continent by his followers each Sunday. Billions have become devoted disciples. Some of his best trained students, schooled in the techniques of his book and his schools have gone on to be true saints in the boxing profession.
Satan, who fled when Jesus rose from the dead so long ago, has now returned to coach his minions. His devotees are known in boxing circles as the Tempters. These Tempters never fight fair. They break all of the rules. They cheat, and fight to beat their opponent with illegal low blows. Winning is not enough for these Tempters, fighting ruthlessly for their coach they seek nothing short of the utter destruction of their foe.
Back to our defeated boxer, his day of awakening has arrived. After years of being knocked to the mat, someone told him about this amazing fabled coach. With his pitiful losing record in hand he walked into one of Jesus’ training schools. To his astonishment, Jesus ran to him with open arms. Jesus knew him and had longed for the day he would come. Jesus wanted so much to be his coach. He has so much love for every one of his boxers. Since winning that momentous match over 2000 years ago he still greets every new student as if they were his only student. He had put his life on the line on the black Friday match so long ago. After his resurrection from death and after being named king forever he has longed to share his kingdom with every new boxer who enters the boxing ring of life.
After much preparation and now with Jesus as his coach in the corner another match begins. It’s a hot and muggy night. The arena is packed to standing room only. Satan stands in the shadows of the far corner as his well-trained Tempter enters the ring, the ring of life bent on the boxer’s demise. Jesus and our boxer wait in the opposite corner.
The bell rings with our boxer having been punched in the mouth. Even with his new found resolve and months of training round one concludes with surprise and a fat lip. In their corner, Jesus tells him that this is how the Tempter works. He uses the mouth for lies and gossip. He places ice chips on his mouth, gives words of encouragement and sends him back out.
The end of round two brings the boxer to the corner having been pummeled with gut punches. Jesus cautions his pupil that the Tempter uses the stomach to tempt with gluttony but then reminds his fighter that his coach is the food come down from heaven. He is the bread of life. Restored, the boxer goes back out for round three.
Returning to the corner after the third round our boxer reaches for his side having received several illegal kidney punches. Jesus consoles him by gently rubbing his side and telling him how the Tempter uses alcohol and drugs to destroy one’s kidneys and sometimes even their life. Restored by his touch, again his disciple re-enters the ring.
The Tempter scores brutalizing jabs to the face in round four and the fighter staggers to the corner with a bloody face and bruised and swollen eyes. Steam rises from the mat as Jesus applies an ice pack to our man’s face to reduce the swelling. He is forced to make a cut over the eye of his protégé to reduce the pressure from the blood flooding into the bruised area. Jesus talks of the Tempters use of the eyes for pornography. He explains the danger of lustful addictions. Jesus then expounds on the Tempters use of lies about beauty and the vanity it can cause. The ice pack and the cut have reduced the swelling and Jesus has his apprentice ready for another round.
A barrage of body punches has every nerve ending in the boxer’s body screaming out in pain as he makes his way to the corner. By this time, smoke has filled the room and the crowd’s jeering is overwhelming, oppressive. He thinks he can’t do it. He can’t win. He wants to quit.
Jesus pours soothing oil on our man’s aching muscles. He then goes on to explain how the Tempter tries to create a false sense of strength though our muscles. The Tempter wants everyone to believe they are strong enough to make it on our own without their coach. The Tempter also uses ailments and sickness of the body to cause despair and loss of hope. Jesus convinces his man to trust in Him and assures all will turn out okay. With his resolve to keep fighting restored, our boxer realizes he must now rely solely on the strength and inspiration of his coach and he stumbles back into the ring.
Almost as soon as the bell rings to start the round, and while the referee glances away for just an instant the Tempter lands two rapid fire excruciating blows below the belt. Hit squarely in the groin the boxer falls to the canvas. Pain explodes throughout his body and in his brain. Instantly he feels like throwing up. He curls into a fetal position. Instinctively, he wants to reach for the injured area, but with a live audience and people watching worldwide on television he just lies there, writhing in pain on the mat. His pride and shame prevent him from holding himself.
Time stands still as he roils on the matt. He thinks he can’t get up. He believes he has lost yet again. His coach enters the ring and stands over him. In his disorientation he hears Jesus telling him that this is how the Tempter fights dirty. He knows that our sexual desires can be a very weak and vulnerable area at which to strike. Jesus talks of the dangers of immorality, lust, and adultery. He informs our boxer about the debilitating pain the Tempter can bring in this area.
Condensation drips off the ropes in the humid gym. Looking down upon our boxer with compassion, some of Jesus’ sweat falls on our man like drops of blood. Strengthened and washed clean by his coach’s blood he staggers to his feet, mumbling. The crowd strains to hear the words coming from the battered fighter. They stand and lean in. As his strength builds, our boxer’s chants become clearer, “Jesus! Jesus!” The crowded arena erupts along with him, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”
With his last remaining strength and the grace of his coach inspiring him he yells, “To hell with you Tempter.” He lands a smashing blow to the Tempter’s head, buckling his knees and felling him to the mat. The referee pounds out the count. It is over. On this day, in this fight, and with his new coach at his side he has won!
We, you and I, are the boxer and life is the ring in which we must fight. Even though Jesus is the best coach in the world, at times we still feel despair and defeat. We fight our best fight but life knocks us to the mat. We must get up. We need to get up. But how? We must always remember that on our own we can’t win. The opponent and his coach play unfair. Only with Jesus can we win. There is an eternal fight for our soul. We must find our strength from our coach. We know we are washed by his blood and fed and nourished by his body.
Let’s commit to spending more time in Christ’s training schools and in the Bible to learn all of the ways to defend and protect ourselves against the deceptive opponent and Tempters we must face. Let’s go out and tell others about this new coach and let’s recruit them to join his school.
St. Paul has this to say: 2 Timothy 4: 3-7
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Finally singer and song writer Paul Simon has these verses in his famous song “The Boxer”:
I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises all lies and jest
still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
I come looking for a job, but I get no offers, just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome I took some comfort there. Lie-la-lie…
In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade and he carries the reminders of ev’ry glove that laid him down and cut him till he cried out in his anger and his shame, “I am leaving, I am leaving.” But the fighter still remains
Click here and listen to this song. You may never think of the song the same again.
Heavenly Father, I praise and thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus Christ. Through the guidance of your Holy Spirit, help me to always see Jesus as my life’s coach. Help me to remember that I cannot make it on my own. Help me to fight the good fight, amen.