Why the Patriots' Super Bowl Win Was a 'Comeback for the Ages'

New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady holds the Vince Lombardi trophy after his team defeated the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, Feb. 5, 2017.
New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady holds the Vince Lombardi trophy after his team defeated the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, Feb. 5, 2017. (Reuters/Adrees Latif)

"We saw the greatest game in NFL history. Greatest comeback. Greatest coach. And greatest quarterback. What an extraordinary sporting event." That's what columnist Peter Wehner tweeted after yesterday's Super Bowl. Everyone who saw the game agrees with him today.

Why are we so enthralled with New England's win in yesterday's Super Bowl? On one hand, we ought not be surprised. The Patriots were favored to win the contest. Their quarterback had more Super Bowl experience than the entire Atlanta Falcons team combined. Their leader was coaching in his seventh Super Bowl.

What makes the Patriots' 34–28 victory over the Falcons so memorable is the fact that it was so historic. Never before had a Super Bowl gone to overtime. Never before had a coach or quarterback won five Super Bowls. Never before had we seen a four-time Super Bowl MVP. Never before had a team come back from more than 10 points down to win. All that changed last night in what The New York Times is calling "a comeback for the ages."

When the Patriots made history, we felt that we made history. If we cannot win championships, we want to watch others win them. If we cannot be president of the United States, we want to watch as the president is inaugurated. If we cannot create great art, we want to see great art.

There is something in us that lives for the memorable, the significant, the eternal. That's because we are made in the image of an eternal God. So we etch our names in wet concrete as kids and on building dedications as adults. We try to instill our values in the generations that will continue our story after we are gone. We seek to accomplish something historic and to leave something lasting.

And that's as it should be.

In All In, pastor and bestselling author Mark Batterson asks, "When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? That faithfulness is holding the fort? That playing it safe is safe? That there is any greater privilege than sacrifice? That radical is anything but normal? Jesus didn't die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous."

If you want comfort and convenience, you don't want Jesus.

But if time is so scarce that you want to spend it on something that matters, if life is so fleeting that you want to taste transcendence, then you want Jesus. You want to "take up [your] cross daily" (Luke 9:23b). You want to decide that you are willing to die for Jesus. Because then you can live for Jesus. And you will experience the best Jesus has for you.

Batterson notes that Johann Sebastian Bach began every composition by scrawling JJ at the top of the paper. The initials stand for Jesu, juva, "Jesus, help me." After Jesus answered his prayer and helped him create music that would last into eternity, Bach wrote three other initials at the bottom: SDG. They stand for Soli Deo Gloria, "To God alone be the glory."

If you begin this day with JJ, you will end it with SDG. And ten thousand millennia after the greatest Super Bowl in history is forgotten, your service on earth will echo in eternity.


Jim Denison, Ph.D., is founder of the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a non-sectarian "think tank" designed to engage contemporary issues with biblical truth. Join over 100,000 who read Dr. Denison's daily Cultural Commentary: denisonforum.org/subscribe . For more information on the Denison Forum, visit denisonforum.org. To connect with Dr. Denison in social media, visit twitter.com/jimdenison or facebook.com/denisonforum.

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