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It was a September Sunday in 1998. The St. Louis Cardinals had no hope of making the Major League Baseball playoffs, and yet the ballpark was packed. Itís been this way for weeks now. Packed stadiums. Why? One name . . . Mark McGwire.

McGwire was catching what many considered an untouchable record of 61 home runs in a single season. For 37 years, no one had done it. And now, McGwire had already tied Roger Marisí home run distance record with a 430-foot shot off the stadium club window.

Since the first record of 61 home runs in a single season had been considered untouchable, everyone wondered if Mark might be able to do the unthinkable. After all, there were still a few games left to play.

Now itís Sunday, 46,000 fans in the park as well as half America watching on TV. The pitcher is nervous. Mark is on deck. As McGwire steps into the batterís box, the fans go crazy. And then, sure enough, the crack of the bat, fans jump to their feet in a roar, and the ball is going . . . Going . . . GONE! The record is broken.

On every news program, headlining on every sports show, all over world, the name of Mark McGwire was being proclaimed. People just couldnít stop talking about the man. With the few games left, McGwire kept hitting home runs. For thirty-seven years, no one could hit more than 61 homers; now the St. Louis slugger had hit 68. And he wasnít even finished! Number 69 landed in the left field seats. It takes two curtain calls to silence the crowd. Home run number 70 comes in the seventh inning. The fans were on their feet before he came to bat; they stayed on their feet long after he crossed home plate. They cheered the home runs. They cheered the new record. They cheered the season. And they cheered something else too. They cheered the man!

 

Now enters Jesus. All of heaven responds the same way. The question for us; am I applauding the man Jesus? Donít we all want a life that cheers Him more than ourselves? Why? Because no one is greater than Jesus. Out of every historical name throughout time, more people know the name Jesus than any other. His story is told more, questioned more, scrutinized more, believed more, attacked more and taught more than any other. Clearly, Jesus has no seconds.

Jesus never had a beginning and he will never have an end. Jesus always was and always will be. Everything around us is so fragile . . . so tied to time . . . but not him . . . he is eternal. While everything else in the cosmos will one day come to a stop . . . he never will. His power knows no limits; he only speaks and the lame walk, blind eyes are opened, deaf ears hear, storms cease and angry seas come to a calm.

I watched the night McGwire tied the record with the 61st home run. I remember jumping to my feet in front of the TV. I remember feeling pride for Mark as I watched him run the bases. I remember getting choked up seeing him swoop down and lift his 10-year-old son, Matt, between third and home and in celebration with his fellow players. Both benches emptied. Both teams mauled him with congratulations. Mark, with son in arms, stepped away from his teammates and began searching the crowds. He pointed toward the seats behind home plate to an older man standing there. It was Markís father.

As we think back on that moment isnít that what we all want to do? Lift the Son as we point people to the Father.

Ron Otto, Preaching minister at Lincoln Christian Church

 

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