Palm Sunday gave us a fitting introduction into Easter week. While Easter is the most holy of holidays on the Christian calendar, the secular version has been overtaken by eggs and bunnies. This year, the Easter story had help from a Tiger.
Tiger Woods won The Masters golf tournament on Sunday. His victory is perhaps the biggest comeback in sports history, having not won a major championship since 2008. The interim period was less than pretty. Health, personal, and family issues tarnished the image of the superstar who had redefined the modern golf era. His luster had faded, with many of his wounds self-inflicted.
Easter is a season to celebrate redemption. The Easter message is that there is no transgression that cannot be forgiven by God. Every sinner has this option, even those with celebrity.
Also embedded in the Easter story is a lesson on public opinion. Redemption and forgiveness that are granted by God may or may not come from fellow citizens.
Public opinion is fickle, and has been for at least 2,000 years. Jesus came into Jerusalem being greeted as a king. A week later, the same crowds chose to have him executed, favoring the release of a hardened criminal instead. Let this serve as my annual reminder for those who seek salvation for themselves and others via the political process that the only time Jesus was on the ballot, Barabbas won the election.
Not everyone is cheering Tiger’s resurgence. While I was eating breakfast Sunday morning, my waitress brought up the tournament and asked who I was cheering for. I said I was looking at Tiger, as the world loves stories of comebacks and redemption. A man sitting next to me at the counter interjected, “I can’t stand Tiger. He deserves everything that’s happened to him.”
The beauty of the Easter story is that it’s not about what we deserve. Quite the contrary, Easter is about us not getting what we deserve. Sins are forgiven. Debts are paid. The very premise of Easter is that the undeserving are still made whole. This is why, despite the holiday being somber over the remembrance of a crucifixion, it’s actually quite a joyous celebration. It’s a celebration of escaping what we deserve.
Tiger is now older, and his relatively safe play on the last few holes indicates he may be a bit wiser than the younger, brash, risk-taking former self. Regardless, his form on Sunday indicates he may have a few more championships left in him. It’s quite remarkable when multiple accounts have him questioning if he would even be able to play golf professionally again about a year ago.
The story of Tiger is secular, just like the bunnies and colored eggs that adorn this week’s celebration. It parallels the message of the season in a complementary way, however.
In life, we all have our failures. There will be times where our actions don’t meet our standards or the standards of others. Some of us fail publicly. Some of our failures remain between us and God.
In the end, they are all the same. In the end, they can all be forgiven.
Most of us won’t get a green jacket at the end of our story. All of us, however, have the option of a comeback and redemption. That is our Easter gift, to tailor in whatever size fits each one of us.