Lee vs José or David vs Goliath
It seems half of Bristol is celebrating this morning. Why? Last night Bristol City defeated the might of Manchester United in the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup. The last time the two teams met was in 1980, and United ran out 4-0 winners. Since then there has been a lot of history at Bristol City; relegations, bankruptcy, rising from the ashes and now this.
What struck me as the dad of an avid Bristol City fan is that last night’s victory is everyone’s victory. When the team wins, everyone wins.
And I was reminded of another famous underdog victory. For Lee Johnson (Bristol City manager) vs José Mourinho read David vs Goliath. You can find the story in 1 Samuel 17 (the Bristol City match report is here!).
Two armies face each other and each day the giant warrior from Philistine camp emerges to challenge the people of Israel. ‘Who will fight me?’ It’s a simple challenge; whoever wins, wins everything. If Goliath wins then Israel become subject to the Philistines, but if an Israelite wins then the Philistines become subject to Israel. High stakes indeed.
If you know the story you’ll know that no one dares fight Goliath until David, the Shepherd boy, turns up. David’s states this is not just about two armies, the very name and honour of God is at stake. Goliath not only challenges Israel but he defies the living God himself.
And so David, armed with only five smooth stones, defeats the mighty Goliath. David does not do this alone, he does it in the strength of God and says the whole world will now know there is a God in Israel.
And once David has won, all of Israel has won. The victory of the shepherd boy becomes the victory of an entire army and the victory of a whole nation.
When thinking about this story it is tempting to misread this text. To place ourselves in David’s shoes and ask ourselves where are the Goliath’s in my life, what are my five smooth stones and how can I defeat Goliath?
But the point of the David and Goliath story is not that we are Davids but that we are Israelites. We are crouched behind our defences, scared and unable to defeat Goliath. Goliath represents the depth of our sin, our failings, our pains and sorrows.
David represents Jesus.
It is Jesus who wins the victory. But it is not just his victory it can become ours.
This is the heart of the gospel. We faced a Goliath, sin and death, and could not win. But Jesus came and defeated Goliath and now his victory is ours. And this power is at work in our everyday lives. So when I face struggles, when sin gets hold of me, when my weaknesses come to the surface, it is to Jesus I must go.
So often when I find myself crouched behind my defences this is the last thing I remember to do. It takes discipline to remember that I need to bring all the stuff of my life to God in prayer. That is why we have created the 1,2,3 Prayer cards. A simple formula to help us pray and challenge us to bring everything to God. If you’ve not yet got your hands on a card, pick one up in church. If you are not yet into the habit of praying 1,2,3, can I encourage you to begin.
Last night was a famous victory. 11 men on a pitch won the match. But their victory belongs to everyone else.
Jesus is God’s victory. And his victory can belong to everyone.