Remember the “Wide World of Sports” opening, with the skier taking that astounding fall? That image and Jim McKay’s famous line — “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”. This is what I think about in the 2 chapters from Joshua today. It can even apply to the passages from Ecclesiastes and John. What I mean is this…the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, like an Indy 500 winner or a ski jumper careening out of control, can refer to those on either side of God or you and I depending on the circumstances.
After Jericho came Ai…Israel’s next objective in its path of conquest. Smaller than Jericho, defeating Ai would lead a path of control for the Israelites. Joshua made preparations but was unaware of Achan’s misdeed. Because of Achan, the city of Ai withstood the Israelites…the agony of defeat. Once Achan was dealt with we find in Chapter 8 that the Israelites fulfill God’s mission regarding the city of Ai…the thrill of victory.
There is a similar message in Ecclesiastes regarding the selfish greed seen in the beginning verses and the advantages of companionship. In John 7, the agony of defeat is seen in those who stand against Jesus…while the thrill of victory would wait until later in John’s Gospel.
Today, Holy Saturday…is a day for us to think about the words “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” as we remember Good Friday and think once again about the celebration of resurrection tomorrow. Friends…while we remember we live in the present reality of victory! Hear the words of our Victor, Jesus the Christ, who has conquered the world…“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”