by Michelle Bauman

Sometimes when I read about Christ’s ministry, I’m reminded of a tennis match. I envision Jesus, the number one singles player in the entire galaxy, standing on one side of the court, and the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the devil himself on the other. Every ball they lob over the net, every kick serve they hit His way, Christ volleys back. No matter what tactics they use—approach shots, backspin, or rushing the net—Jesus doesn’t bat an eye. His formidable forehand responds.

Despite His amazing feats, I admit that sometimes His abilities don’t seem so surprising to me anymore. After all, He is the Son of God, right? And like you, I know how the game ends. But when I read Luke 11, I realize He’s not only playing the greatest game of tennis the world has ever seen, but He’s doing it with toddlers on the court.

Toddlers. Like the disciples who must be taught how to pray. Toddlers. Who learn through stories and cannot be reasoned with. Toddlers. Who gather around Jesus to see the spectacle but miss the message. Toddlers. Whom Jesus loves.

Throughout Luke 11, Christ’s opponents aim at Him again and again. He casts out a demon and is accused of being one. He does miracles, and they praise His mother. He comes to dinner, and they treat Him dishonorably. He speaks truth, and they become offended.

The game is obviously unfair and deeply arduous; Christ plays a singles match against multitudes. He has no rest and no safe corner. He is being pursued on all sides.

But He continues to swing. He hits the ball back full of Law and Gospel. He’s nimble and agile and true. And we know He’ll win.

As believers on this side of the cross, we recognize Christ plays for LOVE, for zero points, for no score. He doesn’t do it for Himself; He does it for us. Every point Jesus earns in this sweaty, heart-breaking, misery-making game, He’ll give away on the cross to spiritual toddlers like you and me. When Christ serves, there are no faults or double faults; there is only selfless sacrifice.

Game. Set. Match. Christ wins for US.

May we be led back to the Savior who sacrificed Himself for those who do not know Him, for those who play against Him, and for those who sometimes forget how much He suffered for our good. May His love be reflected in our service to others, and may our ponderings and practices find meaning in Him.