Summary: The unusual titles of Jesus show us that we can count on him to live up to expectations.
Sermons for Christmas December 7, 1997
Every once in a while in the world of Chicago area high school boy’s basketball, a player will emerge with incredible talent and skill. He and his team become the focus of a great deal of media attention. He will become one of the most talked about high school athletes in the country. Recruiters from big-time colleges from coast to coast will attend games just to watch him play. They dream of his potential as a collegiate player, and how he could lead their school to the national championship. Recruiters have a term for high school players with this kind of potential – “CAN’T MISS.” Anyone who lands this prospect “can’t miss” having a superstar on their team.
But not every player who’s labeled as “can’t miss” seems to be able to steer clear from missing. Such is the case of a young man named Ronnie Fields. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Ronnie Fields played for Farragut Academy in Chicago. He and his “can’t miss” prospect teammate, Kevin Garnett, took Farragut to the High School state tournament in 1995. Garnett, a high school senior, turned pro and went to the NBA that year right out of high school. Fields had one more year left. And in his senior year, this 6’3” guard averaged 33 points and 12 rebounds per game. He was named Illinois’ Mr. Basketball for 1996.
Some predicted him to be the next Michael Jordan; because of the way he could seemingly defy gravity and float through the air effortlessly. I saw Ronnie Fields play in ’95, and I remember thinking at the time that I had never in my life seen anyone who could jump so high. He accepted a scholarship from DePaul University, and seemed to be heading for stardom.
But then life fell apart. In February of that same year, a serious car accident left him with a fractured vertebrae in his neck. In July, DePaul withdrew its scholarship offer when Fields failed to qualify academically, in September, Fields pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual abuse and was sentenced to 2 years probation and counseling. Then in December of ’96 Fields became a benchwarmer for the Rockford Lightning, a professional team that’s part of the CBA, a far cry from the National Basketball Association where the real stars play, and that is, where his high school teammate, Kevin Garnett in October of this year signed a $123 million contract, the richest in the history of sports.
Was Ronnie Fields the “can’t miss” prospect that so many felt he was? No. In fact it’s fair to say that his post-high school career has been pretty disappointing. It’s difficult to live up to expectations of absolute greatness. So many things can go wrong along the way.
And yet the predictions about Jesus Christ placed incredibly high expectations upon him, even before he was born. Let’s take a look some of these expectations in Isaiah 9:2-6 (p. 683)
READ ISAIAH 9:2-6
A. In all of Scripture there is no prophecy more thrilling than that found in Isaiah 9:6.
B. In the midst of some awful prophecies about Judah and the fate of Jerusalem, we find this jewel of hope.