Read Matthew 28:1-10.
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (v. 6).
One writer called it the night Earvin Johnson came “back from the ‘dead.’” So did the Michigan State season.
When the Spartans hosted Ohio State on Feb 1, 1979, a season of unprecedented promise was in real danger of slipping away. At the time, the Buckeyes were 8-0 in conference play while MSU’s Big Ten record was 4-4. Another loss ended all hopes of a league title and probably finished off NCAA Tournament dreams also.
So Jenison Field House held its collective breath in dread late in the first half when Johnson “hit the floor writhing in pain” with an ankle injury. Team physician Dr. David Hough led a gimpy Johnson to the locker room. “We put [the ankle] on ice and watched it for a period of time,” said trainer Clint Thompson.
Meanwhile, the 32-23 lead MSU had when Johnson went down disappeared. Ohio State took its first lead at 39-38 with 14:10 left to play. It didn’t look good for the game or the season, since Johnson was obviously through for the night.
Well, maybe not. Johnson flatly told the doctor and the trainer he was going back in. So they taped him up for a trial run. “Earvin did enough for us to give him the okay,” Thompson said.
Jay Vincent was at the free throw line with a 44-43 lead “when Earvin ‘magically’ reappeared.” The place went totally bonkers. “It was absolutely the loudest I’d ever heard Jenison,” Johnson said.
Head coach Jud Heathcote said he waited one-third of a second after getting the word from Thompson that Johnson was good to go. With 8:42 left, Johnson was back on the court.
The Spartans beat Ohio State 84-79 in overtime and proceeded to rip off nine more wins in a row on the way to the Big Ten and the national titles. The run to glory and legend started that night Magic Johnson and the whole season came back from the dead.
All this language of resurrection is figurative, of course; neither Magic Johnson nor the team was literally dead. We often speak figuratively of resurrected careers in sports. We use resurrection language when a team comes from way behind to win a game.
While literal resurrections occur in the New Testament, one in particular stands alone. All except that one actually amount to resuscitations, the postponement of death. When Jesus walked out of that tomb on the first Easter morning, though, he threw off not only his burial cloths but death itself. On that day, God created something new: the resurrection life that comes one glorious day will be the only one.
That’s because the most shocking promise Jesus delivered from God to his children is that resurrection is a fact of life for his followers. When Christ left that tomb behind, he also left death behind for all who believe that he is indeed the savior of the world.
They’d already made up their mind that I wasn’t going to play. I told them there’s no holding me back; if we lost, there was no tomorrow. — Magic Johnson on his ‘resurrection’ vs. Ohio State
Jesus’ resurrection forever ended death’s hold on life; life has won.