“So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.”
-Matthew 4:24 (ESV)
Three weeks ago, the name Shaka Smart was not one most people would have recognized (outside of VCU nation, of course). However, Coach Smart—the head coach of NCAA men’s Final Four team Virginia Commonwealth University—is now a household name after their great run through the tournament. After the season, it’s a safe bet that Coach Smart will even be offered a number of coaching positions at larger schools. It’s just part of the situation for a once little-known coach who is now one of the hottest names in the sport today.
In all of his media interviews, Coach Smart has done a great job of staying humble and giving praise to his team. I’m sure that the staff at VCU will do everything in their power to keep him at their school for a long time. But, regardless of his career decisions, Shaka Smart now carries a name that is known across the country.
When Jesus first started His ministry, He didn’t have a household name, either. However, several events put His name on the radar rather quickly. After Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, He started speaking to the masses and healing the people. Soon, crowds started following Him wherever He went. News traveled fast about this man they called Jesus, and it wasn’t long before everyone knew His name!
As Jesus’ fame spread, He stayed above reproach in every way. He didn’t compromise who He was or change how He reacted to the new onslaught of popularity. I don’t know about Coach Smart’s faith, but I pray that he won’t compromise his character as his fame grows, either. If he does take a job at a different school, I’m sure he will do well. Whatever university gets Smart will get a solid coach. But here’s the thing. Whoever gets Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, will get something even greater: eternal life that will never end.
All earthly fame is fleeting. Coach Smart is famous now, and he will be for as long as he coaches and continues to do well on the court. But the fact remains that, just like others before him, his fame will one day fade. It’s the nature of our world that something or someone else always comes along in our footsteps and makes others forget what we accomplished.
That wasn’t the case with Jesus, though. Because He did things that have never been and can never be surpassed, His fame is lasting—even growing to this day. As the only Son of the Living God, He remains the only sinless person who ever lived, and the only One who conquered sin and death for all mankind. His is a fame that can never and will never be equaled.
At the end of this basketball season, many schools will want to “get Smart.” But, it’s my desire that even more will want to get Jesus! Securing a great coach for a basketball team is a great move professionally, but locking in a Lord and Savior is the greatest move of all.
1. In your opinion, who are some of the top young basketball coaches in college basketball today?
2. What does instant fame do to many young coaches? What did instant fame do to Jesus Christ? (Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to find out more.)
3. Why is earthly fame so fleeting?
4. Why has Jesus Christ remained famous?
5. If you gained instant notoriety, how would it affect your walk with Christ?