by Joel Landskroener
From 1967-80, one NBA point guard exhibited the essence of cool in everything he did. Number Ten. For the New York Knicks. Walt “Clyde” Frasier! When I was a kid, there was one number my teammates clamored for when the basketball coach handed out uniforms—Number Ten! Not because it was a number expressing perfection as in a “Perfect Ten.” No, it was the number denoting “cool.”
Clyde Frasier would pick the pocket of a guard at mid-court and take it for, get this, a layup! He never changed his expression the entire time. He was so cool! With his fur coat off the court and his Pumas on the court, we all wanted to be like him. Cool. Very cool! Whoever finagled the coach into giving him Number Ten was the envy of the rest of the team. (I ended up with Number 29. Hank Finkel…a Celtic. Very un-cool.)
Today it is much different. It seems that cool has died a slow death in the American sports scene. Instead of emotionless precision while destroying an opponent, the chest-thumping, photo-posing, “me-in-team” culture has taken over. Kids emulate the stars. I see it at our high school. I see it in third grade, maybe earlier. I mourn the loss of cool.
The mission of our Lutheran High School, in Mayer MN, is to Prepare the Next Generation of Christian Leaders. I’d bet yours is probably similar. The essence of Christian leadership is to influence others so they will know, appreciate, and believe in the redeeming work of Jesus. In order to do so, we are to emulate Jesus in all we do. After all, Christians are “little Christs!”
And Jesus was cool. Definitely cool. He was so cool, that Isaiah even prophesied His coolness seven-hundred years before His birth:
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. (Is. 53:7)
If there was ever anyone who understood that the game plan was, and carried it out to perfection, it was Jesus. He came as man—full of strands of DNA—to die the horrible death we deserved. He kept the Law perfectly. He was blameless, sinless, and selfless. When He battled with the Pharisees, there was no equal. His genuine love of others led Jesus to the cross for those chest-thumping Pharisees and for you and for me. He did it without comment or complaining. To many in Jerusalem that first Good Friday, it was the death of cool.
Jesus descended into hell. He opened His mouth and confronted Satan and his minions on their well-deserved home turf and let them know that death was no longer their domain. He had defeated their crafty plans. Once and for all. He would live and reign and take those who believed in Him as their Savior to live with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit in Heaven forever. Cool!
Then Jesus walked out of the grave. More than five-hundred witnesses testified to that fact. After forty-days, He ascended into heaven where He has prepared a place for us and our families and our students and all believers (John 14). Cool is not dead. He is Risen. He awaits us for the greatest victory celebration ever. Cool! Very cool indeed!