Answered Prayer?

By October 25, 2011 Sports In Focus

Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Keith Nichol on the game’s final play to upset fourth-ranked Wisconsin 37-31.

Cousin’s pass was deflected in the end zone by a crowd. The ball caromed to Nichols, who was initially ruled down at the 1-yard line. Officials, however, checked the television replay and overruled the call on the field, announcing a touchdown that sent Michigan State players springing onto the field in celebration and the Spartan Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

Reporters said that Cousin’s prayer to the Hail Mary pass was answered.

There’s no doubt that this play will remembered as the “Miracle in Michigan” by many football fans. But what football fans call a miracle is not what the Bible has in mind. Let’s take the case of Zacchaeus the tax collector.

Zacchaeus meets Jesus in Luke 19:1-10. If you were raised in the church, you were probably taught the story of Zacchaeus, a little man who climbed up a tree to see Jesus. The final statement of our Lord Jesus (verse 10)  is the most valuable. In fact, It is the most important truth revealed in Scripture. Our salvation is rooted in this truth. We are only saved because God is a seeker and Savior of those who are lost. “And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10.

We’re all in the same condition that Zacchaeus was in. We are all spiritually dead, defiled, slaves of sin, full of guilt, and living in darkness. We need a priest of God to come and give us access to God.

God seeks to save people from His own wrath and His own holy judgment. The ones that He seeks to save are identified here as those who were lost. The Son of Man was God incarnate and came into the world for the purpose of pursuing and saving those who are in a condition of destruction and headed for damnation.

Jesus did not come into the world to be a good teacher. He did not come into the world to be a moral leader. He came into this world to rescue doomed sinners. That is the Christian message. This is also the story of Zacchaeus. Now that’s a miracle and an answer to prayer!


1. Read Luke 19:1-10. What stood out to you in this passage?

2. Most tax collectors would have been anxious or distressed to meet Jesus, but Zacchaeus was not. Why do you think that was?

3. What did Zacchaeus’s willingness to make restitution prove?

Study Notes: 19:9: Salvation didn’t come to Zacchaeus because of his works. Rather, his encounter with Jesus and subsequent change of heart were exhibited by his actions (19:8). Although we are not told of his faith in Jesus as the Christ, presumably Zacchaeus’s positive response to Jesus indicates as much. Though the crowd thought Zacchaeus had forfeited access to God’s favor because of his greed, Jesus declared he was as much a child of Abraham as they were (see Rm 3:1-2; 9:4-5; 11:28). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (1551). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.


Gordon Thiessen has served on staff with the Nebraska FCA since 1986 He has also founded Cross Training Publishing ( He has written Team Studies on Character and edited The Athletes Topical Bible. He is married to Terri and has four grown children.



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