The last couple of days, I've watched the frenzy of college basketball conference tournaments play out. I even found myself earlier today in a sort of basketball twilight zone, where a rabid Georgia Tech fan finds himself rooting for the hated Georgia Bulldogs playing on the GA Tech home court. I've seen young men hit incredible shots to win big games, and I've seen some young men miss shots that could have won games. In the first, the cheering will be with them forever, I'm sure. For those who missed, I hope they can remember the thrill of competition and overcome the bitterness of loss. Because for most people, it's what you do when the cheering stops that is the key.
We are on the cusp of a very special week as I write this. Sunday will begin Holy Week in Christian churches all around the globe. In thousands of languages and dialects, the story of Jesus' Passion will be told. Don't miss it.
John 12:17-19 (Msg) The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, was there giving eyewitness accounts.  It was because they had spread the word of this latest God-sign that the crowd swelled to a welcoming parade.  The Pharisees took one look and threw up their hands: "It's out of control. The world's in a stampede after him."
If Gallop, Barna, or Harris had taken a poll, Jesus would have been proclaimed king in a landslide that Palm Sunday, as even his enemies admitted that His popularity was at an all time high. People thronged to see Him enter Jerusalem.
But within a few days, people in Jerusalem were crying for Him to be executed as a criminal. And so He was. How did Jesus handle not just a change in popularity, but intense rejection? How can we learn from what He did?
No, we'll never enter Jerusalem at the head of thousands of our followers. But we enjoy being praised, and we like being liked. What happens to our convictions when we aren't? What principle can we look at to guide our way?
What did Jesus do?
John 12:27-28 (Msg)
"Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? 'Father, get me out of this'? No, this is why I came in the first place.  I'll say, 'Father, put your glory on display.' "
Knowing that this celebration would end, and that the week would find Him bruised, battered, and crucified, Jesus looked not to His circumstances for direction, but to God. It was God's will that He used like a homing beacon. It was His passion to please God and glorify His name that kept Him going.
What are you here for?
Glorifying God. That's why you were placed here in the first place.
Take the next week and use it to redirect your focus off the things of this life. Use the lens of Jesus' Passion to help you push toward deeper things - toward God. People aren't going to always be cheering your efforts you know. Sometimes you will miss that shot at the buzzer. Sometimes you'll dribble off your foot.
But God will always be in your cheering section, encouraging you. The cheering may stop here, but heaven will raise a ruckus when you come home.