World Cup football news spreads rapidly! Each match is talked about at great length before, during and after it is played. By the time you read this we will be nearing the final on 13th July. Who will have qualified to hold the cup of victory?
‘FIFA’, the organization that directs the event, has its own motto: ‘For the Game. For the World.’ The vision of nations from around the world coming together to play sport certainly helps to foster good relationships, even if there have been controversies along the way! Originally there was a trophy called ‘Victory’ which was renamed the Jules Rimet trophy (1930-70). It depicted ‘Nike’ the ancient Greek goddess of victory. The present day ‘FIFA World Cup Trophy’ was introduced in 1974. It is made of 18 carat gold with a malachite base; it stands 36.8 centimeters high and weighs 6.1 kilograms (approximately equivalent to three bags of sugar). It depicts two human figures holding up the Earth. The cup is a trophy that the nations long to hold high, making the victors feel like they are king of the (footballing) world.
In the Bible the word ‘cup’ is used with great significance. It is used to convey both a negative and a positive meaning: for it speaks of the cup of mourning over judgment and also the cup of joyful celebration. The judgment idea is found in one of the major Old Testament prophets which speaks about the ending of: ‘See I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again. I will put it into the hands of your tormentors…’ (Isaiah 51v22-23). The Psalmist speaks about the cup of joyful victory: ‘you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows’ (Psalm 23v5). When we turn to the New Testament we discover that the cup of victory comes at a very high cost. Jesus spoke about his death at the last supper he ate with his friends: ‘this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’ (Luke 22v20). One worthy individual alone could handle this cup. The real ‘world cup’ is the cup of salvation. Jesus alone drank this for us. His deliverance is from a world order that stands opposed to God and faces judgment. We share in his victory over the world. He is the one to be celebrated as the champion over all.