When the hometown team wins, we cheer. When the underdog David defeats the champion Goliath, we cheer. When the little engine that couldn’t tops the hill, we cheer. We cheer, because the one who overcomes gives us hope. If they can do it, maybe we can, too.

This year followed the same pattern as last year as far as my March Madness picks. My sons and I create a family bracket each year. Jason and I are die-hard college basketball fans and Josh really doesn’t care, so you know who wins the bracket each year. Yes, Josh, you have done it again.

In defense of Jason, he was out of the country on a mission trip and didn’t have access to luxuries like Internet, so he was not able to fill out his bracket. I have no excuse.

My problems are usually things like team loyalties or thinking that a team that surged once at the end of the season can do it again. I am sure that our sports editor could pick holes in my logic for many of my picks.

This year, I vowed that I wasn’t going to be influenced by loyalties or online “experts” information. I was simply going to pick the obvious wins — the No. 16 seed against the No. 1 seed, the No. 15 seed against the No. 2 seed, etc. Then, on any matchup that was even remotely close, I was going to pick according to seeding. Even if I missed a few upsets in the early rounds, I would still more than compensate for that in the later rounds. It was a foolproof plan – or so I thought.

Not foolproof enough for this old fool. Then two of the two seeds fell in the first rounds. Now we are into the final weekend and only one of the top seeds remains. I only have one pick left alive — and it is not Kentucky. Oh well, there’s always next year.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. The crowds cheered as Jesus entered Jerusalem. The crowds awaited the crowning of the new king. Surely, Roman rule was about to end. But soon those cheers would cease. Soon the crowds would change from “hosanna!” to “crucify!” Soon their king would die on a cross, and along with it, their hope.

My ways are higher than your ways, says the God of all creation.

You cannot win March Madness without seven straight victories. You cannot win without going through it. God was not out to defeat Rome. He had a much tougher foe in mind. He was out to defeat death, and you can’t win without going through it. You can’t overcome without entering in.

If the crowds knew what we know, they would have lined the road all the way to Calvary’s hill and cheered every step. They would have gathered up every drop of blood and secured it away as their greatest treasure. They would have kept vigil at the tomb and worshipped with the angels when the announcement was made, “He is not here, He has risen!”

But they didn’t know what we know. Their hope was gone like my brackets. And too many people today still don’t know because the cheering stopped and the crowds became silent.

I am a fan. Some might say even a fanatic. And I can’t lose, because my king has already won. Just ask me, and I will be more than happy to tell you.

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