Want to hear a couple of goat jokes. Q: What do you call a baby goat that’s been sleeping? A: A kid-napper. Q: What’s a goat’s favorite drink? A: Goat-arade. Q: What do you get when you cross a rabbit and a goat? A: A hare in your milk. Enough you say?! Okay. Then let’s consider this. Language and idioms change. You may recall hearing a person described as “an old goat.” Or you may have called someone “an old goat.” And there is the distinct possibility some if not most of us have at one time or another been “an old goat!” In this usage, “an old goat” is a not-so-positive description of a stub- born, unpleasant, irritable old man – even if he is a stubborn, unpleasant, irritable young man – or woman! And, sometimes, the word “goat” was used disparagingly to describe a player on a sports team who messed up badly enough to cause the team to lose the game. But I digress. Words, idioms and definitions change. The “old goat” ain’t what he used to be! “GOAT” is currently an acronym standing for Greatest Of All Time. The label is reserved for players who are widely regarded as the best in their sports or for their teams – not only as the best for their era but of every era before and after them. NFL quarterback Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl this past February, 2021 (Super Bowl LV) at 43 years old. He now has more rings than any team in the NFL. Brady is widely regarded as the GOAT of American football. Others considered to be GOATs are Babe Ruth (baseball); Lebron James (professional basketball, although some of us know Michael Jordan is the outstanding choice!); Serena Williams (tennis). Nearly fifty years ago legendary boxer Mohammed Ali skipped the process of polls and surveys and public opinion and described himself as the greatest after his victory over George Foreman in 1974. Ali said, “I’m still the greatest of all time.” Many refer to most-medals-ever gymnast Simon Biles as the GOAT in gymnastics, but some critics suggest her sudden decision to drop out of team competition (reportedly due to mental health issues) at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo (delayed till summer of 2021 due to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic) is not so GOAT-like. I suspect the choice of a GOAT in every athletic arena will continue to be debated. One of the weakest points against the idea someone is the “greatest of all time” for all time in any athletic arena is that “all time” is not over yet! A GOAT today may be a GOAT today, but may not be 50 years from now!
Let’s shift gears. Jesus Christ was not a professional athlete. His arena of activity was not sports but salvation. Before His birth an angel of the Lord announced His name would be “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and “Immanuel, which is translated ‘God with us’” (1:23). Even a cursory reading of Matthew 16:13-17 and 17:1-8 makes clear Jesus Christ is the “Greatest Of All Time” as mankind’s Savior from sin! Actually, not just the greatest, but the one and only “Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Even when compared to such spiritual heavyweights as John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, and even Moses, Jesus is in a class all by Himself (John 14:6 * Acts 4:12). He alone was “God with us.” No wonder then in Matthew 17:5, atop a high mountain where Jesus was “transfigured before them,” the apostles Peter, James and John hear God telling them (and us), “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” I don’t want to butt heads with you, but when it comes to being Lord and Savior Jesus is the Greatest and truly the only of all time! Let us therefore see no one but “Jesus only” (17:8b).