Lately, I’ve been really enjoying a radio program (aka podcast or Apple Music album) called Under the Influence. It’s about marketing and advertising and there are lots of great stories. In the episode, “Brands In Cars Getting Coffee: Sponsorship Marketing” there was a story about the boxing fights between Max Schmeling and Joe Louis.
The story begins with the 1936 boxing match between Max Schmeling and Joe Louis. Even though Louis was considered invincible, Schmeling knocked out Louis in the 12th round. This was at the time Hitler was ramping up Germany for war and Schmeling, from Germany, was made an example of Aryan supremacy. However, Schmeling wasn’t a Nazi and he refused to fire his Jewish manager despite intense pressure.
When it came time for their rematch, tensions were high and it had become more than just a boxing match – it was symbolic of “Germany against America. Nazism against democracy. It was a metaphor for WWII. It was almost as if the fate of the world hung in the balance.”
On the night of June 22nd, 1938, with a packed stadium and millions listening on the radio, the first round bell rang. Louis was devastating in this attack and within 124 seconds, Max Schmeling was defeated! This is a quote from the end of the story:
“In the years after their infamous bout, the tables turned again. A former New York boxing commissioner, turned Coca Cola executive, offered Max Schmeling the post-war Coke franchise in Germany. It would make Schmeling a very rich man.
Champion Joe Louis, on the other hand, slowly went broke. He owed millions to the taxman. His health deteriorated. He was suffering mental issues from the damage he took late in his career. He developed a drug habit.
Through that difficult time, a silent benefactor quietly paid Joe’s medical bills. When Louis died in 1981, the same benefactor paid for Joe’s funeral. That benefactor had underwritten Joe Louis’s final years. He had quietly supported Joe.
That person… was Max Schemling.”
When I heard that story, I thought of Jesus’ love for us. Even though he was the champion, he stepped into this world and was beaten down, bloodied, and killed by those he came to serve and save. And yet, in his defeat he was in victory. Revelation paints a picture of our risen king, returning and laying claim to his dearest treasure – planet earth.
That means we are like Joe Louis. While he had that victory, in reality he was brain damaged, broke, and dying.
This is the beautiful part: Jesus doesn’t forsake us, doesn’t give up on us. He comforts us and takes care of us. He will love us all the way back to his heart.
He is the ultimate benefactor.