“42” – Built to Last

I have a new favorite number. From this day forth, my favorite number is going to be “42”. I’m going to get a basketball jersey made with the number “42” on it.

It was actually an easy decision for two reasons. First, my previous favorite number was non-existent. I liked all numbers equally. Secondly, I love what “42” represents.

Recently, a member of our church family asked me if I have seen the movie, “42”. A family member loaned me the movie weeks ago because they thought I would like it. I finally watched it the other night.

“42” is a movie about the life of Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson and I have a lot in common. We both were raised in Pasadena, California. We both attended John Muir High School, Pasadena City College and UCLA. We both played baseball and football as boys growing up. We both came to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior and from this day forth, we both wore “42” on our uniforms.

Jackie Robinson, however, led an extraordinary life. He was the first notable African American to play Major League Baseball. He broke the color barrier for black athletes by playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Robinson was selected by Branch Rickey, an executive with the Dodgers, to be the first African American to play in the Majors. He selected Robinson because Jackie Robinson was “built to last”. In the movie, both Rickey and Robinson used the phrase, “built to last”.

Why did Rickey believe that “42” was “built to last”?

Rickey was looking for a great black athlete who would be able to tolerate epithets and insults thrown his way. He needed someone who had the fortitude to persevere and not quit under incredibly hideous circumstances.

In one scene, Rickey spews a string of vulgarities at Robinson, then tells him that he must be able to tolerate such things.

Robinson retorts, “You want a player who doesn’t have the courage to fight back?”

Rickey responds, “No, no, I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back!”

Rickey goes on to say, “People aren’t going to like this… They’re going to do anything to get you to react… Like our Savior, you gotta have the guts to turn the other cheek.”

This movie about Jackie Robinson got it right, which was a pleasant surprise to me. Branch Rickey chose Robinson because Robinson was a follower of Christ. Rickey, who was a Christian, knew that it would take someone like Jesus to do what he was asking Robinson to do.

Jackie Robinson knew Jesus, which made “42” built to last.

If you have confessed your faith in Jesus, you too have something in common with Jackie Robinson. You too are “built to last”… not just in this life, but the life to come.

In a few short weeks, we will be celebrating Easter and the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. His resurrection was a foretaste of our eventual resurrection after death. The events of Easter tells us that we are indeed “built to last” for all of eternity.

I enjoyed the movie, “42”, because it reminded me how God can use one of His own to have an impact on the world for good. Thank you, Jackie Robinson, for being a man of conviction and courage. You helped make this society a better place in which to live. Come to think of it, that’s what Christians are supposed to be all about… salt and light in a world that needs Jesus.

Something to think about …