On January 5, 1920, the Boston Red Sox stunned the Major League Baseball world with the announcement that on December 26, 1919, they had “traded” George Herman “Babe” Ruth to the New York Yankees – not for other players, but for cash.
The actual amount exchanged for “The Babe” in this blockbuster “trade” differs depending on which account one reads. It appears the amount was at least $25,000 in immediate cash, with additional $25,000 payments due in 1920, 1921, and 1922 – an astounding amount in those days.
History shows that the Red Sox got the “short end of the bat” in the trade. Up to that point they had won five World Series titles. After that “trade”, the Red Sox would not win another pennant until 1946, and no other World Series title until 2004. The long drought was attributed to the “Curse of the Bambino” – coined from one of Ruth’s several nicknames. Meanwhile, with Ruth establishing himself as the Sultan of Swat, the Yankees won four World Series titles during the 1920’s.
Whereas Babe Ruth’s trade from the Red Sox to the Yankees ranks among the biggest in sports history, it pales in comparison to two trades made on a Friday in Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago.
The first, revealing the brokenness of man, involved the people of Israel who had gathered in Jerusalem that week to celebrate the Jewish Passover. The previous Sunday they had been a crowd who had shouted “Hosanna” in avid support of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. By Friday they had traded their “Hosannas” for “Crucify Him!”
The second trade was made possible by the first. The second involved Jesus Himself, and shows the love, mercy, and grace of God in contrast to man’s brokenness from sin. Gregory Koukl, in his book The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, AND Everything Important That Happens in Between, describes it as follows:
“Jesus made a trade. He took his perfect life and he traded it for our rotten lives. He gets our badness – and the judgment and punishment that go with it. We get his goodness. We take his place and he takes our place…The trade took place on a small outcropping of rock outside the walls of ancient Jerusalem. It was called Golgotha, the place of the skull. We know it as Calvary the place of the cross.” (p.118)
In 2 Corinthians 5:21, the Apostle Paul describes the trade that Jesus made and its benefit to mankind as follows, “He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus traded His righteousness for our unrighteousness so that in turn we might be declared right with God and live with Him forever in heaven. If we don’t understand depth of God’s love for mankind, we might be tempted to conclude He got the short end of the bat, too.
In just a few short weeks, Christians around the world will gather with one another to celebrate Easter – to celebrate the trade Jesus made on our behalves. My prayer is that we will not miss the significance of “The Trade” in the midst of the celebration.
After all, there is something greater than a World Series hanging in the balance. It’s called eternity.
About the Author
Jerry Long is a retired minister [38 years] living in metro Greenville, SC. He and his wife Lynne have two daughters and three grandchildren. He holds degrees from Clemson University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.