Last night was a glorious one for fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide. It’s been seventeen long years since Gene Stalling lead the Tide to a National Title, and during that time an entire state has suffered. Last night their long awaited redemption arrived through the leadership of Nick Saban. But as I watched post-game videos on ESPN.com this morning, I couldn’t help but notice the utter lack of joy on the faces of guys like Saban (Alabama’s coach) and Greg McElroy (Alabama’s quarterback).

Take a look at the following videos:
Both men have just won the biggest game of their lives, have cemented places in the history books while making themselves gods and heroes of an entire state; still their faces show only dour resignation. Both have just upheld the “Law” to which they are subject in toto; Saban has “justified” the five million dollars he will earn this year and McElroy has “justified” his position on the field. Yet both men look sad.

They know that tomorrow morning they will wake up and the Law will renew its assault. They know that tomorrow folks will ask if McElroy did anything to help Alabama win or if Saban is anything more than a college football mercenary out for a buck. They know that their “justification” is really only temporary and their legend fleeting. They know that they live in a place “where moth and rust destroy.”
This is a Gospel understanding of human triumph. Human beings simply cannot justify themselves to their critics, internal or external. So though that dour look may never pass from Nick Saban’s face, that’s a good thing.
The good news, the Gospel, is that our justification happens in spite of ourselves. The Gospel is Christ’s love for us apart from our triumphs. The Gospel is that Christ’s victory Justifies us in victory and defeat. The Gospel is the only victory that really matters.