A doozie of a story from the wild world of sports last Sunday as John Scott took the ice in NHL hockey’s 2016 All-Star game. To bring you up to speed, the trixy hobbits of the internet got involved with the sport’s All-Star voting this year, where top voted hockey players would be sent to the annual best-of-the-best event. Like the NFL’s pro-bowl, it’s more of an honor to be invited than to play, or more of a PR exhibition than a competition. Taking advantage of the online voting, a legion of hockey fans and internet trolls found the remarkably unremarkable John Scott and, half-joking, elected him an All-Star. Not only was Scott elected, but he received the most votes in the whole All-Star contest.

Just how unremarkable is Scott? We’re talking about a guy with a total of five goals in his nine season career. That’s not a lot of goals. Scott’s position is not so much a winger as it is “enforcer,” the 6’8” wookie who gets sent out to fight another team’s bruiser and protect his players on the ice. Scott has a total of 542 career penalty minutes to pair with his five career goals, to put it in perspective. His is not a noble position. Scott is the equivalent of the middle-school football team’s giant puberty-gifted running back- he’s may not have skill, but he’s got size.

The All-Star voting was perceived by the NHL execs as a black eye for the league, and their need to regain control of the situation caused an equally predictable second black eye. After both the Coyotes and NHL executives could not persuade Scott to resign from the game, Scott was traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadians, who immediately demoted him to their minor league affiliate, the St. John’s Ice Caps. The move was widely perceived as a way to change Scott’s divisional affiliations and disqualify him from All-Star competition. The outcry and suspicion surrounding the trade prompted the NHL to confirm that yes- Scott would be playing in the All-Star game, yes- Scott would be representing his previous Pacific division, and yes- Scott, with the most All-Star votes, would be the captain of that team.

Here’s where things get theological. After being elected for the game, and moreover, after being declared a captain, Scott brought an All-Star performance on Sunday night. Scoring two goals (tied for most goals in the event) and leading his Pacific division team to a victory (with a million-dollar team prize!), Scott was crowned game MVP- this time having a performance to match his title. Disney is already calling to secure the movie rights.

There’s so much going on in this story about control and performance (he said, shooting dagger eyes at NHL execs), but it’s also a beautiful story of imputation and deserving. By all statistics and measures, Scott did not deserve to be an All-Star. Yes, he made it on the initial ballot, and yes, his position is not one that demands scores, but on paper, there are so many *better* players on the ice than Scott. And yet, after being elected as an All-Star, the identity stuck. Scott, beyond what the statistics would have predicted, performed as an All-Star.

It’s not wholly unfamiliar to the story of Zacchaeus- the tax collector who was “elected” to host Jesus for an evening during a stopover in Jericho. Being the chosen host was, at the time, considered a great honor. Hosting a rabbi was acknowledgment that the host was among the community’s religious All-Stars. Jesus chooses to crash with the person who, on paper, was among the least religious, likely corrupt, and most hated members of the community. Zacchaeus’s response to the invitation is telling: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” (Luke 19:8) First he is declared an All-Star. Then he performs like an All-Star.

Like a hockey player who gets his Rocky chance to fight Apollo Creed, or a morally suspect politician who gets a face-to-face with God, the New Testament’s vision is that identity takes priority over activity. Election is considered before the performance review. Rap sheets and resumes are secondary reading. And, by God’s grace, reality starts to shape itself around the new identity and not vice versa.

Two great bits of fun writing on Scott’s story for follow-up, feel good reading: The whole story from Sports Illustrated and Scott’s first-person story from The Player’s Tribute. It’s great sports drama, even for the non-sports fans among us.