Then the atmosphere changed in the ballpark. The incoming pitcher was announced and everyone came to attention and watched the 6'8" right hander stroll to the mound.
The freshman pitcher held the hopes and dreams of many Mizzou Baseball fans in his fastball-throwing hands. His coaches certainly were eager to see him throw his first inning, to see how he would do in a real college game.
I stood up from my seat in Section E, Row 4, Seat 1, and moved to my right, directly behind the batter's box. From there I could not only see the pitches coming head-on, I was also positioned behind the scouts with their radar guns.
The first hitter up to bat never took the bat off his shoulders. He never even saw the four straight 95 mph fastballs.
Then the pitcher started mixing it up a little. He still threw that 95 to 96 mph fastball more often than not, but he also tried a couple of other pitches.
First he tried a big curve, which he just couldn't seem to control enough to get it over the strike zone. Then he went for a change-up.
A change-up, to the batter's eye, looks just like a fastball. The pitcher's mechanics, if a change-up is done correctly, appear no different from the fastball. But when the ball leaves the pitcher's hand, it gets to the plate much more slowly, throwing the batter off his timing.
The difference is in the way the pitcher grips the ball, usually, along with minute changes in mechanics.
It works because the batter is expecting a fastball from this fireballer, he sees the pitcher deliver the ball in what seems to be the same fastball motion, but all the while the pitcher is lobbing in a much slower pitch.
This freshman's fastballs were blazing in at 96 mph, but his change-up arrived at 78 mph. There's no way the average college batter can make that kind of adjustment in the blink of an eye.
Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”
They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” (John 16:16-18)Jesus threw a lot of fastballs at the disciples, but it was the change-ups that made them look silly with their incredulous responses:
"Well then, who can be saved?" ( Mark 10:26)
“If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” (Matthew 19:10)
“What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” (John 16:17)They were so sure they knew what faith is all about, what religion is all about, what God is all about, they were continually confused by what Jesus was all about.
Lest we think they're just a bunch of dullards, remember that we're not much different.
Twenty-first century Christians can get so stuck on their modern American ideas of Christianity, we miss the point of what Jesus is really trying to do in the church.
While we get bent out of shape about political parties, Jesus focuses on people.
While we become absorbed in the routines and programs of congregational life, Jesus is pushing us out into the world, to share the way, the truth, and the life with the world.
Every time you think you've got Jesus figured out, get ready for another change-up.