Summary: An Easter message that points to the resurrrection and return of Christ as the vindication of his Lordship.
It’s Not Over Yet
Acts 2:22-24, 36-38
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: We had it won. I was sure of it. It was the eighth inning of the sixth game of the National League Playoffs. The Cubs had a 3-0 lead. The team was five outs from their first World Series appearance in fifty-eight years. Every die-hard Cub fan could taste the sweet nectar of victory. The curse was finally over. We had it won. But it wasn’t over yet. That’s when the fan grabbed the foul ball just as leftfielder Moises Alou was about to catch it. The Marlins went on to score and then take the lead. My Cubbies totally collapsed. They lost that game and the next. The Marlins, not the Cubs, went to the 2003 World Series and won! I had thought it was over!
I wasn’t the first to make that mistake. In 1948 Thomas Dewey had the presidential election all wrapped up. Everyone said so. The top political experts, according to a Newsweek poll, said Dewey had a hundred more electoral votes than he needed to win. Newspapers all across the country predicted a landslide for the Republican candidate. Life Magazine captioned a picture of Dewey, “The New President.” The Chicago Tribune already had the headline printed “Dewey Defeats Truman.”
On election night, Dewey stayed up late working on his acceptance speech. Truman spent the night in Excelsior Springs, MO. Reports say he ate a ham sandwich, drank a glass of milk, and then went to bed, convinced he had lost. They were both wrong. Everybody thought it was over! That wasn’t the first time somebody made that mistake.
It was a cool spring night in the city. Caiaphas went to bed early. It had been a long day. It had been a long week. The Jewish High Priest had been up before day break that Friday to hear the case of the Galilean. It had all taken place under the cover darkness to keep his followers from getting wind of what was afoot and incite a riot. The trial went just as planned. Witnesses provided ample evidence against the trouble maker. The council voted and the verdict was announced. The Roman authorities gave their approval. By nine in the morning Jesus was on the way to the cross. At three in the afternoon, it was finished.
Sleep would come easy to Caiaphas that night. He was tired. But he was also relieved. Jesus has been causing him trouble for months. His teachings had upset the rabbis. Rumor of miracles had put the masses in a stir. He remembered the hysteria when the Galilean had paraded into town to shouts of the crowd just a week before. Then there was the disturbance in the temple that same day. The normally meek and mild teacher had gone on a rampage through the temple courts turning over tables and chasing out the merchants. It had been one troubling report after another all week long. The Roman governor had warned him to get the problem under control or he would find a high priest who could. Caiaphas didn’t have to be warned twice.
Late in the week the security police made the arrangements. An inside source provided the needed information. Jesus was now history! Before going to his chambers, Caiaphas finished one last piece of business. He signed the request for a cohort of Romans soldiers to guard the tomb through the night. The last thing they needed was some orneriness by the Galilean’s followers. Caiaphas and all the other Jewish authorities went to bed on Friday night content that the Jesus-problem was solved. They thought it was over. But God raised him from the dead (Acts 2:24).
Jesus’ friends also thought it was over. Unlike Caiaphas, few of them slept that Friday night. Never mind that they had been up all night. They were too heart broken and scared to sleep. Heart broken that their friend, hero and teacher had been killed. Scared that they would be next. Most had scattered on Friday morning. A few had stayed with him to the bitter end. They had stood near the cross and watched him take his last breath. “It was finished,” he said. And then he died. It was over.
His followers couldn’t just let the Romans dispose of Jesus’ body like that of a common criminal. Joseph requested that Jesus’ body be placed in his new tomb. Some women made a quick temporary preparation of the body for burial. Doing it right would have to wait until after the Sabbath. That could wait. It was over. On Saturday, the Sabbath, some of the followers huddled together in prayer. The braver ones ventured to the temple. Others quietly began their preparations to go back home to Galilee. They had no reason to stay in the city. Jesus was gone. They thought it was over. But God raised him from the dead (Acts 2:24).