Summary: An Easter sermon that looks at some of the great sports comebacks and then talks about the greatest comback of all... the Resurrection.
The Comeback Kid
John Elway, former quarterback for the Denver Broncos was known as the “comeback kid” because of the many times he brought his team from seemingly insurmountable odds to victory.
The 49ers trailed 38-14 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter, but they scored 25 straight points on two TD passes and a scoring run.
Paul Azinger, The 1993 PGA champion. Paul missed the 1994 campaign with cancer in his right shoulder. He recovered after a missing a full year and resumed competing.
When Ernie Irvan crashed his car during a NASCAR race at Michigan Speedway in August 1994, he was given a 10 percent chance of surviving. The odds were against him ever recovering from critical brain and lung injuries.
But less than one year later, in October 1995, Irvan not only entered a NASCAR race but finished a remarkable sixth. If Irvan did nothing more than finish out of the money as a NASCAR driver, his comeback would’ve been nothing short of miraculous. But he did much more than merely compete. He won two races in 1996.
In the spring of 1996, Lance Armstrong began to experience pain and swelling in his groin and attributed it to his six- to eight-hour days of cycling training. He did not seek medical advice until more than five months later when he started to get headaches and cough up blood.
A check-up with his doctor showed that cancer had produced a dozen golf ball-sized tumors in his lungs and lesions on his brain. Lance was given only a 50 percent chance of survival. He had to go through surgery and chemo treatments. The doctors assured him that he could never again ride competitively. Lance has done far more than ride competitively. Since 1999, Lance has owned the cycling world and record book…winning four consecutive Tours de France, making him the only American to accomplish this feat. This year he will try to break all records by competing to win an unprecedented fifth straight Tour do France.
All of these stories involve comebacks. Coming back and winning when they weren’t supposed to. Coming back against overwhelming odds to become champions.
That’s what happened on the first Easter morning. Jesus was dead. He’d been crucified, he had died, and he’d been put into a tomb a couple of days before. His family, friends, and disciples were overwhelmed with grief. The game was over. There was no time left on the clock. The other team, the Pharisees, the bad guys, had won. Game, set, match.
Now Jesus didn’t have a knee injury. HE’S DEAD! When you’re dead, you don’t just suck it up and play hurt! You don’t put a brace on and deal with the pain. Jesus was dead. There are no comebacks, no 9th inning or 4th quarter heroics when you’re dead. The disciples have no hope that their leader can come back and lead them to victory.
Good Friday was a dark and dreary day but now Sunday has come!
The Lord has defeated death once and for all and He has come back to lead his team to victory. And his comeback, which we Christians refer to as the resurrection, is the greatest comeback of all time.
But the world, outside the church, does not believe in a resurrection. I do have one glaring exception. In Greenville, SC, the Department of Social Services seems to believe in resurrection. They wrote to a welfare recipient: “Your food stamps will be stopped, effective immediately, because we have received notice that you passed away. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.”
I personally know of only one person who ever experienced those “change in circumstances”, and he didn’t live in South Carolina. So you can talk about your “comebacks” all you want. Your Lance Armstrongs, your Ernie Irvans, Paul Azingers. It doesn’t matter! I believe Jesus is the only true “comeback kid”.
Hallelujah! Christ is Risen!
But remember, the world does not believe he is alive. They do not believe in resurrections. How can we? What is our proof that Jesus is alive? Is it just that the Bible says so?
Well, that is evidence for believers. But… what about non-believers. Is there any proof we can offer them?
I believe there is, and today I want us to look at the proof.
1. The Empty Tomb.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Christianity rises or falls on the empty tomb. It is the one silent and infallible witness. The opponents of Jesus… the Jews and others, knew the importance of the resurrection. They knew that if the Christians were able to convince people that Jesus was alive… something that no other religion could claim… there would be no stopping the new religion. Not only that… if Jesus was alive… all He said was true and all other religions were history.