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It's Not Over Yet





PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH

ACTS 2:22-23, 36-38              31 MARCH 2024

 

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. They were five outs from their first World Series appearance in 58 years. Every die-hard Cubs fan could taste the sweet nectar of victory. The curse was finally over. We had it won.


But it wasn’t over. That’s when the fan grabbed the foul ball just as left fielder Moises Alou was about to catch it.


The Marlins scored and took the lead. The Cubbies totally collapsed, losing that game and the next one.


The Marlins, not the Cubs, went to the 2003 World Series. The Cubs thought they had it won.


That wasn’t the first time people thought they had won. In 1948, Thomas Dewey had the presidential election all wrapped up. Everyone said so. The political experts said Dewey had 100 more electoral votes than he needed to win.


Newspapers all predicted a landslide for the Republican candidate. Life magazine even published a picture of Dewey as “The New President.”


The Chicago Tribune already printed the headline: “Dewey Defeats Truman.”


Dewey stayed up late on election night to work on his acceptance speech.


Truman spent the night in Missouri. Reports say that he ate a ham sandwich, drank a glass of milk, and went to bed, convinced he had lost.


They were both wrong. Everybody thought it was over.


Again, that was not the first time everybody thought it was over.


On a cool Spring night in Jerusalem, Caiaphas went to bed early. It had been a long day and a long week.


The Jewish High Priest had been up before daybreak that Friday to hear the case against the Galilean.


It had all taken place under the cover of darkness to prevent His followers from learning what was afoot and inciting a riot.


The trial went just as planned. Witnesses provided ample evidence against this troublemaker. 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 3 in the afternoon, it was finished.


Caiaphas would sleep well that night. He was tired. He was also relieved.


Jesus had been causing him trouble for months. Jesus’ teachings upset the rabbis.


Rumors of miracles had put the masses of people in a stir.


He remembered the hysteria when the Galilean had paraded into town to the shouts of the crowd just the week before. There was a 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 warned Caiaphas to get the problem under control or he would find a high priest who could help. 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 Roman soldiers to guard the tomb through the night.


The last thing they needed was some sneaky action by the Galilean’s followers to tamper with the grave.


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. Few of them slept that Friday night. They were too heartbroken that their friend, their hero, and teacher had been killed. They were afraid to sleep.


They were afraid that they would be next. Most of them 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 is finished,” he said, and then He died. It was over!


His followers wouldn’t allow the Romans to dispose of His body like that of a common criminal. Joseph requested that Jesus’ body be placed in his new tomb.


Some women made some quick preparations of the body for burial. Doing it right would have to wait until after the Sabbath. That could wait. It was over.


Some of His followers gathered on Saturday—the Sabbath—in prayer. The braver ones ventured into the temple. Others quietly began their preparations to return to their homes in 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

But they were not the first ones to think that! For 2000 years, people have been making that same mistake.


Some, like Caiaphas, become skeptics. Most have been a lot like people we know. People who are neither serious followers nor outright adversaries.


It’s not that they don’t like Jesus. They just have more important matters to attend to.


Some people approach Easter as just another day. They wonder, “What is the big deal?”


Jesus lived. He taught some nice lessons about loving your neighbors and forgiving your enemy. Then He died. It’s over. There is no need to get all fanatical about it.


But God raised Him from the dead – Acts 2:24

People can do many things with Jesus. We can despise Him, call Him a fool, oppose Him, think He is a killjoy, admire His life and teachings, or view them as foolishness.


But anyone who thinks he can dismiss Him as unimportant makes a terrible and fatal mistake.


Think about this: Every time we write a check or turn the page on a calendar, we silently acknowledge that something happened 2000 years ago that we dare not ignore.


It all hinges on what happened on Easter Sunday. We may think it is over.


But God raised Him from the dead – Acts 2:24

Those who dismiss Easter as unimportant are not the only ones who make a miscalculation about Jesus.


We live in a world filled with multitudes of wicked men and women.


Cruel dictators tyrannize people. Greedy people trample the poor and helpless.


Many live in selfish indifference, convinced that how they live and what they do is nobody’s business but their own.


The attitude is that we only go around once in life – eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die is what so many live by.


No future, no hope, and certainly – they think – there is no judgment!


So, what if Jesus said He is coming to judge the living and the dead?


Jesus is history! He is dead and gone! It’s over.


But God raised Him from the dead – Acts 2:24

If you look at Matthew chapters 24 and 25 in your Bible, Jesus, you will see that—at least in most Bibles—those two full chapters are printed in RED.


That means most of those two chapters are Jesus’ own words, which we should pay close attention to.


He is speaking there about his second coming and the judgment to come. We all need those words, especially if we have the thinking that everything that matters is over.


Life isn’t always easy. For some, it is easy to dismiss Jesus. Others will think they are done with Him. Others totally give up on Him.


In moments like those, we might think our situation is out of Jesus' reach.


It is like Lazarus’ sister who said that if Jesus had been there, her brother would not have died. But He isn’t here. It’s over.


But God raised Him from the dead – Acts 2:24

The old flower lady camped out by the big downtown office building every day. She spread a newspaper across a park bench and covered it with carnations she had picked out of the trash behind a nearby flower shop.


When people passed by, they would take one of her flowers and leave some money for her. She would respond with a smile and say to them, “God bless you.”


One day, a young man walked past her without even noticing her. But as he passed, he picked up one of her flowers. She greeted him with a smile.


The young man said to her, “You look happy this morning.”


The old lady said, “Why not? Everything is good.”  The young man asked, “You don’t have any troubles?”


She said, "Of course, I got troubles. You can’t live as many years as I have and not have troubles.


She went on – When Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, that was the worst day in the whole world. When I got troubles, I remember that. Then I think what happened only three days later – Easter and the Lord arising from the dead.


When I got troubles, I think of Easter. It’s Friday, but Easter’s coming!”


But God raised Him from the dead - Acts 2:24

It is not over yet. If we think it is, we will likely dismiss Jesus. We might give up on Him. We might give up on ourselves. And that would be a huge mistake.


Most of us have probably made some huge mistakes in our lifetimes. Maybe we have just committed some “little sins,” but we keep committing them over and over again. So, we determine that we are hopeless.


Jesus is great. Faith is wonderful. Heaven is going to be “out of this world great!”


But if we have given up, we might believe that all of that is not available to us. It’s too late. We missed our chance. We messed up. We are what we are; that is all we will ever be. It is over.


But God raised Him from the dead – Acts 2:24

Here is what we need to remember: the Good News of Easter.


No one is too bad or too far gone. No one is beyond fresh starts and new beginnings. It is not over unless you want it to be.


Hear Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow.”


And John tells us in his letter in 1 John 2:1-2: “If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but for the sins of the whole world.”


The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”


This forgiveness that is available to us was also available to those who conducted the crucifixion of our Lord.


We are familiar with the passage written in Acts 2:36-39


“Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified. Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”


But God raised Him from the dead – Acts 2:24

A preacher many years ago said, “The great Easter truth is not that we are to live newly after death—that is not the great thing—but that we are to, and may, live nobly now because we are to live forever.”


In a German prison camp in World War II, without the guard’s knowledge, the American prisoners managed to cobble together a makeshift radio. The prisoners would hide the radio when the Germans came around.


They would bring it out in time for several weeks to catch the latest news about the war. Then, in early May 1945, the Allied broadcast reported that the German high command had surrendered. The war was over!


However, because of a communication breakdown, the word didn’t get to the German camp. The guards knew nothing about what had happened, but the word spread quickly among the American prisoners. A celebration broke out all over the camp.


The prison guards had no idea what was causing the prisoners to celebrate. Finally, on the fourth day, word of surrender reached the camp.


The Americans woke to find that all the German guards had fled. They left the gates open, signaling that the time of waiting had finally come to an end.


Many people in the world, and certainly in our country, do not understand Easter.


Some people don’t understand what we, as Christians, celebrate.


But we know what – or who – we celebrate. Someday, everybody on earth will know.

It’s not over yet!


But God raised Him from the dead! Acts 2:24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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