The Mother of All Game Changers

Series: Special Occasions

April 16, 2017
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

The Mother of All Game Changers

Matthew 27:50ff

I know it’s not football season, but I’m going to tell something on my wife that has to do with football. It wasn’t that long ago that I walked into the bedroom and found her watching a game. She said to me, “Look.” I looked. She said, “Did you see that? How’d they do that so fast?” 

I said, “Do what?” 

“Paint those lines on the field so fast? I mean they just finished the play a few seconds ago and already they’ve painted lines on the field showing where it ended.”

I said, “Here’s your sign.”

Of the course the joke is really on me because at least my wife watches football games. I was born and raised in the football capital of the world, Alabama, and yet from birth had no desire to watch sports of any kind. 

The folks here wouldn’t say anything, but I think they’re a little ashamed of that.

You are all about to be very impressed because to introduce the message today I am going to talk about the greatest football game ever played.

It was 1958. The NFL Championship game was at Yankee Stadium. The Baltimore Colts played the New York Giants. It was televised on NBC so folks all over the country got to watch. One article summed up the action well…

“…the excitement of the back-and-forth battle reached epic proportions as quarterback Johnny Unitas led the Colts’ offense onto the field late in the game. With the clock ticking, the Colts began from their own 14-yard line. After two incomplete passes, Unitas connected with halfback Lenny Moore on an 11-yard play to start moving the offense up the field.

Johnny U. missed on a long pass to L.G. “Long Gone” Dupre, before turning to his favorite target. On second-and-ten, he found Raymond Berry for a 25-yard gain to midfield. Then, Unitas looked down the left sideline and connected with Berry for another 15 yards. One more Unitas-to-Berry hook-up, which was good for 22 yards, put the Colts at the Giants’ 13-yard line. With seven seconds to play in regulation, kicker Steve Myhra trotted onto the field and booted the 20-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. It marked the first time in league history that a championship game would be decided in sudden death.

The Giants won the coin toss but were forced to punt after they went three-and-out. Seizing the opportunity, Baltimore’s offense … controlled the ball and moved 80 yards on 13 plays. History was made when fullback Alan Ameche (Amekkeh) punched through the line on a one-yard, game-winning touchdown after 8 minutes and 15 seconds of overtime to give the Colts a 23-17 win and the NFL title!”

I have no idea what any of that means, but it sounds exciting. One reason this game went down in football lore as the greatest game ever played is much of football’s rise in popularity can be traced to it. That championship in 1958 was a game changer. 

That’s how it works, isn’t it? History remembers occasions that seem to change everything, the ones that are so big they affect the world for years, decades, and even centuries.

There is one historical ancient incident that would have to be, hands down, the mother of all game changers. It was a singularity so ginormous it’s affected the world for not just for hundreds of years but millennia, 2 be more exact, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Of course, you’ve probably already figured out what it is. It’s that first Easter Sunday, the day we are celebrating this morning.

For the next little while I want to talk about that, giving a play-by-play if you will, of the action surrounding the first Easter day.

Unfortunately, we have romanticized the events leading up to Jesus resurrection, but there was nothing romantic about them.

There was a gut wrenching betrayal. There were false witnesses, illegal trials, and brutal beatings. There was a graphic suicide. There was horrific agony on a cross. And since most of us are fairly familiar with it all, we will jump into the middle of the story and see that…

Jesus dies

Matthew 27:50–56 (ESV) — 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” 55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

A lot of people have died since the beginning of time, but no one has died like that!

It’s sad, but we live in a day when people say, “Jesus didn’t really die.” Even some preachers are preaching that!

A woman wrote J. Vernon McGee, a famous radio Bible teacher no longer with us: "Our preacher said that on Easter Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think?" McGee replied, "Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip for thirty-nine heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then see what happens.”

No doubt about it, Jesus dies, and…

Jesus is buried

Matthew 27:57–66 (ESV) — 57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 

Here’s what strikes me here: When Jesus taught his own disciples that he’d die and rise again in three days, they didn’t get it. But Jesus’ enemies sure did!

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Jesus dies, Jesus is buried, but (and here’s the greatest play ever played)…

Jesus doesn’t stay dead

Matthew 28:1–10 (ESV) — 1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

I love looking at other translations when studying a text. There’s one I refer to from time to time that really isn’t a translation. It’s a paraphrase, and a novel one at that. It’s called the Cotton Patch Gospel and it presents the life of Jesus as if he came to the 1950s Deep South…

So they left the vault and, filled with both fear and great excitement, they ran like mad to tell his students. And what do you know, Jesus met them. He said, “Howdy.” They went to him and hugged his feet and him. Then Jesus told them, “Y’all quit being so scared. Run along now and tell my brothers that they should go over into Alabama, and they’ll see me there.” — Jordan, C. (2004). The cotton patch gospel (Mt 28:1–8). Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Pub.

Jesus dies, Jesus is buried, Jesus doesn’t stay dead, and believe it or not…

The fake news begins

Matthew 28:11–15 (ESV) — 11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

And to this day folks are spreading stories, fake news, about Jesus not really rising from the dead. The evidence for the resurrection is solid, even though it happened 2,000 years ago. Living in the age of skepticism has been good, actually. It’s forced us to work harder at proving it really happened, and just in the last 30 years ago some of the best support has been produced.

There’s a new movie out called The Case for Christ. 

Most christian movies are bad, really bad. But not this one. It’s got a 77% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s unheard of for a Christian film.

It’s about a journalist who set out to prove Jesus didn’t rise from the dead after his wife became a Christian. He’s now one of us (like many others). Your gift today is a little book he wrote called The Case for Easter.

In the play-by-play of the mother of all game changing events Jesus dies, Jesus is buried, Jesus doesn’t stay dead, and the fake news begins.

We know all about dying. We know all about burying. Lord help us, we know all about fake news. But what we don’t know much about is someone coming back from the dead! That’s what really makes Easter a game changer!

Conclusion: As we wrap things up, let’s look back at where we started this morning, that championship in 1958 where the greatest game in NFL history was played. Knowing the details of the biggest game ever played, even being passionate about it, doesn’t really change anything. It doesn’t really make a difference in your life. I mean so what?

We act like so many things in life mean something when they really don’t. But when it comes to the greatest game changing phenomenon in the history of the world, the resurrection of Jesus, it does make a difference, a WORLD, a UNIVERSE, of difference because…

It proves that Jesus is who he says he is and everything he said is true.

You can listen to Buddha, but he’s still dead. You can listen to Mohammed, but he’s still dead. You can listen to Richard Dawkins, but he’s gonna die and stay dead. But Jesus is the only one ever to come back from the dead never to die again!

CS Lewis, in one of his most famous quotes said of Jesus…

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Jesus conquered the one thing man has feared the most and never been able to overcome: DEATH. We should listen to him! We have to listen to him.

Here are some things Jesus said…

John 8:12 (ESV) — 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 6:35–40 (ESV) — 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 14:6 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Going back to the events surrounding the resurrection, there is one last part of the play-by-play in Matthew where the resurrected Jesus leaves the disciples and us with a few last words before heading back to heaven…

Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) — 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 

We have a KING to serve.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 

A PURPOSE to live (in the community of faith)

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

A PROMISE to trust.

Have you come to God through Jesus? You do that by believing in him and receiving like a gift what he did for you in living the life you should have lived and dying the death you have died.

The resurrection of Jesus is the mother of all game changers. It proves he is who he said he was and everything he said is true. That is good news for the lost, the searching, the hurting. The same power that raised Jesus back to life in that tomb 2,000 ago is the same power that can work in your life right now.

 I’d like to close with the words of one of my favorite preachers…

Do you see all the evil at the cross? Do you see the suffering there? Do you see the injustice, the betrayal, the rejection, Jesus experienced? Do you see how awful that suffering was? Yet in the end, what came of it? What happened to it? It just led to greater salvation. All of the things the world did, all of the things the Devil did, all the suffering, all the evil, just ended up accomplishing salvation and the resurrection. The evil of the cross is swallowed up.

There were people who knew Jesus was a great man who had been raising people from the dead and healing the sick and giving sight to the blind, and they stood there in front of the cross watching him die, and do you know what they said? “I can’t see any good God could bring out of this.” That’s because they didn’t understand the cross/resurrection principle.

Are you looking at anything in your life and saying, “I don’t see how God can bring anything good out of this”? That’s because you’re forgetting that all authority is given to Jesus. He is with you. He is going to overrule that. He is going to control that. It doesn’t mean that by next year things will work out for good. Romans 8:28: “All things work together for good to those who love God.”

It doesn’t mean at the end of five years, at the end of ten years, maybe not even within the span of your life, but in the span of all of life and all of history, God is working everything out. All the evil and suffering is going to be swallowed up to only make the eventual glory even better. Do you believe that, that he’s with you like that, that he’s with us in history? Now we can relax. What confidence, what peace that would bring. Do you really believe because he’s risen he is with you…?

Content Copyright Belongs to Pleasant View First Baptist Church