...since Lazarus. That's what you were thinking wasn't it? It's certainly what people are saying about last night's Super Bowl final. For the uninitiated this is the highpoint of the American Football Season, as the Atlanta Falcons took on the New England Patriots.
I stayed up to watch with my 17 year old son, which was foolish. The game itself was great. The problem was that I went to bed at half-time, which was just after 1am. This would have been fine if our 3 year old hadn't joined me at 3am and proceeded to scream every time I tried to put him back to bed. This is a fantastic tactic, as there is nowhere upstairs in our house where we can safely put a screaming child without him waking up his siblings. Added to this, when the neighbour came round at Christmas I issued the standard apology when you have 7 children: "I'm sorry we must make quite a noise from time to time." To which she replied with a meaningful tone "Yes, we can hear everything."
I made a mental note to shout more quietly.
Anyway back to the Super Bowl. At half-time it looked like it was all over. The Atlanta Falcons were 21-3 up. The most points that a side had ever come from behind to win a Super Bowl was 10. It wasn't just that New England were behind on the scoreboard, they looked beat. Their legendary quarter back, Tom Brady, could be seen sitting on the side line with his head in his hands. So off to bed I went.
In that way that great sporting events go, I awoke this morning to the news that the game had ended 34-28 to New England. Brady had pulled it off. His status as all-time legend cemented and a lot of people living in Atlanta left wondering how their team managed to lose what, at one stage, was a 25 point lead.
The greatest comeback since Lazarus! Except it's not. In fact all the sporting come backs that get likened to John Chapter 11 aren't the same as Lazarus at all. Because Lazarus didn't make a come back. He was well past the come back stage. That's exactly the point his sister, Martha, is making when she says to Jesus, “But, Lord...by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.” (John 11:38).
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots should be admired in a way Lazarus can't. Their victory was largely down to their own skill and effort. Lazarus' resurrection was nothing to do with him whatsoever. He needed Jesus to give his dead body life. And that's what we all need.
I was preaching 1 Chronicles 29:1-20 on Sunday. King David says this: "Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope." (1 Chronicles 29:15). It's a telling reflection on the obvious. We live. We die. And we can do nothing about it. And when we're dead we're dead. There's no hope.
But Jesus is the one with authority over death. He proved that finally, not by calling Lazarus out of his grave, but by standing outside his own tomb on the first Easter Sunday. Jesus' resurrection was the greatest comeback that has ever been seen. It's the comeback that proves that He can give hope is the most hopeless situation; when the clock has run down and we have lost the game of life. Because he has won victory over death.
The joy of Super Bowl LI will pass. But the joy of those who know Jesus will transcend death and live on into eternity, when we go to be with Him. That's the comeback I'm looking forward to.