"It's Not Over 'til Jesus Says It's Over" #82-33
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on April 19, 2015
By Rev. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
(Q&A Topic:A Faith Journey for the Ages!)
Copyright 2015 Lutheran Hour Ministries
Text: Luke 24:36-49
As the disciples were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and he said to them, "Peace be to you!" But they were startled and frightened and they thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.".....Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.
Christ is risen; He is risen, indeed. Amen.
Wow, what a day that must have been for those disciples of Jesus. In just a matter of days, they had gone through almost the whole range of human emotions, from hope and anticipation, to fear and dread, and then huddled together, they were terrified about what might happen next in their lives too. One day, they were following Jesus; the crowds were shouting "Hosanna to the Son of David," and then they shouted "Crucify Him, Crucify Him," leading to Jesus hanging dead on a cross. It all happened so fast. What else could they have done but run for their lives or hide for their lives?
But, as this lesson says so clearly, "Nothing is over, until Jesus says, 'It's over!'" And that is especially true when you are dealing with something that is beyond your control or out of your hands. Those times are especially the time to look to Christ, to pray to Him, to trust Him no matter what.
Have you ever had a time like that in your life; a time that overwhelmed you, even frightened you, and then, suddenly, out of the blue, everything was all right and it had nothing to do with your effort, nothing to do with your diligence or perseverance?
Well, that's exactly what happened to Air Force pilot, Lt. Gary Foust, one day in 1970 during a training exercise near Malmstrom Air Force Base over Montana. At an altitude of 43,000 feet, the jet entered into an unrecoverable flat spin. Foust prepared to take the only action Air Force protocol recommended: eject. When the plane had fallen to 8,000 feet, Foust pulled the ejection lever and was launched out of the doomed aircraft. His parachute deployed and Foust watched in surprise as the unimaginable occurred.
The plane didn't crash. Let me say that again. The plane didn't crash. In fact, the abandoned plane stopped its spin, nosed downward, leveled off, and flew off on its own toward the horizon. Out of his control, without its pilot, Foust imagined it would crash, but to everyone's surprise the jet descended gradually and came to a gentle stop on a patch of snow in a wheat field near the town of Big Sandy. Not only did it recover from its unrecoverable spin but it survived its solo landing and lived on to fly again. What an unlikely, extraordinary ending to a plane out of control.
It was out of the blue. An amazing new reality when things seemed totally out of control. I think that's how Jesus' disciples must have felt the day of Jesus' resurrection; the same Jesus, who had died on the cross, who had been laid in the grave, with chaos and hopelessness seemingly in control, suddenly, not only a safe landing, but a tremendous victory. There He was, the crucified One, standing in their midst, alive, resurrected.
Everything changed for them that day, because their faith in Jesus was vindicated, their hope in Him assured. Everything changed for them that day, when the risen from the dead Jesus Christ came among them and said, <.i>"Peace to you!"....... Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.
Nothing is over until He, Jesus, says it's over!
The point of the Bible is clear - only Jesus can be entrusted with that kind of confidence and hope. Only Jesus can bear the burden of being all things, to all people, so that all can be saved!
That's His offer, one that only He can make. If you read your Bible at all, you'll quickly realize that everything hinges on Jesus. The Bible claims that Jesus is the eternal Word of God who created the world. The Bible proclaims that His work, His Word, and His final judgment are what matters most in your life and in mine, now, and even more importantly, forever.
The modern-day rebellion against Jesus, His Word, His church; it's not so modern. People of all times have been tempted to put their trust in themselves, to put their trust in their political leaders of the day, to put their trust in bank accounts, fame, and influence.
Here's what I've learned about such things in my short time on this earth. The Bible is right about these things. On their own, by themselves, every one of those trusts will be broken; they'll let you down; often, just when you need it most!
But the Bible is not merely about the reality of our brokenness. It's about life in Jesus Christ for all who believe. The early followers of Jesus didn't just casually believe in Him, they had staked their lives on Him. They were sure that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, God's answer to the problem of sin and death. Then, He was arrested, beaten, brutally executed on a cross. Then, His lifeless body had been sealed away in a tomb. Then, they themselves were sure all was lost, all was hopeless.
But, that hopelessness and despair was exactly what Jesus came to vanquish once and for all, for them and for all who believe!
And now, on the evening of that Easter Sunday, the disciples of Jesus stood in amazement at the sight of Him, resurrected, even eating a meal in front of them. Jesus was alive! Death couldn't hold Him. Their faith in Him had not been in vain. All that Jesus had taught them, all that He had done, all that He had stood for, all that He had promised was alive and well.
They learned that nothing is over until Jesus says, "It's over!"
If you are a believer in Jesus, you know this. If you don't know Jesus as your Savior, you can know this in your life right now, starting today. And when you know that nothing in this world will have the final say, nothing but Jesus; that really changes everything.
Let me illustrate. One of the hardest things that the Bible teaches is that you and I, even as believers, will have times of trouble in our lives, trouble just like everyone else. In fact, there will be trouble in our lives that even non-believers don't face; that's the trouble of being persecuted just because we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Sometimes I have the hardest time explaining to people why that's no big deal. They'll say, "Why trust in Him if you're still going to have many of the same problems that we do and more?"
How would you answer that, my friend? It's a valid question. But, more than that, it's an opportunity to show why your faith in Jesus is the very essence of your life, the very center of it all. Everything is transformed when you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
For an answer to this question, just look at the text. Jesus comes into the middle of their fears and confusion and gives them what they need most, His peace. He gives them a solid place to stand with God the Father. He's overcome the threat of death; He's vanquished the fear of eternal punishment, and He's assuring all who believe in Him that not only is there life after death, there is purposeful, meaningful, eternal life waiting for all who believe. In view of that, what's a little struggle this side of heaven? In view of that, what's a little pain compared to eternal joy? In view of that, perseverance through trial becomes a journey towards the promises of God fulfilled.
Jesus, in essence, is saying, "It's not over until I say it's over....and, you ain't seen nothing yet."
The very weekend of His crucifixion, Jesus came with a message of resurrection, of peace in the middle of fear and confusion. That resurrection reality even caused Him to send those disciples out to deliver His Good News to anyone who would listen and believe.
He reminds them; remember, "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you (Jn 15:20). But don't be afraid. Don't lost heart. "It's not over until I say it's over....and, you ain't seen nothing yet."
The disciples experienced the truth of that reality at the end of their own lives. We're beginning to see more and more of that today too, aren't we? Christians are being persecuted just for believing and sharing the Good News of Jesus. Daily we hear Christians suffering in countries like Nigeria, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq at the hands of terrorists who are hell-bent on converting them or killing anyone who confesses Jesus to be Lord and Savior. It may even be worse than we read, dear friends. In fact, please pray for those who suffer around the world in His Name.
Times like we're living in today, this can tempt us all to look for the ejection lever to bail out from the body of Christ, the Christian Church. We're tempted to think that such persecution will have the last say.
But even in day-to-day struggles they can tempt us that way too. It may be an illness that is overwhelming, or a debt that we can't seem to pay, it may be a relationship that is not only broken, but it continues to break us down, day after day after day. Can the message of Christ's Church still help? Can the Word of God still speak to us today?
Today, just like then, Jesus shows up amidst our fears, and struggles, and pain. No door can keep Him out. No trial can overcome Him. With a resurrection peace and a resurrection power for your life, He comes especially then to say, "It's not over until I say it's over....and, you ain't seen nothing yet."
The Good News for us today is that even when our lives seem at the brink of despair, even when we feel like bailing out or abandoning ship, Jesus not only doesn't abandon ship when the going gets tough, He has made a way through all that is against us. He provides resources for the life of faith, for even the difficult life of discipleship; that's a life to be lived with faith rooted in His resurrection promise that all is in His ultimate control even amidst catastrophe. That's a life resourced with His biblical promises and His real presence that readies us to face whatever this world throws at us. That's a life that faces today and tomorrow with a persevering purpose; one that infuses our lives with the fact that we were created and redeemed for eternal purposes that are bigger than anything we're up against now.
His Word endures, it empowers. He even promises that the Church that He builds on this Word will endure! Remember, He said, not even the gates of hell would prevail against it (Matt 16:18).
So, let me say it more clearly; it's true, in Christ, it's never over until He says it's over, and we ain't seen nothing yet; but even more importantly, in Him, what really matters, never ends!
In Christ, the victory is always sure, no matter the skirmish of the day. For those who put their faith in Him. Yes, there is sin and sorrow, struggle, even pain of death; but all will come to an end. And even now, death's eternal shadow has been broken, sins eternal chains have been cut; all of it is over, it's done. Such things have no hold on those who put their trust in Him. He, the crucified One, is risen indeed, and so are those who put their faith in Him.
So, I'm inviting you, dear friend, to walk in that same peace that Jesus gave those disciples that day. I'm inviting you to trust in Him no matter what you face at the moment. In time you will see God's purposes. In time you will see His glory amidst your trials. But in all things you will be overwhelmed by His grace, His goodness, and forgiveness, indeed that will fill you beyond anything in this world. That's His promise, that's His gift....for you.
There's a Persian Legend that illustrates the power of living confidently with the words and commands of the one who is king. When the king is trustworthy and true, he is to be followed no matter the temporal trial or temptation to live otherwise.
The legend goes this way. A certain king needed a faithful servant and had to choose between two candidates for the office. He took both at fixed wages and told them to fill a basket with water from a nearby well, saying that he would come in the evening to inspect their work.
After dumping one or two buckets of water into the basket, one of the men said, "What is the good of doing this useless work? The basket is leaking. As soon as we pour the water in, it runs out the sides."
The other answered, "But we have our wages, haven't we? The use is the master's business, not ours. He is a wise king, and must have his own purpose that we do not understand."
"I'm not going to do such fool's work," replied the complainer. Throwing down his bucket, he went away.
The other man continued until he had drained the well. Looking down into it, he saw something shining at the bottom - it was a diamond ring.
"Now I see the use of pouring water into the basket!" he exclaimed. "If the bucket had brought up the ring before the well was dry, it would have been filtered out into the basket. The king was looking for his diamond. Our work was not useless."
The king found his most faithful servant, but our text today says even more than that. The resurrection appearances of the Crucified Savior is a message to the world that Jesus, the King of Kings, is the most faithful One to us, and for us, and He has a life for us to live, not only here and now, but forever.
If you are looking for purpose in your life, if you are struggling with trial or temptation in your life, if you are just trying to make sense of the craziness of this life right now, Jesus says, "Trust in Me."
Let me say it even more clearly. It's true. In Christ, it's never over until He says it's over. In Christ, we ain't seen nothing yet. But even more importantly, in Him, what really matters never ends.
I pray that you get to know Him more, get to know His Word more because there is nothing like Him, nothing like His Word in this world or the next. Keep listening to this broadcast to get to know Jesus more clearly, be a part of His Church where His blessings of baptism, Communion, and absolution can be yours from His gracious hand, and remember, to be one of His disciples means you are a part of a group that knows that they are sinful in need of His grace, that comes in humility to receive and cherish His grace in our own lives, and even better, we are a group that wants you to know that grace and love too.
Jesus' disciples learned the one truth in life that matters, "It's never over until Jesus says it's over, and in Him, the things that really matter, they never end!" May God grant you that faith to trust in Him like that today and always. Amen!
LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for April 19, 2015
Topic: A Faith Journey for the Ages!
ANNOUNCER: Have you ever wanted to visit the places mentioned in the Bible? I'm Mark Eischer, here once again with Pastor Gregory Seltz and we're talking about the "Lands of the Bible Cruise," taking place September 28 through October 11.
SELTZ: And what a trip it's going to be, Mark.
ANNOUNCER: Now, I've had the opportunity to be at some of these places, you have too.
SELTZ: I have!
ANNOUNCER: Well, what value did you find in being there?
SELTZ: For me there are two major benefits. First of all, whenever I read or hear a Bible story or
hear the Sunday morning readings, I immediately have a visual of that story in my mind
because I've been there, you've been there, we've been there together. It's like retrieving
pictures off your hard drive. Those stories come alive for me just because of that.
ANNOUNCER: It's an experience that deepens your understanding of the Bible and helps you in sharing it.
SELTZ: I think it does. For example, one of the most intriguing characters in the Bible, I think, is Herod the Great. He was the baby-killer of the Christmas story. And I've known for a long time that he walked that fine line between genius and insanity.
ANNOUNCER: With, maybe, more than a little paranoia thrown in.
SELTZ: Absolutely. In fact, he fell off the insanity side all too often; but seeing his amazing buildings, at least the ruins of many of them, projects like Caesarea, Masada, Jerusalem, it gave me a better understanding for that first-century setting in which Jesus came. Another example would be walking the route that Jesus probably walked that Thursday and Friday of Holy Week.
ANNOUNCER: And you find it was a rigorous walk, too!
SELTZ: It is. Jesus goes from Bethany on the other side of the Mount of Olives, down through the Kidron Valley, to the heart of Jerusalem, back through the Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane, back through the Kidron Valley to Caiaphas' house for a nighttime trial; He was awake all night, going across town in the morning to Pilate's court, and then to Golgotha; all without sleep.
ANNOUNCER: Which helps you realize Jesus was no weakling.
SELTZ: He sure wasn't. He was a man of many strengths, spiritually and physically, too though. So while His suffering for your sins and mine culminated in the cross, it certainly started a lot earlier than that as a beaten, tired Man willfully being paraded around the city so that we could be saved.
ANNOUNCER: And understanding that really adds a dimension to one's teaching; kind of like the difference between seeing a 3-D photograph and a black-and-white page in a book.
SELTZ: Yeah. Absolutely.
ANNOUNCER: And really that's one of the great benefits.
SELTZ: It is. These trips we take, they are not merely for the joy of seeing the places of the Bible. They are ultimately about growing our faith, digging into the Word as we "see and hear" what God has done for us and for all.
ANNOUNCER: Now what makes this trip so special?
SELTZ: I'm glad you asked. It's not just that we'll see the places where Jesus walked. We'll also see the places of St. Paul and St. John. Even the ship itself is a special ship, just the right size to journey to these special ports that can't be accessed by other ocean liners. It's an "all in one" trip of a lifetime, a Lands of the Bible tour!
ANNOUNCER: And the itinerary includes stops in Israel, Greece, the Isle of Patmos, Ephesus, Turkey....the list goes on and on!
SELTZ: Yes, it's incredible. You know, as you were talking about that list of places, it reminded me of how historical and real the Christian faith is. Jesus is about grace in the very dust of day to day living. I'm in awe seeing those places, especially as I realize that God journeyed there in the person of Jesus and made salvation possible for people like us. Then to see the places where that Gospel continued to go; places of commerce, like Ephesus; places of vice, like Corinth; and even places like Bethlehem, where no one seemed to want to go.
ANNOUNCER: So, these are real stories of real people, a real Savior, and a real journey to the place where it all happened. It's more than a trip, it's really a pilgrimage.
SELTZ: It is. And just one note, it's also going to be a Mediterranean cruise as well. That's pretty incredible with all the safety and security of being on one of the finest cruise lines in the world!
ANNOUNCER: All right. This is coming up in late September, but time is of the essence if someone wants to take part.
SELTZ: There is time, but you need to act now. Just go to our website, LHM.org for more information, or call Carla at our office; toll free 877-333-1963; that's 877-333-1963.
ANNOUNCER: Lands of the Bible Cruise, September 28th through October 11th. Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.
Music Selections for this program:
"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.
"Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)
"O Sons and Daughters of the King" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)