The Resurrection Gambit

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.  John 11:25‑26

Three-handed chessI hate to lose; it feels awful. We even had a ‘self-esteem’ movement in education not too long ago to make sure all children believe they are fundamentally winners. Losing makes us feel stupid, unable, unworthy, even unlovable. Losing is painful. And mankind has been losing consistently ever since Adam chose the wrong snack in Eden. We’ve been behind the eight ball in love, in work, in self-control and self-salvation ever since. And we hate that feeling!

While growing up, my older daughter was never a keen competitor, preferring stories to games, preferring sleepovers to team sports. I always competed with my son, however, and when he was small, I was always able to win. Oh, I may have lost a game of Sorry to sheer bad luck or allowed him to win at cards when he was feeling discouraged, but I always knew I could beat him. Then he turned 12, and he could suddenly beat me honestly and consistently at most things, but especially at our favorite game: chess.

I was surprised at how difficult it was to accept this. I like to think of myself as a fairly humble person (oxymoron alert), and I do have some experience in accepting life’s curve-balls. But every time he exuberantly cried “Checkmate!” it stung. I smiled graciously and reminded him to say, “Good game,” but it STUNG. I’d had such hope! I thought, this time, maybe. . .  Bad choices. Pitiful logic. . .  Wrong again.

I imagine it’s a teeny, tiny reflection of what the disciples felt that Friday after Passover. They had such hope, such dreams, such plans. They thought He’d be king, that they’d chosen wisely, that victory was around the corner. And then He died — publicly, shamefully, horribly. The disappointment must have been overwhelming. As they retreated in fear to the upper room, they must have felt stupid, unable, unworthy, even unlovable.

But then came the resurrection in all its stunning glory. An unexpected gambit that succeeded beyond our wildest hopes! Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. Could anything have turned the world upside down more completely? The resurrection changed everything! But what if it hadn’t? If there was no resurrection, no Easter morning, then we’d all be losers. Stupid, unable, unworthy, unlovable and completely lost.

I try to remember that whenever I lose some trivial competition. Losing, in its earthly form, can remind me of the ultimate loss which was so amazingly redeemed. It is the resurrection which gives us hope and peace and life and the taste of triumph over sin in everyday life. It is the resurrection which  gives us the promise and the power to live in the light, both now and forever. Adam made us losers, over and over again, but the Second Adam makes us victorious — “Checkmate!”

I count all things to be loss. . . in order that I may gain Christ and . . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Phil. 3:10,11

Easter