He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Matthew 28:6
For the Christian, death is just a change of address. – Anne Lamott
Do you recognize the name “Mel Blanc?” He was the voice behind all of the cartoon characters in Looney Tunes. At the end of every movie, you would see Porky Pig come on the screen, and he would always say the same thing: “That’s all folks!” A few years ago, Mel Blanc died. Do you know what his family put on his tombstone? “That’s all folks.”
Which is true? He is risen indeed, OR That’s all folks? Does death mean that the show is over, or is it possible that somewhere the real show is just starting?
There is a painting in which Faust is playing chess with the Devil. Faust has only a few pieces left on the board and seems to be check-mated. The expression on his face foretells his doom. The Devil, who seems to be very much in control, has a sneer of glee.
Through the years people would come to the gallery where the picture was displayed and gaze and ponder the hopelessness of the situation. As they would leave, most left with the sense that the artist had captured the essence of their own situation.
Then one day, a great chess master came into the gallery. He stood for hours focused on the painting and specifically the chessboard. Day after day, he would return to study the portrait. Finally, with a shout that disturbed everyone in the gallery, “It’s a lie! You still have a move.”
A man named Moses convinces a nation of oppressed slaves to run away from the most powerful man on earth. Pharaoh sets out after them. They’re standing on the shore with the Red Sea in front of them and the greatest army in the world behind them, and the people say to Moses, Moses, what were you thinking? And Moses says to God, “God, what were You thinking?” But The King still has one more move!
A little boy named David’s up against the giant named Goliath. David is in trouble. He tries to put on King Saul’s armor, but Saul’s a 52-Long, and David’s a 36-Short. He can’t even handle a grown-up’s sword. It looks like Checkmate, but the King still has one more move.
A man named Daniel gets thrown into a den of lions because he refuses to stop praying to his God. The lions are hungry. He’s in there all night. At the first light of dawn, Darius calls down. Daniel tells him that the lions have been put on a “Low Protein Diet,” and he’s fine because the King still has one more move.
This is our great hope. On Good Friday, they tried Him and judged Him; they whipped Him and beat Him; they mocked Him and scorned Him; they hung Him on a cross to die and laid Him low in a tomb to rot the way every human body has rotted ever since death entered this sorry, dark world.
And then they said to everybody, That’s all, folks. The show’s over. Time to go home. Checkmate. But they were wrong because the King still had one more move!
I don’t know what challenges you face. Maybe there is stress at work. Maybe you’re in a marriage that is falling apart, or that has already fallen. Maybe there is a son or daughter, somebody that you love, who is struggling or estranged from you. Maybe you have financial pressures. Maybe you have done the wrong thing, or said the wrong thing, or made a mistake that feels so big it could never be redeemed.
Maybe not. Maybe things are going pretty well, and there is no crisis at all. But there will be one day. The mortality rate is still hovering right around 100%. Whatever you face, whether it’s today or tomorrow, the promise of Jesus to everyone who puts their trust in Him is this: there is hope, even when it feels like “Checkmate.”
That’s not all folks, because the King still has one more move.