Listen to this message on the Living Way Podcast April 2-3, 2013.
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." - 1 Corinthians 2:6-9
The Lord has an awesome habit of turning things around, of taking the irreversible and reversing it. What human hands could never change, He does—that is, when He is invited into the equation. That's the qualifier: we have to invite Him in. And just when it seems flesh and the Devil have had their day, the Lord gives them their comeuppance.
"Comeuppance" is a word that's not used very often anymore. It's an old-fashioned slang term, and its essence has to do with a comeback when somebody has been unfairly been put down. It refers to when you've been set up and knocked over, and then find the pathway back.
It may not be the most spiritual definition you'll hear in church, but I thought of a story about Winston Churchill that illustrates comeuppance as well as anything. Churchill was at a British affair of state, and he was slightly tipsy. Lady Astor, one of the British nobility was indignant that the Prime Minister was bobbing and weaving. Sneering, she came up to him and, with all intended insult, said, "Sir Winston, you're drunk." The Prime Minister's reply was, "And Lady Astor, you're ugly." Then he added, "But tomorrow I shall be sober."
A comeback if there ever was one. But even deeper than bouncing back when it looks like you've been shot down, comeuppance has to do with the ultimate turnaround: When the underdog wins. When the good guys don't come in last. When there is justice, and we see it. There is justice in the universe. And even moreso, there is a comeuppance that is realized and declared that goes deeper and reaches down to the place where a heart has been crushed, bringing the fullness of restoration.
It goes to the place where we have been stained and shamed by our own failure and sin. The power of God reaches down and lifts us back up, and only the power of God can do that. Although the incident between the Prime Minister and Lady Astor is a brilliant example of comeuppance, the one realized at Easter on behalf of our soul is the centerpiece of human experience, and it releases a power far greater than any other.
"Comeuppance" is a great word for Easter. The consummate comeuppance is what Easter is about: Jesus rising from the dead. And while it is such a brilliant strategy on the part of God, the Scripture says that the rulers of this age didn't know what they were doing in sending Jesus to the Cross. If they had known, they wouldn't have done it. What they thought would be their moment of triumph instead set up the mammoth turnaround of the Resurrection. Jesus, of course, becomes the victor and the manifestation of justice that is restored.
Jesus is the classic case study. Nothing is more desirable in our lives than the experience of a turnaround, especially when you really need one, and we all do. Every one of us has some issue in our life that needs a turnaround. Something about which you or I have said, I really need help there. There are habits we've been unable to break, circumstances we haven't been able to resolve, wisdom we wish you had in order to make the right choices. There are strategies we need to see for whatever our situation requires—for everything from family to finances, and things that have to do with deep inner points of failure and inadequacy.
Irrespective of how long you've walked with the Lord, whether it's a week or a lifetime, there's something Jesus wants you to embrace. Something in which He wants to work the comeuppance power of the Resurrection as you reach out to Him and declare, "Lord I lay hold of that today."
There may be some reading this who have never come to know the Lord. You obviously respect God and His ways. You wouldn't be reading this if you didn't place some value on spiritual things. But there's never come a moment when you've actually said, "Lord, come into my life." And He wants to breathe into you more than a religious idea. He wants to breathe the reality of His Resurrection life into you. If you would like to know how to receive Him, click here.
The Cross, the Conspiracy, and the Resurrection
This text of Scripture has to do with three things: The first thing is the Cross and the dynamism that flows from it to work in human experience. How it works so powerfully is a mystery, but when we exalt the Savior who died on the Cross, the power of God is released to those who will open to it.
The second thing has to do with the forces that conspired to bring about the Cross. The "rulers of the age" were not only political powers, but also the forces of evil—demon powers that recognized Jesus and wanted to destroy Him. And besides that, there was also my sin and your sin that occasioned the need for the Savior to go to the Cross.
Finally, this text has to do with the Resurrection, because the Scripture says that if they had known what would happen, the rulers of this age would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.
This consummate comeuppance was beautifully dramatized in C.S. Lewis' classic story, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Aslan is a lion who clearly typifies the Person of Christ. When Aslan is being put to death, all the creatures around Him are screaming with glee, supposing it's their moment of triumph. They had no idea they were sealing their own doom, for after he's been slaughtered, Aslan rises from the dead.
At the Cross, it was as though Satan had taken a giant spear and hurled it to the Lamb of God, saying, "I'll stick Him to the tree, and God will be dead and under our control, and it will be the end of Him." But just as that lance came through the body of the Savior and His blood gushed forth, what appeared to be the end was actually the ultimate turnaround. In the invisible realm, that spear passed right on through and made a u-turn, becoming a boomerang that cut off the works of hell and overthrew the plan of darkness. And the ultimate, consummate comeuppance happened when Jesus rose from the dead.
Loved one, God has a second chance for every situation. He's made available the power to bring about a divine comeuppance for you. The Cross isn't an instrument of defeat; it's an instrument of victory. And God's Word says that as far as you and I are concerned, the Devil never has the upper hand in any situation that we face. Whatever may appear to be defeat is not, as long as I have Jesus in my corner. You may be down for the count but Friday's tomb isn't the end of the story. Sunday's coming. Hallelujah!