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FIRST-PERSON: The greatest comeback

KENNER, La. (BP)–Last November, Sports Illustrated magazine was covering the baseball World Series in which the Arizona Diamondbacks recovered from a slump to defeat the New York Yankees in the last inning of the final game. It started the editors thinking about the greatest comebacks in history. So they produced their list of the “Top Ten Comebacks of All Time.”

I came across that article not long ago while killing an hour in the waiting room of a local tire store, thumbing through their old magazines.

The Sports Illustrated list was an eclectic one.

Elvis Presley was on it as a result of his TV special in 1968 that revived his sagging career.

Muhammad Ali made the list when he returned from his forced seven-year exile from boxing, to reclaim the world championship.

Harry Truman made the cut, owing to his 1948 victory over Thomas Dewey when all the polls had him losing by a large margin.

When Michael Jordan gave up baseball and returned to his first love of roundball, he found a spot on the top 10 comebacks in history.

Even humanity was on the list — after recovering from the Black Plague of the 14th century when 25 million Europeans died.

Number two among the all-time comebacks was Japan and Germany, devastated in World War II but becoming world economic powers within a generation.

And number one, as named by the editors of Sports Illustrated magazine in the Nov. 12, 2001, issue for the greatest comeback of all time: Jesus Christ. AD 33. Stuns Romans and defies critics by his resurrection from the grave.

I sat there aghast, not believing my eyes. This was not Christianity Today magazine, but a men’s sports publication. Secular stuff. From the type of editors and writers who generally tiptoe around the religious and apologize when a sports figure gives the Almighty credit for anything.

And there they are, acclaiming Jesus’ victory over death as the most impressive comeback of the ages.

I knew it, of course. I’ll bet you did, too. And it was just so impressive that they knew it — and would say so in print.

But if they had asked me, I would have added two little words to the whole thing. I would have said these are the top 10 comebacks of all time “so far,” because there is yet another comeback in the offing, one that will dwarf everything else on this or anyone else’s list.

On trial before the high priest for his life, Jesus was asked, “Tell us whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” He answered, “You’ve said it yourself. However, I will tell you this. Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, coming on the clouds of Heaven.”

Jesus Christ is coming back.

If you think the first time was spectacular — with angels and a star and magi — get ready to be shocked. This time, he brings with him all the angels in heaven, radiant in their splendor. This time, Jesus will not slip quietly into some out-of-the-way town, but we are assured every eye will behold him. We are told that every knee will bow before him. That every tongue of every human will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every person will stand before the returning Christ and report in. It staggers the imagination.

He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And he’s coming back to earth. Believers, get the word out. People need to know. Rejoice in what’s coming. Laugh. You don’t ever have to be afraid again.

The best news remains ahead.
McKeever is pastor of First Baptist Church, Kenner, La.

    About the Author

  • Joe McKeever