We enjoy watching the Seattle Mariners baseball games and last week were treated to the biggest comeback in their franchise history. They were playing away at the San Diego Padres and trailed 12-2 going into the 6th inning. Since we had the game recorded, at that point we decided the game was basically over and just started fast forwarding to see if there was any more scoring. Suddenly we saw that the score was 12-7, so we decided to back up and watch from the 6th inning on. We saw the most incredible inning with the Mariners scoring 9 runs with 2 outs. They ended up winning the game 16-13 and were 11 for 12 with runners in scoring position—statistics that are really unbelievable if we hadn’t seen it happen. Wow, so glad we didn’t just erase the game before we got to see all the excitement!
This past March we also witnessed the largest last-minute comeback ever in NCAA basketball history during the playoffs. Texas A & M trailed Northern Iowa by 12 points with just 34 seconds left. Danuel House, A & M guard told his teammates something his mom had drilled into him for years, “Never give up!” House had missed his first 9 shots of the game. In fact his first field goal came with only 25.8 seconds remaining in regulation. Due to a whole series of bizarre plays that went in favor of A & M they outscored UNI 14-2 in those final 34 seconds and ended up winning in double overtime! Oh, by the way, Danuel House ended up with 22 points!
The biggest comeback in NFL history took place during the playoffs on Jan. 3, 1993 between the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Oilers. The Bills trailed at half-time 28-0 and in the third quarter were down 35-3. They mounted their comeback from the 32-point deficit and won the game 41-38.
Many individuals have also had amazing comebacks against tremendous odds. I think of Dave Dravecky, who pitched for the San Diego Padres from 1982-1987 and the San Francisco Giants from 1987-1989. While with the Padres, a couple teammates led him to salvation in Christ. With the Giants, Dravecky and teammates Scott Garrelts, Alee Hammaker and Jeff Branley became known as “the God Squad.” But then a cancerous tumor was found in his pitching arm and on Oct. 7, 1988 he underwent surgery which removed half of the deltoid muscle and froze the humerus bone in an effort to eliminate all the cancerous cells. Doctors advised Dave to wait until 1990 to pitch again, but by July 1989 he was pitching again in the minors and on Aug. 10 made a highly publicized return to the majors, pitching 8 innings and defeating Cincinnati 4-3. In his next start, 5 days later, he pitched 3 no-hit innings but then started to feel a tingling sensation in his arm and during the 6th inning his humerus bone snapped, the sound audible in the stadium! It was a clean break and he had hopes of pitching again when it was healed, but during the celebration at the end of a pennant-clinching game against the Cubs that same year, Dave’s arm broke again when he joined in the post-game celebration on the mound. The cancer had returned and after a couple more surgeries his arm had to be amputated. Dave became a motivational speaker, wrote several Christian books, and, along with his wife, Jan, founded a Christian ministry called Endurance.
History is replete with stories of great comebacks by sports teams, individuals, and even nations, but all of these exciting stories pale in comparison to what must surely be considered “The Greatest Comeback In the History of the World,” and that is the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although He had on numerous occasions predicted his death AND resurrection, when Jesus was crucified and His body placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and a large stone rolled in front, sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers, even His own disciples fled in fear and confusion and grief. They didn’t expect to see their beloved Master again. It would seem that the enemy, Satan had won, that he had been successful in bring to an end the life of the One who had come to crush him and provide life to all who would believe in Him. Even the women who came early that Sunday morning were on a mission to finish anointing His body, not expecting to see an empty tomb and hear those earth-shattering words from the angels: “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Lk. 24:5b-7).
That is the greatest, most significant and life-altering comeback in history. We may have the privilege to see an exciting comeback in an athletic contest or to see an individual who has faced great adversity come back and succeed, but there is no event that can change our life like Jesus’ coming back from the dead. His resurrection is really the foundation of Christianity and what makes it unique from all world religions. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep (died) in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. BUT NOW Christ has been raised from the dead…For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive” (I Cor. 15:17-22). We have overwhelming evidence for Christ’s resurrection, from the empty tomb, the Scriptures, the changed lives of the disciples, to transformed lives all through history since that time. Is yours one of them? Have you trusted the risen Christ as your personal Savior. His mission in coming to earth was to die and pay the penalty for our sins and His resurrection proved the debt was paid, but we must appropriate it by faith in His finished work. When we do, we become “new creations” in Christ (II Cor. 5:17). Our lives change, like Dave Dravecky’s did when his teammates introduced Him to the risen Savior. His coming back to pitch after cancer surgery was impressive, but his real comeback was moving from a state of spiritual death to that of eternal life the moment he trusted Christ as his Savior. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn 5:24)—now that’s a real comeback!