The Story’s Not Over Yet by Max Lucado
The message of Easter is clear – the story’s not over yet. We haven’t heard the punchline, and we haven’t finished the battle. Don’t be premature in your judgments or too final in your opinion. The Judge hasn’t returned, and the jury isn’t in.
The story isn’t over yet. All that needs to be said hasn’t been said. And all that will be seen hasn’t been seen.
That’s good news. If your eyes have ever moistened at the newsreels of the hungry, remember the story’s not over yet. If you’ve ever been bewildered as you beheld pain triumph over peace – keep the Easter message in mind. The story’s not over yet.
If you’ve ever found your fists clenched in rage as you read of the atrocities at Auschwitz, I’ve got something to show you. If you’ve stood distraught as you hear stories of yet another hijacking… another serial murderer… another child beating, there is a verse I want you to consider.
Or perhaps your feelings are more personal. Maybe the ugly moments in history and open wounds of our day have dared to leave your television screen and enter your house.
Maybe you’ve buried a child whose body was broken by a reckless driver. Maybe your child had never called you daddy. Maybe the one who promised to love you forever loved you for only as long as it was convenient. Maybe you’ve suffered personally from the cruelties in the world. Maybe the shadow of the question mark has blackened your door.
Maybe you have asked, “Why?”
“The rain on the unjust I can understand… but why the just?” “To suffer the consequences of my sins makes sense, but why should I pay for the sin of others?” “Why the innocent?” “Why the children?” “Why the pure?” “Why me?”
Hard questions. Necessary questions. Questions surfaced by a perplexing passage in Matthew.
Is there any passage in Scripture bloodier than then the killing of the children by the soldiers of Herod? Though not specifically described, its bloody footprints are left between the lines of these verses.
“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’ ” -Matthew 2:16-18
It’s a grisly scene: horses galloping, mothers with small boys running and screaming. The flashing of weapons. The flow of innocent blood. The sudden stillness of tiny hands. Mothers clutching lifeless bodies to blood-soaked breasts.
It’s a scene of swords piercing the innocent.
No justification. No explanation. Just cruel carnage. A senseless slaughter.
And during it all, a fat king sits on a throne less than ten miles away, blind to the tears he has summoned, deaf to the anguish he has caused. Herod drinks wine the color of the blood he is spilling.
The wail heard in Bethlehem echoes through the stars. A chorus of chaos refusing to be comforted. A thousand tears with one voice, a hundred hearts with one question.
The composer of this chaos watches from a nearby mountain. With each flash of the sword, he claps. With each plunge of the dagger, he gloats.
Evil at its worst. Blackness at its darkest.
This madman sheds no tears for the young-dead. He is intent on only one thing: killing the Christ before He leaves the cradle.
And when the ravage is completed and the madman knows he has failed, he curses, swirls around, and returns to his pit.
Thirty years later, the other moment for which Satan has waited arrives. He is repeating his drama of desolation. Once again he is slaughtering the innocent.
Once again swords flash and feet scamper. Once again a spineless king called Herod is a pawn in the play. Once again there are the tears of a mother who wonders why. Once again flesh is torn. Once again there are the cries of anguish.
Once again Satan is trying to kill life itself.
This time he has Him where he wants Him. God on a cross. The One who escaped him in Bethlehem is bolted to a tree. Satan applauds as the skin is ripped. “This time You won’t get away!”
A spear breaks through Jesus’ ribs. Once again the innocent is pierced.
“I have done it!” The madman dances amidst the demons. “I have won!”
But the claim is premature.
For the crucified One who descends the spiral stairway into the cavern of death is not a defeated messiah. And He has not come to surrender. Far from it. He is a creator, and He has come to reclaim His own.
He has come to storm the gates of death.
He scatters the demons and rips open the prison doors. He takes captivity captive and frees the faithful.
You can be sure of one thing. Among the voices that sing His welcome are His Bethlehem brothers. They died that He might escape. He has now died that they might escape. They died that He might live. And now, He’s returned to return the favor.
The Easter announcement is clear. Victory is secure. Wails of Bethlehem will turn into the victories of Calvary. Don’t forget that.
The next time the soldiers of Satan steal the joy from your arms.
The next time your prayers float into a silent sky.
The next time you wonder how God could sit still while the innocent suffer.
Remember, the story’s not over yet. Remember the Easter Jesus rescued the imprisoned and remember…He is coming to do it again.