The King Still Has Another Move by Ken Ulmer.
“We are born anew into a living hope.”
Easter was and is about God getting God’s way with the world; it’s about God getting the last word in the story, and that word is always life, not death; it is always hope, not despair.
Ken Ulmer is the pastor of a mostly African-American congregation in Los Angeles. He tells the fanciful tale about two men in an art museum who came upon a painting of a chess game. One character in the painting looked like an ordinary man, but the other character looked a little like the Devil. The man is down to his last two pieces on the chessboard. The title of the painting is “Checkmate.” The impression is that for the man in the picture, all is lost; the situation is hopeless.
In the story that Ken tells, one of the two men looking at this painting is a chess champion, and something about the painting troubled him. He begins to study it. He becomes so engrossed in it. His buddy gets impatient and asks what he’s doing. The chess guy says, “There’s something about this painting that bothers me. You go ahead.” So, he stood there studying the painting.
When his friend came back, the chess-master said, “I need to locate the artist and tell him that either he has to change the picture or he has to change the title. There’s something wrong with this painting.”
His friend asked him what was wrong with the painting. The chess champion said: “Well, it’s titled ‘Checkmate,’ but the title is wrong. The painter either has to change the painting or change the title, because the king still has another move. If he makes that move he will win; the king has one more move.”
Now, in that African-American church, when Ken Ulmer said: The King still has one more move…that’s when the congregation started to get noisy. When Ken said “The King has one more move,” the people got excited. When they heard that it wasn’t checkmate because the King of kings still had another move, they started communicating agreement. They knew that the message of Easter is clear: the King of Kings always has another move and it’s a winning move.
That was the case when a man named Moses convinced a nation of oppressed slaves to run away from the most powerful man on earth. At last they’re standing on the shore, with the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army behind them. The Egyptians are shouting, “Checkmate!” And the people said to Moses, “What were you thinking?” Moses says to God, “God, what were you thinking, but then Moses begins to understand…
The King still had another move.
And then there was the Good News of a teenager by the name of David who went out into the battlefield. He heard about a giant named Goliath who was challenging the people of God. David spoke out against him and before he knew it, he was face-to-face with a giant. David tries to put on Saul’s armor, but Saul is a 52-long and David is a 36-short, and nothing fits! He can’t even handle a grown-up sword. Goliath and his Philistine cronies are shouting, “Checkmate!” but David knows something they don’t know…
The King still had another move.
Then there was a man named Daniel, who was thrown into the lion’s den because he refused to stop praying to the true and living God. The lions were hungry and Daniel was defenseless. The Emperor Darius says: “Checkmate!” It looked like the end. But when Darius checked to find out how quickly the lions devoured Daniel, he discovered that the lions had a case of lion lock jaw…and Daniel is fine. Why?
Because the King had one more move!
And on Good Friday, they tried Jesus and judged him. They whipped him and beat him; they mocked and scorned him; they hung him up on a cross and they laid him in a tomb. And everybody said: It’s over. It’s done. It’s time to go home! Checkmate!
But they were wrong.
Because the King still had another move.
And when God makes that move, love wins; hope wins; light overcomes darkness; courage overcomes fear; faith overcomes despair.
And you and I are born anew to a living hope.
The promise to you and me is that no matter what we face, whether it is pain from the past, or fear about the future, or struggles with the reality of your life today, whether it’s physical pain, or a troubled relationship, or a trying circumstance, you and I can remember our inheritance and claim the promise.
You are “born into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
By the way, the next time life seems to say, “checkmate,” don’t forget! The King, the King of Kings, always has another move