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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Andy Stanley » Andy Stanley - Easter, No One Saw It Coming

Andy Stanley - Easter, No One Saw It Coming

Andy Stanley - Easter, No One Saw It Coming
TOPICS: Easter

Light of the world lamb, that was slain lion who rose mighty to save the emblem of death. That became the emblem of our faith. It's unbelievable. You know, if you read the New Testament, or if you're familiar with, with the story of the gospel, Jesus actually predicted his death and resurrection on multiple occasions, but, but they just didn't believe it or they didn't understand it, or they just couldn't imagine that he was gonna die because he was the Messiah. And so consequently, nobody, as we say, every Easter, nobody expected nobody. No, nobody was at the tomb. That first Easter counting down backwards, you know, you know, 10, 9, 8, 7, cue, cue the sun, right? Every, so we say this, every Easter, everybody expected Jesus to do what dead people do, which is stay dead, right? But had he done so, this is why the resurrection of Jesus is relevant to you.

Even if you don't believe anything about the story, this is why it's relevant to you. This is why I'm so glad that you're watching or listening or celebrating Easter with us. If he ha, if he had not risen from the dead, life's greatest mystery, life's greatest mystery would have remained unexplained. The mystery of what happens when we die. Now, of course, in the first century, there were theories, there were theories then just like there are theories now you have a theory, you have some sort of belief. And if you had to explain it, it would sort of end with, and that's all I know about that, right? Because at the end of your explanation, there's kind of a, and that's, that's just, that's just what I believe. The interesting thing is, the theories then are very similar to the theories.

Now, most Americans, most people in the West, in fact, really most people in the world believe in some form of the immortality of the soul, right? That there is an immaterial part of you. There's a you in there, like when you look in the mirror and you look in your eyes, it's like, okay, I see my body and I see my eyes. But there's more to me than meets the eye, right? There's a, there's a you in there, there's an immortal, immaterial you housed in your body. And, and we oftentimes call that a, a soul. And that idea was actually popularized way before the Bible, that that idea was popularized in the fifth century BC by Socrates. And then Plato comes along and kind of elaborates on it, and their theory went like this, that there's an immortal soul housed in the body, and the soul wants to get outta the body because the body is limiting the soul, because life is difficult and the body gets sick and the body falls apart, and the body gets old and the body gets injured, and the body just, you know, it just, it becomes a battle as people get older.

So there's a soul in there that's longing to be freed from the prison of the body. And once the body dies, the body remains dead. So the theory was there's a permanent separation of body and soul, but whereas the body dies, the soul of every being survives forever. But where, and again, there were so many theories, in fact, Socrates suggested that every soul got put in a different body over and over and over and over. And it was just reincarnation forever. So consequently, your soul has been through several bodies, and once your body dies, it gets put in another soul. But you just can't remember it. But every once in a while you have a dream and you're like, huh, I think I was Alexander the Great, I think I was Cleopatra. Nobody wants to be the guy that, you know, his first battle died in his first battle, right on the front line.

Somebody wants to be that person. But the whole idea of reincarnation, in fact, you may be a believer in some form of reincarnation. That's as old as that's as old as the fifth century bc. But why these theories? Because people wanna know what happens after we die. Then later, Greeks, they, they decided that it's not about endless reincarnation. There was another group that came along that said, no, what happens is when the, when a person dies, they, they joined Hades who was the God of the underworld. And then as time went by, the place that people went when they died, became synonymous with the name. And then people began to say, oh, when people died, they go, they go to Hades because it's, that's just, that's what happens. And then there were other people who said, well, there are good souls and bad souls, and we don't know about the bad souls. They probably go to a bad place. But the good souls, they become a part of a constellation of stars. And when you look up in the sky at night, and of course in ancient times, they didn't have all the interference that we have.

So if you've ever been somewhere where the sky was just full of stars, that was pretty much the ancient world all the time, anywhere you went, and they would look at all these stars and they're like, those are people, those are souls. They've lost their body. Their souls have been liberated. And if you have a good life and you live a right kinda life, you get to join a constellation of stars. And then the Hebrew scriptures came along and the writers of the Hebrew scriptures, and they talked, they had a different word. It was kind of like Hades. They talked about sheol. And when a person died, they went to Sheol. And some people believe Sheol was an actual place. They didn't know what happened there, but they're the immaterial part of a person went there. But most Jewish people in an old Testament times during the writing of Old Testament, they just believed that when you died, that was the end. And their seal was just the place of the dead.

It wasn't really a place, it was like saying you're being buried. And that was the end that you lived for the pleasure of God. And then when your body died, that was the end of you that didn't believe in some sort of immortal soul. And so what happened is most modern people, in fact, and this isn't a criticism, most of you, most of us, most people listening, most people in the world, they have, they've sort of merged all of those ideas together. And they've, they even, we've kind of replaced Hades and shield with the New Testament concept of heaven, that our souls, when they leave our bodies, they go spend eternity in heaven. And we get to be reunited with loved ones. It's kind of interesting. And this isn't a criticism, okay? So don't take it this way.

I mean, I've done so many funerals and I've grieved with so many people, and it's mostly about, oh, they're, they're seeing granddaddy and grandmom and my aunt and my great so and so and so, oh yeah, and Jesus too. And then my sister-in-law and my brother and Jesus, I know Jesus is there. It's like, it's all about, they're gonna have a family reunion in the sky is beautiful. And you know, and that's okay. And why do we envision that? Because we don't know. We're just left to our imagination. But our modern sense of what happens to our liberated souls, it's a little bit like the Greeks used to think it was. It's kind of like we mix and mingled New Testament terminology with Greek philosophy. But then something interesting happened that we don't talk about much because it happened in between the old and the New Testament.

In between the old and the New Testament there was a group of Jewish people that had a completely different theory than any of that. And this theory began based on something that was written in Daniel. It's kind of, it's not sketchy in the sense that it's not true. It's sketchy in the sense that it's not clear. And they took something Daniel said, and they took something that Ezekiel said, and some of the prophets said, and they said, wait a minute, maybe we've got it wrong. And they developed a different theory of what happens after a person dies. And the Greeks and the Romans just ridiculed it. They thought it's absolutely ridiculous who would believe such a thing? And these Jewish people embrace the idea of resurrection, that at the end, that at the end of the current age, they believe there's a current age. And this age comes to an end. This world comes to an end.

And at the end of this current age that the physical bodies of the righteous, the physical bodies, not just the souls, the physical bodies of the righteous would be resurrected to live in the kingdom of God on a new and improved planet earth. And some believe that everybody would be resurrected and everybody would be judged for the kind of life that they lived. And then it got kind of fuzzy what happens to the people that live good lives versus what happened to the people that live bad lives. And then if you said, well, how good do you have to be? It got fuzzy. And how good is good enough? Got fuzzy. But we know those people aren't good enough. That's what we know for sure. And I am good enough, just like most of us think today, you're confident you're going to heaven, you're confident. You know some people who aren't, you're not sure why, but you are confident.

And so it was with them that there's gonna be a resurrection, everybody's gonna be resurrected. There's gonna be some kind of judgment based on an exactly what we don't know, probably Torah. But not everybody has access to Torah. So we don't know how that works. But there's not immaterial souls floating around in the sky or in heaven or Hades or shield. No, no, these, the bodies, our bodies are gonna come back to life. But still, nobody knew exactly how it worked. And by the time Jesus showed up, there was a division even among the Jews, and there's a group that said, no, no, no, there is no resurrection. They were the Sadducees. And you've heard the joke. That's why they were sad. You see? Because they believed that once you died, that was the end. And the Pharisee said, no, no, no. There's a resurrection of the righteous for sure. And there may be a resurrection of the unrighteous. We're not sure how it works. Just make sure you're righteous.

And then came Jesus of Nazareth, this rabbi from Galilee who claimed to have been sent by God to explain what God is like and to explain how all of this works. And he didn't start with a conversation about what happens when you die. He started with conversations about the problem in the first place. And he claimed to have the authority and the power to forgive people of their sin. And throughout the gospels, you, you find this, he'll be in a situation and he'll say, your sins are forgiven. And everybody else in the room's like, what about mine? And he says, no, just yours. And then he leaves and they're like, wait a minute. They didn't even ask for their sins to be forgiven. And wait a minute, we have, and in Judea, they had a whole system for this. It was called the temple. They had a structure. If you wanted your sins to be forgiven or covered or atone for, there was a ritual, there were things you had to do. Everybody knew how it worked.

And here's this guy walking around, he's not a temple, he's just an individual going, no, I have the authority. I've replaced the temple. I'm greater than the temple, and I have the authority to forgive sin. She's forgiven, he's forgiven. And then he's, when he's crucified, you remember this from the cross, he praised his father and he says, father, I'd like for you to forgive all of 'em. Every I forgive them. Who's them? Just everybody in the vicinity. Everybody that had anything to do with putting me here. The people who accused me falsely, my disciples who didn't come to my rescue, the people who lied about me. Rome, Pilate father, forgive all of them because they don't even really know what they've done. But who, who has the, I mean, it's easy to say, I have the power to forgive sin. By the way, all of you are forgiven, right? But Jesus went beyond that. Jesus did something that it's easy to miss when you read the New Testament.

Here's what happened. Even though you know the stories, he validated his claim to be able to forgive sin. He validated his authority to forgive sin by reversing the consequences of sin. The consequences of sin is sickness and death. The consequences of sin. You're reminded every time you look in the mirror, the consequences of sin are happen every time. You have to find a Motrin. The consequences of sinner, when you get that bad report, the consequences of sin are when you visit someone in a hospital that no matter how good you are, you are dying. And I am dying. And sickness and death are a consequence of sin. And Jesus reversed it. He, he he, he healed a boy who'd been blind from birth. He healed a man who'd been lame from birth. He healed people who were deaf. He healed women. He, he healed all kinds of people. And of course, we read those miracle stories.

And boy, I wish I could heal people like that. That wasn't the point. The point wasn't the healing. The point was it validated his claim to be able to say, I have the power to forgive people of their sin. And I'm validating it by reversing the consequence sin. And then he staged the greatest demonstration of his power to reverse sin of all. And you know the story. One day he and his guys get word that his friend, not a stranger, his friend Lazarus, is sick. And instead of getting up and rushing to Bethany to heal his friend, you know the story He waits and he lets his friend die, and his friend Lazarus's sisters are heartbroken, Mary and Martha. And finally, when Jesus seems to know that it's too late to heal and he's dead, he says, let's go to Bethany. And they go to Bethany and Martha, one of the sisters hears that Jesus is finally walking into town with this guise as she cannot wait anymore. She doesn't sit still.

And John, by the way, John, who was there for all of this, John records, what Martha said, and this is, this is what she said. This is what John tells us happened when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she couldn't sit still, she went out to meet him and she was mad. She was rehearsing her speech. Have you ever been rehearsing a speech on your way home? Oh yeah. And isn't it great when you rehearse the speech, everybody responds exactly like you want them to respond. And then you get home and do your speech where you get home and nobody's home to start with, okay? Then you have to wait. Then you do your speech and nobody, and they kind of have these things, they come back at you and you're like, you know, in my head, this was like the perfect speech. So she's marching out to see Jesus. She's got her speech.

You know, she's not happy. I love this. Have you ever... don't say yes or raise your hand? Have you ever been unhappy with God? Of course you have ever been disappointed with God? Of course you have. Of course we have. And Mary and Martha, were disappointed with Jesus. God in a body, they're face to face and they're bringing their disappointment. And Jesus doesn't chastise them. And he, he won't chastise you either. When she finally gets him. You, some of you can repeat this, she says, Lord, Martha said, if you have been here, my brother would not have died. Because if you had been here, you would've healed my brother. I've seen you heal strangers. I know you would've healed my brother because he was your friend. We've hosted you in our home.

And then Jesus says exactly what you would expect a religious leader to say this. Jesus says exactly what somebody like me would say in a moment like this, with a grieving sister or sister-in-law, or somebody who's grieving the loss of a loved one. He says, don't worry, Martha, your brother will rise again. Your brother will rise again. So this is okay. This is, this is, and I'm not making fun of Jesus. I'm making fun of me. This is kind of pathetic preacher talk. Don't worry. You'll see him again. You'll see her again. And you know why we say stuff like that? We don't know what else to say. So Jesus, he's got, he is got his rabbi thing going on. He's got his pastor thing going on, except there's more to it as we're about to find out. But he says exactly what she thinks he's gonna say, don't worry, Martha, your brother will rise again. And she shakes her head.

Well, that's what I expected you to say. Now you're talking theory. Now you're talking theology. This is not an emotionally satisfying response, especially knowing that you could have been here and healed. My brother and Martha answered. I know, I know. I've been to Sunday school, I've been to church, you know, I know what the rabbis teach. I know he will rise again. He will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Here's what they believed, that at the end of time, there's a new age and everybody will be resurrected and everybody will be judged. She's like, she's like, I know. I know. One day I'll see him again. It's like us saying, one day I'll see you again in heaven. This is what she'd been taught her whole life. And you know what? I bet she wondered. I don't know. I'm reading into the text.

I bet she wondered what you wonder, and I bet she, she wondered what many of us wondered is this, is this just what the preacher tells us to comfort us during our grieving? Is this just what the church says? Because the church doesn't really have any answers either. But Jesus wasn't talking theory and Jesus wasn't talking theology. He staged this event to validate the reality of resurrection. It turns out the Greeks were wrong. The final destination of the righteous is not a disembodied soul. So Jesus smiles and says what? No mere mortal would say. And he says something that no one would put in his mouth if they wanted anybody to take Jesus seriously. When John writes these words, I think he's thinking, I was there. I heard what he said. But nobody's gonna believe this. This is not helping the storyline.

Could we just leave this out? And Jesus looks at Martha and says, Martha, I'm, I'm not, this isn't a Sunday school lesson. I'm not just, I'm just saying what you expect me to say. Look at me, Martha. Resurrection isn't a category. I am the resurrection. You're in the presence of re, I'm the resurrection and I am the life. Follow this 'cause. This is a little complicated. Not 'cause you can't follow it, but Jesus, this gets a little wordy. The one he goes on. He says, the one who believes in me, and this is an interesting thing, John, who wrote this, he created this phrase, this phrase in Greek never showed up before until John wrote it in the, in the New Testament. And what John did, he's trying to figure out a concept. There's no Greek word for it. There's a word for a Greek word for believe like believe that. But this isn't believe that this is what we would say when we say trust in.

So he takes a a noun, he takes a verb and a preposition and puts 'em together. It's the first time it's ever been put together in the Greek language. And he creates it. He says, the one who trust in me. And now he inserts himself in the equation. This is crazy. The one who believes in me will live even though they die. In other words, the person who believes in me will live again after they die. And she's not sure what he's talking about, but he is not done talking. He goes on, he says, and whoever lives follow me, Martha and whoever lives, in other words, whoever lives again, whoever lives again in the age to come, whoever lives again in the age to come after they've been resurrected, whoever lives again by believing in me. And he puts himself in the equation.

Once again, he, it's like he, he's claiming to be the bridge between this life and the next. He's claiming to be the bridge between this age and the age to come. And whoever lives by believing in me will never die. There is no death after resurrection. There is no death in the new age, the new world to come. Now he can see the confusion on her face. I can see the confusion on your faces. It's like, whoa, whoa. You do. You gotta go over that again. So Jesus, he's, he's so great and so compassionate, he realizes, okay, I'm not gonna try to explain that again. Okay, Martha, and here's the question. This is the question for me. This is the question for you.

He says, okay, you don't have to explain it, but do, do you believe this? He says to her, do you believe this? And she's thinking, believe it. Maybe understand it. Absolutely not. There is so much going on. I'm still so angry with you. And really what he's asking is this, do you believe me? And I love her response. It's perfect. Yes, Lord. She replied, I believe. Okay, lemme tell you what I believe. Lord, I I don't know if I, I don't even know if I understand all that to believe it. Here's what I believe. I believe that you are those king God's final king, that God sent it to the world. I believe that you're Messiah, the son of God who has come into the world. I just wish you had come here sooner. And then he raised her brother from the dead. He resurrected Lazarus. He reversed. This is the point of the miracle. He staged it. He reversed the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death.

So the thing is, back to the storyline, his followers should have known the grave couldn't hold him. He is the walking, talking, resurrection and the life. And that means, that means he is the resurrection in life for you and for me as well. And here's why. Because his claim be able to forgive. Sin was validated in the most extreme and measurable and public ways imaginable. His death. This is what we celebrate as Christians, right? His death erased our sin. His resurrection illustrated our future. The Greeks were wrong. The Jews had it right. Our final destination, your final destination is not a disembodied soul floating around in the atmosphere or even floating around in heaven. Your ultimate, your ultimate destination is a resurrected body.

Now, again, this was so different and it was so new. And so some years later, the Apostle Paul, who was a Pharisee, who believed in resurrection, he just didn't believe Jesus was Messiah until he met Messiah. Then he went to Jerusalem and met Peter. And Peter's like, oh yeah, we saw him die. We met him afterwards. John's like, yeah, we saw him die. We met him afterwards. He talked to Mary, the mother of Jesus. He runs into James, the brother of Jesus. James the brother of Jesus is like, no, I didn't believe he was Messiah either. But I watched him crucified to comfort my mom. And then he showed up. So yes, we absolutely believe we were here. We're still in the city of Jerusalem. This wasn't a hundred years ago. This was just a few years ago.

So the Apostle Paul becomes a Jesus follower. You, you, you probably know that story. And he writes letters to the people that were in these churches that he had planted. And one of those churches was in Corinth, Greek speaking, Greek Culturized, enculturated, Corinth. And the people in that church had been raised on the disembodied soul theory because they were Greek. So now he's trying to explain to them, no, that's, that's not how it works. Plato and Aristotle, they, I mean all of them, their Socrates, they were brilliant, but they were close. And they were trying to answer the question that everybody wants answered, but they were wrong. So 20 years after the resurrection, he writes them this letter, and here's what he says. And again, he tries to explain it to people like us. He says, but Christ Jesus has indeed, physically, literally been raised from the dead. And he is the first fruits. We'll come back to that in a minute. He's the first fruits. 'cause that's not language we use of those who have fallen asleep.

Now, this is amazing. The apostle Paul, Peter, John, and Jesus all referred to death asleep. Why? Because people who are asleep wake up. People who are asleep rise up. But why the first fruit things? What is he talking about from the dead? They're the the people. Jesus Christ is the first fruit of those who have fallen asleep. Here's what he says. Here's here's what he means. He says, for he explains it. He says four. 'cause he knows it's complicated. Four is in Adam, like Adam and Eve. Four as in Adam, all die. In other words, we're all related to Adam. And consequently, because of his sin, we inherited sin. And the wages of sin is anybody know death. Yeah. It's one of the first verses we learn as children. Why they teach us that one so young? I don't know. The wages of sin is death. Would you like to ask Jesus in your heart? I think I will. Yeah, absolutely. Don't ask to explain it. Right? The wages of sin is death.

And so he says in Adam, everybody died. Everybody was destined to perish. Everybody was destined to be lost to God because of their sin. He said. And just like in Adam, everybody was destined to be lost to God because of personal sin. And the sin they inherited. He says, so in the same way or parallel, all will be made alive in Christ. But he's explaining this whole resurrection thing, each intern, which means he's like, yeah, resurrection is for everybody, but there's an order. And Christ is the first. He goes on and says Christ, the first fruits. In other words, he says, Jesus, this is so important. Jesus rose first to confirm the possibility of resurrection. That Jesus resurrection was proof of concept. That you don't have to wonder. You don't have to wonder. You don't have to try to figure it out. You don't have to philosophize that he came to earth to explain.

God died for our sin and rose from the dead to put a stake in the ground to say, yes, resurrection is your future. Resurrection is possible. I'm living proof. I went first. And your turn will eventually come. He demonstrated the reality of resurrection. And then he goes on and says this. And then when he comes talking about Jesus second coming, those who belong to him, that at the end of this age, Paul says, here's how it works. At the end of this age, those who put their faith in Christ will rise or be resurrected as well. So consequently, when you follow the apostles and their teaching after Jesus rose from the dead, they don't teach that. They don't. They don't teach. The disembodied soul is gonna float around in heaven forever and ever. They teach.

They taught resurrection, the resurrection of the body, not as a theory, not as a philosophy. They taught the resurrection of the body as history. And why is history? Because they saw Jesus die. They knew where he was buried. Three days later, they stared into an empty tomb. And do you know what they assumed? They did not assume He rose from the dead, even though we predicted predicted it. He assumed what every logical person would assume. They assumed. They assumed that somebody had simply stolen the body. And then he appeared to them and he appeared to his mother and he appeared to his brothers and he appeared to hundreds of others. And these men and women risk and sacrifice their lives not for what they believe. People do that all the time. They risk and sacrifice their life for what they claim they had seen.

So back to us for just a minute. And if you've been around one of our churches for long, you've heard me say this before, but I think it's worth repeating as many times as I can repeat it. We don't believe Jesus rose from the dead because the Bible tells us. So the Bible I read every single day, the Bible I've been reading since I was 16 years old. This is the Bible my dad gave me when I was 16 years old that I read every single day because I've always loved this Bible. I've always loved the scripture always. I didn't always obey it, but I always loved it. Which is hard because I memorized all the verses about the sin I was committing. I mean, you commit sin and feel guilty. I committed sin, felt guilty and knew which verse to look up and go, yep, there it is. I memorized that as a kid. Okay, preacher's kids, we all live with that, that curse.

Here's the point. We don't believe Jesus rose from the dead because the Bible tells us, so actually we have a Bible because of the resurrection of Jesus. We believe Jesus rose from the dead because Matthew, who was an eyewitness documented it. And Mark who got his information from Peter documented it. And Luke, who interviewed everybody, he could documented it. And John, who was there for all of this, including the raising of Lazarus, documented it. And Peter, who was there for all of it, documented it. And James, the brother of Jesus, called his brother his Lord. Not because of what he taught, but because he rose from the dead. And then their written documents were so precious to the early church, they were collected and they were protected and they were copied and they were distributed.

And then when the Roman empire capitulated, capitulated to Christianity and declared that Jesus is Lord rather than Caesar, the scholars could come out from hiding. And they assembled the first Bible in the fourth century. And it has changed the world and changed people's lives ever since. The point is this, the resurrection of Jesus, the implications of the resurrection of Jesus are far reaching. But the implications for the resurrection of Jesus are personal. Because what God did, what God did for Jesus, he will do for you. And the fact that he did it for Jesus means he can do it for you. Resurrection is your destiny. The resurrection of Jesus is your guarantee, which means that the question that Jesus asked Martha, that day, is relevant to us as well. Do you remember the question? The question was this, Martha, do you believe this? Do you believe this? Martha, do you believe me?

And the question for you today, the question for all of us, whether we've been a Christian a long time or we're considering it or we're coming back or we're thinking about leaving, or maybe the first time you've heard it explained like that, like this, the, the the question for all of us or, or the question is, do we believe this? And then the question is, can we stay along with Martha? I believe that you are God's final king. I believe that you are Messiah. I believe that you are Son of God sent from God to explain God, to pay for the sins of the world and to pay for my sin. I believe that you're the son of God who has come into the world, God in a body. And if you can't believe it, that's understandable. And you can't make yourself believe something you don't believe. And Jesus' closest friends had a hard time believing it as well.

But what awakened their belief was not what he taught, what awakened their belief is what we're celebrating today an event, his resurrection from the dead. And here's the challenge for you. If Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection and pulled it off, he is worth your consideration. And just as Jesus in the first century invited people to follow him before they believed in him, you are invited to follow him as well. And if you begin to read and if you begin to listen and you end, begin to ask questions, if you become a follower of Jesus, perhaps one day you'll wake up and realize, I believe lie to the world. Lamb, that was slain lion who rose mighty to save. He was the fullness of God. He was God in a body. Fullness of God could not be kept in the grave. That's why we follow and that's why we celebrate.
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