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Greg Laurie - The Day That Changed The World

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    Greg Laurie - The Day That Changed The World
TOPICS: Easter

Let me ask you a question. What do you think of when you think of Easter? Well, pastel colors, Easter egg hunts, the Easter bunny, of course, cute little chicks. I remember when I was a kid, you could actually buy for Easter little bunnies and little chicks, which doesn't seem like a great idea about three months later, when your house is overrun with rabbits and full-grown chickens. But a lot of people don't even know what Easter is all about. I remember as a little boy going to my mother and actually asking her, "Mom, what is the meaning of Easter"? And her answer was, "I don't know". She knew. She was raised in the church. She had been running from the Lord for years and I think went out of her way to try to keep me from knowing anything about God or the Bible, and then I ended up becoming a Christian and becoming a preacher.

So, a lot of people don't know the meaning of Easter. I heard a story about a Sunday school teacher that was talking to her class on Palm Sunday. She said, "Okay, kids, does anybody know what the meaning of this day is"? A little girl raised her hand and the teacher called on her. And the little girl said, "Today is Palm Sunday". And the teacher said, "Right, what is the meaning of it"? The little girl said, "That is the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of the donkey and they lay palm branches before his feet and cried out 'Hosanna.'" The teacher was very impressed. She said, "That is exactly right. Now," she said to the class, "can anyone tell me what next Sunday is"?

Same little girl raised her hand. The teacher called on her, "Yes, what's next Sunday"? "That's Easter Sunday," the little girl said. And the teacher said, "And what is the meaning of Easter Sunday"? The little girl said, "That is the day that Jesus rose again from the dead". And before the teacher could congratulate her, the girl continued on and said, "But if he sees his shadow, he has to go back underground for seven more weeks". I think she got it confused with Groundhog Day. Yeah, we get a little confused, but let me just say this in case you don't know. Easter is a day where we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

And now I wanna talk to you about that day that changed the world, the day that Jesus rose again from the dead. They took Jesus down from the cross of Calvary and there was a man named Joseph of Arimathea that came to take the body of Jesus and place it in his tomb. Joseph was a wealthy man and he had a large tomb available for Christ. I've been to Israel many times and I've been to what is called the Garden Tomb. Many believe this could be the very tomb that Jesus was laid in after his Crucifixion. If it's not the actual tomb, it's a first century tomb so you get a sense of what it would look like. But when you step into this tomb, there's a bed, if you will, carved out of the rock. Jesus was tightly bound with bandages in almost like a mummy-like shape, laid there, and they put Roman soldiers on guard.

That's interesting to me because Jesus said he would rise again and what did the disciples do? They go into hiding. They're devastated. What do the Romans do? They said, "Put extra guards on the tomb because the deceiver," their words, "said he would rise again from the dead". And they said, "Maybe the disciples will try to come and steal the body". That wasn't the real concern. They thought, "He might rise again from the dead and we need to stop it from happening". You can't stop God from fulfilling his promises. Three days later, exactly as Jesus said, he rose again from the dead. The stone was rolled away from the opening and he was not there. The disciples came to anoint his body. Mary and some of the other ladies, and they found the tomb empty, and the angel said, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is risen as he said he would rise. Go to Galilee and he'll meet you there". And they were filled with great joy, hearing that amazing news.

On the way from the tomb, we read in Matthew 28 these words: "As they went to tell the disciples, Jesus met them, saying, 'Rejoice.' And they came and held him by his feet and they worshiped him". This is really interesting. This phrase "met them," it's used here in Matthew, it could be translated that it was a common greeting. Let me try to explain. They're seeing the risen Lord. They're overcome with emotion and joy and happiness, and Jesus just greets them, almost like, "Hey". You know, you would think Jesus would say, "Ta-dah"! No, it's sort of like, "Hey, how you doing"? You know in different parts of the country we greet each other in different ways. If you're from the south you go, "Hey, how y'all doing"? If you're from Australia, you might say, "Good day, good day, mate". If you're from Hawai'i you might say, "How's it? Aloha" And if you're from New York you say, "What are you look at me"? Right?

But it was a casual greeting which I find very interesting. Jesus said, "Yeah, I fulfilled the prophecy. Here I am. Greetings to you," and they were so excited to see the risen Lord again. Now, Mary stays at the tomb. She has nowhere to go. She still has not seen the risen Lord. Remember, this is Mary Magdalene. He cast seven demons out of this woman. We can't even imagine how tormented her life was to be possessed by seven demons. But she loved Jesus. Everything that she'd experienced happened because of Jesus. She followed him, she supported him financially. But he was gone. And then we pick up this beautiful account of what happened early Easter morning in the Gospel of John chapter 20 and I'm reading:

"Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And saw two angels sitting, one at the head, the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. They said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said, 'Because they've taken away my Lord, and I don't know where they've laid him.' And when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' She, thinking he was the gardener, said, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you've laid him, and I will take him away.' And Jesus says, 'Mary!'"

Oh, she recognized the intonation of his voice, the familiar way he spoke her name, "Mary". She's so excited, she cries out, "Rabboni"! which means Teacher. "Jesus turned to her and said, 'Don't cling to me, for I have not ascended yet to my Father and your Father; but I will ascend to my Father and to your Father and to my God and to your God,'" wow. Her persistence paid off, didn't i? There she was meeting the risen Lord. He says, "Don't cling to me," I find that interesting. Because earlier we read the disciples took hold of him, and worshiped him, he didn't say to them, "Don't cling to me". But to Mary he says, "Don't cling to me". One translation is don't touch me.

Now this is interesting because in the upper room, he appeared to Thomas who had said, "I'll believe when I can put my hand in the wound in his side or touch the wounds in his hands". And Jesus appears and basically says, "Go ahead. Touch me". Thomas takes hold of him and says, "My Lord and my God". Yet to Mary he says, "Don't touch me or cling". I think he would say, "Mary, everything's changed now". To use the vernacular, "It's a whole new ball game. It's not gonna be the way that it was. Mary, before, I was here to speak to you, you could reach out and touch me. You could hear my voice. But, Mary, it's gonna be better. I'm gonna come and live in your heart now because I'm ascending to my God and your God, to my Father and your Father". We don't realize what a revolutionary statement that was to a First Century Jewish person.

See, a Jewish man or woman never addressed God, the Holy One, As Father, but because of the death and resurrection of Jesus now we say, as the Lord taught us to, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name". "Mary," Jesus is saying, "I'm no longer gonna be on the outside. I'm gonna come and live inside of your heart". I was driving with a couple of my grandkids a number of years ago, Ali, who I think was around four, maybe at that point, and her little brother, Christopher, who was just a little guy, just learning how to speak, actually. And I listened to what Ali was saying to Christopher. She said, "Christopher, Jesus is God, and God is Jesus". And I thought, "That's very good". And she said, "And if we believe in him, one day he'll live in our heart and then," she said, "he'll go and live in our stomach too". And I'm thinking, "Okay, I got to talk to her a little bit more". But I love that idea. This little girl understood that Jesus would come and live in a person's heart and that's exactly what takes place.

There's four points, four things we need to know about the Resurrection of Jesus, this day that changed the world. What does the Resurrection of Jesus mean to you? What does Easter mean to you on this particular day?

Number one, the Resurrection of Jesus assures me that I am accepted by God. Let me say that again, the Resurrection of Jesus assures me that I am accepted by God. Romans 4:25 says he was delivered over to death for our sins, and raised to life for our justification. I bring this up because we get this mindset that says if I live a good enough life, I'll be pleasing to God. Listen, I am pleasing to God right now. Not because of what I've done, because I fail over and over again. I am pleasing to God because of what Jesus did. The Bible says he's made me accepted in the beloved. And this is what was accomplished through the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. There's no forgiveness from balancing records. There's only forgiveness from canceling them. Listen to this. As one person put it, quote, "On the cross, God treated Jesus as if he had lived your life so he could treat you as if you had lived his life," end quote. Isn't that great, let me say it again. "On the cross, God treated Jesus as if he had lived your life so he could treat you as if you had lived his life".

Number two, the Resurrection of Jesus assures me that I have all the power I need to live the Christian life. Over in Romans 8, verse 11, we read: "The Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, and just as he raised Christ from the dead he'll give life to your mortal body, the same Spirit living within you". So Christian friends, you have no obligation to do whatever your sinful nature tells you to do. Some people might say, "Well, I've tried to live the Christian life, and it's hard". Oh, listen, it's not hard; it's impossible, without the help of the Holy Spirit. But because Christ died on the cross and rose again from the dead, and has placed his Holy Spirit in your life, you have all the power you need to overcome any addiction, any vice, any sinful lifestyle. This was accomplished at the cross and the Resurrection for you.

Number three, the Resurrection of Jesus assures me I will live forever in heaven. This is a big one. Let me restate it. This is the biggest one. This is the most important thing of all. The Resurrection of Jesus assures me, as a Christian, I will live forever in heaven. Death died with Christ rose. Because Jesus rose, I too will rise. Because Jesus died, I will never die. In one sense, the Christian doesn't die. You say, "Gregory, are you delusional? Don't you know people are laid into graves every day"? Oh, I understand that. But I also understand what Jesus says. He says, "I am the Resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die". So listen, the tomb is not the entrance to death, but for the Christian it's the entrance to life. The moment you take your last breath on earth, you take your first breath in heaven. When you close your eyes on earth, you open them in heaven.

Number four, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ assures me that I will have a new body just like his. And if your body is starting to wear out a little bit, you'll be really appreciative of this simple fact. You know there's tall tale signs of getting old, right? You know you're getting old when you bend down to pick up something and you wonder what else can I do while I'm down here? You know you're getting old when it's time for your birthday and there's so many candles on your birthday cake, the youth group comes in and forms a circle around you and sings "Kumbaya". You know you're getting old when things are not working like they used to work. God promises he's gonna give to you a new body one day and your new body will be like the Resurrection body of Jesus Christ, because the Bible says when Christ, who is our life, shall appear we will be like him. We'll be like him, so when Jesus came back to life, what happened? He walked among us. Was he physical or was he sort of a phantom? Could you see through him? No, he was in a body.

In fact, he still bore the marks of the Crucifixion but he asked for something to eat. They gave him a piece of fish. It's not like he was translucent and you could see the fish going down. He was a physical body, resurrected, but then he would appear in a room without using a door. He ascended, which is another way of saying, "He flew". And our new bodies will be able to do all of those things, and we'll eat too, and I'm glad to hear that. Aren't you? 'Cause I love eating, and so I'm glad we'll eat, even in the afterlife. Yes, this is the great promise of God to all of us who are Christians. This is only true for the person who has put their faith in Jesus Christ. Have you done that yet? Have you met Jesus?

Years ago, when I was a young believer, I had really long hair, parted in the middle. Use your imagination. Coming down past my shoulders, a long beard. Some said I looked a little bit like Jesus. So I went into a mental institution, not checked in as an inmate, but visiting as a pastor with another friend of mine named Mike. And we were talking to one of the patients and Mike said to the person, "Have you ever met Jesus Christ"? Without missing a beat, this guy takes hold of my hand and says, "Jesus, it's good to meet you. I've heard so much about you". I said, "No, I'm not Jesus. I'm Greg". But here's the idea. You can meet Jesus. He can come and live inside of you.

You see, being a Christian is not about being religious. I don't wanna be a religious person. You might be saying, "Well, you're a preacher. You're very religious". I hope not. I have no interest whatsoever in religion and rituals. I wanted a relationship with God when I was a 17-year-old kid, and Christ came and lived inside of my heart because I invited him in. I was filled with doubt, and I thought, "This will never work for me, because I'm not the religious type". But the good news is, is God is not looking for the religious type. He's looking for the sinner type, like you and me, because the Bible says we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us will ever live a good enough life to earn God's pleasure. We have to come and admit to him, "We're sinners," and turn from our sin and put our faith in Christ who died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead.

And I ask you this in closing: "Have you asked Jesus to come into your life"? You know, you can know all about Jesus and not know him. Jesus says, "There's coming a final day when people will come to him and say, 'Lord, Lord, did we not cast out demons in your name? Did we not do miracles in your name?' And Jesus will say, 'Depart from me; I never knew you, you workers of iniquity.'" It's interesting, the phrase he uses there for "never knew you". Means, "I never knew you intimately".

Maybe you know about God but do you know God? Do you have a relationship with God? Do you have the absolute certainty right now that if you were to die, you would go to heaven? If not, do you want it? The same Jesus who died on the cross and rose again from the dead stands right now at the door of your life and he knocks, and he says if you'll hear his voice and open the door, I'll come in. No, he won't come into your stomach like my young granddaughter said. He'll come and live in your heart, and you will never be alone in life again. I mentioned how Jesus was forsaken for a time so we will never be forsaken. You'll never be alone in life again. Jesus will stand by you and guide you, and help you, and lead you, and empower you. And then one day, you'll go and meet him in the afterlife when you go to heaven.

If you would like Jesus Christ to come into your life, if you would like to be forgiven of your sin, if you would like to know God in a personal way, I want you to pray a prayer with me. It's a very simple prayer. In fact, I'm going to ask you to just pray it out loud after me, if you would like or you could pray it quietly in your heart. Maybe you're watching me in a room full of people. Maybe you're all alone, looking at this message on a phone or a tablet or wherever you are. Just know this: Christ is just a prayer away. So if you want Jesus to come into your life, if you want him to forgive you of your sin, if you wanna know that when you die, you will go to heaven, if you want your guilt taken away, pray this simple prayer with me right here, right now. Just pray these words:

Lord Jesus, I know I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin, I'm sorry for it. Forgive me. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In Jesus's name I pray, amen.

Did you just pray that prayer? I want you to know in the authority of Scripture that Christ has come to live inside of you. Because the Bible says if he will confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Imagine that. God's done that for you. So God bless you. Have a happy Easter. And until next time, I'll see you.

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