Greg Laurie — Do You Want to Change Your Life?
I heard a story about a man that went to Jerusalem, Israel with his family. He took along his well difficult to deal with ever nagging mother-in-law. Sorry mothers-in-law. Sadly on the trip to the Holy Land the mother-in-law died. So the man was trying to determine what he would do with her body. He went to a local undertaker and was inquiring into the cost of it. The man said, "Sir to ship your mother-in-law home will cost $5,000". Then the man said, "But you can bury her here in Israel for $150.00". The man thought about it for a moment. He said, "OK. I have decided I am going to ship her on home". The undertaker said, "Sir I don't understand. Did you hear what I said? You can bury your mother-in-law in the Holy Land for $150.00". The man replied, "Well you know a long time ago a man was buried here and three days later he rose from the dead. I can't take that chance".
That is such a throw the mothers-in-law under the bus story isn't it? Listen. You can't ignore the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Yes he died on the cross. Many people died on crosses in the days of Rome. But only one rose again from the dead because Jesus was not just a man of God. He was God the man who lived and died and rose again. His resurrection changed human history. His resurrection can change your history tonight. I have good news for you, when Jesus died on the cross he conquered sin. But when he rose from the dead he defeated death.
That is a subject a lot of people get really uncomfortable about when you bring it up. We don't even like to use the word death. We will use a clinical term like they expired. Or they passed. Or they are no longer with us. There is a lot of discomfort on the topic of death. I read an interview that was recently done with Arnold Schwarzenegger who is now 67 years old. Despite his amazing success Schwarzenegger says he is angry at death. As it turns out Arnold's young brother was killed in an automobile accident many years ago when his brother was only 24 years old. Schwarzenegger said and I won't try to do his voice. I will spare you. He said, "I have always been extremely angry with the idea of death". He says, "It is such a waste. I know it is inevitable but what the," and I won't use the word he used, "What the blank is that"? He says, "Your whole life you work. You try to improve yourself. Save money. Invest wisely. Then all of a sudden poof it is over". He says, "Death angers me more than ever".
Well you know here is a little news flash for Arnold. Death makes God angry too. You say, "Why didn't God do something about it". He did. He sent his Son to die on the cross, and when Christ died on the cross and rose again he defeated death. Death is defeated. Death died when Christ rose. You say, "Greg are you like delusional. People still die". Listen. I know. My mother is in heaven. My father who adopted me is in heaven. My son is in heaven. I have had to face death head on. We talked a little bit about this tonight. Levi and Jennie Lusko's little daughter Lenya is in heaven. Jeremy camp's wife died of cancer. She is in heaven.
So we are not speaking from an ivory tower of theory. I am giving you a dispatch from the valley of the shadow of death. I know what it is like to feel that pain. I also know what it is like to know the hope that Christ can bring because we know death is not the end because Jesus said, "I am the resurrection, and the life, and he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. Whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die".
I will tell you what. Life goes by so fast. You kids you are thinking, "Not for me". Listen. You will be amazed how quickly life will pass. I remember when I was a kid I would look at really old people. I would think, "Where do these people come from"? Then one day I looked in the mirror and I am one of those older people. I have some good news. I was contacted recently by a magazine. They wanted to use me as a hand model. I was surprised. They wanted to use my hands on the cover of a magazine. I quickly agreed until I found out the title of the magazine is old and decomposing. That was really upsetting. Seriously. Life does go by quickly.
Someone came up with this idea by using a clock to show you what time it is in your life. For instance, if you are 15 years old. How many of you are 15 years old? Raise your hand up. Congratulations. It is 10:25 in the morning of your life. You are still in the morning of life. 20 years old. Any of you 20. Raise your hand up. It is 11:34. Late morning for you guys. If you are 25 it is 12:42. You are already in the afternoon of your life at 25. If you are 30 it is 1:51. If you are 35 it is 3:00 P.M. If you are 40. Anybody 40 years old. Raise your hand up. It is getting late for you buddy. It is 4:08 in the evening. If you are 45 it is 5:15 P.M. You are in the early evening of your life. If you are 50 it is 6:25. 55 is 7:34. If you are 60 the time is 8:42 P.M. If you are 70 it is 11:00 at night. I don't know where that puts you. I am around 8:50. That is sad because I go to bed now at 10:00. That is how quickly life is passing for you.
I read an article that talked about the baby boomers. We always thought we were so young. We had the theme song "Forever young". Remember that song. The rolling stones are still singing, "Time is still on my side". Are you serious? Have you looked at Keith Richards lately? Time is not on his side. This article that I read said that this generation that launched the youth culture with sit-ins and love-ins have now turned from sex, drugs, and rock and roll to nip, tuck, and botox. We have gone from acid rock to acid reflux. It is kind of sad. You have got to deal with it. Life is going to come to an end. You can't live forever in this body. The good news is the soul lives on. There is an afterlife. We make such a big deal about this life but we don't talk enough about the afterlife. This life on earth, the Bible says, "Is like a story that has been told". But the afterlife goes on and on.
We need to think very seriously about that because once we die and enter the afterlife you can't change your destination. You can decide right now tonight where you are going to spend eternity. But once you die there are no more chances. The Bible says, "It is appointed unto a man to die and then comes the judgment". You want to be thinking now about where you are going to spend eternity. I will give you a little sneak preview. You only have two options. Heaven or hell. Paradise or outer darkness. Bliss or misery. Smoking or not smoking. Your choice.
Listen. Understand the last thing that God wants is to send any man or woman uniquely created in his image to this place called hell. That is why Jesus died on the cross for you so you could be forgiven and not end up in hell. Hell wasn't made for people. According to Jesus hell was created for the devil and his Angels. But listen. If you are bound and determined to reject the offer of forgiveness from Jesus Christ and you end up in hell one day it will really be your own fault. As. C. S. Lewis once wrote, "The gates of hell are locked from the inside". You don't want to go to this place called hell. You want to have the hope one day of going to heaven. That is where the death and resurrection of Christ comes in.
Let's go back in our imaginations for a moment 2,000 years. Here was Jesus with this great ministry. The people were singing his praises. Things were building to a crescendo. Jesus was headed to the cross. He talked about it all of the time. He said to his disciples, "I am going to be betrayed. I am going to be whipped. I am going to be crucified. Then I am going to rise again from the dead three days later". Somehow they missed the memo on that. They thought he was going to establish his kingdom right then and there on the earth. But according to God's plan Jesus was betrayed. Jesus was beaten. Jesus was crucified. He was laid in a tomb. Just like Jesus said, he rose again from the dead. This came as a shock to the disciples. But he said, "I will rise again".
Here is now an account about it in John 21. This is after Christ is risen. Mary Magdalene has already seen him. Others have seen him as well. The disciples went fishing. In John 21 we read, "Peter said, 'I am going fishing.' The others said, 'We will come too.' They caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn't see who he was. He called out, 'fellows, have you caught any fish?' 'no,' they replied. Then he said, 'throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you'll get some!' So they did, and they couldn't haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then Simon Peter said, 'it's the Lord!' When they heard it was the Lord, Peter jumped out of the boat and swam to the shore. As they got there they found breakfast waiting for them - fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. Jesus said, 'bring some of the fish you've just caught.' They brought it to him and Jesus said, 'come now and let's have some breakfast!'
I love that story. What an inviting scene. Breakfast hand cooked by Jesus. By the risen living Savior. Here these hands were pierced for these disciples. Yet he took the time to make them this delicious meal. He had risen again in a physical body. He wasn't a ghost. He wasn't a phantom. He wasn't a spirit. He was standing before them alive again. Why do I bring this up? Because the resurrection of Jesus changes everything.
1. Because of the resurrection of Jesus one day I will receive a new body. That is good news as you get older. God will give you a new body one day. The Bible says, "When Christ who is our life appears, we will be like him". I am going to have a body similar to the body that Jesus had after he rose again. By the way, this promise is for Christians only. If you are not a Christian you don't have this promise of a new resurrection body. The only promise you have is that of a certain judgment. You are going to have a new body that God will give to you.
2. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ our bodies will no longer age or get sickness or breakdown. There are those telltale signs that age is kicking in. You know you are getting old when you and your teeth don't sleep together anymore. You know you are getting old when someone compliments your brand new alligator shoes and you are barefoot. You know you are getting old when it takes twice as long to look half as good. You know you are getting old when your knees buckle but your belt won't. You know you are getting old when your spouse says she is going out and you don't care as long as you don't have to go along. You know you are getting old when a night out for you is just sitting on the patio. You know you are getting old when happy hour is now a nap.
But the good news is God will give you a new body. But it will still be you. You won't be another person. You will still be you as Christ was himself. But he was in a perfected state. If you have a disability now you will not have a disability then. If you have the effects of age kicking in or disease now you won't have it then. You will be in a perfected state. You know what else you are going to do in that new body. You are going to eat food. I am very excited about this. How many of you like to eat? Raise your hand? Oh we have a stadium full of gluttons here tonight. How many of you do not like to eat? Get out now. But really I don't get people like that. People that just eat little things. I like to eat a lot of food.
I read recently that America on the whole is one of the most overweight nations in all of the world. Then I read an article recently that said California leads the nation as the fattest state in the country. I almost choked on my pizza when I was reading that. Guess what? Jesus liked to eat food. After he rises again from the dead the disciples are freaking out. They don't believe it is really him. He says, "Give me something to eat". They give him a piece of fish and he eats it. It is not like his body was translucent and you could see the fish going down. He was in a real body eating real food. We will do the same thing again.
In fact it is interesting that Jesus uses the illustration of having a meal to point out what it is like to have a relationship with him. He says, "Listen. I stand at the door and I knock. If you will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and have a meal with you". The king James version says sup with you. Really it is like Jesus is saying,"Let's have lunch together. Let's have dinner together. Let's spend time together". Because Christ rose again I will be able to eat in my resurrection body.
3. Because of the resurrection of Christ I will have resurrected relationships. Resurrected relationships. We all have messed up families. Ok. Sometimes people will say, "I come from a dysfunctional family". Like who doesn't? I think maybe the most dysfunctional people are the ones who don't think they are dysfunctional. I say let's put the fun in dysfunction. I came from a dysfunctional family. Now I am the head of a dysfunctional family. One day we will be reunited with our loved ones who have died in faith. Levi will be reunited with his daughter. I will be reunited with my son. You will be reunited with loved ones that have gone on before you. You know what? You will pick up where you last left off. That is what I love about the resurrection of Christ. It is like he just picks up where he last left off. "What were we talking about again"? That is what it is going to be like. We will be with our loved ones again. That is the hope that only a follower of Jesus Christ has.