Greg Laurie - What The Resurrection Of Jesus Means To You?
If you've ever lost a loved one unexpectedly you know how it feels. There's shock. There's disbelief, sometimes followed with denial, even anger, a deep sadness that sets in. You realize that that person that was so much a part of your life is no longer there. You can't have a conversation with them. You can't hear from them again. Your world as you know it suddenly changes overnight. I bring that up because that's exactly how the disciples felt 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ, their savior, their Lord their master was murdered in cold blood before their very eyes. They watched it happen and they watched the Roman soldier take his spirit and thrust it into Jesus, and out came blood and water, indicating a complete heart failure. Clearly, he was gone and they never got to say goodbye. He was taken from them.
So, in their minds, the dream was over and also in their minds, I might add, it appeared that Jesus had failed in this mission. This is indicated in a conversation he had after his resurrection, with two disciples on the road to a mass as recorded in Luke's gospel. They did not realize they were talking with the risen Lord and he asked them what had been happening lately, and they said, "Well, haven't you heard about Jesus and all the things that he did"? And then I think it's kind of funny, really, Jesus said "No, tell me, what things"? and they're telling Jesus about Jesus. And here's what they said: "We were hoping he would have been the one to deliver Israel but it's been three days since he was crucified".
Hoping, notice... past tense. Their hope was gone. The dream was gone, and everything seemed to be going perfectly up to that moment. When Jesus got on that donkey and rode in Jerusalem and the people laid the palm branches down before him, crying out "Hosanna"! The disciples said, "Finally, everyone knows what we've known, that this is the Messiah". But then suddenly he's not himself. Or so it would seem in the upper room when he's talking about betrayal. And then one of their own turns out to be the betrayer, Judas Iscariot. and then Simon Peter, of course, denies him. And they see him unraveling, as it would seem, in the garden of Gethsemane, as he is crying out to the Father, and literally sweating blood.
All of this was happening, but here's the problem: the writers of the gospels had never read the gospels, you see. They were experiencing this in real time. They didn't know how this story actually ended. They didn't understand that the incarnation was for the death of Jesus. The incarnation was for the purpose of the atonement. The birth of Jesus was so there would be the death of Jesus. It was all part of God's master plan. Later, Simon Peter, preaching to the very men who crucified Jesus, said, in Acts chapter two, "This Jesus, following the deliberate and well thought-out Plan of God was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands".
Did you catch that? It was a deliberate, well thought-out plan of God. The crucifixion, the resurrection. The deliberate, well thought-out plan of God. And by the way, God has a deliberate well thought-out plan for you, as well. Because I know there are things that happen in your life that make no sense. When you lose a loved one, or when you get bad news from a doctor, or when some tragedy befalls you, you think "Where's God in all this"? God is right there, and He has a plan and He has a purpose. Maybe, with the passing of time, you'll understand that plan and purpose. And maybe you won't fully understand it 'til you get to the other side, and you realize in heaven why God allowed that to happen, but just be assured of this one thing: God has a deliberate, well thought-out plan for you. And ultimately, that plan for you is good. Because God can take your ending and turn it into a new beginning. And that's what happened for these disciples.
In our last message, we talked about what the death of Jesus means for you. Now let's talk about what the resurrection of Jesus Christ means to you. Mark chapter 16. I'm reading verses 1 to 8. "Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus' body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb and on the way they were asking each other, 'Who's going to roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?' But as they arrived, they looked up and saw this stone which was very large, had already been rolled aside. And when they entered the tomb they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side and they were shocked. And then the angel said, 'Don't be afraid. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He isn't here. He's risen from the dead. Look, this is where they laid this body. Now go tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus is going ahead of you into Galilee. You'll see him there just as he told you, before he died.' The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered and said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened".
So Jesus has been crucified in an amazing series of events are happening in the aftermath of it. First of all, there was that global darkness that took place. You remember from 12 in the afternoon to 3 o'clock. Then the veil and the temple was ripped from top to bottom, in the temple where the Jews would go to worship God, there was a veil, which was really a very thick curtain. It would almost be like a wall, a material wall of sorts, that separated the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. No, it's not in a warehouse somewhere. If you watched Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. So there, they had the Ark of the covenant, and that veiled symbolize that separation between God and man.
Now the veil is ripped, not from bottom to top as a man is doing it, it's ripped from top to bottom, because God is saying this veil is gone, and you have access to me, through my son, Jesus Christ. Also we're told that dead people were resurrected and were walking around the streets of Jerusalem. This is one of the most interesting verses in the Bible, to me. So you're walking in town and you go, "Hey, is that Uncle Harry? Didn't we just bury him a couple days ago"? It was sort of like a preview of things that come, Dead people were coming back to life. 'I see dead people' who are alive again. And so then there was a great earthquake that followed.
So this is an amazing series of events. And so these women, that we just read about come to the tomb, hopefully to anoint the body of Jesus, and they find the tomb empty. And the angel tells them that Christ is risen. Matthew tells us of this event in Matthew 28:8, "They went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy". Have you ever had fear and great joy at the same time? Maybe when you got on a roller coaster. There's fear, like "I'm gonna die," and there's great joy, "but it's so much fun"! I've given up on roller coasters, by the way. I rode them many years, and then one day I just realized I don't even like this. And I don't know if I ever liked it. but they're experiencing this joy and excitement and they're trying to figure it out. They don't understand what has actually happened to them. And then they see the risen Lord. We have to pull from different gospels to get the whole story.
In Matthew 28, we read, "They went to tell his disciples and behold, Jesus met them, saying 'Rejoice!' So they came and held him by the feet and worshiped them". Now it's an interesting phrase there when it says "Jesus met them". It speaks of the common greeting that one would receive in the marketplace. Just, if you saw someone, you said "Hello". If you're on a walk, you see someone walk by, "Hey, how are you? Have a nice day". Just common greeting. That is the phrase that is used here when it says Jesus met them. I find that fascinating because it's so low key. It's so casual, you know, in different parts of the country we greet each other in different ways.
If you're in the South, you'll say something along the lines of "Hey, Hey, how y'all doing? How all y'all doing"? Right? In Hawaii, it'll be "Aloha". Or, "Howzit brah"? In Australia they'll say "Good day". In New York city, they ignore you, and then they'll say something like, "What are you looking at me"? and followed up by "Well, forget about it". That's one word, by the way. And here is the risen Lord, who greets his disciples, and he's so casual. He's just like, "Oh, hey guys. How's it going? Aloha. How are you"? Really relaxed about the whole thing. And they can't believe their eyes. They are looking at Jesus. And so they grab him by the feet and they worship him. And that's because they recognize he was God. Coming back to our story.
We see Mary Magdalene is mentioned in verse one. What a unique lady she is. Mary Magdalene, first to the tomb. So she sees that the stone has been rolled away and immediately tells Peter and John. And if we go over to John's gospel, we'll see that they then began to run to the tomb. So she says, "Jesus is risen"! And they run to the tomb, I love that. You know, boys will be boys, right? And it became an actual race because John mentions he beat Peter in the race. He says the disciple whom Jesus loved outran the other one. So that's maybe one of the perks of writing a gospel. You get to remind people about who actually won the race. So they see the empty tomb, and they come back. John believes, he looks in there, he realizes what has happened. He knows Christ is alive. And the Bible says Peter walked away perplexed. And that brings us to our next text. John chapter 20. Let's see what else happened to Mary Magdalene.
John chapter 20 verse 11. "But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting. One of the head, the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain. And they said to her 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'Because they've taken away my Lord and I don't know where they've laid him.' Now, when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' She, thinking he was the Gardner, said, 'Sir, if you've carried him away, tell me where you've laid him and I'll take him away.' And Jesus then said, 'Mary.' She turned to him and said, 'Rabboni,' which means teacher, and He said, 'Don't cling to me for I have not yet ascended to my Father, into your Father, and I'm going to ascend to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God".
Wow. The persistence of Mary paid off, didn't it? Everyone else was gone, but she stayed. And she meets the risen Lord. And what does he say? "Don't cling to me". She's holding onto him. Now you wonder what's going on here, because it's not that you could not touch the risen Lord, because in fact He appears in the upper room to the disciples, and Thomas who we call Downing. Thomas was there. And Jesus said, "Go ahead and put your hand in my side and touch the wounds in my hand". So He could be touched. Maybe it was the way she was holding onto Him. She was grabbing so tightly and He says "Mary, don't cling to me". I think, in effect, He's saying, "Mary, everything has changed now". Effectively, it's a whole new ball game. It's not going to be the way it was before.
In the past, I was there where you could reach out and touch me physically but it's gonna be different, Mary. And it's going to be better because now I'm going to come and live in your heart and I'll always be there and we'll never be separated again. And what is true of Mary is true for all of us. But remember the title of this message is what does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you? And I'm gonna close now with six practical truths on how the resurrection of Christ impacts you and me today.
Here's number one. The resurrection of Jesus assures me 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 was raised to life for our justification". Somewhere, I don't know how this happens, but people, even Christians, sometimes think that you must earn the favor of God. That you must do certain things and then God will love you. But the opposite is the case. There's nothing you can do earn the favor of God. And the fact is, God loves you no matter what you do. And the resurrection of Christ proves this.
We read again, there, in Romans 4:25, "He was raised to life for our justification". What does that mean? That means when you put your faith in Christ you are justified. To be justified means, number one: you're forgiven of all of your sins. So if you put your faith in Christ your sins are forgiven by God and they're forgotten by God. And He has put the righteousness of Christ into your moral bank account, if you will. 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. So again, the resurrection of Jesus assures me I am accepted by God. Isn't that great to know, you're accepted by God? You're loved by God. Listen, God's not mad at you. God is mad about you.
Number two, the resurrection of Jesus assures me I have all the power I need to live the Christian life. Romans 8:11 says the spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you. And just as He raised Jesus from the dead, He'll give life to your mortal body by the same spirit living within you. So dear Christian friends, you have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. You know, sometimes people say I've tried to live the Christian life and I failed. Okay, let me say something you might find surprising, even provocative. It's not hard to be a Christian. It's impossible. Without the help of the spirit of God. So there has to come a moment where I say, I can't do this. I can't live by what this book teaches. I can't resist those temptations in my own strength. I need a power greater than the power I personally have. And that's where the Holy spirit comes in. Jesus said "Without me, you can do nothing". But then Paul writes "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
Number three, the resurrection of Jesus assures me that I, too, will live forever in heaven. It assures me that I, too, will live forever in heaven. Listen to this. Death died when Christ rose, because Jesus rose, I, too, will rise. Because Jesus died, I will never die. Now you might say, "Greg, you're delusional. And you're getting old by the way. So, do you realize that you could die someday? Maybe even soon"? Hey, I'm aware of that. I'm not denying the reality of death, but I'm also looking at it in another way. Because, for the Christian, we never really die. Oh, sure. Body goes into the ground. But we live on, because the real me is the soul that lives on. And God will resurrect my body also. But death is not the end of the road, it's just a bend in the road. And when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, he conquered death.
And so this is the great hope that we have right now, because that brings me to point number four: the resurrection of Jesus assures me that I will receive a new body just like his. Now, there's some confusion about these new bodies. I read a stat not long ago that said of the Americans, two thirds of Americans believe there'll be a resurrection of the dead, but they also believe that they will not have bodies after the resurrection. Well, what do you think you're going to be? A ghost? Casper, the friendly ghost. No, you're not going to be a disembodied spirit just floating around. You're going to be you. Because God is going to resurrect your body. God will resurrect the body of every person who has died in faith. And you will be a radically upgraded version of yourself.
Job said in Job 19:26 "In my flesh, I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes. I and not another". And the example of the model of this, dare I use the word prototype, understand the context I'm using it in, is Jesus. Jesus died, and He rose again from the dead. Now, was He still Jesus? Of course. Was there any connection between the risen Lord and the crucified Lord? Again, yes, because He still bore in His body the marks of the crucifixion. But remember, He would sit down with the disciples and eat food, you know? And I don't think he was like, translucent. You can see the food going down. He was in a body, but he was in a resurrected body. And you and I will have a new body one day, as well. Colossians 3:4 assures us with these words, "When Christ, who is our life appears, you shall be like him".
Number five: because of the resurrection of Jesus we will have resurrected relationships. Have you ever been talking with someone on the phone? Why do we do this for the phone? That doesn't even look like a phone. Our phones are flat now, aren't they? But anyway, this is what our phones look like. But some people, I suppose, have phones that look like that, anyway. So, you're talking to someone on the phone on a cell phone, and suddenly they drop out but you don't know they dropped out. So, you're still telling them something, maybe something very important and there's silence. And you're thinking, "Oh, they don't like what I'm saying" or "They're judging me" or "They hate me". No, actually you lost service right there.
And so, you know what it's like to be cut off in a conversation. Seriously, though, if you're in a conversation with someone you love and then suddenly they're taken, they die, and you can't finish that conversation. How hard that is. Because of the resurrection of Jesus. We're going to pick up where we last left off, with loved ones who have proceeded us to heaven. So think about all that Jesus has done for you, because He died and rose, there are so many blessings available to us. We're made acceptable to God. He gives us the power to live the Christian life. We know we'll go to heaven. We know we'll be reunited with loved ones. We know we'll have new bodies given to us and this can happen at any moment.
And there's one last thing, and this is number six, what the resurrection of Jesus means to you. Because Jesus died and rose again from the dead, We need to tell others. We need to tell others. Go back to Mark 16, verse 15, and then verse 20. "Then He told them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone.' And the disciples went everywhere and preached. And the Lord worked through them, confirming what they had said by miraculous signs". Now this is part of what we call the Great Commission here at the end of Mark's gospel. The other part of the Great Commission is found in the end of Matthew's gospel, chapter 28, where Jesus says "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach these new disciples to obey the commandments I have given you".
There's two very important things to note here. Number one, they're a command. Listen, if you're a Christian, you are a commended by Jesus to go into all the world and preach the gospel. If you're a Christian, you are commended by Jesus to go and make disciples. What does that mean? To preach the gospel means to verbally articulate the message of the gospel. And what is that? In a nutshell, here it is: God loves you. You're separated from God by your sin. Christ died for your sin and rose again from the dead. If you'll turn from your sin and believe in Him, you can know with certainty that you'll go to heaven when you die. I'm commanded by Christ to go into all world and preach that message. But there's another part to it: and make disciples. What does it mean to make a disciple? It means to help them to get up on their feet spiritually. Jesus explains it. Go and make disciples, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.
Listen. When I became a Christian at the age of 17, this is 10 years ago. I'm kidding, you knew that, okay. Long time ago, I didn't really know what I'd done. I didn't understand what it meant to be a Christian. I didn't own a Bible. I'd never been to church for the most part except when I was a little kid going with my grandparents. I didn't know what the next step was. No one offered me a new believers Bible, like we offer to folks that respond to the gospel. I didn't know, but thank God a guy named Mark just came up to me, I'm in high school. And he said, "Hey, I saw that you prayed and accepted Jesus the other day," because they did it right there in the front lawn of my high school campus. And I was a bit resentful. I'm like, "Yeah, so"? He says, "Oh well, that's great. And I'd like you to come to church with me". And my response is, "Uh, no, thank you". "No, I want you to come to church with me," Mark said. I said, "No, I don't want to go to church with you". He says, "Where do you live? I wanna pick you up and take you to church". "I don't want to go to church".
Next thing I know I'm in Mark's car going to church with him. And after that, he took me home to his family and they were all Christians. And we'd sit around the dinner table and have a meal. And then they would talk to me about what the Bible said. He discipled me. He helped me get up on my feet spiritually. You can do that for someone. Let me take it a step further. You must do that for someone, because it's not only good for them. It's good for you. You see, they need you to stabilize them and you need them to be energized. It's sort of like when you're around a bunch of kids it can almost energize you for a while maybe a couple hours, then it's good if they go home, then you go take a nap. Right, but, no, seriously. A new believer can energize you. Why? Because as they discover for the first time, the truths of God, you, in many ways, can rediscover them. Because sometimes we don't appreciate all that God has done. So I'm urging you to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
So number one, they're a command. That's why we call it the Great Commission, not the great suggestion. Number two, these words were not directed to the original 12, but to everyone. In other words, this is not just for the so-called professionals. Oh, well, Greg, you're an evangelist. You do that or maybe the pastor should do it. Or the missionary, no. Everyone should do it. Everyone should do it. The students should do it. The businessman should do it. The housewives should do it. No matter what you do or who you are, you're commanded to go into all of your world and make disciples. This is the great commission. And what is the message we're proclaiming? It's the message of the gospel. And I've already told you what that is.
Maybe God has spoken to your heart and you have seen your need for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the son of God who came from heaven to this earth. He was born in a manger. He died in a cross. He rose again from the dead. Why? Because he loves you. And He wants a relationship with you. Listen, I'm not talking about religion. I don't want to be a religious person. I don't think you want to be one either. I'm talking about relationship with God, Jesus who died and rose again, stands at the door of your life, and He knocks. And He says, if you'll hear His voice and open the door He will come in.
Question: Have you asked Jesus Christ to come and live inside of you? You might say, well, I think so. I'm not sure. Hey, if someone moved into your house in the middle of the night, do you think you would be aware of it? I'm sure you would. And in the same way, if Christ has come to live inside of you, you will know. And if you don't know, maybe he has not come in yet. He's just a prayer away. All you need to do is say, "Jesus, I want this relationship with you. I want you to forgive me of my sin. I want to go to heaven when I die".
Would you like to do that? Would you like Christ to come into your life? If so, why don't you just pray this simple prayer with me? You can pray it out loud or you can pray it in the quietness of your heart. But this is a prayer where you're asking Jesus Christ to be your savior, and Lord. Pray this with me now:
Lord Jesus. I know that 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. Now come into my life. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus name, Amen.
Did you just pray that prayer with me? If so I want you to know in the authority of scripture that Christ Himself has come to live inside of you. And let me be the first to say to you, congratulations and welcome to the family of God.