Jack Graham - Jesus, Lord of Life
Jesus made the most bold and bodacious statement of all. He said in verses 25 and 26 of John chapter 11: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall he live. And everyone", let's say it together, "And everyone (Easter is for everyone!)... everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die". And then the question that every one of us must answer: "Do you believe this"? Do you believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be? The Lord of life! The question for you is: Is He my Lord? Is He your Lord of life? Has He changed your life by the power of His resurrection? What makes a great story? Same thing that makes a great movie, and that is a redemption story. The stories we like the most are those that describe some great comeback, some great redemption or reconciliation story.
You know, I was watching the other day online the comeback stories of the NFL. Now the NFL is a tough league, and yet, the tender stories of some of the top comebacks. You can go online and watch it. Just put it in: The ten best redemption stories in NFL history. And it features the stories of both teams and players who made incredible comebacks! We love stories like this! Stories with a happy ending! Well, the greatest story ever told, the greatest comeback in history is when Jesus Christ came back from the dead! And to redeem and to save all who believe in Him! This is the story of Easter. Jesus Lord of Life. And therefore, when we come here today, our focus is really not even on the massive crowds and people who come; it's certainly not on bunnies and baskets and bonnets and all the rest, and flowers, all so pretty. But that's not what it's about. It's all about Jesus. Our focus is on Him! We put our eyes on Jesus. Why? Because He said, "I am the resurrection and the life"!
I AM - that is the name of God! The great I AM, the personal, covenant name of God Almighty! This is what got Jesus killed, put on the cross, because He claimed the name of the great I AM! He claimed to be God! And then this statement, "I am the resurrection and the life". Now, people are looking for life. People define life in different ways. I asked Alexa today, I just thought I would ask, you know, Alexa knows everything! So I decided to ask Alexa this morning: What is the meaning of life? "Alexa, what is the meaning of life"? And Alexa said, "42. It's too complicated a question to answer". Now, I don't know what 42 means! I know that was Jackie Robinson's number, now retired from baseball. So I have no idea what she's talking аbout: 42. But she did say, "You know, it's too complicated! It's a complicated question: What is life"? And it is! To some people life is a void. It's just empty.
Shakespeare once described life in one of his plays as "a tale told by an idiot". There's such a void in so many people's lives. They don't understand who they are, why they're here or where they're going! Big hole in the soul! Emptiness is the ultimate problem that people face today because they don't know the presence of Christ, of God in their lives. To so many people life is just a void. To some people life's just a big vacation. Party on! Have a blast while you last! Eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we die! And so some fill their lives with pleasure and things, affluence and influence, all the rest, in order to find meaning and purpose in their lives. And they want more and more stuff, more and more things, more and more; and it never satisfies; it never leads them to the real meaning of life. To some people life's a void; to some people, life is a vacation. To some people life is a vexation, in that life is hard.
Maybe you've known someone, maybe you are that someone, it's just you can't seem to buy a break in life! All the bad things happen, man, and you just can't seem to get on top. You can't seem to find anything that brings you real satisfaction. That's why so many people end up taking their own lives. Did you realize that suicide is on the rampage in our culture even in America today? That more people are taking their lives, ending their lives as never before. There's such despair and hopelessness in people's lives because they have no meaning, they have no purpose. Life is just vexing, and difficult and hard! And some decide it's not even worth it to carry on. You know the Bible says that life is a vapor. It's like a puff of air on a frosty morning, and you see your breath, you see the vapor, and it's there for just a moment and then it's gone. Life is a vapor; it's very brief. Everyone has a shelf life. We're not getting any younger, you know.
The Rolling Stones used to sing "Time, time, time is on my side". Have you seen those guys lately? I'll tell you time is not on their side! Time's not on anybody's side! The Bible says, "There's a time to be born and there's a time to die". And so life is a vapor, here today and then gone. But for the Christian, for the one who knows Jesus, the resurrection and the life, we never die! Because not only do we have a better life in Christ, but we have eternal life! Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life, and no one comes to the Father except by Me". The Bible says that "There's no other name given among men, the name of Jesus, by which we must be saved". No other name! Why? Why would God make that claim regarding His Son? Why would Jesus say, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life"? How could He possibly say this? If you're going to say this, you better back it up!
Remember Mohammad Ali, the great one, the champion? Some great quotes from Mohammad Ali, on one occasion here's what the champ said, "I'm not the greatest; I'm the double greatest! Not only do I knock them out, I pick the round"! And then how about this one: "I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick". The greatest! Then he said, "If you even dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologize". One day Mohammad Ali was on a flight somewhere and turbulence came and the fasten-seatbelts sign came on and everybody fastened their seatbelt except the champ. He didn't fasten his seatbelt. And so the stewardess came by and said, "Sir, you need to fasten your seatbelt". And Mohammad said, "Superman don't need no seatbelt". To which the stewardess replied, "Superman don't need no plane! Fasten your seatbelt".
So if you're going to claim you're the greatest, you better be able to back it up. And Jesus backed it up! Not only did He raise the dead when He walked among us, but on the third day Jesus rose again! He backed it up! He came out of the grave! You know, thousands of people travel daily to Medina to visit the tomb of Mohammed. Thousands more journey to Shandong to see bones of Confucius, thousands more venture to Nepal to look at the cremated bones of Buddha. But millions, including many of us have journeyed to Jerusalem where Jesus died at Calvary, and we've made our way to a small garden outside the city gates of Jerusalem, and there many believe is the very tomb in which Christ was laid in death, the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. And you look at that tomb, I don't know if it's the tomb or not. Many believe it is. I happen to believe there's a good, good chance it is. I tell you it's worth the trip just to see it.
I'll never forget just recently my friend John Holson who went with us just recently to Jerusalem. He said, "I remember I just couldn't stop crying. It shook me to my core". This is a big man. And he said, "I was just crying and I was laughing at the same time". Because when you walk in the tomb of Jesus you don't see bones, you don't see a body, you see nothing! People travel all those miles to walk into a tomb and see nothing, except a little sign, and in the sign are the words of the angels who said, "He is not here! He is risen"! Come on! Let's worship the God who came out of the grave! Jesus is Lord! And Jesus lives! Yes, He backed it up. There's evidence to prove it. I don't have time this morning to talk about all the evidence that proves the resurrection. But I believe! And that brings me to my second thought with you today. Not only is our focus on Him, Jesus, "I am the resurrection and the life", but our faith is in Him. Our focus is on Him today and our faith is in Him.
You see those words that we just read earlier? He said, "Believe in Me. Believe in Me". And then He asked the question, "Do you believe in Me"? And when Jesus asks, "Do you believe in Me"? very specifically to believe in His person, who He is, who He claimed to be, because Christianity is not a dogma, it is not a creed, it is not a religion, but a Person! We're not saved by believing certain things about Jesus or nebulous things about God. Specifically we are to believe in the cross and the resurrection! You see, we have two problems. Of all the problems in life, there are many different kinds of problems, but there are really only two problems that you have: sin and death. When Jesus died on that Friday He took care of the problem of sin! "We've all sinned and fall short of the glory of God". You say, "What is sin"? Sin is disobedience to God. Sin is defilement in the presence of a holy God. Sin is a disease that destroys the soul. Sin is a debt; a debt we owe that we could not pay.
So when Jesus went to the cross He paid a debt that He did not owe because we owed a debt that we could not pay. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". So on Friday at the cross Jesus took care of the problem of sin. Your sin can be forgiven. Your life can be changed! You can be made brand new! It's not just a new start; it's a new life! A new life! Because on Easter, on Sunday, that first day of resurrection, He took care of the problem of death! We're all going to die, everyone of us. That's no news. It's certainly not good news, but the good news is that "He who believes in Me", Jesus said, "He who believes in Me will never die! Will never die"! Oh, you'll die physically if Christ doesn't come in our lifetime. There'll come a time when you breathe your last, but if you know Jesus, the resurrection and the life, you'll be taking your next breath in heaven. Alive, more alive than you've ever been!
One day you may hear that Jack Graham is dead. Don't you believe it! I'll be more alive than I've ever been. Why? Not because I'm a preacher, not because I live such a good life, not because I pastored a church, but because of what Jesus has done for me! And I believe! After all these years! If I didn't believe, I promise you, I wouldn't stand up here in front of all of you and say I believe! I believe now more than I've ever believed! "I know whom I've believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed unto Him against that day". I know, I know, I know He lives and He is Lord!
Somebody was, it was Christy Vala who was a news, I believe, a video reporter or some kind of reporter and she was visiting the Billy Graham library. And the consultant was taking her around and showing her all the things about the library. It's really worth seeing. It's in Charlotte, North Carolina. And so this reporter was going through and in the middle of it she stopped and she said, "I see all the crosses. But where is Jesus?", because you know all the crosses were empty. You look around our building, you see all the crosses around. There's one on the tower outside. There are crosses throughout. It's the symbol of our faith, the cross.
I wear a ring, my wedding ring, has embedded in it a cross, and it's a symbol of the two greatest commitments of my life: my commitment to Jesus, my commitment to Deb, my wife. Crosses are symbols of powerful truths! But she said, "Why are these crosses empty"? And the consultant smiled and said, "Well, Jesus is risen"! She said, "Where is Jesus"? She said, "Jesus is risen and is now in heaven! But He lives, He is present in the lives of Christians, of believers". And the reporter said, "Oh, that's right. Some worship a crucifix, but Christians worship a risen Christ, a risen Savior"! And the person said, "I've been to church all my life, but I've never heard a message on the empty cross"!
The cross is empty because the tomb is empty! The cross which was a vile, torturous way to die, the crucifixion. The word excruciating comes from the word crucifixion. It was a death chamber. But the most vile and torturous way to die has become the beautiful cross, the symbol, the wonderful cross, the symbol of our faith. If Jesus is still in that tomb, if Jesus' bones are buried some way turned to dust, then we have no hope, we have no faith, life is meaningless. But Jesus said, "Do you believe that I am who I said I am, the way, the truth, the life"? He said, "I've come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly". Life that just keeps on and on and on. This is why we have meaning in life, because Jesus is in our lives and He gives us purpose. He gives us meaning. He gives us a reason to live. To get up every day and live life to the fullest.
John 3:16 is the single most significant sentence in the Bible. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting (what?) life". Life with a capital L; not just breathing, not just existing. There's no life apart from God. God is the Creator of life. And if you don't have God in your life, if you don't have Jesus, the Lord in your life than you're living life without God; you're living life without a purpose! God created you for a purpose. Your life has meaning, but you'll never discover that meaning on your own, apart from Him! So our faith is in Him! And one final thing: This Easter and every day our focus is on Him. "I am the resurrection and the life". Jesus is the Lord of life. Is He the Lord of your life? Do you believe? It's not complicated. It really isn't. Around here we like to say it's as simple as ABC.
Number one, admit that you have sinned and broken God's commandments, "For all have sinned". The good news is that salvation is a gift of grace to those who admit that they have sinned and broken God's commandments. So you start there. And then believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe by receiving Him, confessing Him as your Lord and Savior. It means saying, "I do believe. I now receive Christ into my life". It's a personal decision. And I've been around for a while now, and I've seen many, many people make that decision. If you can't point to a time, a place in your life where you know that you know that you know that you have decided to follow Jesus Christ, then you need to make that decision today. And we're going to give an opportunity for people to do that. Admit that you've sinned, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. And then commit your life to follow Him. Count the cost, and then follow Jesus.
You say, "I don't know if I can do that. I don't know if I can live the Christian life". Of course, you can't! None of us can! But His Spirit lives within us, the risen Christ is in us! The great Apostle Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Jesus Christ lives in me: and the life that I now live in flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me". Admit that you have sinned, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and commit your life to following Him. If you want to add a D onto our little alphabet this morning: Do it right now! Decide right now because none of us are promised another day, another chance, another opportunity. "Today's the day of salvation".