Michael Youssef - The Power of Hope
Social scientists, a group to whom I used to belong agree that loss of hope is a devastating condition. In fact, we are seeing so much of it all around the world. And I have to testify that there is nothing worse than feeling hopelessness. It darkens one's world. It deprives one of the clarity of thought. It steals all joy and hope for living. On the other hand, hope is very dynamic of life. Hope is the very engine of optimism, hope is the very door that leads from darkness to light, from impossible to possible, from fear to faith, from cowardice to courage, from giving up to perseverance. Hope is the essential ingredient of the life of the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians, he said, "Before you came to Christ, you were without hope, but no one who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ should live without hope, in that hopeless condition". Whatever hopelessness you are going through right now, God can. Say that with me, "God can". He can turn it into hope. Mark chapter 16, this was the condition of the three women who came and showed up on that early Sunday morning at the tomb of Jesus. That is exactly what their conditions on that Sunday morning, the first Resurrection Sunday. Hear me right, please. Put yourself in their place because you cannot comprehend this until you do. They have watched and saw with their physical eyes, Jesus to be crucified on that instrument of torture we call the cross.
They saw his body brought down from that bloody cross, they saw men wrap him and bury him in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb, and then they had to stay away. Everybody went home because it was Sabbath, so they had to stay home on the Sabbath Day. Orthodox Jews did nothing on the Sabbath. They stayed home, but there as they spent their Sabbath all alone, they went to their own tomb of hopelessness. They were in their own tomb of inner darkness. They were in their own tomb of deep, deep, deep loss, in their own tomb of sorrow, and grief and resignation. Listen, I want to remind you of something that is of vital importance. You have to understand these women were just not any woman. They were woman who had supported the ministry of Jesus. They were women who were followers of Jesus, and they are family members.
These women were called by God to serve his anointed Messiah, the Messiah for whom thousands of years of prophesying, and the prophets in the Old Testament said "He's coming, he's coming, he's coming". Now they have the privilege of serving him. These women had an unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ and to the Messiah. These women stood with Jesus and his mother Mary through thick and thin. Oh, but now, now, they stood at the foot of the cross with the only male disciple out of the 12, young John. He's the only male disciple who did not cut and run, but he stood there with them at the cross. They stood at the foot of the cross. They saw their dreams bled to death, they saw their hope being crucified. They resigned themselves to their colossal loss.
And so, on that day, after the Sabbath rest, they came to the tomb on a Sunday morning, early Sunday morning. But they came depressed. They were having a sense of hopelessness, these women: Mary, the mother of James; and Mary Magdalene whom the Lord delivered her from demon possession; and then, there was Salome, Salome. She had two of her boys, the sons of Zebedee were two of the 12 disciples of Jesus. Now, Salome was the leader of this group of women. Say, "Michael, how do you know that"? Because in the Hebrew language whichever name comes last is the leader of the pack. On the third day, on Sunday morning, after the Sabbath rest, they made plans. Oh, but their plans were based on hopelessness. They brought spices.
This is a very important custom among all Jews, not just for Jesus, all Jews. If the burial is on Friday, they wait till Sabbath day, then they go on the third day. If it's not on a Friday, then no Sabbath, they'll go the next day. And so, they were bringing these spices, this Jewish custom of bringing spices for a dead body and to pour it on that dead body because they didn't bury in boxes like we do now. They put these spices on the body so that it mitigate the odor of a decaying body. O beloved, they did not realize or have forgotten that the Bible 1000 years before Christ says, "My Son will never see decay". Psalm 16, God said, "My son will die for you but body will never see decay". But to their credit, these women did not cut and run like the rest of the disciples and stayed away. They were at least doing something.
Doing something better doing nothing. They were doing something to face their grief. They were doing something to face their pain, they were doing something to face their loss. They were doing something to deal with their sense of hopelessness. In Matthew chapter 20, the Bible tells us about the leader, Salome. She was, as I told you the mother of two of the 12 disciples who were called the sons of Zebedee. Let me tell you about Salome. Like all great moms, who would stand on the sideline of the ballpark and yells at her boys, "You're the best players in the world". One time, she went up to Jesus.
Now look, from this moment on, this is a Youssef translation. This is not literally in the Scripture. This is just my translation. I don't exaggerate, I just blow it up so you can see it. That's what I do. So I'm just blowing it up for you to see it. She came up to Jesus and said, "Lord Jesus, I want you to know my boys are the best in the bunch. You know my two boys. They are terrific. Let me tell you about my boys, they will always have your back, Jesus. They should be a vice presidents". All great moms are always looking out for their kids. There's nothing wrong with that. Like all great moms, she had great hopes, and aspirations, and dreams for her boys. Like all great moms, she wanted her boys to be in a position of influence.
There's nothing wrong with that. Oh, but listen, all of that, all of those dreams, all of those hopes were shattered on Good Friday. She became discouraged, despondent and depressed. She was filled like the other two Marys with hopelessness. She felt that her plan has come to nought. She felt that her ambitions for her sons to reign and rule with Christ in his kingdom had been buried in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb. And so, in the sense of resignation she comes with the two Marys, trying to do the best in dealing with a bad situation. In verse 3 and Mark 16, as the woman were coming into the tomb, they got nearer and nearer to the tomb of Jesus and they were talking to each other.
So, in their hopelessness, they began to discuss the biggest obstacle that they know they're going to be facing when they get to that tomb. As they get closer and closer to the tomb, they began to think of their biggest obstacles, their biggest problem when they get to the tomb, who is going to roll away the stone. This is a huge stone that a dozen men literally needed in order to push it and put it on the tomb because, Caiaphas, you remember insisted on it. He said to Pontius Pilate, he said, "He was going to rise so make sure he has the largest stone that you can find and seal it," and he did. Who's going to move the stone? Don't miss this, don't miss this, please don't miss this. By now, they are moving from hopelessness to helplessness. Isn't that amazing? Huge stone.
Now let me ask you this, have you ever been there? Are you there now? Have you ever been in a situation? I have when things are coming at you in a succession and every time you think that you're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but it turns out to be a train, and you lose hope. And so, they said "Who, is going to move the stone"? Let me ask you, what keeps you up at night? What causes you anxiety, and fear and worry? What deep disappointment are you living with? What are you trying to tranquilize day in and day out? These three women had a plan to deal with their hopelessness.
These three women had to face up to their shattered dreams, these three women were doing their best in a bad situation. But as they got to the tomb, to their utter amazement. No, no, no amazement is a weak word. To their shock, absolute shock, there's no word to describe it. It was devastating, and they see the stone's already being rolled away and the tomb is empty. Christ had risen, bodily, physically from the dead. Then all of a sudden, they realized that God's plan is far greater, far, far greater than theirs, that God's plan was far superior to theirs, that God's plan was far more wonderful they could ever imagine, that God's plan was all along for his Son's body not to decay in the tomb. He's only going to be there until he defeats death. He was only going be there until he conquers the grave. He was only going to be there until he is victorious over our greatest enemy death.
From the beginning, before the creation of the world, before the creation of universe, the triune God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, one God, we believe in one God, triune God, it was decided within the triune head, within the Godhead, that God, the Son, would die on a cross for the sins of everyone who would believe in him,; that God, the Son, would pay the penalty for the sinners who will confess that they are sinners and they need his salvation; and they need his forgiveness that he will pay for every repentant believer, that God, the Son will bear his, on his perfect body, on his sinless body, the sin and the guilt and in the imperfection of everyone who would believe in him, that God, the Son would shed his own blood so that whosoever availed themselves to that blood, it would be seen as righteous in the eyes of God, the Father; that God, the Son, would die as a substitute for the eternal death of everyone who believes in him, that God, the Son, would die for our redemption, and then, on the third day to rise again so that he can assure every believer in Jesus Christ of their own resurrection.
My precious friends, please listen carefully to what I'm going to tell you, there are people who claim to be Christians believe that there are many ways to God. It just breaks my heart that all religions lead to the same God, that all religions lead to heaven, all religions lead to the same place. No, and a million nos. And the question I would ask them and I'm going to ask you, did Buddha rise from the dead? No. Is Mohammed's tomb empty? No. Did Krishna walk out of the grave? No. But listen to me, I really like to be fair, that to the credit of these men, the founders of all these religions, to their credit, they never, never, never, never, never, it's ignorance of people that they don't know what they said, but they never claimed to be God. They never claimed to be the only way to the Father, they never claimed to be the only way to heaven, they never claimed it. It's their followers who came in and deified them.
Jesus made the claim that he is the way, the truth, and the life. And in the vernacular, without him, baby, you've had it. You've had it. You can only come to God, the Father, and be assured of heaven through God, the Son. Jesus claimed to be the only way to salvation, the only way to heaven, the only way to eternal life, the only way to God, the Father. And then he got out of the grave on the third day to prove it. Anybody can claim anything, right? The reason why Jesus rose from the dead on the third day so that everyone, everywhere in the world may know that he is the only one who guarantees our resurrection, that he's the only one who can save us eternally, that he's the only one who can deliver you from the hopelessness of hell for eternity.
He is the only one who can forgive all of your sins past, present and future; he's is the only one who can deliver you from life's hopelessness, he's the only one who can give you peace and joy in this life and forever with him in eternity; he's the only one who can give you hope in the midst of hopeless situation; he's the only one who can conquer your greatest and the most powerful enemy, death; he's the only one who can deliver you from the chains of addictions; he's the only one who can give you purpose in life.
I want to tell you on this resurrection morning, that there is no large stone in your life that he cannot remove, there is no tomb that threatens to bury you that he can't cannot empty. There is no mountain of shame, and guilt and sin that he cannot destroy. There is no pain and sorrow that he cannot replace with his comfort and solace. There is no death that he cannot conquer. And yet, one of the saddest things to me, personally, that after 2000 years of the most scrutinized evidence of the resurrection, we have 500 eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus, we have hundreds of thousands of people that said, "Kill me, burn me, do whatever you want because I know my Jesus is living".
Today, those who refuse to believe in the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus, one day you'll have to face him as judge. The evidence of the resurrection of Jesus is far greater than all the other events in history. Back in the 60s, there was some group of offbeat theologians who came up with this cockamamie idea and said, "God is dead". Remember that? Some of you do. That movement is dead and Jesus continued to raise believers into eternal life with him. And here in Mark chapter 16, verses 4 and 5, it tells us that the women, "looked up, they saw the stone," huge stone, "rolled away".
Can I get personal with you? You might be living behind a huge stone of guilt and despair. Some of you are living behind a huge stone of pain and hopelessness. Some of you are behind, living behind the large stone of meaninglessness in life. Some of you are a living behind the huge stone of crushing anxiety about your future or your family's future. I can tell you on the authority of God's Word and the testimony of millions of people around the world, that the resurrected Jesus can remove all stones of impossibilities in your life. The resurrected Jesus can shatter the presence of worry and anxiety, the resurrected Jesus alone can remove your sin, and guilt and pain.
The Bible said he removes them as far as the East from the West. All you need to do is come to the end of yourself, come to the end of trying to save yourself, to come to the end of trying to earn God's mercy, come to the end of thinking that you can do enough good things in order to outweigh your bad things. Let me tell you, you can do good things for 10,000 lifetimes, you could never get to heaven based on these. Only on the blood of Jesus Christ who's risen today. I noticed some people in modern-day in the West, the word repentance is almost a dirty word, but I love it. It's a beautiful word. And the word repentance is not just feeling remorse about the wrong things you've done. No, no, no, no, it's a lot more than that. To repent means that you confess to God what God already knows.
Confess and allow his supernatural power to help you get off into the next exit and go in the opposite direction. Repentance means asking the resurrected Jesus to come into your life and clean out and clean up all of the dead corps of sin, and guilt and grief, and pain, and all the past junk, and he will clean it and raise you with him in Christ. Someone will say, "Well Michael, how can God love me so unconditionally? I don't feel I deserve it". Join the club. If you ever feel you deserve it, you can't be saved. How can he love me so unconditionally that he gives his own perfect sinless Son to die for me and my sins? How can Jesus, God's Son love me so much that he did go to a cross for me. I can't comprehend that. I understand.
Let me ask you this, how can you explain human love? I'm talking about selfless, unselfish love, how do you explain that? You can't, but I can tell you that the resurrected Jesus is the source of all genuine, inexplicable love that you ever seen the world. Remember this, it was your sin and mine that took him to the cross. It was his love, Jesus's love that kept him on that cross until he died. It was the Father's love that raised him up again on the third day. Praise God. So how would you respond to his inexplicable love today? Will you respond? Will you respond? There can be no doubt whatsoever about the resurrection of Jesus.
Any honest historian will tell you that, and that is why his resurrection demands a verdict. It demands a verdict from every human being on the face of the earth. The Bible said that, "The times of ignorance God has overlooked, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent, for he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world by this man, Jesus, and as a proof he raised him from the dead". No one, no one on the face of earth, that's why we take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We take it to China, we take it to India, we take it to the Middle East, we take it everywhere in the world because every human being on the face of this earth will face God's judgment.
And so, the choice, my beloved friends is that you can accept him today as your Redeemer, your Savior, your friend, he'll forgive you of all your sins or risk facing him on that dreadfully as your judge. The choice is yours. We don't force people to believe in Jesus. Jesus never forced anyone to believe in him. Ignoring his invitation is equal to rejecting that invitation. Don't put it off. The price is paid, the work is done, come and receive. Come and accept him as your Savior today. Allow the hope of the resurrection to fill you with all hope.