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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - Expecting a Resurrection When Life Falls Apart

Rick Warren - Expecting a Resurrection When Life Falls Apart

Rick Warren - Expecting a Resurrection When Life Falls Apart
TOPICS: Easter, Resurrection

Happy Easter, everybody. I'm Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, author of "The Purpose Driven Life," and teacher for the Daily Hope Broadcast. I wanna welcome all of you who are watching this very special global Easter service during the COVID virus pandemic of 2020. You know, 40 years ago, this week, my wife, Kay, and I founded Saddleback Church here in Southern California. And our very first public service was on Easter Sunday, 1980. So this Easter is our 40th birthday as a church family. Now of course this Easter is like none we've experienced in our lifetime. In fact act, this is the first time in 2,000 years of Christianity that churches all around the world will be unable to gather in large groups to celebrate Easter. But I'm here to tell you that while we aren't able to assemble the resurrection of Jesus Christ will still be celebrated everywhere in hearts and homes around the globe. 2.3 billion believers, that's one out of ever three people on this planet, will be honoring Jesus Christ this weekend.

Now we may be apart, but we're not alone. And we may be separated, but we're not isolated. And this may be bad weather for us, but we're still together in the bad weather. You see, Easter is not a location, it's a celebration. And now with technology, we're more connected than ever before. Now, when the COVID virus shut down our ability to be together on weekends, I immediately switched gears and began a new series called the Faith That Works When Life Doesn't. Faith that doesn't work when life doesn't work isn't worth anything. But in this series, I can't keep you from disease, but I can help you avoid dis-ease, the dis-ease of emotional and spiritual stress from the effects of this pandemic. In the past weeks, I received literally thousands of emails, and texts, and calls from people distressed. By the way, our world has been turned upside down.

Let me just read a typical note that I got yesterday. Dear Pastor Rick, I'm not usually the worrying type, but when the news first broke about the COVID virus I dismissed it. But as you pointed out in the previous message, we go through the stages of denial, dismissal, defiance, delayed acceptance, disruption, and distress. I haven't yet made it to the last stage of determination. I seemed to be stuck in distress. First, my kid's school was canceled. Then both my husband and I were laid off from our jobs. Then like everybody else, we were told to stay in our home. Then my aged mother was rushed to the hospital, but none of us are allowed to see her, nor are we allowed to see my dad living with Alzheimer's in a rest home that has been locked down. My kids are going crazy at home being cooped up.

And then just today, I learned of an aunt that I love who's been hospitalized with the virus. If she dies, I won't be able to attend her funeral. It scares my that my life has fallen apart so quickly. Is there anything I can do? Please pray for me to get to the stage seven that you talked about. That phrase, when life falls apart, is what I want us to think about this Easter. Because all around the world we're celebrating Easter. How does the resurrection of Jesus Christ help us get through all that we're going through right now? Well, there are three things. First, Jesus resurrecting prove that he really was who he claim to be. It validated his identity. You know a lot of people in history have claimed to be God. Lots of people claim to be God, but only one proved it, by bringing himself back to life, walking around Jerusalem for 40 more days before he went back to heaven. And that means we can trust his promises.

It's why 2.3 Christian believers are celebrating Easter this week. It's also why history is split into BC and AD, because the resurrection of Jesus is the defining pivotal point in history. Everything else is dated in relationship to the resurrection, including your own birthday. Second thing, Jesus resurrection prove that there is life after death. You know, without, we'd just be guessing, and we'd just be wishful hoping. The fact that death is not the end of the story, we know that because of the resurrection. With so many people around us dying right now in a pandemic, that's especially good news. The third thing is that Jesus gave us a model for what to do when life falls apart. He gives us a model of what to do when life falls apart.

There's a book in the Bible called 1 Peter chapter 2, verses 19 and 21 say this. You might have to suffer even when it is unfair, but if you think of God and you stand in the pain, God is pleased. Remember, Christ suffered for you and he gave us an example to follow. Here that, an example to follow. So you should do as he did. This Easter, I want us to look at the example that Jesus gave us, and I'm calling this message expecting a resurrection when life falls apart. Now, the second greatest miracle of the Easter weekend, besides the resurrection of Jesus was actually the sudden change in attitude and the amazing transformation in the lives of the disciples, the followers who followed Jesus. Within about 72 hours, they were radically transformed. The Bible says this in the book of John chapter 20. That Sunday evening, this is the day Jesus rose back from the dead, the disciples were huddled together in a home with the doors locked for fear of the authorities.

Now that huddling in their home with the doors locked sounds a lot like the shutdown some of us have been involved in. Get the picture. They're isolated, they're intimidated, they're insecure. They're think, "You know, the authorities killed Jesus, maybe we're next. Maybe the Romans are gonna come after us, they're gonna kill us". Then it says, suddenly Jesus appeared standing there among them. And they were frightened so Jesus said, "Peace be with you". And then he showed them the nail scars in his hands, and where he'd been pierced in his side. And at that point, everything changed. The disciples were overwhelmed with joy when they realized that it really was the Lord.

Now this is a radical transformation in these guys. You see, when Jesus died by public crucifixion, he left the disciples with a boatload of negative emotions. They have always dreamed of the kingdom coming, and now the savior is dead on the cross. They felt dejected, defeated, demoralized, and they felt disappointed, disturbed. They felt distressed, dismayed. They felt depressed, they felt disillusioned, and they certainly were dreading the future. But after they see that Jesus is truly alive on Easter Sunday, they are transformed. And instead of depressed and dejected, they're delighted and defiant. They're not afraid of anybody anymore. They're ready to take on the world, and they did. What was that change? They had seen the risen savior. You see, on Friday and on Saturday, they're anxious and afraid. But by Sunday evening, they become assured and assertive. And in 72 hours, they go from being embarrassed and exhausted to being ecstatic and euphoric. It's party time. Jesus is alive. Let's celebrate.

Now I don't want you to miss what understanding the resurrection did for people whose lives have fallen apart then. Because when you understand it, it'll change your life. The people whose lives had fallen apart when Christ was crucified, and then when they saw him be raised from the dead, they went from being cowardly to being courageous. They went from being fearful to fearless. They went from being gloomy to being glad, from being hopeless to hopeful and happy. They went from being powerless to being powerful, from upset to being unstoppable. And Christianity spread through the whole world. They were now ready to take on the world. Now, what is it that caused such a transformation in attitude in about 72 hours? Seeing the risen Jesus Christ come back from the dead. That quickly changed their lives, and then millions of lives, and then billions of lives.

Now, follow me on this. Jesus' death, and his burial, and his resurrection happened over three days. Friday was the day of fear and pain. The day of fear and pain, I'll explain these. Saturday was the day of confusion and grief when everything fell apart. And Sunday was the day of freedom and joy. Now here's the reality. You are gonna face these three days repeatedly in your lifetime. And you're gonna find yourself asking three questions. Number one, what do I do? What do I do in the days of fear and pain? And then number two, how do I get through the days of confusion and grief? And number three, how do I get to the days of freedom and joy? And the answers are all in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So let's consider each day since you're gonna go through these days many, many times. I have, in my life, many times. And let's see what they did.

Number one, Friday was the day of fear and pain. When you're facing a day of fear, when you're all afraid, and many people are afraid because of this COVID-19 virus, and many are in pain because of this COVID-19 virus. When you are in the day of fear and pain, you need to do two things. You do the two things that Jesus did. Number one, write this down. I need to reach out to friends. Yeah, that's what Jesus did. I need to reach out to friends. Draw close to friends. Before Jesus was betrayed, and arrested, and tortured, the very last thing he did was spend some time intimately with his friends in the upper room, observing the Passover. And then knowing the pain that he was about to face, he took his friends to his favorite place to pray. He got his friends together in the day of pain and in the day of fear.

Matthew chapter 26 says this. Jesus took his disciples with him to Gethsemane. That's a garden. It's his favorite place to pray. And he said, "Stay here with me while I pray". Then he took Peter, James, and John, that's three of the disciples a little further. And he, that's Jesus, was filled with anguish, and deep distress, and he said to them, "My heart is so overwhelmed and crushed with sorrow that I feel like I'm dying. Just sit here and watch with me". Then Jesus took a few more steps and he fell to the ground and he prayed. This is Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. Now I want you to know there's two startling facts about what I just read. First, even Jesus Christ needed the presence of friends in fear and pain. And it is a mistake for you to try to handle pain alone. We're isolated in our homes, but we now even have technology that you don't have to be alone. We can be apart, but not alone.

Second thing is that Jesus was open, and he was gut-level honest about the pain he was going through. In fact, here's what he said. He said, "My heart is so overwhelmed and crushed with sorrow. I feel like I'm dying". Now if Jesus Christ needed to be that open, if he needed friends and he needed to admit what he was feeling, you need to share your pain. It is a mistake to not share the emotions you're going through. Emotions are meant to be felt. Feelings are just simply feelings. They're meant to be felt. You don't repress them, you don't suppress them. You express them and you confess them. And you need to find a few friends that you can say, "I'm scared right now. I'm anxious right now. I'm hurting right now. I'm struggling right now".

Galatians chapter 6 of the Bible says this, verse 2. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? Love your neighbor as yourself. In times like this, in a crisis, it brings out the good in some people, it brings out the bad in others. I once asked the great Elie Wiesel who was a prisoner at Buchenwald concentration camp. I became a friend of him in later years of life. I asked him, "Elie, how did you get through the horror of the Holocaust"? He said, "Rick, God and friends". God and friends. That's why here at Saddleback Church, we actually have over 9,000 small groups in our church. And during this COVID crisis, you need to be in some kind of small group if you're not in one, we'll help you get in one.

So the first thing I need to do on Friday, the day of fear and the day of pain, is I need to reach out to friends, but second thing I need to do is reach out to God. I need to reach out to God. How do you do that? You pray. Imagine how it would feel if you were Jesus Christ knowing the pain you were about to face. What do you pray in times like that on the day of pain and fear? In Mark chapter 14 it says this. Jesus fell down on the ground, and he prayed that if possible he would not have to suffer the pain ahead of him. He prayed, "Abba," that means daddy, abba, father, daddy, papa, father. "'I know you can do all things, and I don't wanna have to drink this cup of suffering. Nevertheless,' Jesus said, 'I want your will, not mine, to be done.'"

Now, follow me on this. Jesus knows he's facing the ultimate in physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain, and spiritual pain. First, he knows that physically he's gonna be beaten, wounded, tortured, kept from sleep, whipped with 39 lashes, put a thorn of crowns on his head, and nailed to a cross. He's gonna have the ultimate in physical pain. Second, mentally and emotionally, he's gonna suffer humiliation, rejection, shame, disgrace, and betrayal. Spiritually, he's going to carry the guilt of every ugly crime and every sin every committed in history. He's gonna pay for it all. He's gonna take the guilt of every murder, of every molestation, of every torture. Think about that. How would that feel, to take the guilt, not simply my guilt, but the guilt of every sin every person in history and experience the hell of separation from God the Father? Why on the cross he cries out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"? Now, in facing this pain on this first day, the Friday, the day of pain and fear, I want you to notice what Jesus prayed. And whenever you are in pain and whenever you are in fear, you need to pray the Gethsemane prayer.

Okay, what did he do? He did three things. First, he affirmed God's power. He said, "Father, I know you can do anything". And when you're going through tough times, first thing you do is, "God I know you can do anything. I know you can solve this problem. I know you can turn it around". Second, you express your desire. You say, "I don't this pain". Well, Jesus did it. It's okay for you to do it. He said, "Father, if it's possible, I don't wanna go through this. I don't want this pain". That's okay. But then third, you offer your trust. You say, "Nevertheless, I want your will, not mine, whatever is best". That's the Gethsemane prayer. That's the prayer you pray on the day of fear and pain. Hebrews 2:18 in the Bible says this. Since Jesus went through suffering and temptation, he knows what it is like when we suffer and when we're tempted, and he's able to help us. He knows the pattern, he knows the power that we need.

Now after Jesus finishes praying, the soldiers arrive and they arrested him. And after hours of a mock trial and torture, they crucified him. What did the disciples do? They ran away. They were all cowards. They fled the scene. Every one of them lost their faith on the day that Jesus was crucified. Matthew 26 says this, verse 56. Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. Did you know that? All the disciples fled Jesus on the day he was crucified. Only one disciple, John, was actually at the foot of the cross with Jesus' mother, Mary. After Jesus died, he was taken down from the cross and he was buried, and that leads us to the next day, Saturday. Saturday represents the day of confusion and grief. You're gonna have many days like this too. You'll have days of pain and fear, but you're also gonna have days in life filled with confusion and grief. And with this COVID virus causing, all kinds of economic loss, loss of life, loss of privileges, loss of freedom. There's a lot of grief and it's gonna be increasing. A tidal wave, a tsunami of grief will come through the world as a result of this pandemic.

Now imagine the full range of emotions that the disciples are feeling when all of a sudden on Saturday their savior, their messiah, the one that they believe is the son of God is laying in a grave. They've got profound grief. They've got great loss. They are certainly disillusioned. This is to what we expected. I'm sure they were all full of doubt. I'm sure they were filled with regrets. If only we had stopped Judas. Or maybe they were filled with self-recrimination. We all ran away. Peter says, "I denied Jesus three times". They're filled with fear. Are they gonna kill us too? They're filled with confusion. What are we supposed to do now? This is the day of confusion. This is the day of confusion, Saturday.

Now Jesus had warned them that this is gonna happen. Matthew chapter 26, verse 31. I love it in the message, paraphrase, it says this. Then Jesus told them, "Before the night's over, you're all gonna fall to pieces because of what happens to me". Jesus is warning them at the Passover. Your neat little world is about to fall apart. Many of us are identifying that right now. Your need little world is gonna fall apart. In Mark chapter 14 it says this, verse 27. "All of you will desert me," Jesus told them, "for the scripture said I'll strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered". And that's exactly what happened. They all went AWOL on Saturday, the day of confusion.

Now at that point, the Bible says, Matthew 26, the disciples abandoned Jesus and ran away. Question, have ever deserted God out of confusion? Have you ever deserted God out of doubt? Have you ever deserted God out of pain? Most likely. Most likely all of us had. Have you ever deserted God out of grief? They're grieving because their Master, their Lord, their Savior is in a grave. How do you get through the days of confusion and grief after a major loss? Well, the answer is this, write this down. I need to remember the promises of God. Friday, I need to reach out to others and reach out to God. Saturday, I need to remember the promises of God. Now right before Jesus was executed, he gave them a promise.

John chapter 16, Jesus said this. "Here's what's gonna happen. Soon, I'll be gone and you'll be without me. But after a while, you'll see me again". He's predicting his resurrection. "And you're gonna weep, and you're gonna mourn, and you're gonna grieve, but your grief will eventually turn to joy". He said, "It's gonna be like a woman going through labor pains." when a child is finally born, her anguish turns to joy, because the new life wipes out the memory of the pain. He said, "In the same way, you're gonna go through sorrow right now on the Saturdays of life, the days of grief, the days of loss". But he said, "I'll be back and you will rejoice, and no one will be able to rob you of that joy".

You know, right now everybody is going through a tough time. There are tough times literally all around the world because of this COVID-19 virus, and that's why you need to do hat Jesus said to do. Immerse yourself in the promises in this book. Did you know that in the Bible there are over 7,000 promises of God to you. They're like blank checks. Now, you know, if you have an insurance policy and you know what's covered in the policy, you don't worry about that because I know it's covered in the policy. The reason why you worry, you don't know what's covered in the policy. You don't know what God has promised to you. And when you don't know the promises of God, you worry. And the Bible says in 2 Corinthians chapter 1, for all the promises of God, all 7,000 of them, find their yes in Jesus Christ.

So in dark and in confusing times, what you need to do is to hang on what you know to be true. What do we know to be true? God sees everything you go through. God cares about everything you to through. God loves you unconditionally. You can't make God stop loving you. You could try, but you'll fail, because God's love isn't based on what you do. It's based on who he is. God is love. The Bible says God is close to you all the time. You might feel alone, but you're not alone. God's presence is not a feeling. It's a fact. And God says he grieves with you when you grieves. The Bible says God wants the best for you. The Bible says that God can bring good out of bad. What's going on right now in the world is very bad. A lot of people are being hurt by it. Physically, economically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. The Bible says that God specializes in bringing good out of bad. Anybody can bring good out of good, but God specializes in bringing good out of bad. You can't do that. I can't always do that, but God can. God specializes in turning crucifixions into resurrections.

Now, what happens when we don't remember the promises that God has made to us in his word? Real simple, we worry. We worry. So, I don't have time to go through 7,000 promises with you, but let me just give you two this Easter, two great promises of God to you. The first one is in the book of Isaiah, chapter 43. In verses 2 and 3, God says this. "When you go through deep water and great trouble, I will be with you. And when you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. And when you walk through the fire of repression, you will not burn up. The flames will not consume you for I am the Lord, your God, and Savior". You know what you need this Easter, you need a savior. If you didn't need one, God wouldn't have wasted time sending one. At Christmas, he was born this day, a savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. It's a total waste for Jesus to come to earth if you didn't need a savior, but you need one, because there are a lot of things you can't do for yourself.

There are a lot of things that are out of your control. You need to turn to him and you need to trust him. Let me give you another promise. Isaiah 61 verse 3. God promises this. "To all who mourn". Are you grieving a loss of a job? Are you grieving the loss of a relationship? Are you grieving the loss of your health? God says, "To all who mourn, I will restore beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, and praise instead of despair". Jesus had promised many, many times. He told the disciples that he was gonna resurrect himself back to life. They just forgot it. If you hold on to the promises of God, you're inevitably gonna make it to the third day, and that's Sunday. Friday, the day of fear and pain. Saturday, the day of confusion and grief. Sunday is the day of freedom and joy. And when Jesus resurrected and then when he shows up and he spends 40 days walking around Jerusalem, how would you like to be one of the people who crucify Jesus then you're walking down the street one day and you see him and go, "He's back".

That's why the church grew to over 100,000 people almost instantly in Jerusalem. There was so many eyewitnesses over the next 40 days. the Bible says at one time he spoke to 500 people after his resurrection. The Bible says that when Jesus, when the disciples saw that Jesus had overcome death, it created an explosion of contagious joy. They're freed from their fears. They're freed from their anxieties. They're freed from their faults. They've all been forgiven, paid for on the cross. They're freed from their failures. Jesus had said, when you know the truth, the truth will set you free, and a lot of people forget the rest of that, where Jesus said, "I am the truth. I am the way, the truth, and the life". He also said, "And if the son sets you free," talking about himself, "you are truly free".

So, how do you get to the days of freedom and joy? Here's the third key. I need to rely on the power of Jesus. The same resurrection power that resurrected Jesus from the dead is available to you. Okay, I need to rely on the power of Jesus. You see, you can't do this on your own power. You've tried. There are things in your life you don't like about yourself, and you like to change them. And if you could change them, you would, but you can't, so you won't. And will power is not enough. It works in the short-term, but eventually you'll get tired and you go back to your old ways. Only God's power can get you there. It takes more than self-help, it takes more than self-effort, it takes more than positive thinking. It's not I think I can, I think I can. I'm in favor of positive thinking. It's better than negative thinking, but only works on stuff you can control.

What about the stuff you can't control? You can't resurrect yourself. You need a savior. God has to do it for you, and that's called salvation. God sent Jesus Christ to be your savior. Now, to get through the worst, the worst days of your life, you need to do these three things, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, reach out for the presence of Jesus, remember the promises of Jesus, and rely on the power of Jesus. That's what Easter is all about. In John chapter 11, Jesus said this, very famous statement. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection. I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even though they die, they will live again, because I give to them eternal life for believing in me and they will never perish".

Now we couldn't believe that if Christ hadn't raised himself, but he did. And that's why billions of people have put their faith in Christ, because death is not the end of the story. If God can resurrect the dead body, he can resurrect the dead marriage. If God can resurrect the dead body, he can resurrect a dead career. If God can resurrect the dead body, he can resurrect a dead dream. Now I want you to notice that the answer to your problem is not a principle, it's a person. He said, "I am the resurrection". You need to get to know Jesus. A lot of people know about him. I know who he is. I even believe he's the son of God. Fine. But my prayer for you this Easter is a prayer that's in the Bible. It's in Ephesians chapter 1. Here's the prayer I'm praying for you this Easter. I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great this power is to help those who believe him. It is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.

Did you get that? The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, 2,000 years ago, split the world into AD and BC, he says that power is available to you when you build a friendship with God and a relationship to Christ. That's why Paul says in Philippians chapter 3, "I wanna know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him". There's a life-changing prayer that I'll hope you'll pray this Easter. It's from the Bible. It's Romans chapter 10, verse 9, and it says this. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Now what does that mean? In the first place, what does it mean, Jesus is Lord? We don't live in the feudal system anymore. We don't have kings and queens, and counts and vassals, and lords and ladies, and knights and squire. We don't live in a feudal system.

So what does it mean to make Jesus the Lord of our life. It means to make him the manager, the boss, the CEO. When you make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, you put on a sign that says under new management. He's not just resident in your life, he's president in your life. He calls the shot. You say, "You know, I haven't been doing a very good job of managing my life. Jesus Christ, I was made to live in contact with God. Be the manager of my life".

That's what it means to make Jesus Lord. I wanna get you out of Friday and out of Saturday and into Sunday. I wanna get you out of the days of pain and fear out of the days of confusion and grief, and get you into the days of freedom and joy. How do we do that? Every week at our church, we do several things. And the first thing we do is at the end of every service, we recommit ourselves, our lives to God we recommit our lives to Jesus Christ. I'm gonna pray a prayer right now, and I wanna invite you to bow your head and follow me in this prayer. Now you don't actually have to say these same words. The words aren't as important as an attitude of humility that basically says to God, "God, I need you. I'm not God. You're God, and I'm not".

And God is God and I'm not, and I need you in my life. "Jesus Christ, I thank you for dying for my sins." And if you're ready to do that, you can follow me in this prayer. You don't have to say it aloud. You can say it in your mind. God knows the very thought you're thinking right now. But if you're by yourself in your home, I'd encourage you to say it aloud. Okay, just say it. Pray this prayer aloud. It'll be the most important prayer you've ever prayed. All right. You didn't even have to close your eyes. Just say it. Say this. Dear God... just say that.

Dear God, you know every fear I have. You now every pain I felt. God, you know what confuses me and you know what grieves me. God, you know, I spent a lot of my life in the Fridays and Saturdays of life, and I wanna get to Sunday. I wanna move from confusion, and fear, and pain, and grief to freedom and joy. I don't understand at all, but thank you for sending Jesus Christ to die for me. I pray for all the things I've done wrong. I wanna know your presence. I wanna have a relationship to you, not a religion. I want a relationship to you. I want a friendship with you starting today, and I wanna learn to live by your promises, and I wanna learn to rely on your power to get me through my most difficult days. Amen.

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