message title this morning is "Let's Celebrate Easter."
After what we've just come through?
You bet. We've
just come through Good Friday.
Now about 1000 of you were here at the Good Friday
services and closer to 20,000 here this morning and I want
to just repeat, if the Good Friday attendees will permit
me to repeat a couple of points I made Friday, if any of
you missed it. You know I said, 'Why do we call this
Friday good?' Jesus
spoke seven words and out of those seven words, go home
and study it, these are the teachings He taught us.
taught us number one: any sin can be forgiven.
You can forgive them who killed this Jesus and any
sin is potentially forgivable.
thing He taught us -- that we're saved by grace, not through
works. To a
dying thief He said, 'This day you will be with Me in paradise.'
Man, this dying thief didn't even repent yet of his
sins. He didn't
know theology. And
Jesus said, 'You'll be with Me tonight in heaven.' Jesus is a lot more forgiving than most
church members or theologians.
point Jesus made was: you belong to a family and through
the worst of times just remember this: we all go through
suffering and through some rejections but remember this,
the family will always stay with you.
He said it, 'Woman, behold your son.'
She was there.
He was despised and rejected of men but His mother
stood with Him.
point He made was: faith can survive the worst tragedy.
When He said, 'My God, my God, why have You forsaken
Me?' No tragedy was ever experienced by any
human being that Christ experienced on the cross when He
said, 'God abandoned me.' But He did not abandon His faith.
He still said, 'My God, My God, My God!' Didn't become an atheist. His faith survived His worst tragedy. Wow!
then the fifth line He gave us was: Good Friday's taught
us that it's okay to hurt. And you can experience a failure or a
rejection or a setback or even experience a disappointment
and its okay to expose it and express it.
When He said, 'I thirst,' He wasn't too proud to
admit that He needed help. It's okay to express and expose your hurts.
sixth point He made was: There's a time to let go.
'Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.'
You know we have a terrible tendency to think that
it's wrong to let go.
Life would be a lot better off for a lot of people
if they knew when to let go. 'Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.' Norman Vincent Peale was in his 90's and
it was Christmas Eve and in a few hours Christmas would
be there and he was very sick.
And Ruth stood at his side and she said, 'Norman,
its okay to let go. You can let go now.' And he let go and he died. There's a time to let go.
the seventh word that Christ gave us on Good Friday is:
at the end of our life we can experience fulfillment.
Yeah. It's finished, He said. It's finished, which means He did His
job. He did
what He had to do.
He didn't walk away until it is finished.
that's Good Friday. That's where we come from and now, 48
hours later, the tomb is empty.
He was taken down from the cross, put in Arimathea's
tomb, and now a legend is born that He's resurrected, that
He rose from the dead.
of you experience reality therapy and many of you are into
reality television. Well I'm going to give you reality religion. Reality religion: something happened on
Easter morning, whether you believe it or not. I'm telling you, something happened. The seal was broken and it was a crime
to break a Roman seal, punishable by death. The soldiers were gone and it was a death penalty for any soldier
that abandoned his role.
The tomb was empty except for the cloth that wrapped
His dead body and it was folded neatly, carefully and the
tomb was empty. And the followers, they split, they left,
they didn't want to admit they were one of His. They were afraid they'd be next. They cut out. Suddenly,
whatever happened in that empty tomb, they were transformed.
He saw them, He talked with them, they saw Him, they
talked to Him. All except one, Thomas, said, 'It can't be.' And Jesus said, 'Come, put your finger
in the hole in My hand, Thomas.'
And Thomas said, 'I believe. Yeah, I believe.' Wow!
He made several appearances until He ascended into heaven.
Something happened after Good Friday, it's called
Easter. The dead body was gone and you cannot
imagine what that means because in that culture, in that
time and in that place bodies were preserved.
They never found a hair of Him, not a bone, not a
bloody cloth, not a remnant. It's gone.
And some of the greatest reasons Christianity has
survived 2000 years is critics, cynics, doubters, atheists
have, through these 2000 years, tried studiously, these
scholars, to debunk the resurrection and those who tried
landed up becoming converts. You try to study what happened and you'll
become a believer.
And I hope that happens to you today.
Good Friday, Easter, where are we today? Today I've good news for you.
of the last words Jesus spoke, resurrected, to His apostles,
was: 'I will be with you always, even to the end of the
what? No religious
leader, no philosopher, nobody that influenced the thinking
of human beings ever said, 'I will be with you to the ends
of the earth.' Mohammad didn't say that. Buddha didn't say that. Nobody said it. No Hindu teacher has said it. No Old Testament prophet ever said it.
Not Moses, not Isaiah, only one human being that
led a new faith said, 'I will be with you always, till the
end of the earth.'
And He's alive today, very much so.
noted that many people are saying to me, I don't go to church,
I don't claim a religion, but I'm spiritual. I understand
it. I'm spiritual.
You think there's like a God?
Yes, I think so, but I'm not religious.
What is that spirit that you feel?
You don't realize it that is Jesus Christ.
You don't call Him by the right name.
You don't know Him but Jesus said, 'I'll love people
even if they don't love Me.
I will love people and bless them even if they don't
admit to Me.' Jesus
Christ is making His presence felt in a cosmic spirit in
the world today and that's why the people who don't come
to church and don't claim to be religious are experiencing
the presence of Christ, only they don't know it.
They are. Jesus will be with you through a horrible
Good Friday that you might have to go through.
is with you. He's with you so much. You don't even realize it. His presence is here. His last word was: 'I will never leave
you. I will
never forsake you.
I will be with you always unto the end of your life?
No, until the end of the world.'
My last line, it's a great one; you've never heard
me say it before. Jesus lives. Jesus never said good-bye.
You, Lord, we can celebrate Easter because we come from
a Good Friday that was really good. And we've stepped into a reality of religion
and we know that Jesus is resurrected. We just don't have any idea how it could happen. And here He's with us today and many people
are becoming believers.