Back from the Dead - My Future!
I also want to congratulate all our HS & college seniors. Today I would like us to talk about the future. Who else might be contemplating the future more than HS or college graduates?
Time Magazine did something wonderful! Here are pictures of children attending either Ann Arbor Elementary or Cody High School in Detroit. Time called this Detroit School Kids Dreams of the Future.[i] Junior, Senira Ford, said: "I see myself in college 5 years from now, studying to be a lawyer. I believe I have the potential to fulfill that dream, because of the way I talk and the attitude I have, that I can be a lawyer.” Makala Conner, age 12, said, "I want to be a world renown pediatrician. I would like to attend Harvard University. I will travel around the world helping children and babies." 7th grader, Kamarri Coleman, said, "I want to be a lawyer when I get older because I want to help people stay out of jail, I don't like seeing people going to jail.” Freshmen Taylor Ford, wrote, "If I go to college I might want to be an actor, a doctor, or a football player. I'd like to be in action and love movies.” Frederick Fuller, also a freshmen said, “I want to go to Ohio State, to be a football player, or a basketball player. I'd probably want to be a teacher, if being a pro athlete doesn't work out.” Finally, 5th grader Mya Lewis, said, "I want to be a lawyer because I was watching TV with my mother. It was Law and Order, and it made me think that's what I need to be.”
Who did you want to become? What did you want to do when you graduated from High School? And for those of us who graduated (let’s just say it) eons ago – did your future pan out the way you thought it would? Today we conclude a series called “Back from the Dead!” Easter was April 24th, and because Jesus rose from the dead we can too. We can live a resurrected life. Everybody dies, but not everybody lives. Jesus can resurrect a dead perspective, a dead faith, dead hopes and dreams and certainly a dead future! Last weekend, May 7 & 8th, Italian Coast Guard officials began off loading two boats carrying 842 Libyan refugees.[ii] Why do you think nearly 850 people fled Libya? Well I didn’t interview anyone, but I can imagine many reasons, but one being they want a better future. Our past is marred, our present is violent and our future looks bleak. Jesus gives us a glimpse of our future in Luke 24. Turn in your Bibles to Luke 24:36. We have gone from early Sunday morning to Sunday afternoon and now Sunday evening. Jesus has just spoken to two men; one named Cleopas, and then he up and vanishes. Cleopas and his friend can hardly contain themselves. They sprint seven miles from Emmaus to Jerusalem to tell the eleven that Jesus is alive! Find verse 35. Apparently the apostles were sitting down to eat when Cleopas & Co. interrupt them. Things calm down only for this to happen in verse 36. (“BOO!”) I don’t know how Jesus resisted the temptation, but apparently he did! Jesus gives a normal Semitic or Jewish greeting, “Peace be with you!” And the typical respond would be, “And so with you!” But they don’t verbally respond at all. Check out verse 37. John gives us even more details in John 20:19.
A stone covering the tomb. No issue. Travel or distance from one location to another. No problem. And now locked doors. Piece a cake for the Son of Living God who reigns in a resurrected body! Go back to Luke 24:37. (Read 37-38) Jesus asks two questions. Why are you troubled? “Troubled” can mean “inward commotion or the removal of calmness of mind or to make restless or to strike one’s spirit with fear & dread or to render anxious.”[iii] What’s made them troubled? Initially it was death! Death troubles us. Death changes everything. We were once together but now we are apart. When will we see each other again? A woman named Wanda Vassallo tells the story of her friend Linda who happens to be a first grade teacher. Linda had a situation with one of her students, Ryan, on the first day of school. Accustomed to going home at noon in kindergarten, Ryan was getting his things ready to leave for home when he was actually supposed to be heading to lunch with the rest of his class. Linda asked him what he was doing. And he said, "I'm going home.” Linda tried to explain to him that since he’s now a first grader, he would have a longer school day. "You'll go eat lunch now and come back to class.” Ryan then put his hands on his hips and demanded, /"Who on earth signed me up for this program?"[iv]/
I think we do the same with God! Who signed me up for this? Who signed me up to go through such hardship, such trouble? I don’t like how death makes me feel! I feel lonely. Abandoned. If death were the end – I would agree! But it’s not the end! The word “troubled” can also mean, “to perplex the mind by suggesting doubts.”[v] Notice what Jesus asks? "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? I was in Akron last Sunday night and Monday visiting my Mom. She ended up in the hospital. After visiting her on Monday I left for the hospital parking garage. I had my parking card which I inserted into the machine. You follow that card with your credit card! I was there most of the day so I knew the bill would be at least $5.75, but when the machine told me I owed $155.25 I about had a cardiac. Good thing I was in a hospital parking garage. I was never so glad to see an attendant. He asked me if there was a problem! I said, Yes sir. I do have a problem. The machine is saying I owe $155.25 for parking. He checked my card and saw it was dated for last Monday, May 9. He looks at the card and then looks at me and says, this is just BOGUS! The machine must be wrong and he lets me go through without having to pay anything!
The resurrection must be BOGUS! What has the disciples troubled? Dead people do not come back to life! Even though this is the 5th time Jesus has showed his face and scars in public – the apostles still don’t think he’s real flesh & blood! Find verse 39! (Read 39-43) The resurrected Jesus ate fish! Have you ever heard of the One Hit Wonder band called Timbuk 3? See if you can name this song: I study nuclear science - I love my classes - I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses - Things are going great, and they're only getting better I'm doing all right, getting good grades - The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades, I gotta wear shades[vi] According to Jesus a Christ follower’s future is so incredibly bright! He shows us just how bright: Our future includes a resurrected body! This physical body is special, (Thigh bone is stronger than concrete – our blood travels 60,000 miles per day through our bodies – it takes 72 muscles working together to allow us to talk), but a resurrected body will be something to behold! Luke 24 tells us a resurrected body can appear and disappear at will. A resurrected body is not bound by time or space like locked doors. And what really jazzes me – a resurrected body will still eat food! The Apostle Paul tells us even more - turn to 1st Corinthians 15:35. (35-44) Do you remember Air France Flight 447? 228 people died. Air France 447 left Rio bound to Paris and nosedived into the South Atlantic on June 1, 2009. Nearly two years later French officials are saying submarines have located two engines, the landing gear, the black box and a bulk section of the fuselage which includes bodies. Some do not want the wreckage brought to the surface. I can see why! Horrible things can happen to our bodies, but do you know, trust and serve Jesus Christ? If you do, no matter what happens to your physical body - a spiritual body awaits you in heaven. Our future also includes God’s promises! Jesus shows us two! Go back to Luke 24 and find verse 44. (Read 44-46) I promise my word will direct you! Find verse 49. I promise my spirit will guide you! Sin has left this world evil. Our struggle in this world is not against flesh & blood. Do you want remain strong through trials? Do you want to overcome temptation? Read the word of God and rely on the HS of God! There is not a day that goes by now or 50 years from now where you cannot count on God’s promises! Our future also includes some really good news! Find verse 46. (Read 46-47) Forgiveness is now made available to every human being. I mean who looks forward to tomorrow if you stand condemned today? So many of us struggle to experience genuine forgiveness because we believe our past condemns us. Our past makes the present horrible and if our present is horrible who looks confidently to the future? When you walk this planet forgiven the future looks so bright! But forgiveness does not come without responsibility. We are not forgiven in this world so we can go sinning “willy nilly” and abuse God’s grace! Our future also includes a purpose, a task - a commission! Go back to verse 47. (Read 47-48) They witnessed what? This is the first verse of 1st John 1. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. What did they see with their eyes and touch with their hands? Jesus’ resurrected body! Here’s why I’m convinced Jesus is the Christ! The Apostles willingness to suffer physically. Name Jesus’ closest apostles? Peter, James and John. Peter will be crucified upside down by Nero. James will be beheaded by Herod Agrippa I some 15 years later! John will be exiled to a rock island called Patmos. They didn’t hallucinate or steal Jesus’ body. Many die for a noble cause, but no one dies for a lie. Jesus calls PJ&J apostles, disciples and witnesses. A witness is a (“martus –martoos”[vii] – a martyr! A martyr by name typically dies a violent death. How could they do that. Because they know their future is secure. DO YOU? Cup your hands for me! These are God’s hands. There’s no better place to be.
[iii] Logos Bible Software, Troubled in Luke 24:38
[v] Logos Bible Software, Troubled in Luke 24:38
[vii] Logos Bible Software, Witnesses in Luke 24:48