How the Resurrection Changes Us
About the Guest
Why did Jesus go to the cross? Renowned author and pastor John Piper says there's an explanation for Christ's actions, and it's love. Using the life of Paul as an illustration, Piper explains what living in the hope of the resurrection looks like.
Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, Piper served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. He has authored more than 50 books, and more than 30 years of his preaching and writing are available free of charge at desiringGod.org. Piper resides in the Minneapolis area with his wife of 51 years, and has five children and 14 grandchil...more
Why did Jesus go to the cross? John Piper says there’s an explanation for Christ’s actions, and it’s love. Using the life of Paul as an illustration, Piper explains what living in the hope of the resurrection looks like.
How the Resurrection Changes Us
Bob: On this Good Friday, it’s good for us to stop and think: “Why did Jesus endure the cross? What was His motivation?” John Piper says the Bible gives us the answer.
John: “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross,”—and the nails through His hands and feet and the spear in His side—all the while able, at any moment, to call upon His Father to be rescued; and at every moment choosing to be there and stay there—for the joy that was set before Him. What was the joy beyond the horrors of crucifixion that kept Him on the cross?
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, April 10th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. We’ll pause today to think about that question: “Why did Jesus die for us? What was the joy that kept Him on the cross?” Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I am excited about what we’re going to share with our listeners today; and I’m excited because on this day/on Good Friday, this is where our thoughts ought to be. They ought to be on the cross, and ought to be on what Jesus endured, and then on the power of the resurrection; those two really go hand in hand.
It’s not like we should segment our thinking about the cross and the resurrection till Holy Week and Good Friday and Easter Sunday; we ought to be meditating on the cross and the resurrection every day.
Dave: Yes; but there’s something about a holy day, you know, where you sort of hit the pause button and say, “Today is Good Friday; and I’m going to take my thoughts and spend the day thinking about what this moment in history means, not just for me, but for the world.”
If this was the end of the story, we wouldn’t even be celebrating it; but it would be so sad. But you know, over here, you have the resurrection; but I still think it’s very powerful in our faith to stop and say, “Thank You.”
Bob: I was in the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, back in August, at the Sing! conference that is hosted by our friends, Keith and Kristyn Getty. They have another Sing! conference coming to Nashville in September this year. This was a night where we were focused on the cross. They asked John Piper—who was, for years, pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis/a well-known author and speaker—they asked Dr. Piper to speak on the power of the resurrection.
I have to tell you—it was a riveting moment. You’re in this big arena; but it was one of those, where you could hear the pin drop in the arena as he was talking about how our perspective on what Jesus accomplished on the cross and the power of the resurrection changes how we live day to day. As I listened to the message, I thought, “We have to share this with our FamilyLife Today listeners.” So that’s what we’re going to hear today; this is John Piper, talking about the power of the resurrection in our lives.
John: If you had been there at the cross, you probably would have vomited, or screamed, or pulled out your hair, or thrown yourself on the ground and pounded the dirt and sobbed yourself into exhaustion. To have nails or spikes driven through your arms and legs, and then to have your whole body weight hang there for hours, and then have legs smashed or a spear run through your side was almost unbearable to watch—I think it would have been for us, in our modern sensibilities—and surely, unbearable to endure.
Jesus volunteered for this; He chose it. It wasn’t forced on Him by any man. You remember what He said. “Nobody takes My life from Me; I lay it down on My own accord. And if I lay it down, I can take it again. Do you think that I can’t call to My Father and have 12,000 angels to rescue Me at any moment?” Nobody forced Him to do this; it’s what He chose to do.
Do you think Herod, or Pilate, or the mobs in Jerusalem, or the soldiers are in charge here?—they’re not in charge! “My Father wrote this drama. My Father and I agreed My role in the drama is to be crucified. It’s what I do, freely. I’m in charge, not Pilate.”
There’s a name for this; it’s called love. This is the way Paul put it in Romans 5: “God chose His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s the name of volunteering for that kind of suffering for us. So, the greatest suffering in the service of the greatest love for the least deserving; how do you do that?—that’s my question: “How did He do it?” “How do you do it?”—because you must do it.
Here’s the answer of Hebrews 12: “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross,”—Hebrews 12:2. The humiliation of being stripped, and the lacerations of the scourging, and the nails through His hands and feet, and the spear in His side—all the while, able at any moment, to call upon His Father to be rescued—and refusing, at every moment, in pain as the lightning bolts shoot up from His ankles to His brain; at every moment choosing to be there and stay there, for the joy that was set before Him.
What was the joy beyond the horrors of crucifixion that kept Him on the cross? What was the joy beyond the greatest act of love that enabled the greatest act of love to happen? Here’s His answer; this is the answer of Jesus:
“No one takes My life from Me; I lay it down of My own accord. And if I lay it down, I will take it up again.”
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be killed, and in three days He will rise from the dead.”
“I will never die again. I will be an eternal high priest, by the power of an indestructible life.”
“All authority in heaven and on earth will be Mine. I will be the King over all kings, Lord over all lords. I will be alive forevermore, and in My hand will be the keys of death and Hades.”
“I will sit with My Father on His throne. I will have in My hand a check signed with My blood for the perfect, completed, irreversible purchase of My bride. I will be surrounded by angels and saints, crying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive blessing and honor and wisdom and power and riches.’ From My throne I will build My church on earth; the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
“When the time is full, I will come in power and great glory, and I will fill the new heavens and the new earth with My glory, and I will say to my Bride, ‘Enter the joy of your master.’”
When Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross,” that was the joy—the resurrection, that future, that hope, that joy—streaming from the future into the horrible present, holding Him on the cross.
If He were here, which He is, what He would say to you is this—so I’ll let Him say it—John 15:11: “These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be full.” God intends for the joy—that was set before Jesus that gave Him the power to endure the greatest suffering in the service of the greatest love for the least deserving—to be your joy for the same. That’s what it means to be a Christian: to embrace the whole Christ—the suffering Christ, the risen Christ, the reigning Christ, the coming Christ—who at every point, says, “That My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
The reason the resurrection has explosive power now is the same reason it did for Him then. In His case, the hope of the resurrection had explosive power because of the joy that He saw, holding Him on the cross. So it will be with us: for the joy that is set before us in the resurrection, we will endure the cost of love, no matter how high, for the least deserving. That is Christianity.
Let’s take one crazy, glorious example of somebody, who lived this way, and what it looks like. Acts, Chapter 16, the Apostle Paul, as you know, is preaching in Philippi. There’s this demon-possessed slave girl, whose masters use her for fortune telling and make a lot of money. She keeps crying out after Paul, while he’s preaching, very annoyingly, “These are servants of the Most High God!”
Paul has just had it, after numerous days. He turns and he says, “I command you, in the name of Jesus Christ, come out of her!” The demon comes out, and these men lose their girl and their money. They’re really angry at Paul. They drag him before the magistrates, and they lie about them. They strip them of their clothing, and beat them with rods; throw them in prison without a trial; put them in the innermost prison; put their feet in stocks. Paul and Silas, shamed by being stripped, beaten with rods, sitting in the deepest prison; and you know what they’re doing—they’re singing.
My wife and I read this in our—we read the Bible together every night; we pray—I read this story. We looked at each other and we just said: “We don’t do that. We grumble!” That’s not the power of the resurrection! Grumbling is not the power of the resurrection! We’re just like everybody else when we grumble! So I’m preaching to myself; you understand that?
It says they were singing hymns. Now, there’s a word for psalms; you read it in Ephesians: “…psalms, hymns, spiritual songs.” We know what psalms are; they’re not singing psalms. They’re singing hymns! Who wrote them?—I don’t know who wrote them. Paul probably wrote them; Silas was the musician, maybe. But here’s the amazing thing: they knew them by heart! It’s midnight; sleepless, beaten with rods, feet in stocks, dark in the prison, and they’re singing! I want to know: “How can you do that?! What is this power that I so long for more?”
Four times in the Book of Acts, Paul puts in one sentence why he winds up on trial and in prison over and over and over. I’ll read him to you.
Before the Jews in Jerusalem—Acts 23: “It is for the hope of the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.”
Before Felix in Caesarea: “It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.”
Before King Agrippa: “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?”
Before the Jews in Rome, at the very end of his life: “It is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.”
The resurrection of Christ, and the resurrection of all who are in Christ, was the sustaining power of Paul’s song in suffering and love for the jailer. Why do I say that? You know, don’t you?—that when they were singing at midnight—there was an earthquake. When the earthquake happened, all the doors were opened; all the stocks came off. The jailer is about to kill himself; and they could have said: “Make my day! Watch him kill himself,”—and head for Thessalonica—“Triumph! God released us!”
That’s not what they did. They saved his life; they saved his soul. I’m going to say—singing in the jail/loving the jailer is the power of the resurrection fruit. This is what I want. How does that work? “What does it look like, Paul? We want this. We want to sing at midnight after being beaten, in jail, with our feet in the stocks, when we can’t sleep. We want this!”
This is Christianity. This is not weird; it’s weird to murmur if you’re a Christian. Here’s the way Paul put it, twice: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed,” Romans 8:18. Or 2 Corinthians 4:17: “For this light, momentary affliction”—light, momentary affliction—“is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory, beyond all comparison.”
Jesus—let’s just go behind Paul—to Jesus for one more minute or two. Jesus made the connection—between the resurrection hope and singing in suffering, and the resurrection hope and loving the undeserving—He made those two connections. Paul learned them from Jesus; let me read them to you. This is Matthew 5:11: this is Jesus; let Him say this to you:
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely, on My account,”—strip you of your clothes, beat you with rods, put you in stocks.
“Rejoice in that day”—that midnight moment—“Rejoice in that day for great is your reward in heaven.” That’s resurrection hope, streaming into the moment of your suffering, and saying, “Rejoice!”
If we don’t do that, something’s deeply wrong in our grasp of the sovereign goodness of God.
Here’s the other place where He made the connection between hope and loving the undeserving: “When you give a feast, invite the poor.” This is Luke 14:14: “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,”—the jailers, the slave girl—“and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” Next sentence: “You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” That is what it means to say, “For the joy set before you, you invite people to your house, who can’t pay you back!”—get it?!
Now, I assume that I’m surrounded by people who love to sing. Me, too; I love to sing! I wish I could sing! [Laughter] I do it anyway; I love to sing. So how will we sing when our suffering comes? What will it be that enables us to sing when our suffering comes and love the jailer? The answer is: “For the joy that is set before us.” That’s the explosive power of the resurrection.
Now, singing to the Lord in suffering and loving the least deserving—that’s not a personality trait—that’s Christianity.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to Dr. John Piper talk about the power of the resurrection in our lives: singing in suffering and loving the jailer. I mean, I remember when he shared that back in August, when I first heard it. I called Mary Ann and I said, “This is a message we need to listen to together.” It may be that you’re listening alone. You may want to call your spouse and say, “We need to listen to this.” It’s online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Listen to it together; because most of us, this is not how we’re naturally bent—to sing in suffering and then to love our persecutors—right?
Dave: No; I mean, just like John said, I know I’m bent to complain and grumble. You just forget there’s a resurrection in our story. I know it’s Good Friday; so we’re not there yet, you know—
Dave: —it’s two days away—but it’s true, and it should change every minute of every day.
Ann: We forget the power of the Holy Spirit living within us that can give us new thoughts, that can give us new perspective, that we can rejoice and have joy in the midst of pain and sorrow.
Bob: And a lot of us are experiencing an unexpected level of suffering and pain and sorrow that we didn’t anticipate. I should mention here the folks at Desiring God, the ministry that John Piper founded, John has written a brand new book about our current moment. It’s a book called Coronavirus and Christ. They are making available for FamilyLife Today listeners your choice of the audio book or the e-book. It’s available for free.
You can go to FamilyLife Today.com to download either the audio book or the e-book, Coronavirus and Christ written by John Piper. John looks at the sovereignty of God over the current pandemic and he looks at the purposes of God. How God works through events like this in our lives. By the way we are hoping John is going to be able to join us next week on FamilyLife Today so be listening for a conversation with John Piper about this subject. The audio book or the e-book is for free online at FamilyLife Today.com. if you want a hard copy of the book there is a link so that you can order that as well.
Again, you can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, you can also download the message you heard today. We played just a portion of John’s message today. The entire message is available for download. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. This might be a message you’d like to listen to, again, with your family over the Easter weekend.
We hope you have a great Easter weekend! Hope you are able to worship together as a family and join with other Christians in your community whether it’s online or in some way to be safely connected with one another as we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ this weekend.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. The team has been working really hard here. Thanks to them. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. Have a wonderful Easter weekend. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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