At Gateway Church in Austin, John Burke shared about what God gives us when we follow Him.
Easter is a time to celebrate life and renewal. Today, Gateway is doing just that in homes all across the Austin area and around the world. We’re celebrating that Jesus is alive. But, this is a unique Easter. For the first time in human history, the entire globe is shut in. So many are scared or anxious about death, about life, about jobs, and about family and friends. What can all of this mean? Is God trying to get our attention? Does God really want to give us life and renewal? Yes, He does! God put promises in Scripture and history to illustrate how He wants each one of us to have unending peace, unshakable confidence, and unwavering purpose.
An extended interview with Dr. Neal and Dr. Long with John Burke is at the bottom of this post.
Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
“Jesus is Alive”—as we gather in homes as Gateway church—across Austin and around the world. In every country people are celebrating Easter with us today—that Jesus is alive. But it’s a unique Easter too, because for the first time in human history, the whole Globe is shut in. 204 Countries in the world have the novel Coronavirus—which is kind of strange since the UN says there are only 197 countries in the world—apparently the 204 counts territories and Cruise Ships—but 93% of the world’s population are affected with travel bans. It’s an unprecedented time in history—what does it mean? The whole globe shut down, shut in, is this some sort of sign of things to come? Yes—for one, it’s a sign we’re all gonna look like this (humorous long hair pics) if we can’t get a haircut for another month. Covid-19 hair. I had my wife cut mine, she’s better than supercuts. We can laugh about being shut in, but the Coronavirus is a very serious matter—and I’m so glad you guys are taking it seriously, loving your neighbor by not getting out and spreading the virus—plus we’re getting a tour of each other’s homes in online groups—in pajamas and bed hair. Taking our motto, No Perfect People Allowed to a new level.
But people really are asking—what does all this mean? Is this some biblical sign? Like I’ve had the media reaching out to us this week, I’ve spoken to over 3 million people in 180 countries online this week, because people are wondering–one guy with CBS showed me this passage in Luke 21 where Jesus says before the end of history:
“Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands…. Luke 21:9
He underlined,Plagues in many lands—how about every nation? And nation at war against nation—we had World war 1 and 2, earthquakes, tsunamis. Is this a sign? And my answer is, Yes and No—To some degree, all that’s been happening since the time of Jesus. But Jesus said, all these are just wake up calls—a sign, a reminder, that life is short, we’re not in control, but God is. But I told him, if you’re interested in signs from God, there’s an amazingly clear one right in that same passage you showed me.
Luke 21 records Jesus words right before his crucifixion that first Easter. I want to show you what he said, and explain what it means, because a lot of people are in fear right now. A lot of people are scared or anxious—about death, about life—about jobs, economies, family member’s safety, and yet God put things in scripture and in history because He wants you to have unending peace, unshakable confidence, and unwavering purpose—even in the midst of this global pandemic.
The message of Easter is that God wants every person to have Unending Peace. A peace that isn’t circumstantial. A peace that transcends current events, layoffs, pandemics, family problems, financial fears. A peace that can only come from God. Is Covid-19 a sign? Maybe–Do you have that peace? Maybe it’s a wake-up call to realize you need Peace with God. Did you know that’s God’s desire? To give you Unending Peace? It’s what Easter was about. But it’s not myth, it’s history.
So That same week of his crucifixion, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt. When he saw the city, he got off the colt and looked over the city and started to weep. Picture this—Jesus claimed to reveal the heart of Almighty God—he weeps for people out of compassion and concern.
How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me…As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. – Luke 13:34, 19:41-42
The message of Easter is that the God who created us all, created us for relationship with himself. God is love, the Bible tells us, and love is God’s motive for everything He does. But love can’t be forced, coerced, or bought—love must be freely chosen, and we all have chosen to go our own way. To think more about my will and ways being done than seeking God’s will and ways. Yet God loves us so much, he forgives and offers peace. The night before his crucifixion…
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father… 27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. – John 14:8-9, 27
What we celebrate at Easter is Love so united himself with His own creation that He entered our sufferings, taught us, demonstrated the heart of God, and then in the ultimate act of unconditional love—was crucified to pay for all our wrongs, past, present and future—so that anyone who wants peace with God can have it. IT’s a choice. Peace with God, relationship with God, is simply a choice. You don’t have to earn it, get your Karma right, jump through religious hoops to prove you’re worthy, all you have to do is accept it—like any gift—you accept it by a simple prayer of faith telling God you want Peace with God, relationship with God. Jesus death and resurrection that Easter paid the price of Justice to make that possible.
God wants you to have Unending Peace with Unshakable Confidence that nothing can take that from you—God is for you, God is real, and you can trust in all God’s promises written in the Bible. But how can you have Unshakable Confidence this is true, not myth? While I was still a skeptic, I would have said—sounds like a great story, how do you know it’s true? Because Jesus gives a sign more clear than any Covid-19 sign in Luke 21 before he says there will be plagues across many lands.
5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” Luke 21:5-6
Jesus says, the Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed.
Jesus was crucified about 30 AD, 40 years later the Roman General Titus leveled Jerusalem and the Temple—and the Temple has not been rebuilt since 70AD. That was a sign from God. But Jesus goes on in Luke 21to say [Israel] will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. – Luke 21:24
Jesus gives a sign in actual history to give us confidence that God’s in control. Jesus say, “The Jewish people will be scattered across all the nations, Jerusalem will be ruled by Gentiles, non-Jewish people, for a period of time called the Time of the Gentiles.” What’s that? That’s the last 2000 years when the message of Peace with God as a free gift would go out to all nations, and during that time Jerusalem would not be ruled by Jewish people. And why would God do this? In Genesis 12, God says he created the Jewish nation to Bless All Nations by preparing the way for Messiah, the Savior of all nations. Many Jews believed, but many rejected and crucified him. Jesus wept over the city seeing what was to come:
They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” – Luke 19:41-44
Do you recognize the time of God’s coming to you? There are times in life when God tries to wake us up, signs to get our attention, whispers to our thoughts—I created you, I love you, turn to me, find Peace. An ABC reporter said to me, “It’s times like these I realize I just get so busy and consumed, I forget about God, but I’ve been thinking about God more than ever this week.” Is God coming to you—maybe using this time as a wake-up call? God wants to use good things to turn our hearts back–the birth of a child, the joys of life where He whispers, “come to me, I want good things for you—I want you to have my peace, my love, my joy.” What do you do when God’s nudging you to turn back to Him?
You can have Unshakable Confidence in God’s Promises, if you want signs it’s true, check this out. The Jewish people were scattered in 70 AD around the world. For 2000 years they didn’t have a land, a government, anything to keep them as a people. Yet during WW2, Russian Jews, Ethopian Jews, American Jews—Jewish people from around the globe flood back to Israel, and in 1948 the United Nations declared Israel a nation—born overnight–after 2000 years of Jerusalem ruled by non-Jewish people. Jesus said it would happen. And the Jewish prophet Isaiah, writing 780 years before Jesus (the Dead Sea Scrolls are proof this was written before Jesus), said it would be a sign for you:
10 In that day the Root of Jesse [Messiah] will stand as a banner [sign] for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious…[How did Isaiah know nations would rally to Messiah, this Easter 197 nations have people celebrating Jesus as Messiah/Savior, in 126 nations the majority follow Jesus—how did Isaiah know? God put it in history as a sign. Jesus is alive, He’s Savior of nations,]. Isaiah continues
11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people…He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth…Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion [Jerusalem] in labor than she gives birth to her children.9 Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord. – Isaiah 11:10-12, 66:8-9. 780 B.C.[In 1948 God assembled the scattered people of Judah (the Jewish people) from all over the earth, and Israel was born overnight—just as God said 2700 years earlier through Isaiah. A sign–Because God wants you to know He’s in control, He loves you like no other, and He wants you to have Unending Peace with God through Jesus, Unshakable Confidence in all his promises, so you can live with Unwavering Purpose.
The book of Romans explains it like this:
Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. [Unending Peace] 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.3 [Unshakable Confidence] We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us…. – Romans 5:1-5.
Even through the problems and trials and coronavirus challenges of Life, God wants us have Unwavering Purpose—knowing all these things can be used for Good in our lives, to develop strength of character, and a hope that how we go through these trials matters. God will use it for our good in this life—and give us a Hope that will not disappoint eternally. Jesus is Alive today—he died for our sins, but was raised to life, to bring all nations back to God, and give us Unwavering Purpose as we seek Him in the trials of life. Are you seeking him in this trial—letting God grow you in character through it? He overcame death, to help us overcome in life. That too Isaiah foretold 780 years before it happened, as a sign.
Jesus is Alive—Isaiah foretold it 780 years before that Messiah would see the light of life. The New Testament writers claim that 500 eyewitnesses saw the Risen Jesus for 40 days after Easter, but do you know there are 1000s more seeing the Risen Jesus today? Today we’re beginning a 6 week series called What’s After Life. Over the last 30 years, I’ve studied over 1000 people who clinically died, yet modern medicine resuscitated them, and 1000s around the globe see the Risen Jesus. They called on the Lord, even at the last second in the process of dying, and Jesus showed up—even to those who didn’t expect him. I’ll explain all that during this series. Jesus is Risen, He’s still Alive Today!