[Music] You might think you have much more time. But oh, the truth is that there is no hope in time. Jesus is our only hope in dying.
[Craig] In a couple of days Michael Jackson will be buried. He will join the likes of these. He's captivated the world because he was such a unique individual, really larger-than-life it seem. And yet now, he's really no different than these I passed by in the cemetery. That's a sobering thought. There is a line I remember in his great musical hit, the music video, Thriller. I remember that video, the demon-filled zombies coming out of the grave, Vincent Price's spooky voice narrating. There's a line in there that he sings, Michael Jackson, and it's really quite chilling when you consider how his life unfolded. It said, "They're out to get you. There's demons closing in on every side." It almost seemed to be prophetic, because as his life would unfold, demons would be closing in on every side, so much so that he was never able to rid himself of them. And they finally took him down.
In the wake of his death, there's a lot being said about Michael Jackson. But what's true? A lot of emotions being expressed, but what's true? The tendency is, when people die, they turn to their emotions and their affections for an individual, and truth gets obscured. Objective truth gets lost in the midst of it. And people tend to believe what they want to believe. But what's true about Michael Jackson? Where is he now? We read these tombstones here: "Asleep in Jesus", "Sweet Jesus," "Resting in Jesus." How many really are resting in Jesus? We can't trust our emotions. Our emotions go up and down, they come and go. So we can't trust them. They won't take us to what's true, they won't lead us to truth; and they certainly won't change what's true.
Yet unfortunately people dwell upon thoughts of their lost loved ones and they'll rehash their memories. What so often happens is they're led to embrace falsehood - things that aren't true. I mean, things are said even in funerals that aren't true. How many funerals have you been to, where a preacher says, "Well I'm sorry, we have no confidence that Mr. so-and-so (or Mrs. so-and-so) is with the Lord because the life they lived was completely contrary to the life of a true Christian"? You've never heard that. I've never heard that. Why? Because everybody somehow ends up in heaven in a funeral - even the worst of sinners. People want to think the best. But what's true? That's all that really matters. Not what you and I think, not what the person in the grave thought, but what's really true? Where are they at? How do we establish that? Is that left to men and women? Are they the determining factor of what happens beyond the grave? Or is there a Creator? What does His Word say? Our word means nothing. We need to consult God. God has left us His Word. This is the revelation of what's true concerning life and death; concerning what lies beyond the grave.
In the passing of Michael Jackson, some very important realities have come to us. God has taught us and confirmed to us some very important spiritual truths. I have ten reasons why Michael Jackson's life and death matter.
The first one is, it teaches us the dangerous power of idolatry. In 1 John 5:21 we're told, "Keep yourselves from idols." We're told so because idolatry is sin and it's very destructive. It's often associated with demonic power. In Colossians 3:5, it says, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Idolatry is any thing we put in the place of God. Any thing that has elevated our heart with affection over and above Jesus Christ, that's idolatry. Michael Jackson's life was all about idolatry. He worshiped music. He worshiped dance. He worshiped himself and his own image; and there's nothing to be found of Jesus Christ in his life.
Jesus said, "A tree is known by its fruit." How do I know an apple tree is really an apple tree? Maybe it's something else. How do I know? Well, the fruit is its evidence. How do I know an orange tree really is an orange tree? Because it bears oranges. The same is true in the spiritual realm. Those who have spiritual life, those who really have a relationship to Jesus Christ, they bear that fruit. They bear the fruit of that relationship. And those who don't, likewise, bear fruit that they're not connected to Jesus Christ. He's really not their Savior. They're really not saved by His grace. They really don't know God.
Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Where's your heart? What has a hold of it? What holds sway over you? Is it Jesus Christ? Or is something else pulling you away from God? That's what idols do - they bring men to destruction.
The second reason why Michael Jackson's life and death matter is, it highlights the reality of 1 Peter that All flesh is like grass and All its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord stands forever. Man at his best is a dying flower. At his absolute best, he's fading, he's dying, he's destined to die. That truth alone shows the insanity of one living for his own glory and not the glory of Jesus Christ. The world paints Hollywood as the ultimate achievement, the pinnacle of great success and fame, the best that the world has to offer. And yet, look at Hollywood's Tabloids, look at their obituaries. Look at the end of those who Hollywood holds out to be the darlings of America. Nearly every one of them are cheaters, liars, adulterers, fornicators. They commit adultery. They lie about everything that they do. They're strung-out on drugs. They're full of makeup and plastic surgery, just like Michael Jackson was. But behind the makeup is an empty, lonely, miserable life. And they spend that life trying to fill the void that's there - a void that's there because Christ isn't there.
The world is broken, and it's full of broken people. And I don't care how much makeup you put on them, and how much plastic you throw on them, and all that self-enhancement that you attempt to do, you cannot fill the void. Because behind it all is just a decaying, rotting structure with just a fresh coat of paint. Nothing in this world can satisfy the void that's there because of sin.
Michael Jackson and all his glory; it was great when he was here, wasn't it? It's all faded away. It's all nothing now, nothing. It won't stand before the judgment of God. Now the king of pop is face-to-face with the King of glory. And let me tell you something: There's only one King who glories beyond this life - it's Jesus Christ.
The third reason why Michael Jackson's life and death matters is, it teaches us that enormous wealth is poisonous to flesh. says, "Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." Money is often a major snare, why? Because money is equal to power, and power is what men really thirst for. They want to be on top. They want to be the top dog. They want to be God. They want to be king. Michael, he regarded himself as king and he lived as one. And you know what, Michael Jackson had his reward. He's no longer king now. He's gone from king to a prisoner of darkness. Just like that. In a moment. He wasn't expecting it. Now he's singing a different tune.
Jesus said, "You can't have two masters. You can't serve God and money." You know why? because you're gonna love one and despise the other. You're gonna be faithful, you're gonna hold to one; and you're not gonna be faithful to the other. You can't love both. And here's the poison behind money: Those whose heart is set upon it, they can never get enough. They can never have enough. It's more and more. It doesn't matter if you're making minimum wage bagging groceries, or you're a multi-millionaire. If your heart is set on money, all you want is more and more. It's never satisfying to you. The fact Michael Jackson died million dollars in debt is an evidence what he was a slave to. He was a slave to money. That's what he worshiped. He fulfilled the words of 1 Timothy 6:10. His love for money produced many senseless and harmful desires. Those desires ended up destroying him. So the very Word of God tells us.
How much does money have a hold on you? Be honest with yourself. Do you think more about money or about God? Really, just be honest. Which do you think of more? That is a great indicator of whose slave you are.
The fourth reason why Michael Jackson's life and death matter is, it confirms the biblical truth that fallen man is given to self-destruction. In Romans 3 we have a description; God gives a description of the sinner there. And in Rom. 3:16, He says destruction and misery are in their ways. In the Proverbs we read, "There's a way that seems right to a man," he's convinced it's right, "but the end of it is death." It's a way that leads to death. He doesn't start out thinking at least to death, but when he gets there and it's too late, it is death. That's a picture of mankind in his lost state. And do not those scriptures just scream out about Michael Jackson's life? There was this normal boy. He had many talents, very likable. He was a great performer; he was. He was good at what he did. He seemed to have a level head about him. But as time brought fame, and fame brought fortune, his life began to get stranger, and more twisted, and more wicked, as his life progressed. And in the end, his legacy is mainly marred mostly by what he did offstage than what he did onstage. That's what sin does. Here was a man desperate for satisfaction and looking for it in himself. And that's an endless road. It'll lead everybody to misery - looking for satisfaction in yourself. Sin is a great destroyer. It ruins man, just as it did Michael Jackson.
In Matthew 7: 13-14 we're told, "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction." And the Bible says, "Many there be that go in that way." And yet, "Narrow is the gate and hard (or difficult) is the way that leads to life," and the Bible says, "Few there be that find it." There's going to be more people on that wide broad road that leads to destruction. They don't think it does but it does. And very few, the Bible tells us, Jesus tells us in His own words, "Very few will find that narrow gate that leads to life."
The fifth reason why Michael Jackson's life and death matter is, it was an example of a WASTED LIFE. "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world," Jesus said, "and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" What is a person willing to trade their eternal never-dying soul for? Many people, just foolish things. Things that don't last. Things they can't take to eternity with them. We all have 24 hours a day, as many days God gives us. What are we doing with them? What's our soul invested in? What are we doing with the time, and the talent, and the treasures, that God has given unto us? We're stewards, we're responsible, we're accountable to God. says, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."
For Michael Jackson, he's been stripped of it all. It's all gone - every one of his accomplishments, all that he did. Neverland, ironically, never gave him what he wanted. It didn't. All his platinum records, all his money, all his mansions and accomplishments, they're left to rust and corrupt. They're still here, he's not. He's gone. There's nothing in this world that does him any good in the spirit world, the world now where he's accountable to God and he faces his judgment. Jackson lived for his own glory, and not for the glory of Jesus Christ. That, my friend, is a WASTED life.
The sixth reason why Michael Jackson's life and death matter is that, life is a vacuum outside of Jesus Christ. In John 1:4, Scripture says, "In Him was life (in Jesus Christ, that is,) In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." Really, it's that simple: Jesus Christ is life; and there's no life outside of Him. None. None whatsoever. And praise God if you've found Him to be so, because, as we already said, not many find it. Not many find that path that leads to life. And that path is Christ.
Many of you may be aware of Tom Brady's comments in the 60-minute interview he had: "But with all that money, fame, and career accomplishments, we were surprised to hear this from him, 'Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean... Maybe a lot of people would say, "hey man, this is what it is. I reached my goal, my dream. My life is..." Me I thank God, there's gotta be more than this.' "What's the answer?" "I wish I knew... I wish I knew..." which is just an incredible insight.
Here's this man, multi-million dollar contracts, making millions of dollars a year, winner of three Super Bowls, three-time MVP, dating a supermodel. According to the world he had it all. But he reveals to the whole world in that interview, he thinks there's got to be something greater out there for him. He says, "There's got to be more than this. There's got to be." And that's a question really that everybody grapples with. And they seek many different avenues to find its answer. And even the greatest of Icons - it shows in Brady, it shows in Michael Jackson - even the greatest of Icons are sinners in need of a Savior.
That question "there's got to be more than this; there's got to be more", that's what drives people to drugs. That's what drives people deep into sin. They're looking for satisfaction. They're looking for that answer, and that answer is only found in Jesus Christ. Outside of that, life is a vacuum. Self-fulfillment is a great lie because self can never give the fulfillment that a sinner is looking for. It's only found in Jesus Christ. There's a void without Him. Yet mankind never seeks to defy that truth.
The seventh reason why Michael Jackson's life and death matter is, it's a great reminder that it's been given unto man once to die, and then the judgment. You know, there's only really two certainties about life: it's death, and it's judgement. Those two things are certain. God's judgment, my friend, is far different than man's judgment. God's not impressed with Michael Jackson's moonwalk. He's not impressed with the success that he had in this life. Not at all. His judgment scale is far different. When Michael Jackson stands before God, God requires an absolute perfect righteousness. No man alive has that. Not one. Michael Jackson is in the same dilemma you and I are in. We have no good to offer God. In fact, before Him we're a putrefrying rag. We're a sinner deserving of eternal damnation.
No, don't get the idea, as so many people view, this false idea that there's a scale in Heaven, and God's gonna put our good deeds on one side, and our bad deeds on the other. That is not true. You place one bad thing on that scale, it'll cost you all eternity. It will. What you need, you need a Substitute, you need a Savior - One that's fully perfect, perfectly good. One that has taken all your bad upon Him, and in turn put all His good upon you. That's salvation! and it can only be obtained when a person turns from their sin - it's called repentance - turning from a life of sin unto God, and faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him and Him alone as your Savior. That is salvation my friend. Michael Jackson didn't have it.
The eighth reason Michael Jackson's life and death matters is, it teaches us the vanity of popularity. Jesus said, "Woe unto you when all people speak well of you." Wow. That's strange, isn't it? Don't we want people to say good things about us? Why would Jesus say that? He said that because mankind loves darkness more than light. In fact, strangely, man loves what God hates, and he hates what God loves.
Luke 21:17 says, "You'll be hated by all men for My name's sake." Jesus is talking to His disciples here. "You'll be hated," He said. That's the testimony of one who truly loves Christ, one who's really owned of Christ and has a true saving relationship to Jesus Christ. They'll be hated by this world, not loved. Certainly not worshiped.
In John 17:14, "The world has hated them." Jesus is praying to His Father here. He says, "The world has hated them," speaking of His own disciples. Why? "Because they're not of the world, just as I'm not of the world," Popularity in this world, my friend, is nothing more than a signature that you are of the world. And if you are of the world you're not of Christ's. Jesus clearly taught that His people are not of this world, and as a result they're despised and hated.
In the end, Michael Jackson's fame was completely vain and worthless before God. And all the attention his death has received as a result, is an evidence of how much stock people put into what is of such little or no value.
The ninth reason why Michael Jackson's life and death matter: it reminds us of how short life really is. James says in James 4:14, "Life is a vapor. It's here for a little while and then vanishes away." Just like that. It's gone. Yet, how this vapor is lived, what you do with this vapor, has eternal consequences. We could talk about eternity; how do you compare eternity to this life? You can't. I mean, if I pluck one little tiny piece of grass: that's this life, in light of all eternity (all these other blades of grass in the cemetery.) Even if I compare it to this city, this state, the United States, it still pales in comparison because eternity is forever. It's infinite. Yet, what happens in this little speck of time that God gives us, has eternal consequences. That's serious.
The tenth reason why Michael Jackson's life and death matter is because, in the end, he's just another man. He's just like you, he's just like me. He is. Yet, we have the same disease, the same need, and we're gonna face the same Judge, our Creator Jesus Christ.
Let me ask you: When is your heart attack coming? When is that car accident coming to you? When is that sudden death of some sort coming? You don't know, do you? I don't know either. But are you ready to face the King of kings and the Lord of lords? Because when it happens, that's what you'll be doing. You'll be giving an account to Him.
I want to close with a quote from a missionary back in the late s. He said this: "Tis only one life, only one, and soon shall pass (oh it passes fast), and only what's done in Christ will last."