Retirement is not the last chapter of life — eternity is the last chapter. And the hope of being with Jesus forever should shape our final years on earth.
The last chapter of life is not retirement. No, something greater is to come. We need to start planning for something far beyond the reach of our 401(k) plans. It’s a suitable word from John Piper to upper-class Americans, and to prisoners serving life sentences at Angola, the largest maximum-security prison in the US.
That’s the setting for today’s clip: Angola, a Louisiana maximum-security prison home to 6,300 inmates — “only murderers, rapists, armed robbers, and habitual felons. The average sentence is 88 years, with 3,200 people in one place serving life sentences. Ninety percent of the inmates will die here” (Decision Magazine, “Violence to Peace”).
John Piper traveled to Louisiana and preached in Angola’s chapel on November 20, 2009. About eight hundred prisoners packed in to hear a message on John 6, on Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand and his walk on water. “I preached with all my heart to those who could fit in the chapel,” Piper recounted later. “I pulled no punches.” Hundreds of other prisoners heard the sermon through closed-circuit television, including those on death row, like Gerald Bordelon, a convicted rapist and child murderer we met in episode 1445.
Piper pulled no punches. And the result is one of my all-time favorite sermons. Here’s a closing clip from that Angola sermon, and Pastor John’s final spoken pleas to Gerald. Have a listen.