Sermon Notes and Audio
Scripture Focus- John 20
The Christian faith rests on the saving work of Jesus on the cross, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The age we live in holds to a subjective, experience oriented view of truth. Yet the truth of the Bible is an objective truth, and is trustworthy because it has been given to us by God, so we can know Him, and make Him known.
Media, from Time Magazine to the History Channel, are currently running various features on Jesus. A controversial favorite of media is to run sensational stories questioning the historic roots of Christianity. As a result, a lot of people think the history of Jesus is murky, and shrouded in myth.
There are even people who doubt Jesus ever even existed. Recently in the news was a college professor who denied Jesus was crucified. A student challenged him and the student was suspended. The suspension was lifted a week later, but the professor faced no consequences. No serious student of history would make such a foolish claim.
Philip Schaff (History of the Christian Church)- The resurrection of Christ is therefore emphatically a test question upon which depends the truth or falsehood of the Christian religion. It is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records.
Early on, within just a few decades of the crucifixion, people like Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Justin Martyr and others wrote in great detail about Jesus. These ideas were taught widely before the first century even concluded. The early disciples were willing to die for what they believed.
These are all helpful examples. What we know most importantly, is what we know from the Bible, the truth of God’s Word.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. . .v20 But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. V21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. V22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
With the truth of the resurrection before us, I want to take the narrative in the Gospel of John, Chapter 20 and consider three aspects of it, as they relate to the resurrection of Jesus. We will not read the entire passage, but I will be making reference to various verses as we move through the passage.
In light of the truth of the resurrection-
Consider the evidence.
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb very early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark. She saw the stone had been removed. She went running to Peter and another disciple, referred to as the one Jesus loved, being John, and said to them- v2 They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him!
Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb, with Peter coming in second. The first disciple saw the linen cloths of Jesus lying there and didn’t go in. Peter went on in the tomb and saw the same thing. The wrapping that had been on the head of Jesus was neatly folded and lying to the side. The other disciple came on in, saw what Peter saw, and according to v8, believed. They were not fully understanding yet what had taken place and they went back to the place they were staying.
Mary Magdalene stood at the tomb alone, crying. Two angels appeared in white sitting where the body had been, one at the head and one at the feet. They asked, v13 Woman why are you crying? She said, Because they’ve taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put Him.
She turned, and lo and behold- Jesus was standing there. He said, v15 Woman, why are you crying, who is it that you’re seeking? Mary thought He was the gardener and asked him where Jesus had been put if he had been taken away. Jesus called her name- Mary. There is something about hearing your name called- She turned and recognized who he was, and called him Rabboni, Teacher. Jesus told her not to cling to him but to go to the brothers. Tell them that he was “ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” So Mary went back and told them she had seen the Lord and what he had said to her.
Consider the evidence-
An empty tomb- the tomb had been sealed and a stone placed in front of it to secure it. The Jewish leaders feared the followers of Jesus would come and steal his body and claim he was risen. So they went to Pilate and got a Roman guard to secure the tomb (Matthew 27:63-66). Roman soldiers were guarding the tomb when an angel came and rolled the stone away. The guards told the Jewish leaders what happened and were given a large sum of money to tell that the disciples had come and stolen the body while they slept (Matthew 28). The guards would have faced the death penalty if in fact they fell asleep. Furthermore, if the Jewish leaders knew where the body was, they would have produced it to refute the story.
The grave clothes- one of the words used to communicate what Peter and the other disciple saw, was to see, meaning they carefully examined what they found. There they were, intact, with no body.
The post resurrection appearances– four are cited by John.
Mary Magdalene (vv11-18)
The Disciples minus Thomas (vv19-23)
The Disciples including Thomas (vv24-31)
To seven of the disciples by the Sea of Galilee- Ch 21
Paul mentions several appearances, including to over 500 people at one time many of whom were still alive.
Destroy the doubt.
The enemy and opposite of certainty is doubt. Every thinking person has wrestled with doubt at one time or the other. Is there really a God? What if what I believe is wrong? The most famous expert on doubt is none other than the disciple Thomas, from whom we whom the phrase is drawn- “Don’t be a doubting Thomas.”
The disciples gathered with the doors locked in fear of the Jews. Jesus showed them His hands and His side and the disciples rejoiced over what they saw. Thomas, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him what had happened. We’ve seen the Lord!
Thomas- V25 If I don’t see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.
A week later, Jesus came to the disciples when Thomas was back together with them. He knew what Thomas had said to the disciples. V27 Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach our your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe. Thomas had been outspoken in his loyalty to Jesus. When Jesus said he wanted to go to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead, the disciples objected, it was too dangerous. Thomas said, let us go also, that we may die with Him. Then he ran like the others when Jesus was crucified.
None of the disciples understood fully what Jesus meant when he talked about being killed in Jerusalem and rising again on the third day. They wanted a conquering and reigning Messiah, not a suffering and dying one. Even after seeing the empty tomb, they had doubts. The doubts of Thomas seem to have gone just a bit deeper. V28 Thomas responded to him- My Lord and my God! Seeing Jesus destroyed His doubt. Perhaps you are thinking, if you are not a believer, that if you had only been there with Thomas and saw what he saw, you too would believe. Jesus had a word for Thomas and He has a word for you- V29 Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe.
The truth of Scripture received on faith, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, will destroy doubt and bring assurance.
Live your purpose.
Jesus said to the disciples- V21 Peace to you.
Peace be with you was a common Jewish greeting wishing overall well-being to another person. There is more than a simple greeting here though. These men were hiding behind locked doors because they were afraid. It was not crazy for them to have thought they were next to be killed, just like Jesus.
There was Jesus, the risen Lord, standing in their midst. It would be rather startling for the risen Lord to appear suddenly in a locked room when you are are already afraid! Luke says they thought He was a ghost. Jesus could have rebuked them for running away in weakness. Instead He showed mercy, and extended peace to them.
Peace with God is foundation to living out our life purpose for Him. You can’t serve God unless you are at peace with God through Jesus. Jesus gives us peace with God, and He also gives us the peace of God. His abiding presence is a certainty as we live out our purpose.
V21 As the Father has sent me, I also send you. . .
We are to live sent, by Jesus, into the world, to make Him known. This is at the heart of what a disciple does. Sent into the world, with a mission, to be witnesses of Jesus.
The power of God, is the only way we can be faithful in living sent.
v22 Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Each of us are uniquely gifted with natural gifts from our physical birth, and then each of us who know Jesus are uniquely gifted from our spiritual birth. Living sent means to submit everything to the Lordship of Jesus, to make known the Good News of Jesus, for the glory of God!
There is substantial evidence to cause us to believe in the Risen Jesus.
V31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
This is the summary statement of John. To believe that Jesus is God in the flesh (1:1,14), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (1:29), and the resurrection and the life (11:25), is to believe that He alone can forgive and give eternal life (3:16).
We will all die physically unless Jesus comes back first, but if we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, we will have life in His name. We will never perish.
Will you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing have life in His name?