He is Risen
Scripture Text: John 20
Don’t answer this out loud because it might get you in trouble, but do you ever wonder why we do all of this? Why do we celebrate this day every year? Why wake up early, get dressed up, and go (or get dragged) to church? Why the pictures, why the new clothes, why the big deal? Why do we do all of this?
For those of us who believe that Jesus is who He said He is, His resurrection from the dead is foundational to everything that we believe. The empty tomb is crucial to everything that we place out hopes on. Today we’re going to look at one of the many times that Jesus appeared to someone after His resurrection from the dead in order to see how the resurrection impacts our beliefs about who Jesus is, and also how it impacts us on a personal level.
Read and Pray
Jesus died on Friday and Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath. So, early Sunday morning was their first opportunity to really prepare Jesus’ body for burial. By this point Mary had already been to the tomb once, and when she found it empty to ran to get the other disciples.
At this point they had way more questions than answers. Here we find a confused and grief stricken Mary who just wants to find the body of her Lord so that she can honor Him by finishing getting Him ready for burial.
The Resurrection gives life Value – verses 15-16
I love the beauty of that moment when Mary realizes it’s Jesus because He called her by name (Also Lazarus).
There is a lot in this world that devalues life, but the resurrection gives life value.
Mary, a woman, was the first to see Jesus – Mark 16:9
Women were not given much value in the culture of that day. Jesus, however, treated women with great dignity and respect, and chose to make Mary the first one He appeared to after the resurrection. Then entrusted her with the mission of telling the others what happened.
Jesus intentionally appeared to individuals – Mary, Thomas, Peter, James
He appeared to Mary and consoled her in her grief, He appeared to Thomas and confronted his disbelief, He appeared to Peter and restored Him after His failure, and He appeared to His half-brother, James, and completely transformed Him.
Jesus’ appearances weren’t random. They were intentional acts of love, in much the same way that the cross was an intentional act of love. God created us so that we could have a relationship with Him. When we broke that relationship He gave His Son to restore us. It comes down to love.
Romans 5:8 NIV
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
His love was shown in all the promises of the Old Testament that pointed forward to Jesus. It was also shown in the way Jesus lived as our example. He showed mercy to sinners, compassion to the poor and broken, and offered a place of belonging to all who would come. In every way Jesus showed value for life, including in His resurrection.
The Resurrection gives us Comfort
Mary was understandably shaken by the events that lead up to that morning. Just a few days before the crucifixion Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as a fulfillment of prophecy, and it is apparent that those who followed Him believed that something great was about to happen, possibly the establishment of His earthly Kingdom.
But then it all went horribly wrong (from their perspective at the time). Jesus was arrested, badly beaten, and then crucified which was a death so horrible the Romans wouldn’t do it to their own people. John tells us in Chp 19 that Mary stood faithfully by His side, even while He hung on the cross.
I can’t imagine the emotional rollercoaster she experienced as Jesus went from receiving shouts of praise at the beginning of the week to dead at the end of the week. It’s no wonder that she and the others forgot that He said all of this would happen, it’s no wonder she didn’t recognize Him when she spoke to Him in the garden early that morning. But all of that grief and heartache was gone when she realized that He was alive.
The grief she suffered wasn’t just about losing a leader or teacher, it was about losing Jesus. They must have all felt that very deeply, but before going to the cross Jesus made a promise that comfort would be coming. Not long before His arrest Jesus promised that He would send the Holy Spirit, and that the Spirit would teach them, work through them, and be with them.
The very thing they all thought they were losing because of the cross was made possible by the cross. Jesus’ death made us clean from our sin, and His ascension back to heaven would lead to His sending of the Holy Spirit. Now God would live among us in a new way. Not in a temple made by hands, not in a great supernatural display of power, but in our hearts.
The resurrection gives us comfort because it’s a sign that all of those promises are true. We don’t need to live in fear, we don’t need to be lonely, we don’t need to run after the things that this world offers because God lives in us.
The Resurrection gives us Hope
After Jesus’ crucifixion Mary and the others had lost hope. That’s why they were hiding and why their grief was so bitter. Death has that effect on us. The grief of losing someone can completely shut you down.
I don’t think I will ever forget the look on a young widow’s face at the end of her husband’s funeral. He had survived war in the middle east, but was sent home due to a serious but survivable injury. Sadly, though, a blood clot dislodged from somewhere and took his life months after they thought he was past the worst. At the funeral this young widow couldn’t find the strength to pick herself up and leave the urn that contained her husband’s remains because that meant saying goodbye. The weight of her grief was more than she could bare.
Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha, knew that kind of grief. A short time before the crucifixion their brother had gotten ill, and they sent for Jesus hoping He would come and heal Lazarus, but Jesus arrived 4 days after their brother died.
Each of them had the same response when they saw Jesus. “If you’d only been here… You could have kept this from happening.” All they knew was that they lost their brother, and they believed that Jesus could have prevented it. For a moment they had lost hope. They didn’t know that Jesus was there to call their brother out of the grave. And before that, Jesus had a message for them that reminds us of our hope.
John 11:25-26 NIV
25 Jesus said to her (Martha), “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
The hope of the resurrection is that this life is not all that there is. Closing our eyes in this life means opening them in the next. Jesus promised that when He left it would be to go and prepare a place so that those who believe in Him would be able to join Him. And so now even though we mourn the loss of those we love, we mourn that loss with a since of hope. Paul put it this way.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NIV
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Resurrection gives Purpose – verses 17-18
During the time between Jesus’ death and His resurrection Mary and the other disciples had not only lost hope, but all since of purpose in direction. I’m sure that many times they asked each other, “what do we do now?”
His resurrection, though, meant that they would once again have a since of purpose. Jesus’ words to Mary very much reflect Jesus’ purpose for each of us, “go and tell.”
His first mission for Mary would be that she go and tell the others that He is alive. His second mission for her would be the same as ours… Make disciples and be a witness.
The Bible says that Jesus spent about 40 days with the disciples between His resurrection and His ascension back to heaven. The Holy Spirit lead those who wrote about Jesus’ life to record 5 times (once each in the Gospels and also in Acts) Jesus’ words instructing the disciples to be on mission for Him. Here are two of those occasions.
Matthew 28:19-20 NIV
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 NIV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
If He had just died and that was all there was. It would have been the tragic story of a good man and teacher who was misunderstood, but since He was raised from the grave that means that everything that He said is true and that we have a mission.
Here’s an example from our community
Started by a businessman
Not just helping people get clean and build a new life, pointing them to the risen Savior
Showing people that there is value, hope, and purpose because of Christ
That is exactly the kind of thing that each one of us should be doing. You were created with an intentional design and purpose. Because of the cross and the empty tomb you have everything you need to live that out. Are you ready?
Conclusion: Respond like Mary did…
** New series starting next week. Worthy of Worship