He Is Risen!

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JOHN 20:11-18 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016 at Bells, TX

Introduction:  The events that took place on Friday.

The disciples were in hiding.  The events that took place on Friday both shocked them and filled them with fear. 

Their beloved Lord and Teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, had been arrested, tried before the Jewish leaders and condemned as a heretic.  They had taken him to the hated Roman governor, Pilate.  Before Pilate they accused him of being a rebel, claiming to be a king in opposition to Caesar.  The crowd that had shouted “Hosanna!” only a week before, now joined in shouting, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”  They led him away as a common criminal and crucified him on the hill called Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.  He suffered and died.  About 3 pm and was taken from down from the cross. 

Everything that they had hoped was coming undone.  Jesus had promised to never leave them or forsake them.  He promised He would not abandon them or leave them alone.  Was it all a lie?

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who were members of the Jewish High Council and secret followers of Jesus, came and collected his body and hastily prepared it for burial, because it was the day of preparation.  The Sabbath would begin at 6 pm on Friday night.  So they quickly prepared Jesus’ body and laid him in a newly carved out tomb that was in a garden near the place of execution.

Mary Magdalene, and some of the other women who followed Jesus had bravely stayed with him as he died upon the cross.  The disciples had already fled (except John) into hiding for fear of being arrested by the authorities and suffering a similar fate as Jesus.  They watched Jesus die and they saw where they laid him in the tomb. 

Transition:       Before the sun had risen on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene made a trip to the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid to rest.  In the darkness, she discovered that the stone covering the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away.  (v. 1 The Voice)

Mary Magdalene was a disciple of Jesus.  She came from the village of Magdala located on the west coast of the Sea of Galilee.  Luke tells us that she was the one from whom 7 demons had been delivered.  There is no truth to the idea that she was a prostitute, or that she was the same Mary who anointed Jesus feet.  She was apparently the leader of the female followers of Jesus from Galilee who followed Jesus devoutly.  (Luke 8:1-3)  They had followed Jesus and the 12 to Jerusalem for the Passover to care for their needs.

Mary’s return to the tomb indicates that Jesus’ burial on Friday was done in some haste.  The women wished to contribute to Jesus’ burial and so bring spices as soon as the Sabbath was over.  (Mark 16:1).  They arrive while it is still dark.

The tomb that was carved out was a new tomb.  It had never been used.  It was probably Joseph’s own tomb, set in a garden.  The tomb of a rich man.  The stone that covered the entrance was meant to be rolled back, so that others could be buried in the tomb over the years.

Quickly Mary darted out of the garden to find Peter and the dearly loved disciple, that was what Jesus called him, to deliver this startling news.  (v. 2)

Scene 1: The Empty Tomb (vv. 1-10)

Mary said, “They have taken the body of our Lord, and we cannot find Him!”

Mary’s report to the two disciples conveys something of her dismay and fear.  She thinks that perhaps someone has stolen the body of Jesus.  Perhaps the temple authorities have taken Him.  Maybe Jesus’ opponents have done something further to him.

Together, they all departed for the tomb to see for themselves.  They began to run, but Peter could not keep up. John arrived first but did not go in.  There was no corpse in the tomb, only the linens and cloths He was wrapped in.

When Simon Peter finally arrived, he went into the tomb, and observed the same:  the cloth that had covered His face appeared to have been folded and carefully and placed, not with the others, but to the side.

After Peter pointed this out, John also entered the tomb, and based on what he saw, faith began to well up inside of him! Before this moment, none of them understood the Scriptures and why Jesus must be raised from the dead.

The description of the clothes include some unexpected details.  The wrapping garment is the same as that mentioned in 19:40.  Likewise the facial cloth (a type of handkerchief) was a detail mentioned in the story of Lazarus (11:44).  Such small cloths were apparently wrapped under the chin and tied to the top of the head.  John notes that the cloth was “rolled up,” as it was during the burial.  The clothing and cloth are lying separately from one another.

The picture is not confused or chaotic.  Rather, something purposeful has transpired here.  If someone had stolen the body, surely the clothes would be missing.  Why would you unwrap the body?

John immediately begins to understand. Jesus had repeatedly told them that He must suffer, and die on the cross, but on the third day He would be raised from the dead.  John sees the evidence of the empty tomb and on that basis alone, he believes.

Transition:  Then they all went to their homes.

Mary, however, stood outside the tomb sobbing, crying, and kneeling at its entrance.  As she cried 2 heavenly messengers appeared before her sitting where Jesus head and feet had been laid.

Mary was not one of the chosen 12.  She is hardly in Jesus’ inner circle when compared with the apostles, yet angels who refuse to appear to the 2 men, now reveal themselves to her as she examines the tomb.

Scene 2: Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene

Angels: “Dear woman, why are you weeping?”’

Mary Magdalene:  “They have taken away my Lord, and I cannot find Him.”

The 2 angels don’t shed any light on the disappearance of Jesus body.  But note the picture that they make.  The 2 angels are sitting at the foot and the head of where Jesus body had been lying.  Remember back to the OT, in the description of the Ark of the Covenant in Exodus.  There were two angels, cherubim, at the head and the foot of the Ark in the Tent of the Lord.  The description tells us that they faced each other with their outstretched wings almost touching in the middle.  Between the two angels was the presence of God.  This was the place of atonement.  There the High Priest would sprinkle the blood once a year to atone for the sins of the whole nation.  The place of atonement was in the middle between the angels.  (Lev. 16:2-16)

The question they ask suggests that Mary should not be crying.  Even though she is in a tomb in a cemetery, Mary should instead be comforted.  What she fears most has not happened.  The body has not been taken as she supposed.  The presence of the angels tells us that what happened stems from the power of God.

The solution for Mary’s grief will only come when she sees the risen Christ.

She hears someone approaching from behind and suddenly meets a man, whom she concludes must be the gardener.  It’s Jesus standing before her, but through her tear-stained eyes she doesn’t recognize Him.  (v. 14) Jesus: “Dear woman, why are you weeping?  Who is it you are looking for?

Jesus repeats the words of the angels, but turns the question to a deeper level.  But her mind remains on the problem of the empty tomb.  The reality of meeting Him is more important than the empty tomb.  The tomb is now history, it is a cave to be disregarded (as it was among the early Christians).  Only the fact of the living Christ matters.

Mary:  “Sir, if you are the One who carried Him away, then tell me where He is and I will retrieve Him.”

Jesus:  “Mary.”

When Jesus utters Mary’s name, at once she recognizes him and in her joy she calls Him, “My Rabboni,” which means “Teacher.”  She falls at the feet of Jesus and clasps her arms around Him as if to prevent Him from leaving.  Mary’s words remind us of what Jesus said, “I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

Transition:       Jesus:  “Mary, you cannot hold on to Me.”

Mary would have stayed there in the garden with Jesus.  But Jesus cannot stay.  His mission on earth is complete.  Mary thinks that their normal relationship, that of disciple and Teacher would be resumed.  Jesus’ presence must come in another form.

III.       Mary’s mission (v. 17)

Jesus’ predicts His ascension into Heaven (v. 17)

Jesus:  “I must rise above this world to be with My Father, who is also your Father; My God, who is also your God.”

The final step of “the hour” is advancing.  Jesus’ betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection are complete.  Now all that remains is for Jesus to return to the place from which He descended.  But before Jesus does so, he must honor one more promise mentioned throughout ch. 14-16, the promise of the Holy Spirit.  He will not leave them (and us) desolate or like orphans.  He will send the Holy Spirit as His parting gift.  Jesus is going away, but His presence will remain in us through the Spirit of Christ.Mary’s mission: “Go and tell this to all My brothers.”

Mary is the first one to see the risen Christ, and the first disciple commanded to go and to tell someone the Good News about Jesus Christ.  He is alive!  And because He lives, so also shall we live.

Revelation:  “I have seen the Lord!”

Ch. 20 is the climactic chapter in the Gospel of John.  Next week, we will hear of two more encounters with the risen Christ:  Jesus appearance in the upper room to the 10 apostles minus Thomas, and His appearance to the 11 apostles with Thomas.  (vv. 19-31)  31 of the most important verses in the Bible.

Together, they present us with 4 examples of faith:  John the Beloved Disciple, Mary, the 10 disciples huddled in the upper room, and finally doubting Thomas.  Together, these 4 stories supply us with the heart of the Gospel of John.

John is telling us about the reality of the resurrection.  Through each of these eyewitness reports is some aspect of the power and certainty of Jesus’ life from death.  This is no illusion, no vision, or fantasy that serves to inspire the disciples in the midst of their distress following Good Friday.  The tomb was empty.

Peter and John run to the cave, examine the evidence, and step away beginning to understand and become filled with hope.  When Mary meets Jesus, he is no ghost, but a real human being – with a transformed body, yes – but with a real physical body that can be held on to, and embraced.  In the Upper Room, when Jesus introduces Himself, he immediately offers the proof of a man who had hung on a cross, a man with wounds that Thomas would be invited to touch.

The reality of the resurrection plays a critical role in validating the truth of Jesus Christ.

In the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never die…”  (John 11:25, 26)

If Jesus is the resurrection and the life, the first evidence of this truth is His own resurrection.  The tomb is empty!  So John, reflecting on the events of that night in AD 33, wrote:  1 John 1:1–3a (NLT)

We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us.

John’s tells us his purpose in writing the Gospel of John:  “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life by the power of His name.”

How about you?  Do you believe?

 

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