He is Risen!

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. (John 20:1-10)

For the Christian, for you and for me the gospel message should be etched into our minds and it includes as an overriding and prominent fact that Jesus Christ rose from the grave. We know that, we understand that to be a necessary component of the gospel message. In any journey through the gospel message we must come to the point of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no true gospel message apart from the resurrection of Jesus.

Paul drives home the importance of the resurrection in a very pointed way in 1 Corinthians 15:

13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; and you are still in your sins! (1 Corinthians 15:13-17)**

If the resurrection of Christ is removed from the gospel then, if He did not rise from the dead then we are hopelessly lost and the penalty of sin must be paid by each of us. Meaning, your sin belongs to you and therefore punishment, from God awaits you. My sin belongs to me and punishment awaits me, that is if Christ did not rise from the dead.

In verse 19 of 1 Corinthians 15 Paul goes on to apply for us the importance of the resurrection of Christ and the truth of it when he says,

19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable

The resurrection must be a fact if our faith is real.

Jesus Himself put His whole life and ministry on the line regarding His resurrection. Did you know that? Jesus set up His ministry so that it would stand or fall depending on whether or not He would rise from the dead. Jesus would make His resurrection the grand proof of His Messiahship.

Watch how He does this. In Matthew chapter 12 Jesus was doing some incredible things. Things that we may read and in reading them would be convinced that He is the Christ. See what He was doing. He went into a Synagogue and found a man there who had a withered hand. A hand that was drawn up and unusable. Jesus with a word restored this useless limb making it usable just like it should be.

After that Jesus withdrew from the synagogue and many people followed Him and the scripture says that Jesus then healed them all. It must have been a sight to see, that is Jesus making so many well. We read that multitudes were amazed by what He did, as well they should be.

The Pharisees hearing of these events began accusing Jesus not of being divine from God but accusing Him of being a follower of Satan. Eventually they confront Jesus and say to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” In other words, all of these miraculous healings were not enough, His masterful teaching had not convinced them, His perfect life was not proof enough and in fact Jesus did not point to any of those things. He did not say, Look at what I have done and believe who I am! No instead of that He tells them of one sign that would come that should be to them the ultimate proof of who He is, what was it?

39, “But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

What great miracle did Jesus foretell that would prove His Messiahship? His resurrection from the grave.

If that happens then believe. If it does not happen then He is a liar.

He does the same thing in John 2. Jesus had removed the greedy money changers from the Temple and sharply rebuked them saying,

“take these things away! Don’t make My Father's house a house of merchandise.”

The Pharisees, no doubt stunned by His boldness and claim of God as His Father say to Him, “What sign do You show us, since You do these things?” In other words who are You to do this? If you are someone great then prove it! And what does Jesus say?

He says,

19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the words which Jesus had said. (John 2:19-22)

Again when Jesus is asked to prove who He is He stakes it all on what? On His resurrection! If He did not rise there was no need to believe. But if He did rise then He is the Christ. His resurrection is the completion of His work of redemption and that is why He came into the world. His resurrection proved that the work was complete, it satisfied God and that the penalty had been paid, that death had been conquered and that our deliverance from Sin and into the Kingdom of God was now possible if we believe.

Romans 4:25

25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 4:25)

1 Peter 1:3

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope  through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3)

It is no wonder that the Apostles and in the Epistles we see so much emphasis on the resurrection. Jesus predicts it, and lays it all on the line. If He is risen, His is the Lord, If He does not He is not to be believed – He would have been just one more false Messiah soon forgotten as all the rest.

The resurrection is important because Jesus made it important and made it a proof of His claims as God.

Since so much would ride on this one fact, the resurrection of Jesus then we might expect to find a great deal of evidence of it. And we do. In all the gospels combined we find that He was seen at least 11 times. And in these 11 times we find a lot of variation. Different times of day, different settings and by many different people. And I want to give these to you as part of an introduction into John’s account because John does not discuss all of these.

He was first seen by one woman alone, then by several women together, then by one man, then by two men and each time in the open air. Then He was seen by ten disciples in the evening in a room, then by eleven disciples again in a room, and afterwards on five different occasions, at one of which no less than five hundred people were present. Those to whom He appeared, touched Him, talked to Him, and saw Him eat and drink.

Those who saw Him were at first unwilling to believe but eventually would believe that He did rise from the dead.

And so we can know of the importance of the resurrection because Christ Himself predicted it and based all of His claims on it. And we can also read of the significant proofs of His resurrection as well. The resurrection is central to the gospel message and necessary for our hope of eternal life apart from the punishment that we deserve for our sins.

So having said that, we can now turn to John’s account of the resurrection of Jesus to see what specific details he records to help us believe.

With such a dramatic event taking place we can expect to see a great deal of activity. We can and will see many people stirred and astounded. There is much excitement for us to look at.

We will see events this morning through the eyes and minds of three people. First Mary Magdalene, then Peter and John.

First Mary Magdalene. We last saw Mary Magdalene along with other women at the cross. She was there. She was there when many would have left in fear. She was there to the end of Jesus' life.
And now we see that she is at least one of the first to go and visit the tomb on the first day of the week. She was most likely not alone at this time if we compare this gospel with the other three but Mary Magdalene is the only one mentioned here in John’s gospel. Last at the cross and first to the tomb on this resurrection morning.

Mary Magdalene seemed to be one who could not leave Jesus side even as He died on the cross and even as His dead body lay in a tomb. She wanted to be near Him.

You may recall some of Mary Magdalene's past. I think it helps us to understand her love for Christ. We read in Mark 16:9 that she was the one from whom Jesus had cast out 7 demons. 7 Demons! What sort of tortuous and sinful life must she have lived? She had been radically changed no doubt! Her life, we should suppose, looked far different than it had before she met Jesus. From a woman possessed by 7 demons to a child of God and the only explanation was that she had met Jesus. And so if He hangs on a cross – she is there. If He lay in a cold tomb she is there. She won’t let go. She has found this Jesus who changes lives and with Him she longs to stay.

Jesus tells of this kind of love and the depth of love in Luke 7:

A Woman Anoints Jesus’ Feet

36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:36-39)

The Parable of the Two Debtors

40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” (Luke 7:40-50)

Mary had been delivered from and forgiven much and she knew it and she would never be the same.

It takes very little recall on our part to realize how much we have been forgiven and delivered as Christians. It only takes a look at the cross and the suffering of Jesus there to realize how great of sinners we are. The suffering that Jesus endured there was not really bad because of someone else’s sins it was really bad because of my sin…and your sin. If our sin was not that bad if we really just needed a little forgiveness then the cross would seem to be an overreaction on God’s part. But it was not. Brother and sister in Christ, we have all, like Mary Magdalene been forgiven much. The question is do we all respond as Mary in our love and devotion to our Savior.

Is there still anyone of us who will still hesitate in our love and service to Christ? Are there those of us who will continue to hold back parts of our lives from Him? In other words will we live as if what we have received is worth little? Will we continue on with divided hearts? Christ did not hesitate, He did not hold back, His heart remained wholly devoted to our salvation.

Well, as Mary approached the tomb she saw that the stone had been taken away. Presumably startled, or horrified, or greatly troubled she ran to tell others what she had seen. She ran! She ran which seems indicative of her state of concern for the body of Jesus.

Read v. 2. Notice what she said.

2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (John 20:2)

It seems clear from this passage that Mary believed that the body of Christ had been stolen. “They have taken away the Lord, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

John then gives us some interesting details of what happened next.

3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. (John 20:3-7)

So Peter and the other disciple who we believe is John being alarmed by the news set out to find out what had happened. They run together, John outruns Peter gets there first stoops down to look but does not go in. He sees enough from the opening to know that the linen strips were in there but without a body. Peter makes it to the tomb and bolts right past John and without hesitation enters the tomb. This seems consistent with Peter’s personality just goes right in to check things out. And what he finds is the linen cloths in a pile and the handkerchief that would have been around Jesus head in a separate place neatly folded.

The scene seems to be totally inconsistent with what might be expected if someone had stolen the body of Jesus. Most likely the linen cloths would not have been removed and certainly the handkerchief would not have been folded neatly. The scene seems to be one of orderliness not one of a hurried thief.

Surely these men spoke to each other and yet we don’t get to read of their conversation here. All we know of what they were thinking is from verse 8 in John where we read that “saw and believed” and from Luke 24 that Peter departed “marveling to himself at what had happened.”

John’s belief here seems to be a belief that Jesus had risen that the evidence of what he saw was enough for him to conclude that even though he did not yet understand the scriptures as we see in verse 10. The fact that Peter marveled, I think means that he would continue to ponder and to wonder about what was happening for a little while longer. They will soon know more as they see their risen Lord and as they are more enlightened very soon.

Let me just make one observation about these events with Peter and John. Doesn’t it seem like these men, these followers of Christ were sort of on edge? I mean, Mary comes with the news of the missing body and they take off to see what had happened. They must have been still consumed with Jesus. Like what has just happened. Is He really gone? How can these things be? What will happen next? Will we see Him? Was this for real? I mean their world has been rocked! They are hurting and probably scared and feeling the loss of their leader, the one they had called Lord. Although what they had seen with their eyes, the betrayal and arrest, and torture and crucifixion of Jesus, would tell them this whole thing is over yet they stand ready to discover that it is not.

They like Mary Magdalene had been changed, really changed. There was much they did not understand, they did not have full knowledge but they had been changed by Christ and would not go back to what they had been no matter what their eyes were telling them this new reality was that Jesus was now gone.

They were no doubt struggling to live by faith. All would become more clear but for now there would be some continued heartache and pain. The greatest event of history for man has just occurred but they will have to wait to understand it.

What great things is God doing at the very moment when we seem to be suffering the most? When we are hurting God is there and He is at work just as He was in these men’s lives.

Mary had been forgiven much. Peter had been forgiven much. John had been forgiven much. They would love Jesus much even when the day was dark. The sun would soon rise and their understanding will be enlightened. But for now, for a little while they must wait.

We too find ourselves in this place at times. God’s activity is all around us. We as Christians are in His plan and in His loving hands. And though we are ignorant of His particular ways with us at times we can wait, and believe and cast ourselves and our cares upon Him and love Him as those who have been forgiven much and who stand ready to serve Him as our risen Lord.

And while we sometimes wait and wonder we can glory in the truth that Jesus is our Lord, He did die for our sins, He did rise and for all who have repented and believe we have a sure home with Him, eternally saved. Like these we have read about to day, we too, if we are true believers have been changed, really changed now in a place where we want to walk with Him and love Him in obedience to Him. Like Mary, willing to give all for Him because we love Him. I hope this describes you.

He is the Risen Lord.

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. (John 20:1-10)