Jesus’ Resurrection: Seeing and Believing (John 20:1-31)


2012-04-09  Jesus’ Resurrection: Seeing and Believing (John 20:1-31)


John 20:1-31 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. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one 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 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” 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 Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for 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 that he had said these things to her.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26  Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 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 in his name.

Where were you when the Japanese air force bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941?

  • You may not have yet been born, but if you were
  • What was your first response to the news?
  • What evidence caused you to believe it?
    • Newspaper, newsreels, eyewitnesses, personal experience?
    • Did you go and see the devastation with your own eyes or trust in the testimony of others?
  • What action did you take in response? That is, how did it change your world?
    • Volunteer to go into the military,
    • go to work in factories making military equipment and munitions,
    • mom – manned a local tower watching for enemy aircraft,
    • grandmother’s factory – converted to wartime production
    • Dad was deferred bc of brothers but later entered Navy.

Where were you on 911 when the Taliban flew two commercial airliners into World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001?

  • You may not have yet been born, but if you were
  • What was your first response to the news?
  • What evidence caused you to believe it?
    • Television coverage, newspaper, eyewitness testimony of others or were you there when it happened…
    • Did you go and see the devastation with your own eyes or trust in the testimony of others?
  • What actions did you take in response? That is, how did it change your world?
    • Did you go and help rescue victims trapped in the rubble?
    • Did you volunteer for the military to fight the Taliban in Iraq or Afghanistan?
    • Did one of your family members?

Where were you when you first heard about the resurrection of Jesus?

  • What was your first response? Nice story, wanted more information, rejected it, accept it
  • What evidence caused you to believe it, or what evidence is still lacking so that you don’t yet believe it?
  • What actions have you taken in response to the news about his resurrection?

This passage tells us four things about Jesus’ resurrection:

  1. The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection
  2. The necessity of Jesus’ resurrection
  3. The uniqueness of Jesus’ resurrection
  4. The urgency of our response to Jesus’ resurrection

 

Stand with me as I read…

 

Let’s look first at

 

  1. The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection
  2. How many of you have served on a jury or been a witness or defendant in a trial?

My experience…received testimony of others, made a decision, learned later that there was more information that we couldn’t be told

We base our judgments largely on the testimony of others – eyewitness testimony is best; multiple pieces of evidence is better; multiple eyewitnesses are better yet

  1. Let’s look at what the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection claimed to have seen

The empty tomb and Jesus’ appearances taken together:

The empty tomb is a piece of evidence, and the appearances of Jesus are other pieces of evidence that the resurrection had taken place.

Individually, they may not be conclusively convincing, but taken together, they become more convincing proof that Jesus’ resurrection took place.

If you wanted to convince someone that a friend of yours was raised from the dead, they would need to see at least two things: the empty grave – evidence that the body was no longer there; and, the living body of the person himself/herself walking around alive.

The empty tomb of Jesus tells us either that someone besides the disciples removed the body, or that the body left the tomb on its own power

The appearances of Jesus apparently alive tells us either this was an apparition of some kind (a zombie or a ghost – they seemed to believe in ghosts even in that day), or that the body had come to real life in some way

Peter and John:

saw the empty tomb in orderly fashion – the grave clothes, and especially the folded head piece indicated that this was no grave robbery

Later saw Jesus  in the upper room who, though there were some differences, was recognizable and spoke with them

Mary Magdalene

Saw the empty tomb and before entering assumed someone had stolen the body, but upon entering spoke with the angels and later the risen Jesus, who though there were differences, she was recognizable, spoke with her and tangible – she held onto him for some time

The disciples except Thomas in the upper room where they were staying later on the same day

Saw Jesus appear suddenly in a locked room who was recognizable and spoke with them, apparently not a ghost

Thomas

Same thing happened a week later. Jesus appeared suddenly in a locked room, and showed Thomas the nail prints in his hands and the spear print in his side

Others, 13 appearances in total over 40 days

He appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus on the same day

He appeared later to the disciples on the seashore and ate broiled fish with them

Luke and Paul sum it up. Acts 1:3-8 (ESV) sums it up.  “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days.

 

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 (ESV) he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive…  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”

  1. What the eyewitnesses believed – the conclusions they drew – as a result of what they claimed to see

 

Background: the pagans of that day, did not believe in a resurrection; they believed as many today that after death there is nothing

The Jews of that day, except the Saducees, believed there would be a general resurrection on the last day, the day of the Lord, in which the creator God who set all things right because of his justice

When Jesus told Martha Lazarus would rise from the dead.  John 11:24-27 (ESV) Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Saducees who tried to trick him in Mat 22:23-28 ESV). [the] Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, If a man over the course of his life, has seven wives who died, In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be?”

 

Mary Magdalene believed she had seen the Lord alive, told the disciples

 

John saw and believed though he “still didn’t understand the Scriptures about him”

 

Peter and the disciples except Thomas in the upper room, believed and told Thomas about him

 

Thomas a week later in the upper room, believed and confessed, “You are the Christ the son of the living God”

Apparently many of the 400 others who saw him believed as well that he had been raised from the dead

  1. What they did as a result of their belief – how they responded

They believed what they had seen and heard deeply enough that

They spread the gospel throughout the known world at that time

They started a movement that, in the words of the city officials in Thessalonica,  “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,  7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against athe decrees of Caesar, saying that there is banother king, Jesus .” (Act 17:6-7 ESV)

They staked their lives on it – most of the 12 and probably many others were martyred for their faith in Christ

We’ve looked at the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. Let’s look second at

  1. The uniqueness of Jesus’ resurrection
  2. A qualitative difference in his appearance

Sometimes recognizable, sometimes not

Mary recognized neither his face, form or voice at first, but did so when he called her name

Disciples on the Emmaus road recognized neither his face, form or voice at first, but did so when he broke the bread with them

Like seeing an old friend from a long time ago – mixture of similarities and differences – eg. Jim Rossow, Carleen Coy in library

 

  1. A qualitative difference in his abilities

 

Seemed to appear out of nowhere

Appeared suddenly behind Mary in the tomb – would have had to crawl in

Appeared suddenly to the disciples and to Thomas in an upper room whose door was locked.

 

  1. A qualitative difference in the extent of his life

He claimed be completely transformed so as to be beyond the possibility of a future death.

Mary, “don’t cling to me, I haven’t yet ascended

“Tell the disciples I am ascending to my Father

Different from Lazarus, who undoubtedly later died

NT Wright says, “Resurrection” is not simply death from another viewpoint; it is the reversal of death, its cancellation, the destruction of its power.   NT Wright in Bible Review. 2000. http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Resurrection.htm

Jesus’ was the first genuine resurrection in history. His is said to be the first fruits of many who will follow after him. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (ESV) But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

 

In other words, his resurrection, his victory over death made it possible for those who believed in him to experience the same.

We’ve looked at the evidence and the uniqueness of Jesus’ resurrection. Let’s look third at

  • The necessity of Jesus’ resurrection

 

Jesus’ resurrection was necessary for several reasons. The first is found in

 

Vv 8-9. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

 

  1. Jesus’ res was necessary to fulfill OT Biblical prophecy

In Acts chapter 2 Peter argued that the resurrection was biblically necessary, citing David’s words in Psalm 16:10:

“Because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, Nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay” (Acts 2:27; cf. 13:33).

Peter argued from Psalm 16 that David could not have referred to himself, but rather to his Son, Messiah, whom God would raise from the dead. The Old Testament Scriptures were understood by the apostles to foretell the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of Christ was thus a biblical necessity.

(Other necessary reasons for Jesus’ resurrection: Below from Robert Deffinbaugh, The Significance of the Resurrection at deffinbaugh@bible.org)

  1. Jesus res was necessary to prove that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to

Jesus had clearly claimed to be the son of God, which was the reason the religious leaders conspired to kill Him (cf. John 19:7). The resurrection was God’s proof that the Lord Jesus was Who He claimed to be: the Son of God:

(Romans 1:4) [Jesus] was declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead,

  1. Jesus’ res was necessary to prove that he had accomplished what He promised.

His death alone was not enough. The resurrection had to follow. It is by our identification with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection that we are saved.

(Rom. 5:9-10).Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, Paul argues that apart from Christ’s resurrection, we would have no hope:

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. . . . For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins (1 Cor. 15:13-14; 16-17).

  1. The resurrection of Jesus was a logical necessity.

It is impossible for God to remain in the grave and to decay, as men do.

 

“And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:24).

  1. The resurrection of Jesus is a necessary element of a saving faith.

In both the Old and the New Testaments, a saving faith was a faith in a God who could and would raise men from the dead.

(Romans 4:19-20). Says of Abraham, “and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore also it was reckoned to him as righteousness

The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans

(Rom. 10:9).. . . if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved

Personal faith in the resurrection of Christ is therefore necessary because it is a vital element in a faith that leads to salvation.

We’ve looked at the evidence, the uniqueness and the necessity of Jesus’ resurrection. Finally let’s look at

  1. The urgency of our response to Jesus’ resurrection – actions to be taken… like responding to Pearl Harbor, 911 or any other life changing news
  1. We should believe.

Thomas is told in the imperative in v 27 “do not disbelieve, but believe”

The stated purpose of the writing of John’s gospel:  V31 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 in his name.

 

  1. We should go and preach the gospel:

 

The disciples were sent out by Jesus as the Father had sent him, to proclaim the gospel in the power of the Spirit (Trinitarian).

Vv 21-22  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

  1. We must believe the gospel in order to receive eternal life.

 

V23  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

 

Literally, “those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven’

 

In other words  those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Jesus.

 

Those who hear the gospel message through the disciples will be judged by God according to whether they accept or reject the message

 

In other words, those who hear your message and believe will be forgiven, but those who disbelieve will not be forgiven by the Father.

  1. My experience… John Akers If Jesus was raised from the dead, that would make all the difference in the world

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