John 20_Easter

March 23, 2008 Series: Gospel According to John

Topic: Gospel Passage: John 20:1–20:31

John 20:  Easter

March 23, 2008                

Sam Ford


How Jesus' Resurrection was usurped by some Peeps

It doesn't seem like our culture makes much of a big deal about Easter-even Christians.  In comparison to Christmas, Easter is generally a forgotten holiday whose date is uncertain every year.  Everyone knows when Christmas is coming, when it's here, and when it's gone we look forward to it, we think about it, we plan for it, and then we pay for it all in January.  Festivities for Christmas begin the day after thanksgiving, red and green shows up everywhere, toys fill the shelves, they start running Christmas Story 24/7 on TV, and they make those little calendars with stale chocolate in them.  Christmas was a big deal for 364 days...and on the one day, it's almost anti-climactic.


With Easter, it's the opposite.  For 364 days, we really never think about it, then, on the ONE day, it's a big deal.  If I'm honest, growing up, Easter was really about the candyWe all have our special candies, the peeps (that are better stale), small foil covered chocolate eggs, Cadbury Eggs, the famous Chocolate Bunny and the not-so-famous-Chocolate Jesus [PICTURE CHOCOLATE JESUS].  


Even in the Christian world, Easter is remembered, celebrated, and talked about-it's not that everyone has forgotten the meaning of's that we don't think it's really that important or powerful.  Even the churches have missed the mark a bit...trying to draw people in by advertising their pancake breakfast before service, thei big dramas during the service, and their easter egg hunts after the service (PICTURE AD)


Don't blame the bunny

And don't blame the bunny...we like to do that.   We'll blame the economic monster that is an egg squirting bunny for our culture ignoring the "point" of the week.  They'll want to attack that furry little beast as the devil incarnate who has lured away all the little children into minimizing the importance of the one day. 

  • OUR WORLD LIKES CANDY to replace the food we should be eating.  It makes takes us up, takes us down, rots our teeth, gives us stomach aches, and guarantees all kinds of other pains we're all too familiar with.
  • OUR WORLD OFFERS ALL KINDS OF "CANDY" to lure people away from the truth.  
  • THE CHURCH OFFERS CANDY NOW TOO  The pastors and churches who were supposed to be preaching the MEATY HEALTHY HARD TO SWALLOW SOMETIMES truth of Jesus, and more specifically, the TRUTH of the Resurrection have abandoned their roles as Shepherds leading and feeding only to become Willy Wonka that Paul describes in 2Timothy 4.3,the people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
  • Do you know what happens to a body that has a healthy diet of CANDY!


Easter was the only sermon the disciples had

The church did not begin with a healthy diet of candy.  The book of Acts records how the disciples grew the church that Jesus started.  They didn't have buildings, or children's programs, or bands with beards, all they had was the Resurrection.

Acts 1:22

beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us-one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection."

Acts 2:31-32

he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses

Acts 3:15

And you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

Acts 4:2

Greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Acts 4:33

And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Acts 5:30

The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.

Acts 6-7

Stephen and his sermon ending with a vision of a glorified and raised Jesus at the right hand of God

Acts 8

Saul begins his persecution of the "people of the WAY" and the disciples are spread all throughout the region preaching the resurrection of Jesus.

Acts 9

A resurrected Jesus shows up and changes Saul's life...who then preaches Jesus


Why the disciples preached the resurrection as central

  • The Good News of Jesus/The Gospel is the Power of God: Romans 1.16 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
  • The Gospel centers on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus 1Corinthians 15.1-4 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you-unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
  • The Resurrection is central to salvation. Romans 10.9...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.


So, instead of a candy-coated Easter Sermon this Sunday...I'm going to tell you why you want JESUS DEAD and ALIVE, why you want a TOMB that with a BODY AND an empty tomb...


The Occupied and the Empty Tomb V 1-10

While it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple...both of them were running together...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, tha the must rise from the dead.  Then they went back to their homes.


According to the end of John 19, Jesus died on the Jewish day of preparation. According to Jewish Law (Deut 21) you were not to leave a body of a criminal up to defile the land-especially not on a Sabbath.  It is likely, had Josephy of Arimathea (a secret disciple of Jesus, probably a member of the Sanhedrin, a man of wealth who donated his tomb) and Nicodemus (a high ranking Pharisee and secret disciple of Jesus on) had not been there, Jesus body would have been tossed in the nearest ditch.  The point is...Jesus was DEAD and he was BURIED.  These are so important that they are part of gospel in 1Cor 15. 


Mary comes to finish preparing the body

Because Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had been forced by circumstances to prepare His body hastily (before morning), the women probably wanted to finish the task (something they could not do on the Sabbath). Of course, they hadn't a clue how they were going to open the tomb.  Perhaps the Roman soldiers would take pity on them and give them a hand.


Mary arrives to an empty tomb...someone stole the body

When she arrived, there were NO guards.  She didn't even bother to look in but assumed the worst and ran to the disciples to say someone stole the body.  The disciples ran back, John is faster than Peter, and "believe" the evidence (Love the specifics).  The evidence indicated that the body had been stolen...there was no other alternative...or was there.

1.      Broken Seal on Tomb (Matthew 27.66) - Where is the Roman FBI/CIA investigation?

2.      Moving the Great Stone-while guards are sleeping? - Who is Ninja-Hercules?

3.      Missing Guards Not Killed but Rich (Matthew 28.11) - Why wouldn't the N.T. writers just include a story like that to buffet their own?  Make themselves look like weaklings elsewhere.

4.      Clothes left in the Tomb (John 20.7)-What kind of robber takes a naked body?

5.      Jesus didn't actually die....(John 19.33-35...John says, I was there!)


We don't want an empty tomb unless Jesus was dead in it.


We want a Dead Jesus in it. V. 11-13

I want Jesus to have died.  He must die.  However heroic and Jack Bauerish it might sound for Jesus to pass out, revive himself in the coolness of the tomb, move the stone like He-man, hide out in the wilderness nursing himself back to health by eating locusts and sewing up his wounds with squirrel fur....however heroic that might is in fact, our death sentence.  Jesus must die. 


Mary Sees the Mercy Seat

Mary looks into the tomb and sees two angels sitting on the place where the body of Jesus had been laid.  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 The Bible makes a point to say that there is an angel at the head and the angel at the feet.  (PICTURE of ANGELS)


The image is a picture of THE MERCY SEAT that was on top of the Ark of the Covenant (Ten Commandments, Manna, Aaron's Rod).  God commanded it to be made and declared that it would be where his presence would be localized in the nation. The Mercy Seat was a gold slab on top with two angels attached on either end.  Described in Exodus 25.17-22, the Hebrew word for which "mercy seat" is the translation is technically best rendered as "propitiatory," a term denoting the removal of wrath by the offering of a gift. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the HIGH PRIEST (who first had to make sacrifices for his own sin) entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled blood on the mercy seat to make atonement for the sins of the people of Israel (Lv 16).  Without giving you history lesson on Israel, the core of the matter is that God chose Abraham and the Hebrew people by his choice, established covenants with, protected, led, and provided guidelines for how this sinful people would be allowed to fellowship with a Holy Creator.  All of the guidelines and rules and traditions were intended to point toward JESUS who would provide a way of fulfilling all of what those temporary things could do, but permanently.  Lost sight of the point and worshipped RELIGION.  (HIGH PRIEST once a year)


Hebrews 9.11-14

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.


So if Jesus didn't die, so what?

I've heard and read it said that it would be great if Jesus didn't die.  If he did indeed survive, he lived on to spread his message of peace and love to many more than he would have had he actually died on the cross.  Jesus didn't come to bring a message...he came to die.

  • If Jesus didn't die, I'm an enemy, hostile toward God.
  • If Jesus didn't die, I'm guilty before a just and wrathful God.
  • If Jesus didn't die, I'm enslaved to my sin.
  • If Jesus didn't die, I'm broken without a cure
  • If Jesus didn't die, I've fallen short of God's standard with no means to meet it
  • If Jesus didn't die, then all I have to hope in is what is right here and now...


We want an empty tomb!  V.14-18

"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.  Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing...

Unlike Mary in the tomb, we can't stop at weeping.  We see that Jesus is alive, that he came back from the dead, and that this TRUTH is the most powerful truth we have.


1Corinthians 15.1-19

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.


If we don't have an empty tomb, we don't have Christianity.  If Jesus did not raise from the dead then Jesus is just a man and a liar.

  1. Our preaching is in empty and our faith is powerless
  2. We're misrepresenting God by lying
  3. We are still in our sins because death won
  4. We have no hope for those who died, and none for our own future resurrection
  5. We are worthy of being pitied because it's a false hope.


BUT HE DID...that's all I have to preach and you have to figure out WHAT to do            !

  • There is no disagreement as to where the grave of Muhammad is, we can tell you wehre the cremated remains of Buddha are located, I can tell you where the grave of Joseph Smith is, or any leader who has started any movement that claims to lead itself to God. 
  • To this day there is disagreement where Jesus is buried because, well, the body was only in there for three days!.


But if Jesus has been raised, the empty tomb changes everything.  19-29

Imagine what these guys are feeling on Saturday. Everything they hoped for, everything they expected, everything they desired, was gone in an instant.  Although Jesus that he would raise from the dead, they did not understand.  Within 7 days they went from feasting with a King to fugitives hiding out.  Now, they lived in fear that they would be arrested themselves and doubted that God would, or perhaps, COULD do anything about it. 


From Scaredy-Cat Skeptics to Martyrs(v. 19-29)

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.  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.


No one can argue that something happened to change the lives of these men.  The night he was arrested, a blood-thirsty mob came and arrested Jesus.  He was brought before Pilate, and there in plain view, Jesus Christ was spit upon, cursed, he was laughed at, whipped, beaten. He was branded a blasphemer. And He was sentenced to die by the most extreme, shameful form of capital punishment ever devised - crucifixion. They had given up everything for THREE YEARS.  Mark 14.50 "They all left him and fled".   Now they were hiding behind locked doors.


But in about 40 DAYS these men would surface as bold, courageous, daring leaders of a new movement that would change the world forever.  Some might say that these men made a lie or believed a lie...but within about 40 YEARS all but John died for their faith...

  • Peter was crucified, head downward, during the persecution of Nero.
  • Andrew died on a cross at Patrae, in Achaia, a Grecian Colony.
  • James, was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
  • Bartholomew was flayed alive in Albanapolis, Armenia.
  • James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
  • Philip was hanged against a pillar at Heropolis (Abyssinia).
  • Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
  • Simon died on a cross in Persia (now Iran.)


Even Thomas, the skeptic would would not believe unless he saw with his own eyes "his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel, in the east Indies.


How the resurrection of Jesus changes me...GIVES ME LIFE NOW (v. 30-31)

JOHNS'S BOOK WAS WRITTEN...we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


We live a life under THE KING who has all authority. Matthew 28.1818 And Jesus came and said to them,  "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. God has redeemed us by sending Jesus to live as a servant and be our substitute on the cross.  But just as he did with Pharoah, Jesus the KIng CRUSHED the "god of this world" and is now rules.  And if there is a NEW KING, there is a NEW KINGDOM, with NEW VALUES of power, recognition, status and wealth.  We must either ascent to the King who loves, protects, and gives us everything...or REFUSE to repent, REFUSE to LAY DOWN our weapons...and die under the wrath of the King.


We have a BIG God who does the impossible. Acts 26.8  "Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?"  We serve a big God.  He is a God powerful enough to change the darkest of bring LIGHT into the darkest of bring LIFE out of nothing.  We have a God of Power, a God of Surprise, a God who makes the IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE.  Whatever is DEAD in your life, God can make alive.  Whether it's your marriage, your career, your self-image, your family relationships...


We are dead to sin and alive to God. Romans 6.10-11 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. ....perhaps you've been overwhelmed with personal sin, addictions, or maybe you've been overcome by years with the pain of those who have sinned against you.  In the resurrection we see that God DESTROYS sin and intends to give you LIFE.


The Resurrection of Jesus Christ proves HE IS GOD

And if he is God, then he is not simply to be admired and respected but to be worshipped, adored and delighted in, to be obeyed as first priority in our lives, and to be accepted as the ONE and ONLY way back to God.


IT IS WRITTEN....1Corinthians 15.1-4  Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you-unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures


IT IS WRITTEN....Romans 10.9...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

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