John 20 - The Resurrection

The Resurrection Demands A Response – John 20

This message was originally shared at Guangzhou International Christian Fellowship On Resurrection Sunday, March 31, 2024. 

The Resurrection Demands a Response   – This link will download the PPT.

Today is Resurrection Sunday. He is risen! But what does that mean? His resurrection did not occur in a vacuum. It was not the beginning of the story. Rather, it was the climax of the story. It is the final piece in God’s redemptive plan.

A brief summary up to this point –

• Creation. Everything was good.
• The fall.
• The world descended into darkness and evil. Every thought of man’s heart was wicked continually. (Genesis 6:8)
• God delivered one man of faith, Noah, and his family.
• The world descended into sin again.
• God gave a covenant to Abraham and blessed his descendants.
• God sent prophets. God did miracles. God gave the Scripture.
• Still people rebelled. They rebelled over and over.
• The Old Testament teaches us that man is sinful and has no way to save himself. It shows humankind’s lost state and makes it clear that unless there is an act of divine intervention, we have no hope.
• The Old Testament also points us to a coming Savior, a Messiah who will come and fix what is broken. He is the Great Light Isaiah refers to.

The story then picks up in the New Testament. Many of you have been joining the Gospel of John reading for the last three weeks. You have been reading how the Greatest Story Ever Told unfolds. You have been joining in on this amazing journey through the life of Christ that culminates in the chapter we are reading today.

At the very beginning of this gospel, John tells us that the light has arrived! The light is Jesus. The light has come to give us life. In other words, He says, “God’s solution is here! The Messiah is here! Divine intervention has arrived!” He even says, “This is the Son of God!”

John tells us (1:12) it is possible to become children of God. The rebels can be saved! He even reviews the Old Testament saying, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth game through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

Very quickly, John tells us what Jesus’ mission. He reports that John the Baptist declared of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Right after this, Jesus starts calling the disciples. He invites them with Him on this amazing journey. They have an up front and personal view of the Lamb of God who is coming to fix everything, to bring life, to bring light.

They see Him do marvelous works.

• The first miracle – changing water to wine
• Healing
o People who had tried everything. People who had been sick or diseased for years or decades and lived without hope.
o They saw him heal the blind, giving light to those who had never seen it.
o Heal across distance without even visiting the sick person.
• They saw him suspend the laws of nature
o Walk on water
o Calm the storm
o Feed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread.
• Most amazingly of all, they saw him literally give life. He raised the dead to life. Lazarus.

They see Him teach marvelous things.

He taught them about love, forgiveness, faith, prayer, and transformation.

He also taught them about who He was and how it impacted them. All of these seven teachings are from the Gospel of John.

• I am the Bread of Life
• I am the Light of the world
• I am the Gate of the Sheep
• I am the Good Shepherd
• I am the Resurrection and the Life
• I am the Vine and you are the branches
• I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life

After listening to His teaching, this is what Peter said.

“Lord, to whom shall we go. You have the words of eternal life.” – John 6:68

They didn’t just observe what He taught. Teaching is one thing. One’s life and actions will tell you more.

They see Him… and marvel at His character.

• Mercy and compassion
o He willingly met Nicodemus at night and graciously shared with Him. There was no rebuke for his fear.
o The Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus conversed with someone who was an outcast. He did not cast her out, but instead welcomed her. She was the first person He told He was the Messiah. He invited her in.
o The woman caught in adultery.
• Boldness – He was not cowed by His enemies. He did what was right and didn’t fear the consequences. Healing on the Sabbath.
• Divinity
• His teaching and authority
• Humility and servanthood – Washing the disciples’ feet.
• Patience – The disciples messed up many times. Even on the last night, Peter went into soldier mode and slashed a guy’s ear off. Then he denied Jesus three times. Through all of this, Jesus never cast them out.

All of this is what you have seen after reading through John. All of this is what the disciples witnessed firsthand. Hardly a day went by that they did not see something amazing.

Imagine how they felt after three years of accompanying Jesus and witnessing all of these things. Jesus often preached that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” They surely believed this. They were definitely on the bandwagon.

They were walking with and talking with the Messiah, the Son of God. He was going to do something great! They accompanied Him entering Jerusalem triumphantly with the whole city welcoming Him. It was a victory parade. Something big was going to happen!

That brings us through John chapter 17. In John 18, their world comes crashing down. Their hero is arrested. In a sham trial, He is convicted. Then, He is executed. All of this happened in the span of less than one day.

There was no time to process anything. There was no time to mentally prepare.

Just like that, everything they believed in, everything they had committed to, everything they had worked for came crashing down in a burning heap.

They gave up everything to follow Jesus. They had hitched their lives to His. They had trusted in Him. Their very identity was in Him. Without Him they were nothing; they were lost.

They were starving without their Bread of Life.
They were blind without the Light of the World.
They were like lost sheep without a Shepherd.
They were dead without their Resurrection and Life.
They were like a branch cut off from the Vine withering on the ground.
They no longer had a Way set before them. They know longer knew the path they were on. They didn’t know the truth. They didn’t know where to go.

That brings us all the way up through history and through the life of Jesus recorded in John to our passage today, John 20.

Read John 20

Christ the Lord is Risen!

Sunday morning the disciples woke up in despair, confusion, fear, and doubt. Sunday night they went to sleep in peace, joy, purpose, courage, and security.

Sunday morning it was as if their whole world came crashing down. Sunday night an entirely new reality was facing them.

We will first look at the other characters around Jesus and how they responded to the resurrection. Then we will look at the broader implications of the resurrection. Finally, we will look at our response to it.

  • The Response of Jesus’ Contemporaries
  • Mary Magdalene Announced the Resurrection
  • Here is a woman who before she met Jesus lived totally in the darkness.

Mary Magdalene is another follower of Christ whose world had been turned upside down. Before she met Jesus, she was possessed by seven demons. This is a woman who had no hope. Whatever big promises Satan had made to her had turned out to be lies. She, like every other person, is powerless to ward off these powers on her own ability. The result was a life of darkness, depression, sin, anguish. People in society turned their backs on her. The religious leaders wanted nothing to do with helping such people they despicably called “sinners.”

But Jesus had been different. When everybody else had turned their back on her, when she was an outcast with no where to go and no where to help, when the religion of her day could do nothing to solve her problem, Jesus came into her life, giving her hope.

Mark 2:17 – On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

We don’t know the full story of her conversion. John says not all the books in the world can contain the deeds which Jesus did. But we do know that she was converted. Jesus brought her into the light. She became perhaps Jesus’ most faithful follower. Jesus was everything to her because Mary understood the difference Jesus makes in your life. He was her teacher, her friend, her Lord, and her Savior.

Now He was gone. Her life had been turned upside down.
And here Mary is alone at the tomb. And she is weeping. She is crying her heart out. Jesus was no more. She could not talk to or be comforted by Him. And now, she thought that even His body was stolen away.

It was then that two angels appeared to her. Then Jesus Himself. At first, through the tears and despair she did not recognize Him. No one expects a dead guy to just walk up and start talking. Then He said, “Mary.” She recognized Him. Her Lord had risen! The worst news of all time had turned into the best.

Her weeping was turned to joy. It foreshadows the promise in Revelation 21:4, that one day He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Then what did Mary do? She went and announced it!

Mary was an instant believer. She did not need any more convincing. She received the good news and she passed it on.

Peter and John Investigated the Resurrection

The first news that Peter and John heard about it was Mary’s report that the tomb was empty. They immediately went and investigated, running to the tomb. John ran faster. Probably he was younger.

When they get to the tomb, they look inside and see the burial cloths. Peter, being Peter, goes straight in. They see the linen cloths lying there and the and the face cloth folded up by itself. Surely grave robbers would not take time to fold laundry before leaving the tomb. Surely grave robbers would not remove the cloths, which would make transporting the body much more inconvenient.

Something mysterious had happened, that much was clear. The text tells us something of what they were thinking at the time.

John 20:8-9 – 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.

It appears that they did not yet fully understand or believe the resurrection. What they did believe is that Jesus’ body was gone. Something mysterious had happened.

Peter and John’s first response was to investigate. They didn’t immediately believe in Jesus’ resurrection, but neither did they dismiss it out of hand. They sought more information.

Jesus said, “if you seek, you will find.” When someone is seeking to understand the things of God, He will reveal more to them. That is what Jesus did. His next appearance was to go to the disciples. It seems that all of them were there except for Thomas.

They were gathered together in a locked room because they were afraid of the religious leaders. They were scared that they too would be dragged away and killed.

Jesus appeared and said, “Peace be with you.” He then showed them the marks on His hands and feet. It wasn’t a trick. Jesus did not rebuke them for not believing more quickly. He honored their investigation and gave them all the evidence they needed.

The disciples were “glad.”

Their leader and Savior had proven Himself once again. Their mission was on again. The trust that they had placed in Jesus by committing their lives to Him had been confirmed. The Good Shepherd was back. They could be connected to the Vine. The Gate, the Way, was alive and well. He had proven Himself beyond any