John 20:1-10 The Empty Tomb
20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
An atheist complained to a Christian friend, “Christians have their special holidays, such as Christmas and Easter; and Jews celebrate their holidays, such as Passover and Yom Kippur; Muslims have their holidays. EVERY religion has its holidays. But we atheists,” he said, “have no recognized holidays. It’s an unfair discrimination.”
“What do you mean, atheists have no holidays,” his friend replied, “People have been observing a special day in your honor for years.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the atheist said, “When is this special day honoring atheists?”
Easter is what Christianity is all about. Without Easter, Christmas would be nothing. Easter is when Christ took power over sin and death and because of the empty tomb we know that our sins are forgiven. Because of the discarded shroud we know that we will have a resurrection body! Easter is so important that the early Christians would greet each other by saying “He is risen!” and the response would be “He is risen indeed!” The fact that 2000 years later we gather together to celebrate the risen Christ is PROOF that Christ is “risen indeed.”
Today is Resurrection Sunday, the day we celebrate the greatest event in history. Easter is the time of year when we celebrate the events surrounding the last week of the life of Christ, His death and His resurrection. But so often, people become confused about what Easter is all about. And sometimes that leads to confusion about what Jesus is all about and why He came in the first place.
Illustration: There was a college student who loved God with all his heart. He had grown up in a Christian home, gone to church all his life. He studied his Bible daily. He loved his Christian faith. There was a science professor at the college who loved to destroy the faith of young Christians. His whole objective was to berate them and make them seem foolish. The professor would ask the class if there were any Christians in the class and when they raised their hands he would ask them if they believed in miracles. When they said they did, the professor told them that he wanted to see a miracle. He would tell them that he was going to drop an egg on the floor and that if there really was a God then they could pray that God would keep the egg from breaking and the egg wouldn’t break. Of course, no one would ever come forward.
The young man knew that eventually he would have to have this professor eventually. He decided that when it came his turn to come forward I’m going to take a stand for God and say that prayer. Sure enough, the first day of class came and the professor did exactly as he had before. The young man stood when the professor asked if there were Christians in the class. The young man remained standing when the professor asked if they believed in miracles. When the professor asked if anyone was willing to prove it the young man remained standing. The professor asked him if he would like to come forward and prove that God existed and the young man came forward.
As the professor prepared to drop the egg the young man prayed, “God if there is any way to keep this egg from breaking I’m asking you to do that. But Lord, even if it does break I will continue to believe in you and take a stand for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” The professor let go of the egg. At that moment his right foot was sticking out and the egg fell and hit his right shoe and rolled gently to the floor without breaking. The professor never said a word again. Do I believe in miracles? I believe in miracles whole- heartedly!
You may be here today and you’re not sure you believe in the miracle of the resurrection of Christ. I know many of you here today, you are called “believers”, believers in what? You may think that your faith is not strong enough to believe that Christ is truly risen from the dead. Today, let us “Remember Easter”, as it was meant to be remembered. Jesus is alive!!!
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
We read here about resurrection Sunday evening. The disciples left the empty tomb and returned to “the upper room” and locked the doors for fear of the Jews. They were afraid of the Jews because they had just seen their closest friend had been brutally murdered on the cross and they too feared for their own lives. The disciples were in total shock, and they were in mourning. Many of us come to church feeling the same way the disciples felt. They trusted that with Jesus everything was going to be “alright” and we thought that when we got saved we would be “alright.” The disciples believed that Jesus had come to reign over Israel and their hopes had been crushed. Many of us today may also have crushed hopes. Can you relate to this? Do you have a hard time REALLY believing in God, and that God raised Jesus from the dead? What is it that made you and I believe in this story? Is it by our own power? Is it because this story is so famous that we have no choice but to believe? What made the disciples believe?
“21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.
Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! "Peace be with you," He said. Did Jesus stand before you in order for you to believe? So… why is it so important that we are “Remembering Easter”?
You see…the one thing the disciples didn’t have at that time was the one thing that Jesus was offering...PEACE! They were not at all comfortable with what was happening. Again, they just witnessed their Savior crucified. In fact they weren’t even comfortable with the empty tomb. But in their despair, Jesus said, “peace be with you.” The world can’t give you peace only God can, but the world can’t take God’s peace away from you. Do you have a struggle that you can’t get peace over? A personal encounter with the risen Savior is where you will find true peace and forgiveness. God’s Word tells us that He not only forgives our sins but forgets them also. God can give you peace with your past!
20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
What an awesome thing. The only man-made thing in heaven will be the holes in Jesus’ hands, feet. He showed the disciples the wound where His heart had been pierced. The Bible says that blood and water flowed from Jesus’ side...proof positive that He was dead! Before the crucifixion Jesus was beaten and bloodied beyond recognition and yet the disciples knew Him when they saw Him, and it was His wounds that He offered as proof positive that He was and is ALIVE! Again, why do we believe? What is so important about “Remembering Easter”?
The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord. How can you and I say the same thing? That we are filled with joy? How can we feel what they were feeling?
How do you put this into words? Can you imagine the disciples sitting around and remembering Jesus’ life, and all of the things they had seen and wondering why His power couldn’t have prevented what had happened? Their hearts were broken, and they were lost with Jesus gone, but they were OVERJOYED when Jesus came into the room!
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Jesus puts His whole life, death and resurrection on the disciples standing in a room with the doors locked for fear! Jesus leaves it to them to bring the forgiveness of Christ to the world! Jesus says, “I am sending YOU” to go and tell the world! When we put our faith and trust in the living Christ, He once again puts His life, death and resurrection on our willingness to take His forgiveness to the world. The difference between Christianity and other religions is that we have a LIVING God and Savior who entrusts us with His resurrection power! Jesus says ’if you believe in me you will have the same power over death, hell and the grave!’
One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came.
24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
The disciples were overjoyed because they had seen Jesus! And they were excited to tell Thomas. But, Thomas was a practical man who lived in a practical world and this wasn’t practical to Thomas. Jesus was dead, and as far as Thomas was concerned, dead was dead. It isn’t that Thomas didn’t want to believe but he was hearing something that didn’t sound real. But, the only way Thomas would believe was to touch it and see it himself.
Thomas didn’t believe the story because he couldn’t see any difference. The other disciples still had the door locked, they were scared. Why should Thomas believe them when he couldn’t see a difference? Likewise, why should the world believe us when there is no difference in the way we live our lives? Are we still living our lives as if the resurrection didn’t happen? Are we still to lives like the rest of the world, as if there was no chance of being born again? The change that Jesus makes in you and I should be seen!
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
There was an unseen Listener in the room that night. (Jesus) When Thomas said that to believe it he’d have to see it and feel it, Someone was listening! We would do well to remember that with everything we say and everywhere we go there is an unseen listener (Holy Spirit) in our lives. That listener was Jesus! He appeared to Thomas and offered the proof Thomas needed and commanded him to “stop doubting and believe!” Thomas’ response was worship! “My Lord and my God” is a statement of worship! If we come to church to celebrate the risen Christ and sing our songs and pray our prayers and proclaim God’s Word but don’t worship, it is all for nothing! Could this be our same response? “My Lord And my God!”
Worship isn’t an action, it is an attitude! Worship isn’t just what we do in church it’s how we live our lives in and out of church. Everything that we do and say should be an act of worship to God. Real worship comes from lives that have been changed by the power of the risen Christ. We cannot be changed, until we have an up close and personal encounter with Christ. Until we have been drawn to Christ. The best arguments for God’s existence are no real proof. The only proof of the risen Christ is a life that has been changed through a personal encounter and a saving relationship with Christ! You may ask, how can I have a saving relationship with Christ?
I have asked you a lot of questions this afternoon, such as… “what made you believe?” do you have struggles in life, and you just can’t have peace?” “are you struggling with believing in the resurrection story?” (Like Thomas) Last question I asked was, how can I have a saving relationship with Christ? Why do we believe when we have never seen Jesus?
Here’s is the answer to all those questions….
29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” You see, you and I did not believe, because we saw a miracle, we did not believe because we saw Christ face to face. We did not believe because a famous well-known evangelist, or pastor shared the truth of Jesus to us. We believed, because God has opened our eyes to the truth. God made us alive in His Son. Just as Christ lives, we too will live. Once we were dead, and now we are alive. This is because of the Risen Christ! This is why we are “Remembering Easter”.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
It is all by God’s power that we believe! Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and on the third day rose from the dead! That is why we believe! That is why its important that we are “Remembering Easter”.
Pastor Richard Santos
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