The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most significant event in history! It changed everything! Christ followers shifted worship on the Sabbath to the first day of the week to celebrate the risen Lord! Every Sunday became a reminder of that first Easter! Had Jesus not risen from the dead, we would still be in our sin, hopeless and helpless! All our preaching about Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior, would be in vain. He would have just been another poor martyr that was powerless to save Himself, much less others. Yet, Jesus did rise from the dead just as He said He would! Historical evidence outside of Scripture speaks to the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Transformed lives communicate demonstrable evidence of what the power of the resurrection can do in the lives of Christ followers today as well as for those who followed Him in the first century! Either Jesus did or did not rise from the dead.
He is either Lord of all or not Lord at all. In John 20 and 21 you will find four types of people around the tomb that Sunday morning. Look for them as you read and ask yourself these questions: What kind of person am I? What is my response to the resurrection story? John begins by recording the visit of Mary of Magdala to the tomb early on that first day of the week, Sunday morning. We know from a comparison of the other Gospel narratives that she was accompanied by some other women who had gone there to anoint the body of Jesus. They are the first type of people we see around the tomb.
Mary is the picture of the servant. Out of her deep love for the Lord Jesus, she came to serve and care for His body. When Mary discovered the tomb was empty, she ran to Simon Peter and John and told them. Peter and John both ran to the tomb to see for themselves. They represent another type of person around the tomb. Peter and John are seekers. Seekers are all around us. Some are simply silent; but deep in their hearts, when the Gospel is shared, they long to know the truth. Like the Greeks who came to Philip in John 12 and said, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” There are countless people all around us asking the same questions: Is Jesus really alive? Can He save me? Did He really rise from the dead? You and I have the privilege of sharing with these seekers the Good News of a risen Lord who can break the chains of death and sin and set the captive heart free! Then, there is the skeptic.
Thomas is a picture of the skeptic that would say, “It’s just too hard to believe! I won’t believe it until I see for myself!” Are you a skeptic? Jesus loves skeptics. He revealed Himself to Thomas the next Sunday evening. It’s interesting that Thomas remained in doubt for a whole week after all the other disciples had seen the risen Lord on that first Sunday evening. They were hiding in a locked upper room for fear of the Jews that had just crucified Christ when Jesus suddenly appeared to them! Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Thomas was not at that meeting. Maybe we would be less skeptical if we connected with other believers in worship where we would find encouragement and faith to believe.
Still, Jesus returns that next Sunday evening and speaks to Thomas. He says something amazing that encourages us today as well! Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 NIV) We can see Jesus through the eyes of faith from the witness of His Word and the Spirit of God. We don’t have to remain a skeptic. We can be saved. That’s the fourth type of person around the tomb today. John tells us that Jesus did many other miracles than the ones he recorded in his Gospel. “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have faith in His name.” (John 20:31 NIV)
As we wrap up our 40- Day Journey through the Gospels with Jesus, I want to challenge you to continue reading through the New Testament. Explore the spread of the Gospel from Jerusalem outward to the remotest parts of the earth. Experience the impact the risen Christ made wherever the Gospel was preached, and continue to spread the message today! To His followers then and to us today, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21 NIV)
Bible Reading: John 20:1-31 (NIV)
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.
4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,
7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.
8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
10 Then the disciples went back to their homes,
11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb
12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, 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 his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though 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; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Bible Reading: John 21:1-25 (NIV)
1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way:
2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.
3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.
8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.
9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
11 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.
12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”)
21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
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