I’m going to invite you to turn to John chapter 20 this morning, John chapter 20 is where we’re going to be together. And we’re going to talk about a very significant event, and I’m not going to waste a lot of time in the introduction here, because of how much we want to cover in this passage of scripture, but in John chapter 20 is where we’re going to be. We’re talking about the resurrection of Jesus. This is the focal point of our faith. And if this isn’t true, nothing that we believe As Christians should follow. This becomes the foundation. In fact, the Apostle Paul, positioned the resurrection as being such. In 1 Corinthians 15, he says, “If Christ be not raised in the grave, we’re to be pitied, most of all people.”
And then in Romans chapter one, when he begins Romans one in verse four, he says, “It’s the power of the resurrection that declares the authority of who Jesus is,” meaning the whole foundation to be being able to write what he writes in the book of Romans was a great treatise on the Gospel, and how it should play into our lives. It’s built on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, so the resurrection of Christ is central to our faith.
And I want to build on that idea by just beginning in this first verse, just a few words, 10 words in this first verse. I want to use this to kind of lay the foundation for where we’re going, but in John chapter 20, verse one, it says this, “Now in the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb.” And that’s really all we want to talk about today. And without saying a whole lot in this beginning stages, John really says a lot. And I want to look focus on two thoughts here, and then tell you where we’re going together. I want us to look at what it means that John is saying here, the first day of the week is when they go to this tom, and the fact that Mary Magdalene is there.
The first day of the week is an important mark for believers. And I want to lay just a little bit of a foundation as to why this thought becomes pertinent to even why we’re gathered here today. Mary’s heading to the tomb, first day of the week. And in the book of Exodus chapter 20, God communicated the importance of his people to gather together collectively, and particularly on a day of the week. And in the Old Testament, they referred to that as the Sabbath, in the Old Testament, that was Saturday. When God began his creative work, it started on Sunday, it ends on Saturday.
And in Exodus 20, verse eight, God says, “Remember the Sabbath day,” Saturday, “to keep it holy.” And then he tells us why he chooses the Saturday, in verse 11, as to the day that he desires for us to keep it holy. He says, verse 11, “For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea everything that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day. For that reason, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” God, in divinely designing his creation for an intended purpose, wanted humanity, and specifically the Jewish people in Exodus 20, he’s telling them to observe this last day of the week in recognition of God’s divine hand, purpose, and intentions in all of his creation.
And so, historically, Sabbath became an important day. Saturday became an important day to the Jewish people, but suddenly, in the New Testament, God’s people go from worshiping on the Sabbath to worshiping on Sunday. Acts 20, verse seven, “On the first day of the week, we came together to break bread, and Paul spoke to the people.” In 1 Corinthians 16, “On the first day of every week, each one of you is to put aside, and save money as he may prosper, so that no collections need to be made when I come.”
So you see in acts 20 and 1 Corinthians 16, both gathering on the first day of the week, they’re gathering to worship listening to God’s instruction, God’s word. And in 1 Corinthians 16, even collecting money to continue to do things as God’s people gathered together for ministry purposes.
And then when you even go into church history, you see, especially in the first three centuries, church leaders talking about the need for worshiping on this first day of the week. And even people that weren’t believers Pliny the Younger here on this bottom quote, writing to Emperor Trajan, neither of them Christians. Pliny the Younger wrote to Emperor Trajan, in a series of letters of how he was is punishing Christians. But in one part of this letter, he says, “The sum and substance of their fault or error has been that they’re accustomed to meet on a fixed day, before dawn, and singing responsibly a hymn to Christ, as to a God, and to bind themselves to an oath.”
So Christians continue to see the need for his sacred day, and they gathered on that sacred day, but they changed the day from Saturday to Sunday. Why? Why is this important to remember? And why did the in community do that? Well, when you go back to the book of Genesis, which Exodus 20, verse 11 referenced. What you see in the book of Genesis, every day that God creates, he ends each day with the conclusion, a concluding thought. Day one, when he creates, in verse five, it says, “And there was evening, and there was more morning, one day.” In Genesis 1:8, “And there was evening, and there was morning, a second day.” Genesis, verse 13, verse 19, verse 23, and then verse 31 on the sixth day, “And there was morning and evening on the sixth day.”
But then when you get to Genesis chapter two verses two and three, it’s not until you get to the next chapter that he talks about the seventh day. And what’s interesting, here, let me read this, and I’ll tell you what he’s telling us without saying it. In chapter two, verse two, he says, “By the seventh day God completed his work, which he had done; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work, which he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because on it, he rested from all his work, which God had created and made.”
God is saying something in chapter two, by not saying something to us in chapter two. And what he’s not saying to us is what he repeated over and over in chapter one. And what I mean is, in chapter one, each day of the week, he marked the end of the day by saying, and it was morning and evening of that day. But when you get to the seventh day, God never says that there’s an ending to the day.
God just says he rests on the seventh day. And God’s intentions for us to draw onto the story is to understand what his design is for this seventh day. It’s a special day. It’s saying in the first six days, God creative work is now completed, he’s done his creative work for six days. On the seventh day, he relinquishes from his creative work and he takes his position on his throne. And he, now, transitions into his ruling work over all of his creation, and his creation was intended to rest in him from that day forward and forever more.
The reason God never ended the seventh day is because the seventh day was never intended to end. God’s people, divinely designed in his image, were created to in the presence of God forever. But sin happened, and with sin came separation from God and the ability to rest in his presence gone, until Jesus.
So God divinely gave the Jews a day to remind them that they were created to rest in God’s presence, yet, in and of ourselves are completely incapable of doing it. We needed a rescuer. And Jesus comes in Matthew 11, verse 28, and listen, what he says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Hebrews chapter four, in verse three, says, “For we who have believed enter that rest.” What Jesus has brought back to us is that opportunity to rest, to experience that connection to our creator, to honor him with our lives, to be in his presence, to rest. So the point wasn’t about a day, the point of the Sabbath was to remind us of our need. It’s not the day that was special, but it was the intention of the day to drive us to a bigger picture that God intended for our design, to rest in his presence.
So let me of this, a couple things here, it’s important for us to corporately rest. I think Hebrews chapter 10 tells us, “Do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” It’s important for God’s people to gather together, and to recognize our identity as his community, his bride, together as one in Jesus. I think that doesn’t diminish the significance of a day of the week. You see, even the early church, knowing that Jesus became our ultimate rest, they still continue to gather together, but rather than do it on Saturday, they did it on Sunday. Because they, ultimately, understood the importance of what rest was about. Wasn’t found in a day of the week, but ultimately was found in Jesus.
So it’s important for us to corporately, I think, inspire and encourage and direct one another, and keep pointing each other to what Jesus has accomplished for us, so that all of us seek the rest that we were designed for in God, not in of ourselves. He is that rest. It’s also important to realize that it’s not about a day. It’s not about a day, that Christ himself is that rest.
And what happens in the early church is this, it took the historical truth of the resurrection, the power of this event, to change day of worship for God’s people. That it wasn’t about the Sabbath anymore, but the profound implications of what the resurrection represented for us, became the day that we decided to put our print, our mark in a gathering that would demonstrate the authority of who we are as God’s people, because of the authority of who he is, proven through his resurrection power.
And not only that, but I also want us to see Mary Magdalene. It’s Mary Magdalene who on the first day of the week, came to the early tomb. Mary Magdalene was a lady whose life was transformed by the presence of Christ. In Luke chapter eight, first three verses of Luke, tells us that, Mary Magdalene was possessed by multiple demons, and Jesus healed her from that. And Mary was so committed to pursuing Christ that she followed Jesus into Jerusalem, on his final days, she was there at the cross of Christ when Jesus was crucified. And she’s even here at the tomb early in the morning.
Mary was a lady whose life was transformed by Jesus. And really this is what I want us to see in these 18 verses. Now I want to move through this much quicker with these first 18 verses after the death of Jesus. Ones pastor Wayne shared last week about Christ being place in the tomb. Now, we’re getting into his resurrection here. These two ideas, I think, within these 18 verses that are being carried for us, and we’re going to draw conclusions out from it.
But these two ideas of, one, the evidence, the historical reliability of the resurrection and what it means for you, and the life transforming power that it can bring for us. So point number one in your notes this morning, we want to talk about examining the resurrection, you’re blank there, examine the resurrection.
Guys, what we’re saying about this resurrection and what the Apostle Paul declares, 1 Corinthians 15, Romans chapter one, the resurrection is essential to your faith. You are staking your eternity in the proclamation of this event, if your faith is in Jesus, and therefore it becomes important as a follower of Christ, or even as someone that’s just speculatively looking at Jesus to question this resurrection, to examine it, to rest in it with certainty, if it is true. And if it’s not to walk away. I hope that you feel the freedom as a follower of Jesus, to ask questions about your faith.
And, hopefully, here at Alpine Bible Church, you see that freedom. That God gave you a mind, he wants you to incorporate your mind and your faith, and to use it to determine what’s truthful and trustworthy when it comes to Jesus and his identity. Now, with Mary, it says, in this story, Mary is challenged by the idea of the resurrection, the same way I’m encouraging this morning, to think through, what does this mean? What are the implications on whether or not this is even believable? And it gives us the story of Mary, as she’s challenged in her own understanding what the resurrection represents.
It says, “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, which it was still dark, and saw the stone already removed from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciples, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him.'”
Mary came early to the tomb. She wouldn’t have been there for the Sabbath, that would’ve been dishonoring to be there with the body, the Sabbath, or immediately, right after the Sabbath that follows, she goes to this tomb. And this is indicating to us a couple of things, most likely, Friday, when they take Jesus from the cross and they put them in the tomb, they would’ve done it in a hurried preparation to get him there, probably not completely embalming him the way that they want to, or at least putting the spices up on his body as they laid him in the tomb. And Mary knew that the process wasn’t completed, and so likely, because it was so hurried and rushed, soon as she was able was back at the tomb, in order to prepare Jesus’ body to honor him.
And I would probably add on top of that, that this was a process of grieving for her, that she knew what Jesus had done for her life. And she wanted to do the best to show her love and appreciation for him, even in his death. And so early Mary goes to the tomb, and she noticed that there was a stone rolled away. And when it comes to this stone, the idea of the stone covering a tomb is nothing special in Jesus’ day. The uniqueness of this stone in front of the tomb is that it was sealed by the Romans. Meaning, now, no one had the authority to break it, because it was under the authority of Rome and sealed by Rome.
But it wasn’t unique to put a stone in front of a tomb. In fact, it was a common practice. And you think, when you’ve got a body within a tomb, you want to prevent people from going into the tomb to steal things from the body, or even animals from entering in. It was a way of guarding and protecting and treating it as sacred. So it was common to roll the stone. Now, maybe in the uniqueness of Jesus’ situation, perhaps they used a far greater stone. But likely there would’ve already been a stone in place for this tomb to roll in front of it, because of different things that would take place, and the activity of caring for bodies that were placed in tombs.
And so it would’ve been a way of protecting guarding, shutting a door, and so a stone would’ve been rolled there. But the guards would have sealed it, according to Roman custom, to keep people from going in there, because it was a place that everyone had interest in.
Now, I could probably remark when, when Jesus rolled the stones away, maybe jokingly say, that maybe it’s an indication of, since Jesus is into rolling stones, perhaps it’s also his favorite band. But there’s a stone that’s rolled away. And it would’ve been fairly large because Mary knew going there, as it’s stated in the gospels that she didn’t have the strength to do it in and of herself. So it was going to take some help to move the stone.
But Mary goes there early in the tune early in the morning, the stone she noticed is rolled away. And then she goes to disciples and she says a couple of interesting things here. She says, “They have taken the Lord tomb,” so Mary’s interaction with the idea of Jesus’s body not being there, her thought is that someone stole it. And if someone stole it, it’s obviously going to be the religious leaders, because they’re the ones that hated Jesus. And so she says they, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb.” That’s her initial thought about the idea of what could have happened to Jesus’ body. They took it away, and we don’t know where they’ve put him. And so Mary’s acknowledging she wasn’t the only one at the tomb, that, in fact, other gospels tell us that some of the other ladies had joined her.
And so we don’t know where they’ve been, is acknowledging that Mary was present with other people at this tomb. But Mary begins to speculate about what happened to Jesus. And I think it gives us the freedom to do it ourselves. Her reasoning here is that the religious leaders stole the body, which is interesting, because in Matthew chapter 28, verse 11 to 15, when it’s reported, the guards report to the Jewish leaders that Jesus’ body’s missing, the leaders pay the guards to tell people that Jesus’ followers stole the body. So here, Mary and her friends are saying that some other authorities come in and have stolen the body. And then those authorities are accusing Jesus’s followers of having stolen the body.
Those are a couple arguments that happened in the first century, and then one of the other ones I heard pastor Wayne mention this last week that there was the Swoon Theory. That some people in order to try to figure out what happened to Jesus, the Swoon Theory goes like this, and he touched on it, it’s that Jesus didn’t really die, “he mostly died,” to take a quote from The Princess Bride. He’s not dead yet. But the thought is this, that Jesus was beaten. Jesus was whipped. Jesus was crucified by professional executioners, then he had a spear rammed into his heart. Then he was wrapped into a minimum of 50 pounds of burial clothes, thrown into a tomb with no food, water, medical attention, a stone rolled in front of him. And three days later he decides to move the stone himself, walks out and says, “JK guys, just kidding. Look at my holes, touch them. They’re awesome. I just faked you. Psyche, it wasn’t was wasn’t really dead. I was mostly dead.” That’s that’s the Swoon Theory.
I mean, if you believe that, you have far more faith than me. I mean, that is crazy. In fact, for those executioners not to finish their job, when they were called by Rome to crucify him on the cross, it could lead to their own execution for not doing their job rightly. So the Swoon Theory has been historically proposed.
And then there has been some that have tried to attempt to say that it was a fake Jesus that was crucified. That they had put in a stunt double, even though his mother was present, face to face Jesus. And when someone’s crucified in Jesus’ day, I know sometimes we like to draw the art with this cross that’s high and lifted up, it could have been so far of a distance. And if Mary’s vision is not 20/20, how did she not know it was really her kid. But most likely, historically, when someone was crucified, they were crucified at eye level. One, because it’s hard to lift a body very high, but, two, they use it as an opportunity to mock and shame the individual. So any passerby, if they had any sort of disdain for whatever that person had done, they could insult and hurl and spit and whatever they wanted to do. Mary saw her son on the cross.
A fifth argument, and you’ll see this, even if you read 1 John, one of the letters that John writes after this, the book of 1 John, that people taught that Jesus was spiritually resurrected, not physically resurrected. But you still have the problem of trying to communicate to people, then where is the body? If Jesus was merely spiritually resurrected, where is the body?
And so you see Mary challenged here and the idea of the resurrection, we’ll talk a little bit more about the validity of it, but not only Mary, then Mary goes and tells the disciples. And then you see from verse three, the other disciples now challenged by the idea of the resurrection. So in verse three, “So Peter and the other disciple left,” which is the Apostle John, John doesn’t really include himself by name in his gospel. He refers to himself either as the beloved or the other guy, but it says, “So Peter and the other disciple left, and they were going to the tomb and the two were running together and the other disciples right ahead, faster than Peter and came to the tomb first.”
I love this. I’ll read verse four, and I’m like, “Why is verse four even here.” I’m glad that they went to the tomb, but I just want to think that what God is doing is using the personality of guys to record his scripture for us in this book. Because every guy, when you’re in a race, someone’s always got to declare who won the race. John’s like, “And I’ll just slip this in for Peter’s sake, and we ran into the tomb, if you want to know who won, I won.” I think that’s the only reason this verses here, but then, in verse five, “And he stooped to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there. However, he did not go in.”
“So Simon Peter also came following him, and he entered the tomb and he looked at the linen wrappings lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but folded up in a place by itself.” When I read verse five to seven here, especially verse seven, what I think is amazing is that, here we’re reading the story about the greatest miracle to ever happen, but in verse seven, I think we’re also reading about the second greatest miracle that ever happened. And if you catch it, guys, it’s this, Jesus, when he was resurrected from the grave, he folded his clothes. The guy folded his clothes.
I’ll just say this guys, be like Jesus, men, and fold your clothes. This is amazing, John and Peter look in and they see that the clothing folded. But, truthfully, this speaks to the uniqueness of this moment and the idea of the power of the resurrection. Because if you speculate in this moment, what happened to Jesus? And you look in, and you see the clothing that would’ve been wrapped around his body, and the cloth that would’ve been wrapped around his head, which is what’s folded up and placed by itself, you would realize, if someone took Jesus, they’re carrying around a naked body, and that’s disgusting. Especially when you think, all that Jesus has just endured with the torture he went through.
So you could imagine, if you’re going to this tomb and you’re expecting, oh no, Jesus’ body’s not there, someone took the tomb. And all of a sudden you look in, you’re like, “Wait a minute, his clothes are here.” So if Jesus swooned, somewhere in Jerusalem, you got naked Jesus hanging out. And if someone stole the body, they decided it was the best idea to carry naked Jesus around in doing that.
And when you’re trying to figure out what happened to Jesus, you start to rationalize and realize that don’t make no sense. The only thing worth anything in this tomb is the cloth that’s wrapped around Jesus. So if you’re going to rob the grave, at least take what might be worth something. And so you see John and Peter looking in this moment and they are, they’re perplexed. How can you rationalize this? What could even be happening? And in verse eight, “So the others disciples who had first come to the tomb also entered then, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes.”
Here’s the question, when you read verse eight, what exactly did John believe? What exactly did John believe? Because it tells us in verse nine, “He didn’t understand the scriptures.” What did John believe? People have postulated some thoughts related to this, I think only John, probably in eternity when we see him face to face could clear this up for us. But they’ve asked the question, theologians have asked the question over the years, what is it that John believed in? Because when they’re looking in the tomb and they’re seeing a bunch of clothes and no guy, which is a weird, bizarre moment, what is it John’s now believing in his mind?
Some of us said this, well in Luke chapter 24, verse 11, when Luke records this story in the gospels and talks about the ladies coming to the disciples to share about Jesus’ body missing, that none of them believed. But then when John got to the tomb, he sees, yes, Jesus’ body is not here. And perhaps that’s what he believed. He believed the story of the women.
Or maybe it’s that and more. Maybe not only did John believe the story of the women, but John, in looking at this moment, started to believe Jesus was no longer dead. Now, the challenge for John in believing that Jesus was no longer dead is that the first century Jews really didn’t have a framework for resurrection. I think it’s present in the Old Testament. I think Psalms chapter 16 talks about not letting the Messiah see decay, Psalms 22 says the same thing, Isaiah 53, you see that in the Old Testament. But John, first century Jews really didn’t have a language for resurrection. So what is John believing?
Well, John, I think, here is starting to get a picture of some of the things Jesus had communicated to them, but not fully having tied it together. Whatever the answer is, John eventually gets the full picture, which is why he writes the Gospel of John. But here’s what happens in verse 11, this is second point in your notes. Mary is transformed.
And, guys, this is my hope for all of us, is that, we find ourselves not just seeing this as a historical event, but that we would be transformed by the resurrection. It’s one thing to intellectually acknowledge, yes, Jesus’s resurrection is the only thing that makes sense here. Yes, it was prophesied in the Old Testament, but it’s another thing to let your life be transformed by it.
Mary, verse 11 to 13, she’s distraught over the circumstance, but Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping. She still doesn’t know what’s happened to Jesus. And so as she wept, she stooped to look into the tomb and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus has been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” And she said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they put him.”
This gives a good indication as to how distraught Mary is in this circumstance, because this is what I would do, if I saw an angel. “Holy cow, I see an angel.” That would be… I would just kind of lose perspective of where I am for the moment and acknowledge the fact that I see an angel. But what you see in this story, that’s not where Mary’s heart is. And maybe it could be that the angels weren’t divinely revealed to her as to who they were and what they were there… Maybe she just thought they were regular people, because when you’re reading the Old Testament, angels, they carried that way about them sometimes, where they were seen that way.
But then it goes on and tells us, verse 14, “When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. And yet she did not know that it was Jesus. And Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? And whom are you seeking?” Thinking that he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you put him, and I will take him away.” And Jesus said to her, “Mary.” And she turned and said to him in Hebrew, Rabboni, which means teacher.”
Mary so distraught, Jesus talking to her, still doesn’t recognize that this is Jesus, that he’s been resurrected. She mistakes him as a gardener, but when the gardener calls to her, at least what she thought was the gardener, calls her by name. She realizes, this isn’t a gardener. This is someone I know, because who else would know my name? And so Mary turns and looks and she realizes it’s Jesus. It’s Jesus. And she instantly surrenders to his presence in her life. And she calls him teacher. Teacher, it’s a word of submission to someone of authority and recognizing you as the pupil, teacher, leader, life surrendered to you, direct me.
Some have wondered why Mary chose to refer to Jesus this way. And there’s some speculation around this as well. But some have said, perhaps, Mary still fully didn’t understand who Jesus was. Perhaps, she acknowledged him as teacher, because she realized his need to have authority in her life, but she calls Jesus teacher, not in full recognition of what he entirely represented in his being in presence before her.
Meaning, Mary’s heart is still on a journey, but that journey is surrendered to Jesus. And, guys, I think that this is true for all of us in the faith. I hope that your view of Jesus today is a great view of Jesus, an honoring view of Jesus, a healthy view of Jesus, a godly view of Jesus, an accurate view of Jesus. And I hope with each passing day that you continue in a growing view of Jesus. Meaning, that as we draw closer to God, our perspective of his glory and his authority and what he represents to us in life, that every day we’re going to him and more nearer and more dearly and his authority and his presence and our life is ever growing, as we seek his face. That we recognize the beauty of who Christ is and continue to surrender to that and walk with him.
I was reading a missionary’s story this week by a young guy, from the Philippines. I think it was the island, I hope, I’m pronouncing it right, Luzon, I think it’s pronounced, which is, I think the main island in the Philippines were Manila is located. And in the Northern part of that, the far Northern part, there was a young boy, 13 years old at the time, he wrote a story later in life. He said, one day he was in his village and a missionary named Dick Rowe came into his town, his village. And they wanted to know why this random guy was in their town. And he said to them, “I want to learn your language. And I want to give you the Bible in your language.”
And so this young man started to write how this missionary spent time with his people, learned their language, and he completed the Gospel of Mark before he had to go back home to raise more funds to come back to this people, to finish the Bible. And he said, before he left, he completed the Gospel of Mark, and he handed it to this young man. And this young man talked about how one day he sat on a rock and he started to read this book, and he started to see the great things about Jesus. And then he read about what the people did to Jesus. And then he read the crucifixion of Jesus. And then he said, when he finished the crucifixion of Jesus, he put down the Gospel of Mark and he yelled at God and he cursed God. And he talked about his hatred for God saying, that God was a pathetic God, because God died. And what kind of God would die. And he couldn’t believe people would follow that God.
And then he picked it back up and he read about the resurrection, and he, in the resurrection, saw the power of God and the love of God. And he said, he thought to himself, out all the spirit worship that happened among his people, never had he ever heard of someone resurrecting from the grave. And he said, then in that moment, he realized that he wanted that God, because this God, if he can overcome grave, can overcome anything. And this God promised him that resurrection power too. And that resurrection power transforms you.
Mary sees Jesus in his resurrected form, and surrenders to him. And in verse 17 and 18, it gives maybe, somehow I disappeared there. Really, where am I Shalom? There we go. Verse 17 and 18, Jesus said to her, “Mary stop cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the father, but go to my brothers and say that am I have ascended to my father and your father and my God and your God.”
Let me say, this is kind of a weird statement for Jesus. If Jesus wants us and Jesus wants our presence, Jesus died to reconcile our relationship with God and forgive us that we can have him, why doesn’t he want Mary around? He says, “Mary stop cling to me,” but here’s what’s happening in this story. Mary is so delighted by Jesus’s presence, and Mary has been so distraught by losing Jesus in his crucifixion and death, that when Mary goes to Jesus, she’s cling to Jesus in such a way that she is determined to never let go. I am never going to lose you again, that’s Mary’s posture in this moment.
And Jesus is saying to Mary, “Look, Mary, the time for you to cling to me this way, it’s coming, but it’s not yet. Because in this moment I still have to ascend to the father and there’s still a work to do.” So we always have the promise of being near Jesus, but, ultimately, one day we will be with him face to face as Mary desired to hold onto that moment here.
And so Jesus says to Mary, he’s got to ascend, but then he calls to Mary to go and tell the others. “But go to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my father and your father and my God and your God.” And in verse 18, “Mary Magdalene came and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord,’ and that he had said these things to her.”
Third point in your notes, live in light of the resurrection. Live in light of the resurrection, because if this is true, this changes everything. The hope of a God who came to this world to give his life for you so that you could rest in him and in his presence for all of eternity. This resurrection is the validation of everything that at Jesus says and therefore becomes the basis of our promise that we too will be resurrected, as Jesus has said. This changes everything.
And I love how we, as God’s people today, can look back to the first century, and see the power of the evidence of the resurrection played out in God’s people. What I mean is when you study the life of the disciples at the crucifixion of Jesus and the days immediately after, what the disciples chose to do in those moments was to run, hide, cower, and give up on what God had called them in, in him, to move away from Jesus. But suddenly what you see in the first century church, when you get to the gospel of Acts, is the disciples who ran as cowards, now, turn courageously to this world and give of their lives to the point of death for the sake of reclaiming Christ around this world.
And that’s what Mary does, verse 18, she has seen the hope of the resurrection of Jesus, and she cannot deny that Jesus was standing in front of her. And all she could think to do was go and tell others, because everything that was bad, everything that was evil that they had just experienced, all of it has just become untrue.
And when you read about the first century church, what do they do? They give their lives as martyrs for the sake of Jesus. This is not a made up story. People don’t die for made up stories. I mean, people will become martyrs for a cause, if you want to see an example of that, just think of 9/11, but for a lie? Give your life for a lie, people don’t die for a lie. I saw a dead guy come back to life. No one’s going to die for that. I mean, you get to the point where you’re about to have your head looped off or be crucified or flayed alive or speared to death, like these disciples were when, when you come to that point, you might, “Just kidding. I’m just teasing. I was just going to see how far I could press this.”
And when you think about what advantage, what earthly gained did the apostles have? 1 Corinthians four, Paul says it like this, verse nine, “For I think God has exhibited us the Apostles last of all, as men condemned to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both the angels and to mankind. We are fools on the account of Christ, but you are prudent in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are distinguished, but we are without honor. Up to this present hour, we are both hungry and thirsty and poorly clothed and roughly treated and homeless, and we labor working with our hands. When we are verbally abused, we bless. When we are persecuted, we endure it. When we are slandered, we reply as friends. When we become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.” Why would they do that? Why? Because they couldn’t deny it, they had seen a dead man walking, and then do the promises that were in Christ.
So let me just give you this, a couple conclusions. One of the reasons I love talking about the idea of the resurrection and trusting in the resurrection, it gives me hope. It gives me hope. Like when I have opportunity to go to the hospital and visit with someone where it’s a parent they’re at the end of their life, the resurrection is a beautiful place to put hope, because it’s not the end, thanks to Jesus.
But the resurrection doesn’t mean you get to be with Jesus one day. The resurrection also means you get to be with Jesus today. John 14, verse 18, Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans. I will not abandon you.” His presence with you forever. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. The early church, was profoundly bold in living out their faith because they believed that if you were to take their life, it did not end their life. Because their life would live forever, thanks to Jesus.
Justin the Martyr, he’s called a martyr because he was martyred. He didn’t have a last name, so we gave him that one. But Justin the Martyr, he said this, talking about Christians, “We cultivate the fear of God, justice, kindness, faith, and expectation of the future given us through the crucified one, that expectation is the resurrection. The more we are persecuted and martyred, the more do others in ever increasing numbers become believers.”
What Justin is saying is this, as we give our lives valiantly for Christ, people see within us, the hope that we really carry because of the resurrection of Jesus. And in that are so inspired, even in our death, that they come to trust in that Jesus too.
And, guys, for us this morning, the miracle of this moment, the miracle of this event is everything bad in life you’ve ever endured. Every heartbreak you’ve ever experienced. Every hardship you ever go through. Thanks be to Jesus that all of it becomes untrue. All of it will become untrue in the presence of Christ and eternity. All of it. Jesus sees it. Jesus died for it. Jesus will come back as a furious king in judgment against it. And Jesus will wipe away all tears, all suffering, all pain. Revelation 21 tell us that, “And the first will go away and we will be in his presence forever,” because of the hope of this resurrection.
This message has been brought to you by Alpine Bible Church in Lehi, Utah. If you’d like more information, please visit us online at alpinebible.com.