Jesus, the Resurrection – John 20
Every year at this time millions of people flood the stores looking for new clothes. They will go where they hardly ever or never go. They will attend a church worship services. But why bother? What is so important about this day? What makes it different from any other day; any other Sunday?
As you know, we call this day Easter. I like to call it Resurrection Day; the day set aside to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. But what difference does the resurrection make?
Perhaps no event from history is as well attested as the resurrection of Christ. Christianity stands on the issue. Western Civilization has built its calendar on it. Many have challenged its veracity, but none has disproved its reality. The early disciples (over 500 at once) and the Apostles saw their risen Lord and willingly put their lives at risk for Him and His gospel. Some saw His tomb; empty of all but the suffocating grave clothes He had left behind. And the religious leaders could not suppress the fact nor the zeal and passion that grew from it. Some of them even bowed the knee to the risen Lord as we see in the book of Acts. The grave, the grave clothes, the changed disciples, the changed lives of former rejecters, and the eye witness accounts all point to a risen Christ.
The reality of Christ’s resurrection has been and is a source of peace to countless of His followers. Those who know and follow Christ are not devotees of a dead or even martyred founder. We know and are known by the living Lord Jesus Christ who foretold His crucifixion and promised His resurrection.
The earliest believers illustrate the change from doubt to fear and confidence and faith that comes with a personal knowledge of the risen Lord. The account in John 20 rehearses the wailing of Mary upon her discovery that the body of the One who changed her life was missing. The disciples were holed up in a closed room likely hoping to escape martyrdom themselves. What was left for them now that Jesus was dead and buried?
But Mary’s sorrow was turned to joy and peace when she heard His voice and saw Him. Peter and John hurried to the tomb when they were informed it was empty. There the truth of the resurrection dawned on them. As word spread, the excitement grew until Christ appeared to the Apostles (absent Thomas). These usually bold, courageous men, frightened at the prospect of being arrested as Jesus’ accomplices, were suddenly visited by Christ. Appearing out of “nowhere”, He pronounced His peace upon them. His presence and words changed everything for them. Worry, fear, confusion, and uncertainty were all eclipsed by the reality of their resurrected Lord.
Read the accounts of the four Gospels, and you will find Christ gave the a mission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…” He gave them the means: “Then He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” And He gave them a message. They could assure all those who would come in faith to Christ of God’s forgiveness. And they could assure all who reject Christ of judgment.
But the resurrection is not just something to ponder. It is something to proclaim. Thomas was absent when Christ first appeared to the Apostles, but it did not take them long to tell him. Thomas would not be swayed. He wanted proof – to see for himself. So when Christ appeared the second time to the Apostles, it was under similar circumstances, with the doors shut. Out of “nowhere” the Lord appeared. This time He went directly to Thomas and with all his love and mercy shows him the wounds of the crucifixion. Then He said to him, “Thomas, stop doubting and believe.” And Thomas responded with that wonderful declaration, “My Lord and my God!”
What Thomas declared and proclaimed in that closed room he later helped proclaim throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and every corner of the known world. And that is what we who know Christ are to do.
Ultimately, the resurrection proves Jesus is who He said He was. Romans 1:4 says, “He was declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead.” That resurrection power is owned by every believer and just as salvation comes by grace through faith, the resurrection life is lived by grace through faith. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live. Yet, not I, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who lived me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20) “Since you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:1-3) “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? How shall we who are dead to sin live any linger in it…we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:1-4)
As you worship this “Resurrection Day”, ask the Lord to stamp these truths on your heart afresh and pray for the grace to daily live the resurrected life.