April 16th 2017: Easter Sunday: Mike Viccary

John 20: 19-29

We have a mountain of evidence of the coming of Jesus Christ, who was crucified and three days later rose from the dead. In the gospel accounts there are eleven recordings of Jesus appearing to different people after His crucifixion. His teaching and fellowship is evidence for all:

  • First He met Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9).
  • Next He appeared to the three women. The women had seen an angel at the tomb who told them to tell the disciples. As they were going to see the disciples they met Jesus who told them not to be afraid but to ‘tell my brothers.’ (Matthew 28:9).
  • Jesus met with Peter.
  • Jesus met with Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus, who did not recognise Him at first but did so after He broke bread, before He vanished.
    (Luke 24)
  • Jesus met with the disciples, minus Thomas (John 20:19)
  • Jesus again met with His disciples, including Thomas (Luke 24:36).

All of these meetings happened on the first day of Resurrection.

  • A week later Jesus again met with seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias
    (John 21).
  • Jesus met the disciples on the mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28: 16-17).
  • Jesus appeared to 500 (1 Corinthians 15.6)
  • Jesus appeared to James (1 Corinthians 15:7)
  • Jesus appeared to Paul the Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:8).

Some of these accounts were very personal, such as His meetings with Mary, Peter, the two men on the road to Emmaus. It is important for us to meet Jesus in a personal way.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

As Jesus meets the gathered assembly there are three points to note:

  • The Resurrection of Christ establishes a certainty, a sure foundation.
  • The Resurrection brings peace.
  • The Resurrection initiates purpose.
  • The Resurrection of Christ Establishes a certainty, a sure foundation:

    It is a physical resurrection. Jesus spoke (v.19), He showed the disciples His hands and His side (v.20). The disciples weren’t expecting to see Jesus. They see Him and become glad. A week later Thomas actually gets to put his hands on Jesus wounds. Luke 24:37 tells us a little bit more – the disciples were terrified. Jesus questioned why they doubted, then told them to handle Him, ‘See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ Jesus also ate. This is a bodily, physical resurrection. This is a real person.

 

The disciples came from despair to the point of extreme joy. In the case of Thomas, he said, ‘Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe.’ (John 20:25). Mercifully, the Lord Jesus responds to each of those requests (John 20:27). Here is a doubter convinced by Christ. But what about you and I? The Lord Jesus has something to say to you and I, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ (John 20:29). Have we encountered the risen Lord ourselves, in spiritual ways? Have we had our eyes opened?

We get a glimpse of the new heavens and earth, the new creation. Jesus’ ascended body was glorified, the resurrected body was not glorified but was different. Jesus suddenly appeared when the doors were shut. How did Mary Magdalene not recognises Jesus at first, thinking He was the gardener? The two men on the road to Emmaus did not recognise Jesus until He broke bread and they received the Holy Spirit. Then He suddenly vanished. How is it He went into heaven, defying gravity?

 

In 1 Corinthians 15 we read the resurrected body is incorruptible, the resurrected body is powerful. It is governed by the spirit, not the flesh. ‘It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.’ (1 Corinthians 15:43). It is a heavenly body.

The disciples didn’t understand Jesus would rise, ‘For as yet they did not understand the Scripture that He must rise from the dead.’ (John 20:9). Now they’ve spoken to Him, they understand. Jesus’ resurrection proves to us what He achieved on Friday was successful. ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 6:23). Death could not restrain Christ. All of our sin was removed. When Jesus died on the cross all sin was dealt with, every debt was paid. We have an amazing confidence.

  • The Resurrection of Christ brings peace:

The disciples were frightened. Jesus says, ‘Peace be with you.’ (John 20:19). God always takes the initiative. He comes into their troubled situation and says something so amazing, ‘Peace be with you.’ He says this three times (verses 19, 21 and 26). This points us to the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father sent the Son who died on the cross. He is our mediator. We cannot see God or the Holy Spirit, but we can commune in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If Christ ascended straight to heaven we would not have all these truths and evidence. Peace, His peace, the peace of God. When Paul writes any of his letters, he writes ‘Peace from God.’ It’s the Shalom, the well-being, the settled nature. Unless we have Christ we are out of kilter. You and I need the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in order to live. We need the peace, the peace of God. By nature we are enemies of God, we have gone our own way. We have to trust in God. We need the peace which has love, from the death of Christ on the cross.

  • The Resurrection initiates purpose (John 20:21-22)

Just as the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends you and I. Jesus did what the Father told Him, He did the Father’s Will. Our mission is to do what the Lord sends us to do, to do as He commands. The message He brought is the message we should give. We are ambassadors to the world. We have the Holy Spirit with us. Unless the Spirit of God is leading us, the Word of God, we cannot carry out this mission. ‘If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.’ (John 20:23). We forgive one another in love, others learn from this. Christ died, Christ rose, He is now in heaven and we look forward to a resurrected body. We have peace with God. The problem of sin is dealt with. God has given us a purpose, proclaiming the Word, sins can be forgiven in Christ.

 

 

 

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