Summary: An Easter Message.
A HELPER FOR LIFE’S CRISES
INTRO: Suppose the Bell telephone system had existed in Jesus’ day. More than likely, there would have been a “crisis line.” The events of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and the days afterwards would have caused the lines to be busy. The followers of Jesus would have called about their crises. They witnessed Jesus’ death. Their hopes had been dashed. Despair, doubt, fear, frustration, and many negative feelings filled the disciples’ mind.
Jesus knew about the crises. John recorded several appearances of the risen Lord where He helped people. After His resurrection, He continued to help people. Jesus helps us with our crises.
I. JESUS CONFRONTS OUR DESPAIR (vv. 1-10).
It was always the custom in Palestine to visit the tomb of a loved one for three days after the body had been laid in the tomb. They believed that for three days the spirit of the dead person hovered and waited round the tomb; and only after then did the spirit depart, for the body by then became unrecognizable through decay.
Jesus’ friends could not come on the Sabbath, because to make a journey on the Sabbath would have been to break the law.
Mary Magdalene came to Jesus’ tomb. She was distressed over His death. When she arrived, she saw that the body of Jesus was gone. This sight added to her despair. She ran frightened to tell Peter. Peter came with her. Both of them came to the tomb, and they saw the folded grave clothes. They were arranged in an orderly fasion. There was no haste.
Peter saw more after he entered than John did in his first glance, but John saw into the meaning of it all better than Peter. Peter had more sight, John had more insight. John was the first to believe that Jesus was risen from the tomb even before he saw him. Peter went away wondering still.
There is no need to have despair about life or death. Jesus helps us to see that life has meaning with Him and death has been defeated by Him.
II. JESUS HELPS WITH OUR GRIEF (vv. 11-18).
Mary came to Jesus’ tomb. She wept when she saw that it was empty. Jesus dealt with her grief. To Mary belongs the glory of being the first person to see the Risen Christ.
Why could Mary not recognize Jesus? She could not recognize Jesus because of her tears, and because she insisted on facing in the wrong direction. She could not take her eyes off the tomb, and she had her back to Jesus.
Whatever causes us to grieve, we can be assured of the Lord’s help. We must not let tears blind our eyes to glory; and we must never fasten our eyes upon what causes our grief and turn our back to Jesus. He stands beside us, hears our sobs, and offers comforting words!
III. JESUS CALMS OUR FEARS (vv. 19-23).
It is most likely that the disciples continued to meet in the upper room where the Last Supper had been held. The disciples assembled for fear of the Jews. They thought that they would be crucified next. The Lord appeared to these frightened disciples and helped. He spoke words of peace.
Verse 23 - What Jesus commits to the disciples and to us is the power and privilege of giving assurance of the forgiveness of sins by God by correctly announcing the terms of forgiveness. Jesus puts into the hands of Peter and of all believers the keys of the Kingdom which we should use to open the door for those who wish to enter. This glorious promise applies to all believers who will tell the story of Christ’s love for men.
Many fears fill our mind. We are afraid of the future, of our jobs, of our relationships, and many other threats. Jesus helps our fears with His words of assurance.
IV. JESUS DEALS WITH OUR DOUBTS (vv. 24-29).
Thomas made one mistake. He withdrew from the Christian fellowship. He sought loneliness rather than togetherness. And because he was not present when Jesus appeared to the apostles, he missed the first coming of Jesus. He doubted their testimony of Jesus’ resurrection. He had seen the crucifixion and His death, and Thomas needed proof. Jesus appeared to Thomas and caused him to ovrcome his doubts.
Jesus helps doubters. He does not condemn them for doubting. Instead, He invites doubters to do more investigating. But we miss a great deal when we separate ourselves from the Christian fellowship and when we try to be alone. Things can happen to us within the fellowship of Christ’s church which will not happen to us when we are alone.
CONC: Crises prevail in abundance today! Jesus is alive. He is available to you. Call on Him.