Summary: A sermon for Easter Sunday 2011
John 20: 1 – 18 / Seeing the Lord
Intro: Have you ever play those kind of mind games where you are presented with a scene, and you have to figure out what happened to make that scene the way that it is by asking questions that can only be answered with a “yes” or “no”? Here is just one example: Every day, a gentleman would ride the elevator from the 20th floor of the high rise apartment building in which he lived to the ground floor. But when he came home from work, he would ride the elevator back up to the 6th floor where he would get off and climb the 14 flights of stairs to his apartment. He did this every day, unless it was raining. If it was raining, he would ride the elevator all the way to the floor of his apartment. Why?
I. Let’s try another. On Friday night, a man dies. He is buried on that same night. On Sunday morning, some friends of his arrive at the tomb where he was buried to pay their last respects only to discover that his body is gone. What happened?
A. Vs. 3 – 10 the beloved disciple sees the strips of linen but does not go in / Peter went in and saw the strips of linen and the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. Finally, the beloved disciple enters, sees and believes.
B. Sees (eiden) / believes (episteusen) There is no object of the disciple’s faith. The word believe means more than “acknowledge” or “give assent to” / What does he believe?
C. These verses relate to an empty-tomb story, not a story of a resurrection appearance. Somehow Jesus has conquered death.
II. Vs. 15 repeats Jesus’ words to the first people who seek him at the beginning of his ministry (John 1:38) “What / who are you looking for?”
A. So many through the centuries have been like Peter, the beloved disciple and Mary. They see Jesus for who is was. They believe he was a great man who taught with great authority.
B. Vs. 15 – “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Mary has seen and she believes in Jesus. But it is not until verse 16 that she KNOWS.
C. VS. 16 – “Jesus said to her, Mary.” It is through this personal encounter with Jesus that Mary recognizes and truly knows!
III. Seeing Jesus, believing Jesus, and KNOWING Jesus are three entirely different things. When we KNOW Jesus we truly experience a oneness with him. He becomes a part of us and we with Him.
A. Vs. 17 – go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
B. Mary is told to go tell the Good news. Not that Jesus is alive; but that he is ascending.
C. Because Jesus has promised to prepare a place for you, his ascension makes it possible for his disciples to share fully in his relationship with God. What is true of Jesus’ relationship with God is not true of the disciple’s relationship with God.
Conclu: The noun “brother” (adelphos) is used inclusively to identify all of Jesus’ disciples as his family. It can therefore be translated as “the community.” Here is the fulfillment of the words of John 1: 12 – 13 “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of god, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”
Here is the good news of Easter: We who see, believe and KNOW Jesus make up the family of God. We are made God’s children through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us rejoice and be glad for Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!
(The answer to the riddle-story in the introduction is that the man was a dwarf and could not reach the 20th floor button accept on rainy days when he would use the tip of his umbrella to press the button.)