Summary: Easter morning message showing that the Pharisees believed Jesus’ words perhaps more than His disciples did. God has more in store for us than we can possibly imagine.
John 20:9 – The Best is Yet to Come
The Call to Worship had just been pronounced starting Easter Sunday Morning service in an East Texas church. The choir started its processional, singing "Up from the Grave He Arose" as they marched in perfect step down the center aisle to the front of the church. The last lady was wearing shoes with very slender heels. Without a thought for her fancy heels, she marched toward the grating that covered that hot air register in the middle of the aisle. Suddenly the heel of one shoe sank into the hole in the register grate. In a flash she realized her predicament. Not wishing to hold up the whole processional, without missing a step, she slipped her foot out of her shoe and continued marching down the aisle. There wasn’t a hitch.
The processional moved with clock-like precision. The first man after her spotted the situation and without losing a step, reached down and pulled up her shoe, but the entire grate came with it! Surprised, but still singing, the man kept on going down the aisle, holding in his hand the grate with the shoe attached. Everything still moved like clockwork. Still in tune and still in step, the next man in line stepped into the open register and disappeared from sight.
The service took on a special meaning that Sunday, for just as the choir ended with "Hallelujah, Christ arose!" a voice was heard under the church shouting…"I hope all of you are out of the way ‘cause I’m coming out now!" The little girl closest to the aisle shouted, "Come on, Jesus! We’ll stay out of the way."
The simple faith of a little girl, the faith to expect Jesus to do great things. You know, we struggle with that simple faith. The faith to take God at His word. The faith to believe that God will do great things. Today, I want to look at one verse on scripture, in John 20:9, that has taken me aback a little. Let’s review the events on that first Easter morning. Several women – Mary the mother of James, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, and others – were walking to the tomb where Jesus had been placed, before sunrise. They went to say goodbye to their loved leader.
But who would move the 2000-lb stone? When they got there, though, they found that it was already moved. An angel had rolled back the stone. And by the time the women got there, the grave was open and empty, and the guards were unconscious nearby. The women entered the tomb. Suddenly the angel appeared, along with another one, sitting where Jesus had been.
They stood up and said, “Don’t be afraid or alarmed. I know you’re looking for Jesus, who was crucified. But why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here – He’s risen! Remember the words He spoke when He was with you in Galilee? He said He would be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, but would rise again. Come and see where He was. Now, hurry – go tell His disciples, and especially Peter, that they will see Him in Galilee.”
So they women ran out, trembling, bewildered, confused and afraid. They said nothing to anyone until they reached the place where the disciples were staying. They told them the good news, and Mary Magdalene singled out Peter. I pick up the story in John 20:3-8.
Now, it’s this next verse that has caught my attention lately: v9. The disciples, Jesus’ closest friends, didn’t get it. They had heard Jesus tell of His death, but they didn’t get it when it happened. And they had heard Jesus tell of His resurrection, prophesying that He would be killed but be raised by the power of God. But when it happened, they just didn’t get it. They were in shock after watching Him die that it never entered their minds that He really would rise.
Now, just to stir this up more, Jesus’ enemies didn’t forget His words. They had caught wind of His teaching of rising from the dead. Now, they likely didn’t believe that He really would rise, but they wanted to make sure no-one came to steal the body, thus perpetuating the story. They placed a guard in front of the tomb, just to make sure that rumors of His rising didn’t happen. Do you see? Jesus’ enemies took Jesus’ words more seriously than his best friends did.
There were plenty of OT passages saying the Messiah would rise again. Like Psalm 16:10: “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” And Isaiah 53:10, after describing the Messiah’s death, says: “He will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.” There are many verses that speak of the Lord raising the dead after 3 days and so on. As well, Jesus had taken these passages and said, “These are about me!”