Summary: John mentions four people by name in his gospel account of the resurrection. Let’s look at them.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
ILL. Shohoiya Yokowai spent 28 years of his life in prison. It was not a prison of bars & locks & wardens, but a self-imposed prison of fear. He was a Japanese soldier on the island of Guam during WW2. And when the American forces landed, he fled into the jungle & found a cave in which he hid for 28 years because he was afraid of being captured by the Americans.
He learned that the war was over by reading one of the thousands of pamphlets dropped into the jungle. But he was afraid. So for 28 years he lived in the cave, coming out only at night to look for roaches & rats & frogs & mangoes on which he survived.
Finally some natives found him & convinced him that it would be all right for him to come out of his jungle prison.
A. We think, "What a waste! Imagine, spending 28 years living as a a prisoner of fear." Yet, there are a lot of people who are prisoners of fear.
Listen to these words found in Hebrews 2:14-15, "Since the children have flesh & blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - & free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."
APPL. Now that is the message of Easter - through Jesus there is freedom from death & the gift of eternal life through the resurrection of Christ our Lord.
B. So please turn with me this morning to the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John, where John tells about the resurrection of Jesus in a slightly different way than do Matthew, Mark, & Luke in their gospel accounts.
Matthew, Mark, & Luke give us the events, while John focuses on a few of the people who are involved, & tells how they reacted when they first heard the news that Jesus was risen.
C. In this chapter John mentions 4 people. Of course, the apostles are mentioned as a group, but only 4 people are mentioned specifically by name.
1. The first one is Mary Magdalene. She is mentioned in vs’s 1 & 2, & then again in more detail in vs’s 11-18. Vs’s 1-2 say,
"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb & saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter & the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, & said, `They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, & we don’t know where they have put Him!’"
2. As you noticed, the next 2 people mentioned are Peter & John. Of course, John never mentions his own name. He usually calls himself "the other disciple." So remember, the "other disciple" is the apostle John.
Now follow along with me as I read vs’s 3-8. "So Peter & the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter & reached the tomb first. He bent over & looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
"Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived & went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw & believed."
3. Then, in the last part of the chapter Thomas, whom we often call "Doubting Thomas," is mentioned.
SUM. Now those are the 4 that John mentions by name in his Gospel account of the resurrection, & I want us to look at them a bit more carefully this morning. But I’m going to talk about them in a little different order if I may.
PROP. To help us remember these 4 & their reactions that day, I want to use 4 descriptive words, applying one to each of them.
I. JOHN, THE "THINKER"
A. The first word is "thinker." The Apostle John was a thinker. I suppose it is only natural for us to assume that since he was a Gallilean fisherman he probably was poorly educated.
But that is not the case. Study the writings of John & you’ll realize that John was a learned man, a man who understood the classics, a man who watched & listened & thought a lot. When Jesus called him John followed & listened intently to everything that Jesus had to say.
And as he evaluated the message, he grew in his understanding & love until soon he is counted as one of the apostles closest to Jesus. In fact, he is called, "that apostle whom Jesus loved." At the Last Supper, in the upper room, John was the one who sat at the right hand of Jesus.