Summary: Many think that John, upon seeing the grave clothes, believed that Jesus had risen. This sermon challenges that view and, more importantly, what we really believe (live out).
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’ 3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.”
A. I have heard many sermons preached on the faith of John.
B. So, let’s take a quick look at this powerful verse eight.
I. When John went into the tomb, “he saw and believed.”
A. As to what he saw, we know he saw the linen clothes (5) and assumedly the handkerchief that Peter saw (7).
B. The evidence is incontrovertible to them and to us. Jesus’s body was stolen.
C. Look back at verse 2, that’s what Mary had told them. Was there reason to believe anything else?
II. What indication is there that John believed that Christ was risen?
A. Feel free to search through the text, the other Gospels, I Corinthians 15, or anywhere else in the New or Old Testament to find the idea that, when John saw the empty grave clothes, he remembered the prophecies from the Old Testament or the predictions from the mouth of Jesus Himself that He would rise from the dead.
B. There are no such insights into John’s awareness.
C. We love the pithy statement that he believed, but let’s consider it in context.
III. Let’s go on to verse nine.
“For as yet they did not know the Scripture that He must rise again from the dead.”
A. The word translated “not yet” could mean “up to this point” as it is in Luke 23:53
“Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.”
B. Nevertheless, the other usages, including John’s account of the garden tomb, refer to something that was not yet true and wasn’t becoming true at that point.
John 19:41 “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.”
7:39 “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
I Cor 8:2 “And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.”
A. I hope this is encouraging to those of us who feel less than the super Christians who have so much more faith or insights than we do. They probably don’t.
B. By the way, you’ve probably heard of doubting Thomas from verse 25.
“The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ ”
He gets that name because he was the last one to see the resurrected Jesus. Realize that there was already a doubting Peter, doubting James, doubting Matthew, etc.
C. What I want you to take away, though, is the challenge, “What do you believe?”
1. Is your faith based on what others say about Jesus rather than in Him?
a. His body was stolen.
b. He was the greatest magician ever.
c. The women went to the wrong tomb.
2. I hope all of us believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and that is why the tomb was empty.
a. However, I also believe that the world is round. Yet, I don’t ever consider this in my plans or activities.
b. For example, I have traveled much of this world without ever trying to figure out if one route is better than another because of the curvature of the earth.
c. Is that the way you believe in the resurrection? Does it enter into your thinking outside of church? Does it govern or even influence the way you live?
3. What do you believe?