The Resurrection of The Son of God
Sermon Summary
This message looks at various lessons to be learned from the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus as told by John in the 20th chapter of the gospel that bears his name. Seven lessons are gleaned from these verses as we look at the individuals who interacted with Jesus following His resurrection. One of the most important lessons is the fact we have to eventually decide whether or not we believe Jesus was truly resurrected from the dead. If we believe and accept His resurrection as truth, many benefits flow into our lives. When a person choses to deny the resurrection of Christ they lose the hope and the power that comes through the resurrection. Jesus revealed Himself to the Disciples and to many others so they could understand He had defeated not only death and the grave, but the very enemies of God. It was indeed a glorious victory.

Ice Breaker: Describe your most memorable Easter.

1. What do you think are the probabilities of so many people being willing to risk persecution and even death for something if they new it was a fabricated story?
Acts 4:8  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people!
Acts 4:9  If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed,
Acts 4:10  then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
Acts 4:11  He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.'
Acts 4:12  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:13  When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

2. God used Mary Magdalene even though she had once been demon possessed and Peter even though he had denied knowing Jesus three times. How should this encourage us in our walk and work for The Lord?
1 Cor 1:26  Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
1 Cor 1:27  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
1 Cor 1:28  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are,
1 Cor 1:29  so that no one may boast before him.
1 Cor 1:30  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
1 Cor 1:31  Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

3. Discuss some of the many benefits we are privileged to have in our lives due to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Col 3:1  Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Col 3:2  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Col 3:3  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Col 3:4  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.


Full Sermon Notes
The Resurrection of The Son of God

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We typically think of empty as a bad thing. Like the gas tank, the fridge, the bank account, you know what I mean, empty is usually a bad thing, but not on Easter, or as I like to call it, Resurrection Day! Today we celebrate empty!!
I'm so glad those parents also gave the little girl some chocolate and an Easter Bunny, but wow, what a powerful lesson that she obviously never forgot. Looking back, she realized the gift of faith her mom and dad had given her was one that would last long after the candy was eaten and the stuffing was gone from the rabbit.

The empty gift God gave to the world was an empty tomb which should fill us to the brim with hope, joy, peace and thankfulness! There are those in our world who wonder what in the world we are celebrating and why. There are many who see us as a rather superstitious lot who put a lot of faith and hope in a very old story about a man who supposedly was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day. I toyed with the idea of presenting you with as many convincing proofs of the resurrection as possible in hope any doubters would come to faith in the resurrection of Jesus. I thought about telling you one of the most convincing reasons to believe the Biblical account of Christ's resurrection is the fact that many of the people who knew Jesus before His death evidently saw Him after the resurrection and were convinced it was really Him.
How do we know they were really convinced? When confronted and questioned about their faith in a risen Lord, they refused to deny what they had seen and heard even though many of them would die for that refusal.

Folks, if you are a student of history, you know many people have died for lies before. However, very few people, if any, have ever been willing to die for something they knew to be a lie. No they die for a lie they believe to be true. If the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus and simply buried Him somewhere else, how is it they would all be willing to die for a lie?How is it they would be willing to see their families suffer for something they knew to be false? At this point, someone might say, "well of course the Bible's going to say those people died for their faith in Jesus, what do you expect?" To that I respond, most of what we know about the martyrs does not come from the Bible but from other historical documents. Anyway, I thought about going into all that, but I decided instead to read to you the story of the resurrection as told by John in chapter 20 of his gospel, and let God's Word speak to you. I will give some commentary along the way to point out some amazing resurrection lessons.
Let's PRAY and ask God to teach us today through His Word.
PRAY!
Open your Bibles to John chapter 20 and let's begin our study...

John 20:1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

Resurrection Lessons
Sometimes things look worse than they really are!

Ok, you and I might think, "the stone's gone,  that's a good thing, right?" But not from Mary's point of view. Things just got worse. Not only had they murdered Jesus, now someone had now desecrated the grave by robbing it or worse still, maybe someone had stolen the body of Jesus.

John 20:2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Resurrection Lessons
God's not afraid to use broken people!

She makes a b-line to tell Simon Peter and the other disciple, probably John. Now you don't need to miss here. John makes it a point to show how God uses imperfect people to accomplish His work. Peter was evidently still considered the leader among the disciples as he was the first person Mary Magdalene sought out to tell the news. Remember, Peter's the one who denied Jesus three times just before His Crucifixion. He had wept bitterly over this.
Some people believe John may have been with Peter trying to encourage him to continue in his leadership position. At any rate, Peter was the go to person. And who was this Mary Magdalene who had gotten up before daylight to go to the tomb? She was the Mary from Magdala whom Jesus had earlier cast out seven demons. She had become one of the inner circle of Jesus' closest friends. But she was from a town notoriously wicked and she had this history of psychophysical issues. However, our story today will show you how God choses to use the most unlikely vessels to carry His life changing message to the world! It is a little talked about side story of the resurrection, but so important! Back to the story...

John 20:3-7
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.
4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

Now remember, John is writing this story so he very humbly refers to himself as the other disciple who outran Peter...

5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,
7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.

Resurrection Lessons
Jesus' body had been resurrected but was no longer bound by physical limitations!

Contrary to the Gnostic belief, Jesus had indeed been in a real, physical body. However, after the resurrection, it was different. Contrast Jesus' resurrection with that of Lazarus. Lazarus was bound by his grave clothes and had to be unbound. Not Jesus! Praise God, He was no longer bound by anything!! He was no longer held captive in the heart of the earth. Which by the way isn't just referring to being in the tomb. It is referring to being in the throughs of the suffering He was called to endure on our behalf. The passion of the Christ, as it is called by many, began on Thursday not on Friday. This explains the confusion many have had concerning Jesus' words to the Pharisees...

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Some have wondered what this meant since Jesus was only in the tomb Friday night and Saturday night. However, the arrest happened on Thursday night, and Jesus had stated earlier in the day on Thursday these words...

John 12:27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

Remember Jesus' words to the disciples when He was about to be betrayed? "The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners." But now we are on the other side of the suffering.  Let's continue...

John 20:8-10
8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.

9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
10 Then the disciples went back to their homes,

Resurrection Lessons
Sometimes it's hard to believe even when we see!

How many of us had heard or used the statement, "I just couldn't believe my eyes?" Peter and John saw the stone rolled away, the empty tomb, the garments folded nicely and the head wrap lying there as if Jesus had just passed right through it. However, John points out they still didn't understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. So what does it mean when it says John went inside and saw and believed. I'm not sure, but I think it may have meant he finally believed what Mary had told them. "Yep, somebody took Jesus' body! It's definitely not here!"
Why do I think this. Luke tells us when Mary Magdalene and the other women initially told the disciples the stone was rolled away, "their words seemed like nonsense."
And what did John and Peter do after seeing the empty tomb? Jump up and down and rejoice? Nope. John says they went home.
They just couldn't believe their eyes. But watch what happens next with Mary Magdalene...

John 20:11-15
11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb
12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

Wow! Grief can be blinding. Instead of seeing two angels and thinking, wow, Jesus must have truly risen. She still thinks someone has stolen the body. Let's read on...

John 20:14-15
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Most amazing case of mistaken identity ever! Mary sees a lowly servant instead of the risen Savior! Seeing is not always believing, but hearing can be...

Resurrection Lessons
In the Spiritual realm it is more important to hear than to see!

John 20:16-17
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

Mary needed to hear more than she needed to see. And Jesus spoke not only her name, which caused her to see, but He gave her an important message. In the greek this verb had the meaning of "do not continue holding on to me."  What message was Jesus conveying to her? He was letting her know that He would be ascending to The Father and would no longer be with them in physical form, and she should let go of her dependence on His physical presence with her so that He could live in her heart by way of the Holy Spirit. This was a message He needed the disciples to understand as well. So He sends her on a mission to tell them what He had said. Which she did...

John 20:18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Is there other Scripture to back up this idea that it is more important to hear than to see?
Yes...

2 Corinthians 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.

Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Now we come to a very fascinating portion of our story. Jesus confirms in person the message He had sent through Mary Magdalene...

Resurrection Lessons
Because of the Resurrection Jesus lives in each believer through His Holy Spirit!

John 20:19-22
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit brings us peace! He brings us God's continual presence! He brings the joy of the Lord into our lives. He commissions us to share God's message with the world. He gives us an awesome responsibility...

John 20:23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Wait a minute. What did He say? What did He mean? First of all, Jesus was not giving the disciples the freedom to hold eternal vendettas against people they didn't like. No, they were to preach the gospel of repentance to the world and to proclaim to those who were willing to turn from their wickedness the wonderful forgiveness Jesus suffered and died to give them! But they also had a responsibility to share the truth that Jesus Himself had preached…"But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

Resurrection Lessons
It's natural to doubt, but at some point you have to decide what you believe about Jesus

John 20:24-29
24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

It is very important for you to note that Jesus wasn't angry with Thomas for doubting. Jesus didn't put him down or ridicule him. Jesus did, however, after presenting Thomas with the evidence, ask him to stop doubting and believe! If you are a doubter, I promise, God's not angry with you. He's a big God who can handle your doubts. But you must, at some point, make up your mind.
Last week and this week we've talked about the Gnostics. They believe the material world is all evil and only the spirit world is good. As a result of this belief, the Gnostics denied that Jesus had a real physical body. They believed He was only a spirit who appeared to have a body, but it wasn't real.

There is another extreme. Some suggest that Jesus was only human and not divine, therefore He had no special power over sin and death or special power to reconcile man to God. You may not know this, but Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers, had such a view. He didn't believe in the miracles of the New Testament. He actually sat down with a knife and a couple of Bibles and cut out the parts he didn't believe and took the rest and pasted it together. This Bible is known as the Jefferson Bible and for over 50 years was printed and given to freshman Congressmen when they took office. The Jefferson Bible ends the story of Jesus like this…"There laid they Jesus and rolled a great stone at the mouth of the sepulcher and departed." That's it! It just ends with the Burial. You see, Jefferson believed Jesus to be a great moral teacher, but not divine or capable of miracles, so for Jefferson there was no resurrection.
Here's the deal...

If Jesus was just a good moral teacher and not really who He said He was, we're still better off if we seek to follow His teachings. He was a great teacher and spoke amazing truths. But if a good teacher was all He was, here's what we lose…
We lose the hope of having help in our struggle against sin. In other words, we're back to square one. It's all on us an our ability to do good. If Jesus was just a good teacher, then there's no Holy Spirit to give us supernatural power over sin's dark sway. History, at least my personal history, tells me this is not good. And I think if we look at the history of humankind, it's pretty much the same thing. Not good. We also lose the victory over death and the grave which means we lose the hope of eternal life. We lose the whole concept of being reconciled to God through the forgiveness of sin.

Now, you may not take an actual knife and cut out the parts of the Bible you don't like, but many do pick and choose the parts they will believe and the parts they will ignore. Listen to the way John ends this chapter...

John 20:30-31
30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The events and details surrounding the resurrection were written for you so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that by believing you may have life in His name. Having life in His name is a wonderful thing. I can not tell you how grateful I am for the real and meaningful life which has come to me since I made up my mind to trust God! I literally owe my life to Jesus Christ and it is because He lives that I live.
I would ask the praise team to make their way to the platform as I sing this song. I would ask our staff members to make their way down front to be available to pray with anyone who would like to make a decision for Christ today or with anyone who has a prayer need.

This song has special meaning for me and for my children. I was a children's minister and a youth director for years. I loved my work with kids, but I had decided I didn't want children of my own. People who knew how much I loved kids would ask me why? I told them how it broke my heart when I counseled with parents and teens who were having trouble and I felt my heart would just explode if it were my own flesh and blood. One night we were singing this song in church and when I got to the second verse, God totally changed my heart!

G                                                                          C                           G                         D   D7
God sent His Son they called Him Jesus, He came to love, Heal and forgive,  
How sweet to hold a new born baby and feel the pride and joy he gives
And then one day I'll cross the river I'll fight life's final war with pain
                    G     G7           C                        G                       D                       G
He lived and died to buy my pardon an empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives
but greater still the calm assurance this child can face uncertain days because He lives
And then as death gives way to victory I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives

G                      G7            C                               G                    D
Because He lives I can face tomorrow because He lives all fear is gone Because I
G D G                    C                       G                      D                      G
know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives