Light In The Darkness

(Isaiah 9:1-7)



It’s been a difficult year!


Most of us would agree with that statement. ​​ We could never have imagined in our lifetime that something like the coronavirus would cause such distress, chaos, fear, anxiety, and depression.


Add to that the racial tensions that have surfaced over this past year.


Then, add to that the political divide that continues to widen.


Finally, add to that the economic downturn and we have the makings of something very difficult and dark


It’s easy for us to look at 2020 and say that we are living in the land of the shadow of death. ​​ It’s not hard to feel like we are walking in darkness.



  • ME

    • Times of darkness

        • The miscarriage of our one child

        • When criticism comes

          • I’m a self-evaluator

          • I’m hardest on myself


  • WE

    • Times of darkness

        • Financial struggles

        • Emotional struggles

        • Physical struggles

        • Spiritual struggles

    • Times of darkness for God’s people

        • God spoke directly to the prophets in the Old Testament

        • He gave them prophetic words for the people of Israel and their leaders

        • Most of the messages from God to His people and their leaders were not feel-good messages, but rather warnings about punishment to come if they didn’t repent and turn back to Him

        • Some of the prophetic words were about the future and brought hope

          • That’s what He did with Isaiah as we’ll see today

          • BIG IDEA – There is light in the darkness, through Jesus!

          • But first I want to do a little background work on Advent for those of you who have never experienced it or have experienced it, but never understood why it is celebrated the four weeks leading up to Christmas


  • Meaning of Advent

    • Advent comes from Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival”

    • Candles

        • Prophecy/Candle of Hope (purple)

        • Bethlehem/Candle of Preparation (purple)

        • Shepherds/Candle of Joy (pink)

        • Angels/Candle of Love (purple)

        • Christ Candle (white)

    • Wreath

        • The circle reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end

        • The evergreen used, speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life.

        • Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus.

        • The 4 outer candles represent the period of waiting during the 4 Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the 4 centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.


  • The Prophecy Candle (Isaiah 9:1-7)

    • Isaiah’s time

        • Most of the OT prophecies were not exciting news for the Israelites

        • God would use the prophets to help turn the Israelites back to Him

        • Israel not following the Lord

        • As we see in Isaiah 8:1-10, God uses Assyria to humble the northern kingdom

        • This was the mode of operation for Israel

          • They would forget about God and turn to idols and other practices that He found detestable

          • He would send them in to exile by using neighboring nations that would come in and conquer them

          • They would remember the Lord while in exile and cry out to Him for rescue

          • He would hear their cries and bring them back to the Promised Land

    • Isaiah’s prophecy – first part (9:1-2)

        • Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? (8:19)

        • Thrust into utter darkness (8:22)

        • We see the transitional word “Nevertheless” or “But” which is contrasting what was just mentioned in 8:22.

        • In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (the northern kingdom)

              • “They were most severely ravaged when the Assyrians invaded from the north.” (Guzik)

        • In the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles

          • This goes back to the mode of operation for Israel

          • When they repent and cry out to God, He hears them and rescues them from their oppressors

        • The people walking in darkness

          • The reference here, to living in darkness, is something that we all can connect with

          • The Israelites, while in exile, were being oppressed

          • It’s hard to be happy when you are a slave to someone or something else, because that “master” dictates everything you do

          • If your master is an addiction, you know the darkness associated with that and the pull of that master

          • If your master is the opinions of others, you understand the darkness of depression

          • If your master is someone who is abusing you, you recognize the darkness of secrecy that surrounds you

        • Have seen a great light, a light has dawned

          • Isaiah hints here of hope that is coming

          • Light is associated with hope, with being able to see things clearly

          • It drives out fear

          • If you’ve every slept with a nightline on, you understand that even a little bit of light drives out darkness and fear

          • Isaiah says that the people walking in darkness have seen a great light – it wasn’t just a little light

    • Isaiah’s prophecy – first part fulfilled

        • Read Matthew 4:13-17

        • We see in this passage that Jesus lived in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali

        • Matthew quotes Isaiah 9:1-2 and verifies that Isaiah was referring to Jesus as the light.

        • Jesus spoke about Himself as the light

          • John 8:12“I am the light of the world.”

          • John 9:5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

          • John 12:46I have come into the world as a light . . .

          • John 1:4-5In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.

          • John 1:9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world

        • There is light in the darkness, through Jesus!

    • Verses 3 to 5

        • Isaiah is speaking about future events

        • Some of it was fulfilled in Isaiah 37 when God accepted King Hezekiah’s prayer concerning the Assyrian’s. ​​ The angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrians.

        • It can also represent the second coming of Christ and His deliverance and victory

          • Jesus’ ministry would bring joy and gladness

          • There will be rejoicing when He returns

          • He will conquer completely – the reference to the burning of the boots and garments was something that would be done when the battle was finished and you had won!

    • Isaiah’s prophecy – second part (9:6-7)

        • Jesus birth

          • A child is born

            • This speaks of Jesus humanity

            • “There is nothing more weak, more helpless, more dependent than a child. ​​ Theoretically, the Messiah could have come as a fully grown man, created as an adult even as Adam was created. ​​ But for Jesus to fully identify with humanity, and to display in His life the servant nature that is in God, made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7)”
              [David Guzik]

            • This was the starting point of Jesus humanity

          • A son is given

            • This speaks of Jesus deity

            • Since He has always been, there was no starting point to his deity, but God gave Him to us.

            • John 3:16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

            • “That Jesus is both God and man tells us that man really is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26) and that perfect humanity is more compatible with deity than we imagine. ​​ It says that our problem is not our humanity, but our fallenness . . . remember that the humanity that Jesus added to His Divine nature was not the sinful humanity we commonly know, but the perfect humanity of Adam and Eve before the fall.” ​​ [David Guzik]

          • Jesus humanity allowed Him to take your punishment for sin and His deity allowed Him to be the perfect sacrifice that God demanded. ​​ Without either we would be lost in our sin.

        • Jesus’ reign

          • The government will be on His shoulders – this will be fulfilled in the Millennium (thousand year reign) when Jesus reigns in Jerusalem.

          • Gayle Erwin writes about the government God promises, both ultimately and right now:

            What might such a government look like? ​​ First of all, it would look like its king. ​​ Politicians of this day look for what they can get from you. ​​ Jesus looks for what He can do for you.

            Leaders of this day surround themselves with servants. ​​ Jesus surrounds us with His servanthood.

            Leaders of this day use their power to build their empire. ​​ Jesus uses his power to wash our feet and make us clean and comfortable.

            Leaders of this day trade influence for money. ​​ God so loved that he gave . . .

            Generals of this day need regular wars to keep their weapons and skills up to date and insure their own advancement. ​​ Jesus brings peace and rest to hearts

            The higher the plane of importance one reaches in this world, the more inaccessible he becomes. ​​ Jesus was Emmanuel, “God with us.”

            Leaders of this day are desperate to be seen and heard. ​​ Jesus sought anonymity so He could be useful.

            Obviously, Jesus is not in charge of the halls of Washington, London, Moscow, Baghdad, Paris or Bonn. ​​ So, how can we ever believe the “government will be upon His shoulders?”

            Actually, His government shows its workings in wonderful ways. ​​ Whenever I see someone who miraculously leaves a life of drugs or alcohol and is restored to his family and work, I can see that he is now governed by God.

            Whenever I see loving Christians gently caring for orphans and those rejected by family, I know I am watching people governed by God.

            Whenever I see people eagerly learning the Bible and joyously praising, I know who the governor is.

            Whenever I see people give up lucrative careers simply to go and share the Good News of Jesus, I know they are governed by God.

            When I see pastors carefully teach and lead the flock God has given them, I know they are getting signals from the great King.

            When I see people leave family to live and teach in distant lands because they love the people who have not heard, I know they are governed by God.


          • Daniel Watts of Every Generation Ministries has said: ​​ “When we think about a King building His kingdom we realize it requires battles where they conquer those around them.  The King of Kings, Jesus Christ, did something completely different - He died in order to establish His kingdom.”

        • The names/character of Jesus

          • Wonderful – Hebrew, peh’leh, which means admirable, distinguished. ​​ Jesus’ reign will not be boring.

          • Counselor – Hebrew, yä-ats’, which means one who consults, i.e. cares for, protects. ​​ There is no need for an appointment or fees with Jesus. ​​ He should be our immediate resource as a counselor.

            • Scholars debate whether these two names should be combined or not

            • Whether they are taken together or not we see God’s attribute of omniscience (all-knowing)

            • He knows exactly how to counsel us in the dark times of our lives

          • Mighty God – Jesus cannot only give you wise counsel, but has the power to help execute that wise counsel

            • We see in this name another attribute of God, omnipotence (all-powerful)

            • Nothing is too hard for Him

            • Jesus had and used supernatural power to get the attention of people so He could share with them about God and His kingdom

          • Everlasting Father – Warren Wiersbe says that a better translation is “Father of eternity”. ​​ Among Jews, the word “father” means “originator” or “source.” ​​ In John 8:44 Satan is the “father [originator] of lies”. ​​ If we want anything eternal we have to go to Jesus

            • In Hebrew and Arabic when they say that someone is “the father of” they are saying they are the source of that thing

            • Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine

            • Galileo – the father of modern science

            • Wilhelm Wundt – the father of modern psychology

            • We see here another attribute of God, omnipresent (always present with us, throughout eternity)

          • Prince of Peace – Jesus is the one who makes peace, especially between God and man

            • “The Hebrew term shalom indicates not only absence of war, but a condition of rich, harmonious, and positive well-being.” ​​ [BBC, 63]

            • The final attribute of God in Jesus is omnificence, which means unlimited in creative bounty

    • Isaiah’s prophecy – second part fulfilled

        • Luke 2:11 – Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord

        • Jesus was born in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago.

        • Verse 7 is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. ​​ It will be fulfilled when Christ returns.

          • There will be unending peace.

          • He will fulfill God’s promise to David that there would always be someone from his line on the throne.

          • He will be a just and righteous King


  • YOU

    • Darkness

        • The Israelites understood Isaiah, because they had first-hand experience with being oppressed

        • They needed to have hope in this darkness

        • Perhaps you’re experiencing the darkness of oppression today

          • There may be a “master” that is controlling your actions, attitudes, and behaviors

          • You know you need to get out from underneath that “master”, but it’s difficult

          • There is hope!

          • Allow Jesus to be your master

          • He knows about your situation and has the power to help

          • He is always present waiting for you to cry out to Him in repentance and to ask Him for help

          • He wants to bring peace to your life

          • He is the light that drives out darkness

          • There is light in the darkness, through Jesus!

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Begin this Advent season by crying out to God in repentance and ask Him to be my Master.

          • Tell God about the master that is currently oppressing and controlling you

          • Ask Him to remove that master from your life

    • Bright future

        • As followers of Jesus Christ, we know that our future is bright

          • We serve a God who keeps His promises

          • All of His prophecies have come true, so we know those that have not yet been fulfilled will be

          • We can rejoice that God fulfilled his prophecy through Isaiah as we remember Jesus birth during this Advent season

        • Perhaps you don’t see the future as being bright

          • You can change that today

          • John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. ​​ Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

          • This is talking about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ

          • Following Jesus requires a 180-degree turn

            • That turn happens when you repent of your sins and ask Jesus to come into your life

            • The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23) – that’s eternal darkness

            • The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus our Lord

            • God’s offers you the free gift of eternal life by believing in Jesus and receiving Him into your life

            • You can do that today and know for sure that your future is bright

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Receive God’s free gift of eternal life and know that my future will be bright!



“During the 2008 presidential race, John McCain was asked by Time magazine to share his ‘personal journey of faith.’ In his article McCain shared a powerful story of something that occurred while he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam:


When I was a prisoner of war in Vietnam…my captors would tie my arms behind my back and then loop the rope around my neck and ankles so that my head was pulled down between my knees. I was often left like that throughout the night. One night a guard came into my cell. He put his finger to his lips signaling for me to be quiet and then loosened my ropes to relieve my pain. The next morning, when his shift ended, the guard returned and retightened the ropes, never saying a word to me.


A month or so later, on Christmas Day, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw that same guard approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me, not looking or smiling at me. Then he used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas, even in the darkness of a Vietnamese prison camp.”


John McCain, "A Light amid the Darkness," Time magazine (8-18-08), p. 40; submitted by Kevin Miller, executive vice president, Christianity Today International.




Fireside Chat

(John 21:15-17)



“The president wants to come into your home and sit at your fireside for a little fireside chat,” announced Robert Trout on the airwaves of CBS in March 1933. It was the first of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous radio talks addressing the problems and successes of the Great Depression, and later, World War II. President Roosevelt had not originally planned a title for these broadcasts, but the name “Fireside Chat,” coined by CBS station manager Harold Butcher in reference to the president’s conversational speaking style, stuck. During President Roosevelt’s twelve years in office, the Fireside Chats connected the White House to ordinary American homes as never before.1

Franklin Roosevelt took office at the start of the golden age of radio. When he was first elected in 1932, forty-one percent of U.S. cities had their own radio station. Five years into Roosevelt’s presidency, nearly ninety percent of the U.S. population had access to a radio. Radio was fast overtaking newspapers as America’s major source of news, as it did not require literacy to enjoy or even money to buy—just a friend or neighbor willing to let others tune in. Walking down the street in cities and small towns, one could hear music, radio dramas, comedy hours, or news drifting out of open windows. By the end of the decade, ninety percent of Americans said they would sooner give up movies than radio.2

The primacy of radio as a source of entertainment and news gave President Roosevelt an opportunity no U.S. president had yet had: to speak directly to broad sections of the American public without having his message filtered through the press. Presidents before him had always had to rely on newspaper reporters and editors to convey their words to the public, leaving their original message open to editorial slant or misquoting. Live radio, by contrast, left no room for misquotation.


During his presidency, Franklin Roosevelt used periodic Fireside Chats to tell the public what government was doing about the Great Depression and later, the second World War. During the years of the New Deal President Roosevelt addressed the nation on-air about twice a year, announcing each chat a week or two in advance to ensure a wide listenership. He defended government programs, answered his critics, expressed encouragement through difficult national times, and requested cooperation with his policies. 3

With the United States’ entry into World War II, President Roosevelt started to broadcast about every three months, feeling that it was important to update the public frequently on the progress of the war. His frustration with information provided by the press was constant throughout his time in office: a reporter once asked if he planned to discuss recent talks with Winston Churchill on air, to which the president replied, “It’s up to you fellows. If you fellows give the country an exceedingly correct picture, I won’t go on the radio.” 4

For many Americans, the Fireside Chats, delivered in President Roosevelt’s calm, measured voice, were a source of comfort—a reassurance that during the crises of the Great Depression and World War II, a steady hand was on the wheel. The first Fireside Chat, updating the electorate on what the federal government was doing to address the banking crisis of 1933, came just eight days into Roosevelt’s first administration, direct from the White House to half a million listeners. The sense of connection with the president was immediate. A flood of letters from citizens across the country inundated the White House Mail Room in the months after that first on-air address, most expressing strong support for the president’s words. One letter in particular summed up the general spirit of the response: “Think of having the president talk to us in our parlor…” 5




  • ME

    • Campfires

        • Judy loves to have campfires

          • We’ve had many, here at the pavilion

          • We’ve also had several at various campgrounds

          • Sitting around campfire provides an incredible opportunity to relax and talk

          • We’ve had some really meaningful talks with our children and their friends around a campfire

        • Creation campfires

          • A least of couple of times we’ve had campfires at Creation Music Festival

          • Those campfires have brought out some deep conversations about the things of God as youth are away from their usual surroundings and perhaps more open to hearing from the Lord


  • WE

    • Creation campfires

        • How many of us have experienced those deep, meaningful conversations around a campfire at Creation?

        • Perhaps we remember a youth giving their life to Jesus Christ for the first time (can you remember their name(s)?)

        • Maybe it was a Creation campfire conversation that sparked the desire to enter full-time ministry

    • Personal campfires

        • Every one of us can probably think of a time when we had a meaningful conversation around a campfire

        • Even if it wasn’t around a campfire, we can probably recall a time when we had a deep conversation with someone about Jesus Christ and God


Jesus had a fireside chat prepared for Peter and the other disciples after their breakfast together on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. ​​ Peter had publicly voiced his allegiance to Jesus, even if everyone else fell away. ​​ He also publicly denied Jesus three times. ​​ With incredible mercy, Jesus wants to restore Peter publicly, so that he could carry on the mission of the Gospel. ​​ Through this fireside chat, Jesus helped Peter understand what his responsibility would be concerning taking care of His flock (sheep). ​​ The principle Jesus shared with Peter, included the other disciples and you and me. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .

BIG IDEA – Loving Jesus means loving His people.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 21:15-17)

    • 1st Question & Answer (v. 15)

        • After breakfast

          • John lets us know when Jesus’ fireside chat took place

          • Jesus had prepared breakfast for them and had served them and cared of them

          • Jesus took care of Peter’s physical needs, before dealing with his spiritual needs

          • It’s interesting to note that Jesus modeled physically what He was going to challenge Peter to do spiritually

            • Jesus fed Peter and the other disciples, who were His sheep

            • He served them and took care of them as His sheep

          • Only after the disciples were taken care of, did Jesus move from the physical to the spiritual

        • Question

          • Jesus addressed Peter in the presence of the other disciples

            • “Peter had boasted of his reliability in the presence of his fellow disciples.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 675]

              • John 13:8, “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” ​​ Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

              • John 13:37-38, Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? ​​ I will lay down my life for you.” ​​ Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? ​​ I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

              • John 18:10-11, Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. ​​ (The servant’s name was Malchus.) ​​ Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! ​​ Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

              • Mark 14:29-31, Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” ​​ “I tell you the truth.” ​​ Jesus answered, “today – yes, tonight – before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” ​​ But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” ​​ And all the others said the same.

            • His denial of Jesus was done publicly

            • It stands to reason that his restoration, by Jesus, should also be done publicly [Carson, 675]

              • Jesus had met with Peter privately, prior this public restoration, to deal with Peter’s private sin

                • Luke 24:34, “It is true! ​​ The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”

                • 1 Corinthians 15:5, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

              • “Private sin should be confessed in private, public sins in public.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 1, 397]

          • Jesus uses Peter’s given name, Simon, which reminds us of when Jesus initially called him to follow (John 1:42)

            • Jesus does not call him Peter (the Rock) as this point, because he was broken

              • He had denied knowing Jesus three times

              • Luke 22:60-62, Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” ​​ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. ​​ The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. ​​ Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” ​​ And he went outside and wept bitterly.

            • Jesus knew Peter’s strength and character and how he would lead the establishment of the first Christian church

              • Jesus knew the importance of restoring Peter, so that the other disciples would follow his leadership

              • Matthew 16:15-18, “But what about you?” ​​ he asked, “Who do you say I am?” ​​ Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” ​​ Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. ​​ And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

          • “Do you truly love me more than these?”

            • Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him more than the other disciples, who were present, love Him?

            • Before Peter’s denial of Jesus, he probably would have answered, “Yes!” (it would have been emphatic with confidence)

            • “Of course I love you more than these guys love you!”

            • That’s not the case as Peter answers Jesus

          • That’s what we see next

        • Answer

          • “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

          • Peter doesn’t try to compare his love for Jesus with any of the other disciples love for Jesus

          • He knows that his pride and arrogance got him in trouble before

          • “He does not try to answer in terms of the relative strength of his love as compared with that of other disciples. ​​ He appeals rather to the Lord’s knowledge. ​​ Despite my bitter failure, he says in effect, I love you – you know that I love you.” [Carson, 677]

        • Greek words for love

          • Some scholars and preachers have pointed out the use of two different Greek words for love, in Jesus’ questions and Peter’s answers

            • They attempt to make this difference more significant than it should be

            • In Jesus’ first two questions, John uses the Greek word agapaō, which has been considered to be the stronger form of, “to love” – it is self-giving and self-sacrificing love

            • In Peter’s response, all three times, and in Jesus’ final question, John uses the Greek word phileō, which is thought to be the weaker form of, “to love” – it is a friendship love or brotherly love

            • It would be nice to make a distinction between these two Greek words and apply that to our lives today, but we have to consider how these two words were used by John in the rest of his Gospel

            • He uses them interchangeably throughout his Gospel, so there really isn’t a distinction between the two Greek words [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 1043]

              • He uses both Greek words for the Father’s love for the Son [Michaels, 1043]

                • John 3:35, The Father loves (agapaō) the Son and has placed everything in his hands.

                • John 5:20a, For the Father loves (phileō) the Son and shows him all he does.

              • He also uses both Greek words for the disciples’ love for Jesus [see 14:15 (agapaō); 16:27 (phileō)] [Michaels, 1043]

              • He uses both for Jesus’ love for Lazarus [see 11:3 (phileō), 5 (agapaō)] [Michaels, 1043]

              • Finally, he uses both for Jesus’ love for “the disciple whom he loved” (see 13:23 (agapaō); 20:2 (phileō)] [Michaels, 1043]

            • The main point of the passage is that Jesus is restoring Peter after his denial and not the use of two Greek words for love

          • After Peter affirms his love for Jesus, Jesus gives him this command

        • Command

          • “Feed my lambs”

          • Lambs and sheep are again used interchangeably throughout the Gospel of John, so there probably isn’t some hidden meaning there that needs to be mined or harvested

          • Jesus had just fed Peter, physically, and now He is commanding Peter to feed His sheep, spiritually

          • This will be significant after Jesus ascends to heaven and Pentecost takes place

        • Jesus asks the same question a second time

    • 2nd Question & Answer (v. 16)

        • Question

          • The only difference in Jesus’ question, this second time, is that He omits, “more than these”

          • The restoration of Peter has begun its second phase

        • Answer

          • Peter’s answer is exactly the same as his first one

          • “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

        • Command

          • “Take care of my sheep”

          • The verb can also be translated, “Shepherd or feed”

        • Jesus completes the restoration of Peter by asking him the same question a third time

    • 3rd Question & Answer (v. 17)

        • Question

          • The only difference in the question this time is found in the Greek

          • Jesus uses phileō instead of agapaō

        • Answer

          • John tells us that Peter is hurt when Jesus asks him a third time

            • Why was Peter hurt or grieved?

            • “It was hardly because of the change in the Greek verbs. ​​ Besides, that argument would hardly be viable if the original conversation would have been in Aramaic. ​​ A mere glance at the text tells the reader the reason. ​​ Peter experienced a major ‘undoing’ (cf. Isa 6:5, KJV) of his self-assertiveness because Jesus asked him ‘the third time’ (21:17) about his love. ​​ The third time did it.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 335]

          • Peter adds an important part to his answer this time

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient)!

              • “Lord, you know all things”

              • This is an important principle for followers of Jesus Christ to embrace

              • Psalm 139:1-4, O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. ​​ You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. ​​ You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. ​​ Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

              • There is nothing in our lives that Jesus does not know about

                • Whatever we’re struggling with (health, emotions, relationships, finances) Jesus knows about it

                • Some of us may feel like Jesus doesn’t know about our situation, because we feel like He is doing anything about it

                • That doesn’t void this principle or truth – our feelings don’t void truth

                • Jesus answers our cries with Yes, No, or Wait

                  • We never struggle with Yes

                  • We normally struggle with No and Wait

                • Sometimes the struggle is to strengthen us

              • Because Jesus is all-knowing, He knows what is best for us

                • He knows what will strengthen us and draw us to Him

                • He knows what we are able to handle with His grace

                • He knew how Job was going to react to the attacks from Satan

                • He knows how we’ll react to the attacks from Satan

                • We can trust Him to do what’s best for us, because He knows everything

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in Jesus’ ability to know everything about me and what I’m going through and to guide me by His Spirit.

            • Even though Peter is hurt and grieved that Jesus asks Him the same question a third time, he affirms His love for Jesus based on Jesus’ knowledge of him

          • Jesus gives the same command again

        • Command

          • “Feed my sheep”

          • Jesus wants Peter to take care of the other disciples and the new converts that will be part of His flock

    • Command fulfilled

        • We know that Peter took this restoration seriously and understood his responsibility to take care of Jesus’ flock

        • 1 Peter 5:1-4, To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. ​​ And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

        • Read Acts 20:28-31

        • “Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20-21), and the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). ​​ Pastors are ‘under-shepherds’ who must obey Him as they minister to the flock. ​​ The most important thing the pastor can do is to love Jesus Christ. ​​ If he truly loves Jesus Christ, the pastor will also love His sheep and tenderly care for them.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 398]

          • Pastor Marc and I love Jesus Christ

          • We love all you very much and we strive to tenderly care for you

          • Loving Jesus means loving His people.


  • YOU

    • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is merciful.

        • Mercy is the goodness of God providing a way for man’s guilt to be erased

          • Ephesians 2:4-5, But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.

          • Numbers 14:18, “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. ​​ Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.

        • Peter experienced Jesus mercy as He gently restored him to leadership after his failure

        • You and I can experience the great mercy of Jesus when we fail Him

          • You and I are human and fallible

          • Even as followers of Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit living in us, we will sometimes choose to give in to sin’s temptation

          • When we acknowledge that sin and confess, Jesus promises to forgive us

          • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

          • Are you struggling with unconfessed sin?

          • Are you ready to experience Jesus’ mercy by confessing those sins to Him today?

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my sins to Jesus and experience His mercy and forgiveness.

        • If you’re not a follower of Jesus Christ, you can still experience His mercy and forgiveness for the first time

    • PRINCIPLE #3 – Before Jesus can be followed and served, the sin in our lives has to be addressed.

        • Peter experienced that also through his restoration process

        • Jesus had met him privately prior to this public fireside chat

        • Jesus wants to meet you privately to deal with your sin, so you can follow and serve Him

          • You and I are born in sin (Rom. 3:23, 6:23)

          • Before we can follow and serve Jesus we have to recognized our sin (The Good Person Test)

          • Repentance is turning away from our sin and following Jesus and His ways

          • God loves us so much that He made a way to deal with our sin (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3-4)

          • Romans 10:9-10, 13, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved . . . for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

          • Are you ready to take that step today?

          • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, so I can be saved from my sins.


  • WE

    • PRINCIPLE #4 – Following Jesus and loving Jesus mean accepting responsibility for Jesus’ people.

        • We know that God raises up some individuals to serve in spiritual leadership roles, but listen to what Paul says about their role as he writes to the Ephesian believers

          • Ephesians 4:11-13, It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

          • Spiritual leaders are to prepare God’s people for works of service that will build up the body of Christ

          • The various discipleship opportunities that Pastor Marc and I offer is to help prepare you all to serve one another

          • We also serve together with you through the various food pantries we help with

        • The Holy Spirit gives each follower of Jesus at least one, if not more, spiritual gifts to help serve the church and those who are part of it

          • Romans 12:4-6, Just as each one of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. ​​ We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

          • 1 Corinthians 12:7, Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

        • Loving Jesus means loving His people.

        • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Identify my spiritual gifts and commit to using them within the body of Christ, so that Jesus’ people will be taken care of.







A Fish Story

(John 21:1-14)



“Koral Wira, 14, was fishing with her parents and a friend near Venice, Fla., when a barracuda went for her dad’s bait and ended up biting her instead. ​​ Her dad, Rob Parker, submitted these photos and Wira told the story.


After anchoring the boat 4 miles off shore, Parker baited his rod with herring. ​​ Wira switched seats to get out of the hot sun, and watched as her dad cast. ​​ Moments later, she heard a splash and saw a long silver flash in the air. ​​ A barracuda jumped from the water and opened its mouth. ​​ As it hit her left arm, it clamped down with razor teeth.


When the fish dropped off her arm, Wira said the angled bites made her skin look like raw hamburger meat from the middle of her bicep to below her elbow. ​​ She was more scared than in pain, she said.


As the barracuda flopped around the boat, Wira ran to the bow and ducked. ​​ Her mom and friend climbed onto their chairs and screamed, while Wira’s dad grabbed his filet knife and stabbed the fish behind the eye.


Wira looked down at the still fish and couldn’t believe it had bit her. ​​ It was 42 inches long and its blood and her own spotted the boat’s floor. ​​ Her dad cut the anchor with his filet knife and they zoomed back to the shore.


On the trip back, Wira pressed her dad’s Red Sox Shirt to her arm to slow the bleeding. ​​ Her friend was crying, but Wira said she was too shocked to be upset.


Parker opened the barracuda’s mouth to check out its rows of razor-sharp teeth. ​​ He noticed the fish had taken in his line, but the hook never penetrated. ​​ Parker said he suspected his bait herring attracted the fish, causing it to jump. ​​ When it flew out of the water toward the boat, it found his daughter instead.


Wira and her dad stopped for a quick picture [show picture] before jumping in the car and heading to the hospital. ​​ Wira said she wasn’t in pain at the moment, but she was still creeped out by the fish. ​​ Her arm needed 51 stitches, and doctors told her they had never treated a barracuda bite. ​​ Her stitches are out now, and she said her arm is healing.”

Field & Stream, “Leaping Barracuda Gashes Teenage Girl’s Arm,” July 28, 2010





  • ME

    • Catching a trout with my bare hands

        • Growing up, I hunted and fished with my father

        • On opening day of trout season, when I was probably 10 to 12 years old, we were fishing in Muddy Run over in Shippensburg

        • My Dad and I jumped out onto a small island in the creek

        • Laying in the water on the edge of the island was a beautiful rainbow trout

        • I got it to bite at a worm, but didn’t hook it

        • I tried every other bait we had available, but it wouldn’t bite at any of those

        • I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to catch it

        • That’s when my Dad mentioned putting the rag from the tackle box over the fish and picking it up with my hands

        • I didn’t know any better, so I did just that

        • After catching the trout with my bare hands, I raise it over my head and shouted, “I got it!”

        • It was an unconventional way of trout fishing and something I have never repeated

        • When we measured it, it was a 15-inch rainbow trout


  • WE

    • Fish story

        • Perhaps some of us have a fish story we could tell

        • It was something beyond the ordinary that happened while we were fishing

    • Other hard to believe stories

        • Some of us are not fishermen or fisherwomen, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have incredible stories to tell

        • Maybe those stories are about shopping, driving, hunting, our children, etc.


John adds an epilogue to his letter that accomplishes two primary things. ​​ It shows how Jesus restores Peter after his denial, and it addressed the rumor, that had been started, that John would not die before Jesus returned a second time. ​​ In the first section of this epilogue, we are going to learn about an incredible fish story that only happened through the sovereign will and power of Jesus. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – Following Jesus means having confidence in His sovereignty alone.


Too often, we have misplaced confidence in our own strength to accomplish what only Jesus can do through us and for us.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 21:1-14)

    • Jesus’ Appearance (vv. 1-5, 14)

        • Jesus’ third appearance to His disciples

          • John tells us that after Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples, with Thomas present, that He appeared a third time to the disciples

          • This appearance was different than the first two

            • It wasn’t in Jerusalem, but in Galilee

            • It wasn’t behind locked doors, but on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias

          • This shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, because of the words of the angel recorded by Matthew and Mark

            • Matthew 28:7, “Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. ​​ There you will see him.’ ​​ Now I have told you.”

            • Mark 16:7, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. ​​ There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

        • Sea of Tiberias

          • Multiple names

            • This was the Roman name for the Sea of Galilee [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 323]

            • Luke called it the Sea of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1)

            • In the Old Testament is was referred to as the Sea of Chinnereth, from the Hebrew kinnerot/kinneret meaning “harp.” (Numbers 34:11) [Borchert, 323]

          • Location

            • It was about 75 miles north of Jerusalem

            • It is surrounded by the hills of Galilee and Golan [show 3D map of Sea of Galilee]

          • John then tells us exactly how it happened

        • Disciples present

          • There were seven disciples that were present during this appearance

            • Simon Peter

            • Thomas (called Didymus)

            • Nathanael from Cana in Galilee [show map]

            • The sons of Zebedee, James and John (Mark 3:17)

            • Two unnamed disciples

              • It would not be inconceivable to consider Andrew and Philip as the two unnamed disciples, especially if we look at John 1

              • John 1:40-41, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. ​​ The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).

              • John 1:43-45, The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” ​​ Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. ​​ Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

          • While the disciples are waiting for Jesus to meet them in Galilee, they decide to go fishing

        • Peter’s proclamation

          • Peter announces to the other six disciples that he is going out to fish and the other disciples agree to go with him

          • Fishing at night

            • They were going out to fish at the preferred time

            • “Nighttime was the preferred time for fishing in ancient times, including first-century Galilee (e.g., Luke 5:5). ​​ That way, fish caught before daybreak could be sold fresh in the morning.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 589]

            • They were all seasoned fishermen, so they probably assumed they would be successful, but they were skunked

          • Unsuccessful

            • They didn’t catch anything

            • This wasn’t the first time they were unsuccessful

              • Luke tells us of another time, two years earlier, when they were unsuccessful

              • Luke 5:4-7, When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” ​​ Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. ​​ But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” ​​ When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. ​​ So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

            • “Brown notes at this point that in the Gospels the disciples never catch fish without Jesus’ assistance.” ​​ [Borchert, 326]

              • This doesn’t mean that they never caught fish without Jesus, but Scripture doesn’t record a time when they did

              • This brings to mind Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches

                • He said to His disciples “I am the vine; you are the branches. ​​ If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

                • Notice that Jesus said they could do nothing without Him

                • This was going to be an important lesson for the disciples to learn, because they wouldn’t be successful at fishing for men without remaining in Jesus and having Him remain in them

              • Application

                • The same is true for us

                • If we try to do anything for Jesus, but aren’t remaining in Him and He in us, we will be unsuccessful

                • Our evangelism efforts will not bear fruit

                • Following Jesus means having confidence in His sovereignty alone

                • When we try to do things in our own strength, we will fail

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess that I’ve tried to do things for Jesus in my own strength, and failed.

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Have confidence in Jesus’ sovereignty and not my own strength.

                • We have to learn the same lesson that the disciples learned – we can’t do anything apart from Jesus

            • The disciples were going to learn this lesson pretty quickly

          • Peter was the leader of this fishing expedition, when he announced that he was going out to fish

        • Jesus showed up, unannounced and unrecognized

          • Jesus arrived early in the morning when the disciples were probably wrapping up their fishing trip

          • The disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus

            • Scripture doesn’t tell us why they didn’t realize it was Jesus

            • It could have been that He was concealing His identity, like He had done with Mary Magdalene and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, until the right time

            • It could also have been that there was mist on the sea and at 100 yards from shore the disciples couldn’t see Jesus clearly

            • We’re just not told the reason why the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus

          • Jesus asked them a simple question

            • “Guys, how was the fishing? ​​ Were you successful?”

            • Their answer was “No.”

            • Last Saturday, while my buddy and I were deer hunting, we ran into another hunter and asked the question that every hunter asks another hunter, “Did you see anything?” ​​ He had seen three bucks earlier that morning. ​​ I had seen two does and my buddy had harvested a doe. ​​ Where we were hunting was doe only, so this other hunter had passed on the three bucks he had seen. ​​ So, he hadn’t been successful

        • Jesus’ next words would transform this failed fishing trip into a success

    • Jesus’ Command (vv. 6-9)

        • He told them to throw their net on the right side of the boat and they would find fish

          • We would be naïve to believe that Peter and the other disciples hadn’t already tried that at some point in the middle of the night

          • It wasn’t that they had exclusively fished off the left side of the boat all night

          • Perhaps Jesus was able to see a school of fish swimming on the right side of the boat

          • More likely, Jesus was supernaturally exercising His sovereignty, for their benefit

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is sovereign!

            • Following Jesus means having confidence in His sovereignty alone.

            • They had been fishing all night, in their own strength, without success

          • Notice that Peter didn’t question this stranger, like he questioned Jesus two years earlier, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” (Luke 5:5)

        • They were successful

          • Without question, they listened to the advice of this stranger and threw their net on the right side of the boat

          • Their net was so full of fish that they weren’t able to haul the net into the boat

        • Jesus revealed

          • John recognized the miracle that had just taken place and knew immediately who the stranger was on the shore – it was Jesus!

          • He tells Peter that the guy on the shore is the Lord!

          • “In characteristic fashion, the beloved disciple displays spiritual discernment, while Peter exhibits decisive action (Carson 1991: 671; cf. Ridderbos 1997: 660).” ​​ [Köstenberger, 591]

          • Peter immediately jumps into action

            • “Here Peter is wearing a worker’s smock (Gk. epedytes) on the boat, but he wants to swim to shore to meet the Lord. ​​ Because he is naked (Gk. gymnos) underneath the smock, when he hears that Jesus is on shore, he tucks or wraps his smock into his belt to give him a tight fit and leaps into the water.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 584]

            • “Greeting in general was a religious act which required that a person be clothed.” ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 386]

            • Peter leaves behind a net full of fish, which he has been laboring all night to catch, in order to be with Jesus

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is pleased when we’re willing to leave everything for Him.

              • Would we be as willing, as Peter was, to leave something successful in order to follow Jesus?

              • Has there been a time when we’ve done that?

              • Perhaps Jesus is asking you to do that right now

              • Idaville Church has a rich history of sending out individuals, couples, and families into the mission field and ministry (Small’s, Stansbury’s, Runyan’s, etc.)

              • We need to continue that rich history

              • Maybe the Lord has been asking you to leave everything you are familiar with, including a successful job, in order to follow Him into full-time ministry

              • I want to encourage you to be obedient to that call

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Obediently leave everything, and enthusiastically pursue Jesus’ call on my life.

            • Peter immediately left a successful catch of fish to pursue Jesus

        • Other disciples brought the fish to shore

          • Notice that there were others available to handle the successful catch of fish

          • The same will be true when we follow God’s call on our lives – He will raise up others to handle what we’ve left behind

          • The other six disciples towed the net, full of fish, to shore (about 100 yards)

          • What they saw when they got to shore was reassuring and comforting

            • A hot breakfast was already prepared for them, after a long night of fishing

            • There was fish on the grill and bread available

        • Jesus cared about His disciples and wanted to provide for them

    • Jesus’ Provision (vv. 10-13)

        • Jesus encourages the disciples to bring some of the fish they have just caught

        • Peter returns to help bring the net ashore

        • John tells us a couple of things about the fish

          • First, they were large

          • Second, there were 153

            • It was common practice for the fishermen to count their catch, so the catch could be distributed evenly among them

            • This is perhaps why John even mentions the number of fish that were caught

            • There are all kinds of other explanations given for the number 153, but I believe the simplest explanation is the best – John wants us to know that this was a miraculous catch of fish, orchestrated by Jesus’ sovereign power

          • “The catch consists of 153 ‘great fish,’ ‘great’ implying not only ‘large’ but ‘good’ (as perhaps in Gospel of Thomas 8). ​​ None will be ‘thrown out’ (Mt 13:48), nor will any be lost, for ‘even with so many the net was not torn.’” [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 1038]

            • The symbolism found here is important

            • Jesus is continuing to prepare His disciples to spread the Gospel to every nation

            • Something supernatural happens beyond the miraculous catch of fish

              • In Luke 5:6 we see that the first miraculous catch of fish, caused the nets to break

              • Here in John 21:11 the net was not torn, even with so many fish in it

              • “The point is much the same as when Jesus, after the feeding of the multitude, told the disciples to ‘Gather the leftover broken pieces, so that nothing is lost,’ and ‘they gathered, and filled up twelve baskets with pieces left over’ (6:12-13). ​​ Here the conservation of fish, like the conservation of fragments there, hints at Jesus’ repeated promise that he will keep his disciples safe, and that none of those whom the Father has given him will ever be lost (see 3:16; also 6:39; 10:28; 17:12; 18:9). ​​ And what is true of them is true as well of ‘those who believe . . . through their word’ (17:20). ​​ As ‘fishers’ in the world, they will ‘go and bear fruit,’ and their fruit will last (5:16).” ​​ [Michaels, 1038-39]

              • Symbolically and visually, Jesus is sharing with His disciples what their mission will be and that it will be successful

              • The same is true for us

                • Jesus is sharing with us what our mission is – fishing for men/women

                • Jesus reassures us of the same thing – we will be successful

                • “When we were called to believe in Jesus, we were called to mission.” ​​ [J.D. Greear, RightNow Conference: Focus, November 05, 2020]

        • Jesus encourages His disciples to come have breakfast

          • Jesus provided for His disciples

          • He took the bread and the fish and served them

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is our provider.

            • Jesus will provide for us too

            • Take a moment to think about a specific time that Jesus has been your provider

            • Perhaps it was in a supernatural way or in a simple common way

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make a list of the ways Jesus has provided for me and praise Him for that provision.

        • The disciples are speechless

          • They knew this stranger was the Lord, but there was some hesitancy

          • This was probably in fulfillment of John 16:23a, In that day you will no longer ask me anything.


What an incredible fish story John had to tell. ​​ Through it we realize that following Jesus means having confidence in His sovereignty alone.


  • YOU

    • Confess that I’ve tried to do things for Jesus in my own strength, and failed.

    • Have confidence in Jesus’ sovereignty and not my own strength.

    • Obediently leave everything, and enthusiastically pursue Jesus’ call on my life.

    • Make a list of the ways Jesus has provided for me and praise Him for that provision.


  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we can have confidence in Jesus’ sovereignty as we strive to accomplish the Great Commission


In the 2003 movie, Big Fish, “Edward Bloom, an entertaining and charismatic teller of tall tale, is a source of frustration to his only son, William who grew up believing his father’s stories until it became obvious they were lies. ​​ At Will’s wedding, Will feels embarrassed by his father telling the guests an impossible-sounding story about the day of Will’s birth, involving catching a giant catfish with his wedding ring as bait. ​​ Will feels that his father tells these huge lies just to get attention and confront him angrily about it. ​​ Edward denies his son’s accusations and they end up not speaking to each other for three years.”


Edward is diagnosed with cancer, which draws Will home from Paris with his pregnant wife. ​​ Will attempts to reconcile with his father and encourages him to tell the truth about all the stories. ​​ Will asks the doctor, who is attending to Edward, about his real birth story. ​​ The doctor tells him it was simply a normal birth that Edward missed because he was working.


“Later that night, Will finds Edward only partially conscious, and unable to speak at length. ​​ Since Edward can no longer tell stories, he asks Will to tell him the story of how his life ends. ​​ Will tells his father that he doesn’t know that story since Edward never told him what he saw in the glass eye. ​​ Edward keeps insisting and Will realizes it’s up to him to finish the story. ​​ Deciding to play along, Will tells his own impromptu tall tale: ​​ Edward regains strength, and he and Will escape from the hospital. ​​ Jumping into Edward’s old car, they speed up to a nearby river, where everyone Edward has ever met are waiting. ​​ Instead of a funeral, they are holding a goodbye party, and Edward happily bids them farewell as Will carries him into the river where Edward transforms into a giant catfish and swims away. ​​ Edward agrees with Will that this is exactly how he dies. ​​ Shortly afterwards, Edward dies. ​​ Will is the only one present for Edward’s death, and is both sad but also deeply happy that they finally connected at last.


At Edward’s funeral, Will, Josephine and Sandra along with Edward’s doctor are initially the only ones in attendance. ​​ Then a long line of cars, vans and buses arrive and it is here that Will becomes astonished to see all of the characters from Edward’s stories show up to pay their respects to Edward; Amos Calloway, Karl the Giant, Norther Winslow, Older Jenny, Mr. Soggybottom, Ping and Jing, Mayor Beamen of Spectre are all present. ​​ However, each one of them is slightly less fantastical than they’re described in Edward’s stories. ​​ For example, Karl is not a 12-foot giant, but is still quite tall at around seven feet; Ping and Jing are not conjoined twins, just identical. ​​ It finally becomes clear that Edward had simply combined his love of storytelling with his own reality, which finally makes sense to Will. ​​ When his own son is born, Will passes the stories on to him, remarking that his father became his stories – allowing him to live forever.”


IMDb, Big Fish, Synopsis




While Edward’s fish story was fiction and not true, John’s fish story is fact. ​​ Jesus came alive again and appeared to His disciples in Galilee. ​​ His presence made the impossible possible. ​​ Following Jesus means having confidence in His sovereignty alone and not in our own strength.




Doubt Dissolved

(John 20:24-31)



“Erik Weihenmayer, the blind mountaineer who recently successfully scaled Mount Everest, writes in Outside magazine:


A few days after I arrived in the Khumbu Valley for the Mount Everest climb, a rumor began circulating. Because I wasn't flopping on my face every few minutes, the Sherpas thought I was lying about my blindness. Women would approach me in the alleys of Namche Bazaar and wave their hands in front of my face. I'd feel the wind and flinch, which only confirmed their suspicions.


Finally, I resorted to drastic measures. I asked Kami Tenzing, our climbing Sirdar, into the kitchen tent. ‘Kami,’ I said, ‘I want to give you a message to take back to the Sherpas.’ I pulled down my left lower eyelid, leaned my head forward, and my prosthetic eye plopped into my palm. ‘I can take the other out if you want,’ I said. ‘No!’ he said firmly. ‘Not necessary.’”


Erik Weihenmayer, "Tenacious," Outside (December 2001), p.55; submitted by Dave Goetz, Wheaton, Illinois.





  • ME

    • Proving I’m not a robot

        • Setting up online accounts for any website has become more secure than in the past

        • Before, I just had to create a username and a password

        • Now, for most websites, I have to prove that I’m not a robot

          • I have to click the box beside the words “I’m not a robot [show image]

          • Then a pop up screen appears asking me to select the images with . . . (traffic lights, street signs, fire hydrants, bridges, etc.) [show image]

          • Websites do this to make sure that a live person is actually signing up for something instead of a computer bot


  • WE

    • Proving we’re not robots

        • How many of us have had to do that recently or in the past?

        • Most of us have had to go through checking the box and then clicking all the boxes with the requested image in it

    • Banking

        • Some of us don’t use a computer, but we’ve probably been to the bank to withdrawal money or cash a check

        • When we do that, the teller asks us for our ID, so we can prove that we are who we say we are


Jesus appeared to ten of His disciples on the day He came alive again. ​​ There was one disciple who was missing from that initial meeting. ​​ Pastor Marc shared last week that the wound made by the spear would have been a unique identifying factor, that it was Jesus who was appearing to them. ​​ No other person, who was crucified, had that unique mark. ​​ We’ll see today that the disciple, who missed the initial meeting, says he’ll never believe that Jesus is alive unless he can put his fingers in the nail holes and his hand in the spear hole. ​​ He wanted physical proof before he would believe. ​​ Jesus challenges him on this and speaks a blessing over those who believe without seeing. ​​ John wants us to know that . . .


BIG IDEA – Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 20:24-31)

    • Thomas’ Unbelief (vv. 24-25)

        • Who is Thomas

          • A twin

            • Thomas is Aramaic

            • Didymus is Greek

            • They both mean “twin”

            • We’re not told who his twin was

          • A disciple

            • He is one of the Twelve

            • Jesus had chosen him as one of His closest disciples

            • We know from church history that Thomas took the message of Jesus Christ to India and gave his life for the Gospel while there [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 596]

          • A realist

            • John 11:16, Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (this was in response to Jesus encouraging His disciples to come with Him to see Lazarus, who had died – Thomas realized the volatility of going back to Judea so soon after the Jews had tried to stone Jesus)

            • John 14:1-6, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. ​​ Trust in God, trust also in me. ​​ In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. ​​ I am going there to prepare a place for you. ​​ And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. ​​ You know the way to the place where I am going.” ​​ Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” ​​ Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. ​​ No one comes to the Father except through me.

          • As a realist, he would have been skeptical about the possibility of Jesus’ resurrection, which is why he may not have been together with the other disciples on that first day of the week – for Thomas, the three-year journey of faith was done – perhaps he was feeling hopeless and just wanted to be alone

        • Thomas absent

          • Last week, Pastor Marc shared with us the episode that Thomas missed

            • It was on the evening of that first day of the week – the day that Jesus came alive again

            • The disciples were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews and Jesus miraculously appeared to them and greeted them with “peace”

            • He showed them His hands and side

          • Thomas wasn’t with them when Jesus appeared to them

            • “Thomas is a good warning to all of us not to miss meeting together with God’s people on the Lord’s Day.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 1, 394]

            • Hebrews 10:22-25, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. ​​ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. ​​ And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. ​​ Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

            • “Remember Thomas when you are tempted to stay home from church. ​​ You never know what special blessing you might miss!” ​​ [Wiersbe, 394]

            • Application

              • Think about a time when you didn’t “feel” like coming to church, but after you came, you left feeling refreshed, renewed, filled with joy, peace, comfort, and contentment

              • Early in my tenure here, we had a movement of the Holy Spirit that happened during second service that was powerful. ​​ A young man was listening to the message and as I was finishing up, he fell to his knees and began to flail around, knocking down some of the metal chairs. ​​ He stood up and came towards me. ​​ I embraced him as he kept repeating a man’s name. ​​ I asked him what we needed to know about that man. ​​ He eventually looked at me, blinked his eyes, and then said, “what just happened?” ​​ This young man had spoken with me, earlier in the week, about the man, whose name he was repeating. ​​ That man had been going through a difficult time and this young man was trying to help him. ​​ Something supernatural happened that day and not everyone in the church was there to experience it. ​​ The Holy Spirit of God was speaking through this young man and it was powerful!

          • Thomas had missed something supernatural and powerful and the other disciples tried to explain it to him

        • The disciples’ witness

          • Told

            • In the Greek this verb is in the imperfect tense, which means it is a continual or repeated action [Blue Letter Bible,]

            • The other disciples didn’t just mention it to Thomas once, they kept on telling him

            • I can only imagine that the reason they kept on telling him is because he was shaking his head from side to side in disbelief

            • This didn’t make logical sense to Thomas, the realist

          • Seen

            • This Greek verb is in the perfect tense, meaning that it was an action completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated [Blue Letter Bible,]

            • The disciples were telling Thomas again and again that they had seen the Lord – it was a fact – He was alive!

            • Application

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we tell others about Jesus.

              • “The disciples who had experienced the surprising appearance of Jesus and his empowering commissioning were apparently enthusiastically ready to share the details of their postresurrection experience of ‘the Lord.’” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 312]

              • I always enjoy being around new believers, because their enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is contagious

              • They aren’t complacent, apprehensive, or fearful about sharing it with anyone and everyone

              • For long-time believers, the enthusiasm seems to wear off, because they have been confronted with those who are skeptical and those who refuse to believe in Jesus – we are no longer enthusiastic and excited about sharing the Gospel

              • I believe the reason this happens in our lives is because we have a false idea of our role as messengers of the Gospel

                • We have this incorrect belief that if people don’t believe in Jesus, after we share the Gospel with them, that we have somehow failed God and Jesus

                • Our responsibility is not to convert and convince, but to communicate

                • 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. ​​ So neither he who plants nor he who waters in anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

                • Planting and watering are both forms of communicating

                  • The planter is the one who shares the Gospel with an individual for the first time

                  • The waterer is the one who shares the Gospel with an individual a second, third, fourth, fifth, or more times

                • Whether or not someone believes in Jesus, when you share the Gospel with them, does not define success or failure

                • When we simply communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone, we succeed in God’s eyes – He is pleased!

                • That should change everything for us

                • We should be excited and enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Enthusiastically share the Gospel with my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

                • There are resources available in the foyer this morning for you to pick up and use to share the Gospel

                • Take as many as you need or will use

                • Now that we know success is simply communicating and not convincing or converting, let’s plant and water with enthusiasm and watch as God makes it grow!

                • Who will you plan to share the Gospel with this week?

            • The other disciples were enthusiastically and repeatedly telling Thomas that they had seen the Lord – He was alive!

          • What we see with Thomas’ response is that he probably got tired of the other disciples repeatedly telling him they had seen the Lord

        • Thomas’ demands

          • Thomas wanted proof – he wanted to experience what the other disciples had experienced and even more

            • He didn’t just want to see Jesus’ hands and side

            • He wanted to put his fingers in the holes where the nails had been

            • He wanted to put his hand in the whole created by the spear

          • “Thomas’ words help to understand the difference between doubt and unbelief. ​​ Doubt says, ‘I cannot believe! ​​ There are too many problems!’ ​​ Unbelief says, ‘I will not believe unless you give me the evidence I ask for!’”  ​​​​ [Wiersbe, 394]

            • Some people are right there, right now

            • They are telling us that they will not believe in Jesus unless He gives them the evidence they are asking for

            • They want all their questions answered to their satisfaction

              • If God is all-loving, then why does He allow bad things to happen?

              • If God is all-powerful, then why doesn’t He stop bad things from happening?

              • God is both all-loving and all-powerful in addition to being sovereign, all-knowing, ever present, unchanging, infinite, holy, righteous, and so much more

              • It’s the arrogance of humanity to believe that we can understand all of who God is and how He operates as an infinite God

            • They want physical proof that God and Jesus exist

              • It’s the arrogance of humanity to demand that God provide the evidence we ask for before we will believe in Him

                • Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ​​ “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

                • 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, 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. ​​ He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

                • Ephesians 3:20-21, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! ​​ Amen.

            • Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

          • Thomas’ declaration

            • Thomas tells the other disciples that he will not believe it without his demands being fulfilled

            • In the Greek there is a double negative, ou mē, which gives his declaration an emphatic push

            • It could be translated, “I’ll never believe it!” [Milne, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of John, 302] or “I positively will not believe!” [Wiersbe, 394]

            • Thomas is saying, in no uncertain terms, that if his demands for proof are not met, he will never believe that Jesus is alive

        • Jesus is gracious with Thomas, and his demands, and does the supernatural again, within the week

    • Thomas’ Belief (vv. 26-29)

        • Thomas present

          • All of the eleven disciples were together in the same house one week later

          • Perhaps the other ten disciples told Thomas not to miss this Sunday gathering

          • Jesus again appears to His disciples, even though they are behind locked doors

          • He greeted them again with “peace be with you”

          • I’m sure they needed peace as he supernaturally gained access to the room they thought was secure

          • Jesus doesn’t waste any time in challenging Thomas

        • Jesus’ challenge

          • Jesus basically repeats Thomas’ demands back to him

          • “Here you go, Thomas! ​​ Put your fingers in the nail holes in my wrists. ​​ Put your hand in the spear whole in my side.”

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is omnipresent

              • “Here Jesus is teaching a lesson of great import, for in repeating Thomas’s ultimatum, it’s as if He’s saying, ‘Boys, even though you don’t see Me, I’m with you always.’” ​​ [Courson, 597]

              • Because Jesus is omnipresent, He hears and knows our deepest desires

              • Application

                • This is a foundational truth principle for us as believers – Jesus is always present with us

                • No matter what we are going through, we can trust that He is here

                • Maybe you’re feeling lonely, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, worried, fearful, unsure, or concerned

                • You may be struggling physically, emotionally, financially, relationally, and/or spiritually

                • Jesus is right there with you

                • Even if you can’t see Him or feel His presence with you, He is there

                • Hebrews 13:5-6, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ​​ So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can man do to me?”

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim the truth promise that Jesus is always present with me.

            • The second part of Jesus’ challenge is His exhortation for Thomas to stop doubting and believe

          • Stop doubting and believe

            • The literal translation of the Greek text would be, “Do not become unbelieving [apistos] but believing [pistos].” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 562] or “Do not be unbelieving but believing.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 657]

            • Thomas wasn’t saying that he couldn’t believe, because there were too many problems (doubt), but rather that he would not believe (unbelief), without physical proof

            • “Authentic believing was the issue,” not doubt [Borchert, 314]

            • Hebrews 3:12-13, See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. ​​ But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

          • Jesus’ presence, challenge, and exhortation was enough for Thomas

        • Thomas’ confession

          • The only response that Thomas could have at this point was to confess who Jesus was – “My Lord and my God!”

          • Thomas’ confession accomplished two things

            • It recognized Jesus’ authority

              • Confessing that Jesus was his Lord, meant that Thomas was submitting to His authority as Master

              • We must do the same thing when we come to believe in Jesus – submit to Him as our Master

            • It recognized Jesus’ deity

              • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is God!

              • Thomas knew that only God had the power to do the supernatural

              • God is the only One who is always present with us and knows everything about us, including our thoughts and desires

          • Thomas wanted physical, material proof that Jesus was alive

            • Most of the time we refer to Thomas as “Doubting Thomas” and can be pretty critical of him

            • He was in good company though, because Peter, John, and the other disciples didn’t believe the testimony of the women, including Mary Magdalene

            • Peter and John had to see the empty tomb for themselves – they wanted physical and material proof

          • Jesus then offers a blessing over those who would never experience the physical and material proof that Thomas and the other disciples did

        • Jesus’ blessing

          • Jesus tells Thomas that he believed, because He was granted the physical and material proof he had demanded

          • Jesus then blesses those who have not seen and yet have believed

            • If you have believed in Jesus, He was talking about you!

            • You can personalize that part of verse 29 today

            • “Blessed is _______ (your name) who has not seen and yet has believed.” ​​ [have everyone repeat the verse with their name in it]

            • Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

            • Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

        • This naturally transitions to our belief

    • Our Belief (vv. 30-31)

        • More miraculous signs

          • John gives us some concluding remarks, which includes the theme verse for the entire Gospel of John

          • John lets us know that Jesus obviously did many other miraculous signs while His disciples were with Him

          • We don’t know how many miraculous signs Jesus did while on earth

          • It’s also probable that He did miraculous signs when His disciples were not with Him

          • John does not record the other miraculous signs

        • John’s witness

          • John records eight miraculous signs in his Gospel

            • Turning the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11)

            • Healing of the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-54)

            • Healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-17)

            • Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:1-14)

            • Jesus walking on the water (John 6:15-21)

            • Healing the man born blind (John 9:1-12)

            • Death and resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-45)

            • Catching of fish (John 21:1-11)

          • These eight miraculous signs that John records are for the purpose of helping us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

          • When we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, then we can have life in His name

            • The life that John is talking about is eternal life

            • He says it this way in John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ​​ For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ​​ Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

            • We are all born in sin, Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world. (Romans 5:12-13a)

            • God sent Jesus to take our punishment for sin

              • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)

              • He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus and receive God’s eternal life.

            • We have to believe without seeing the physical and material proof of Jesus’ resurrected body

            • We have to believe the eye witness accounts that are recorded in the Bible

          • Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

  • YOU

    • Are you ready to enthusiastically share the Gospel?

    • Do you need to claim the promise that Jesus is present with you?

    • Are you ready to believe in Jesus without seeing Him and receive eternal life?


  • WE

    • Our mission is to pursue, grow, and multiple disciples for Jesus



“Jesus’ resurrection either happened or it didn't. It is objective reality; and so it cannot be true for one person and false for another. To prove this point, Sean McDowell related the following experiment:


I placed a jar of marbles in front of my students and asked, ‘How many marbles are in the jar?’ They responded with different guesses: 221, 168, and so on. Then after giving them the correct number of 188, I asked, ‘Which of you is closest to being right?’ While they all agreed that 168 was the closest guess, they understood and agreed that the number of marbles was a matter of objective fact and not one determined by personal preference.


Then I passed out Starburst candies to each student and asked, ‘Which flavor is right?’ As you might expect, they all felt this to be a nonsense question because each person had a preference that was right for them. ‘That is correct,’ I concluded. ‘The right flavor has to do with a person's preferences. It is a matter of subjective opinion or personal preference, not objective fact.’


Then I asked, ‘Are religious claims objective facts, like the number of marbles in a jar, or are they only a matter of personal opinion, like one's candy preference?’ Most students concluded that religious claims belonged in the category of candy preference. I then opened the door for us to discuss the objective claims of Christianity. I pointed out that Christianity is based on an objective historical fact—the resurrection of Jesus. I reminded them that while many people may reject the historical resurrection of Jesus, it is not the type of claim that can be ‘true for you, but not true for me.’ The tomb was either empty on the third day, or it was occupied—there is no middle ground. Before anyone can grasp the transforming power of the resurrection of Jesus, he or she must realize that it is a matter of objective fact, not of personal preference.”



Josh and Sean McDowell, “The Resurrection and You” (Baker Books, 2017), Pgs. 22-23.






Changing Our Minds

(John 20:10-18)



“In 1949, researchers asked a group of students at Ivy League schools to perform a simple task: identify playing cards. There were just two catches. First, these cards were shown very quickly. Second, the researchers were using a deck of four ordinary playing cards and six ‘trick cards’ with odd colors and suits (red spades, black hearts, and the like).


The researchers discovered that it took the students four times longer to identify a ‘trick card’ than a normal card. The students’ brains struggled to process something as out-of-the-ordinary as a red six of clubs. Even after they had seen two or three trick cards, it still took extra time for them to identify trick cards.


In many cases, the students tried to ‘compromise’ what they expected to see with what they actually saw. For instance, when they saw a red six of clubs they described it as ‘the six of clubs illuminated by red light.’ In other words, the participants often couldn't accept the facts of what they just saw because they didn't expect to see it.


The researchers called their study ‘The Perception of Incongruity,’ which simply means that when we encounter something that doesn't fit our worldview, we have a strong tendency to ignore it. Or we tend to compromise to make it fit into our assumptions about how we think the world should work. The researchers noted that even smart people (like Ivy League students) fall prey to the perception of incongruity.”


Adapted from Joe Heschmeyer, "Demons, Playing Cards, and Telescopes," Strange Notions blog (7-14-14).





  • ME

    • Brain Age for Nintendo DS

        • When our boys bought their Nintendo DS gaming systems, I would buy a game or two for myself

        • One of the games I really enjoyed at the time was Brain Age

        • There were all kinds of games that helped to determine the age of your brain (stroop test, speed counting, word memory, connect maze, calculations x 20, and number cruncher)

        • The one I found challenging and fun was the Stroop Test

          • The game would display one of four words and colors: ​​ blue, black, yellow, and red

          • One of these words would appear on the screen, in a random color which may not match the color denoted by the word

          • I had to say the color of the word, rather than the word itself (e.g., if the word Yellow appears in blue letters, the correct answer is “blue”)

          • [show image of stroop test in Brain Age game]


  • WE

    • Group Stroop Test

        • Let’s test our brains this morning to see how old they are

        • When you see the next slide, we are going to say the color of the font and not the word, reading from left to right and top to bottom

        • Let’s give it a try

        • [show stroop test picture]

        • That can be pretty difficult when our brain wants to think about reading the word instead of saying the color of the word


As we’ll see today, Mary Magdalene was struggling with “The Perception of Incongruity.” ​​ She had in her mind what she should have found at Jesus’ tomb and was struggling to get past what she thought was reality – “they” had removed His body and put it some place that she didn’t know about. ​​ She was unable to see and understand that Jesus had come alive again. ​​ John wants us to change our minds about Jesus’ resurrection. ​​ He wants us to . . .


BIG IDEA – Focus on where Jesus is instead of where Jesus was.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 20:10-18)

    • Where Jesus was (vv. 10-15)

        • The disciples went back to their homes

          • This is obviously referring to Peter and John who had run to the tomb, to see for themselves, that it was empty

          • It seems clear from what happens next that neither Peter or John shared with Mary what they concluded after seeing the linens that had been wrapped around Jesus body and the grave cloth that had been around His head

          • We know that John believed that Jesus had come alive again, but he hadn’t shared that belief with Mary

        • Mary remained at the tomb

          • Mary is crying

            • Mary is beside herself with concern for where Jesus’ body is

            • “Mary weeps, not because Jesus has died, but because his body has vanished; abuse of the dead was considered an abhorrent offense.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 567]

            • I tend to believe that Mary was still mourning Jesus’ death and the disappearance of His body is adding to her grief and despair

            • Not only has the One, who set her free from demon possession, died, but now His body has been removed and placed somewhere else

            • Her desire is to be near Jesus’ physical body and to properly complete the burial process, but that is now impossible

            • As I mentioned last week, the concept of Jesus’ resurrection, wasn’t even a part of her thought process

            • She was so focused on where Jesus was that she couldn’t think about where He said He would be after three days

            • While Mary wept, she bent over and looked into the tomb

              • She had already been in the tomb with the other women

              • Perhaps she’s checking one more time to make sure the tomb is actually empty

              • How many of us would admit that when we lose something, we go to the same places again and again to make sure the item isn’t there and we missed it

              • If you’re like me, you go back to the places where you normally leave the item, hoping that I just overlooked it the 5-10 times I’ve already been there before

              • It’s not there, because I didn’t put it back where I normally keep it – it’s lost!

              • Mary knew that Joseph and Nicodemus had placed Jesus’ body in this tomb, because she had followed them there and watched them do it

            • When Mary looks inside this time, she sees two angels

          • Two angels

            • John’s description of Mary seeing two angels in the tomb, makes it sound like she isn’t affected by that at all

              • John doesn’t say that Mary gasped and was shocked to see two people in the tomb, when it was empty before

              • She’s so focused on where Jesus’ body is, that she doesn’t seem to be phased by anything else

                • Perhaps we’ve all experienced this ourselves or with family members

                • We try to talk with them, but they are so focused on . . . (the game, the video game, a book, the sales flyer, the television show, etc.) . . . that they are oblivious to everything else going on around them

              • The angel’s question

                • The two angels ask Mary why she is crying

                • She is aware enough to answer their question

                • Her answer proves that she is focused on where Jesus was, but isn’t any longer

                • She basically tells them the same thing she told Peter and John – “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.”

                • We see Mary’s wholehearted devotion to Jesus when she says “my” Lord

                  • Last week we talked about Mary’s wholehearted devotion to Jesus, that was evident through her early morning trip to the tomb

                  • Here we see it again, when she says the Jesus is “her” Lord

                  • She was completely committed to Him

                  • We can learn from her example, again

                  • Can and do you call Jesus your Lord, because you have deep, intimate, personal relationship with Him

                  • Or, are you content to just call Him Lord, because You recognize that He spoke with authority and did miraculous things while on earth, but you don’t have a personal relationship with Him

                • God’s power at work

                  • “They do not solve the riddle of Jesus’ disappearance but by their question (“Woman, why are you crying?”) they suggest that sorrow is not what the present moment requires. ​​ But it is their presence that is telling. ​​ It has not been robbers who removed the body. ​​ Rather, what has happened here stems from God’s power.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 555]

                  • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is all-powerful!

                  • God’s power is revealed through the empty tomb

                  • Whether or not Mary is focusing her attention in the right direction doesn’t change this fact

            • Mary has laser beam focus as another character is introduced to her and asks her two questions

          • A gardener

            • Mary turns around and sees Jesus, but thinks He is the gardener

              • We’re not told why Mary doesn’t recognize Him

                • There are all kinds of ideas (she had experienced deep trauma; she couldn’t see clearly through her tears; it was still dark, because it was early morning; she was confused) [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 369]

                • I like a more simplistic explanation, that Jesus was in control of how and when He would reveal Himself to her

                • He did this with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:16) and with His closest disciples at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:4)

              • In Mary’s mind the only person who would be at the tomb early in the morning during the Feast, would be the gardener – perhaps this was when he usually came to garden tomb to maintain it [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 300; Köstenberger, 568]

              • She was so consumed by the idea that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb, where she thought it should have been, that resurrection never crossed her mind

              • That’s why she assumed the man standing behind her was the gardener

            • Jesus asks her two questions

              • “Why are you crying?”

                • This is the same question that the two angels had asked her

                • Again, Jesus is trying to get Mary to refocus her attention away from the empty tomb

                • She should not be sorrowful at this point, because the empty tomb means that Jesus has come alive again, just like He had said

                • Her response should be rejoicing

                • She should be focusing on the fact that Jesus is alive and right there with her, instead of lying dead in the tomb

              • “Who is it you are looking for?”

                • This question again should help to focus Mary

                • Jesus already knew, but wanted her to verbalize it

              • Mary’s response to the two questions

                • She thinks that Jesus is the gardener

                • Here is the irony, “The one whose body she is seeking is asked for a solution to the mystery of the empty tomb.” ​​ [Moloney cited by Köstenberger, 568]

                • She is asking everyone she comes in contact with, if they know where Jesus’ body is

                • She is even willing to follow them to the location and retrieve His body

                • Her words reveal her devotion. ​​ She never paused to consider how she would carry the corpse of a full-grown man or how she would explain her possession of it.” ​​ [Tenney quoted in Guzik’s commentary]

            • The concept of Jesus’ resurrection hasn’t even crossed her mind, because she is so focused on where Jesus was instead of where Jesus is

          • “Nothing that she has seen – not the stone rolled away from the tomb, not the sight of two angels in the tomb guarding an empty space, not even the sight of Jesus himself – has shaken her stubborn conclusion that he has been taken away and reburied.” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 999]

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Preconceived ideas can blind us to the truth right in front of us

            • There are those in our culture today, who say that they won’t believe in Jesus until God reveals Himself to them in a miraculous or supernatural way

            • Mary’s story and the religious leaders that John has introduced us to previously are evidence that we can see the miraculous and still not believe

              • Jesus asks us to take the step of faith to believe in Him without having all of our questions answered and perhaps without seeing or experiencing the supernatural or miraculous

              • Faith is believing in something we cannot see

              • Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

              • John 20:29, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

              • Salvation comes by believing in Jesus by grace through faith

              • Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

              • So, if you want God to reveal Himself to you, if you want to experience the supernatural and miraculous, then believe in Jesus by grace through faith

              • Take that step of faith today

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take the step of faith to believe in Jesus for salvation.

            • Mary had been around Jesus and His teachings for probably a couple of years

            • She was no less aware, that He had mentioned multiple times, that He would be killed, buried, and come alive again on the third day

            • She should have been focusing on where Jesus is instead of where Jesus was

        • At this point, Jesus reveals Himself to her

    • Where Jesus is (vv. 16-18)

        • Jesus uses Mary’s name

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus’ disciples know His voice, listen to His voice, and follow Him.

            • Jesus taught His disciples about this as John records it in 10:1-21 (Jesus is the Good Shepherd)

            • John 10:3-4, The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. ​​ He calls his own by name and leads them out. ​​ When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

            • This happened once before in John 11:43-44a, When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” ​​ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

            • Jesus called Mary by name and she knew His voice

            • Application

              • Jesus calls us by name, but do we know His voice, listen to His voice, and follow Him?

              • There are many things that can distract us from knowing and listening to the voice of Jesus and then following Him

              • Work; Technology (social media, video games, television, etc.); Family; Friends; School; Hobbies (hunting, fishing, shopping, camping, etc.); Sports

              • Different ring tones

                • With small computers in our pockets today (cell phones), we have the ability to customize our ringtones

                • We have a specific ringtone for our spouse, children, parents, boss, neighbor, and friends

                • When our phone goes off, we determine whether or not to answer, based on the ringtone

                • It would be interesting to see how each person here would respond if their cell phone rang during the service, based on a specific ringtone

                • For certain ringtones, we would fumble around to silence our phones, while for other ringtones, we would simply excuse ourselves, from the sanctuary, and answer the phone call

                • If Jesus called with His special ringtone how would you respond?

              • Three questions

                • Do you know Jesus’ voice?

                  • Yes! ​​ Then you have a personal relationship with Him and are one of His disciples

                  • No! ​​ Then you don’t have a personal relationship with Him and are not one of His disciples, which is why you don’t know His voice (what voice do you know? – science, philosophy, Google, friends, Satan?)

                • Are you listening to Jesus’ voice?

                  • As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you should be listening to His voice (we can hear Jesus’ voice through other believers, sermons, personal Bible study, small group Bible studies, Scripture memory, prayer, etc.)

                  • There are times in our lives when we don’t want to listen to the voice of Jesus (we may be anger, bitter, lonely, hurt, sad, anxious, depressed, and more)

                  • We know what the Bible says, but we decide not to listen to it and instead do our own thing

                • Are you following Jesus?

                  • If you know His voice and are listening to His voice, then you should be following what He is saying to you

                  • Most of us know what Jesus is asking us to do, but are we following Him – are we obeying Him

                  • Jesus may be asking you to follow Him into full-time ministry, into a volunteer ministry position, to share the Gospel with a coworker, to forgive a fellow believer, to forgive someone who has hurt you, to reconcile with a family member, etc.

                  • You know what He is asking you to follow!

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Listen to the voice of Jesus and obediently follow Him.

            • ​​ When Jesus said her name, Mary knew His voice and responded

          • Mary’s response

            • She turned her full attention to Jesus and no longer focused on where Jesus’ body was

              • She was able to focus on where Jesus is instead of where Jesus was

              • He is alive and with her, right there at the garden tomb

            • She addresses Jesus as Teacher

            • Imagine the joy she must have felt as this point, seeing Jesus alive

            • She had found Jesus’ body, but not in the condition/state that she had previously thought she would

            • There was no need to complete the burial process

          • Perhaps in her excitement, she rushed forward to touch Jesus

        • Jesus gives Mary a job to do

          • Jesus tells her not to hold on to Him, because He had not yet returned to the Father

            • Jesus is not giving her a prohibition against touching Him physically, because we know that, with Thomas, He encouraged him to touch the nail marks in His wrists and to put his hand in the whole in His side from the spear

            • Rather, Jesus is helping her understand that she will see Him again, but also that He has to ascend to heaven so the Holy Spirit will come and He has a job for her to do as His messenger

          • Jesus’ message for His disciples

            • Progression of relationship between Jesus and His disciples

            • Servants: ​​ John 13:16, I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

            • Servants to Friends: ​​ John 15:15, I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. ​​ Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

            • Friends to Brothers: ​​ This shows the level of intimacy increasing in their relationship as He prepares to return to the Father

              • They will be the ones who will continue to communicate God’s redemptive plan through the Gospel of Jesus Christ

              • We see this progression of relationship through Jesus message for His disciples

              • Jesus is returning to His Father and their Father, to His God and their God

          • Mary obediently stops holding on to Jesus and returns to where the disciples are

        • Mary obeys

          • She tells them that she has seen the Lord!

          • We’re not told if they believe her or not

          • She also tells them everything that Jesus had asked her to relay to them


  • YOU

    • Are you ready to take the step of faith to believe in Jesus for salvation?

    • Are you ready to listen to the voice of Jesus and obediently follow Him?


  • WE

    • Is our focus on where Jesus is instead of where Jesus was?



“A friend of mine used to work as a denominational official in Minnesota. One of his jobs was to travel to little rural communities where they didn't have churches to do funerals. He would go out with an undertaker, and they would drive together in the undertaker's hearse. One time, they were on their way back from a funeral, and my friend, John, was feeling quite tired. He decided he would take a nap. Since they were in a hearse, he thought, Well, I'll just lie down in the back of the hearse.


Sounds like kind of a creepy thing to do, but this is a true story. The guy who was driving the hearse pulled into a service station, because he was running low on gas. The service station attendant was filling up the tank and he was kind of freaked out, because there was a body stretched out in the back. While he was filling the tank, John woke up, opened his eyes, knocked on the window and waved at the attendant. John said he never saw anybody run so fast in his whole life.”


John Ortberg, "The Empty Tomb: How Will You Respond?" Menlo Park Presbyterian Church.






I Get It!

(John 20:1-9)



“After analyzing 600 pages’ worth of arguments for and against the historicity of Christ's resurrection, Dr. Michael R. Licona concludes that ‘a good critical scholar must account for the facts with integrity’ even when the facts are ‘in tension with [our] desired outcome.’ Then he uses the following example from American history:


Long before John Adams became the second U.S. President, in 1770 he was a respected lawyer in New England, where the Boston massacre had just occurred. No lawyers would defend the British soldiers involved for fear of the American public, which had now grown even stronger in its anti-British sentiments. But Adams believed that everyone was entitled to a fair trial. He took the case, the public turned against him, and he lost more than half of his clients.


In a courtroom that was described as crowded and ‘electrical,’ Adams argued that the soldiers were innocent …. He then added, ‘Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictums of our passions, they cannot alter the state of the facts and evidence.’


Dr. Licona concludes: ‘No matter how much one may loathe the idea that Jesus rose from the dead and fantasize about other outcomes, the historical bedrock remains the same …. Jesus’ resurrection is the best historical explanation of the relevant historical [evidence].’”


Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus (InterVarsity Press, 2010), pp. 609-610.





  • ME

    • Packing the court

        • I try not to listen or watch too much news – it tends to stress me out

        • With the upcoming election and the open seat on the Supreme Court, I kept hearing the comment about “packing the court”

        • I didn’t understand what that meant for a couple of weeks, until it was explained to me

        • I guess there is a movement toward adding more Justices to the Supreme Court with the intent of adding Justices that would favor one side of the isle over the other

        • The packing of the court would either balance the court or give a majority to one side or the other

        • Once it was explained to me, then I understood what was being said

        • I got it!


  • WE

    • All of us probably have an idea of something we didn’t get at first, but eventually understood once it was explained to us

        • Perhaps it was a math problem or equation

        • Maybe it was some political concept

        • Some people eventually understand philosophical questions, but probably most of us don’t (“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”)

        • The physics of how a curveball works with a baseball

        • Which bowl game actually determines the National Champions for college football (I still don’t understand that, but I’m not a sports guy)

        • How the coronavirus is spread?

    • There are laws and facts that explain every one of these things, that we may not understand at first, but the facts and the laws should move us toward belief


John has been guiding us through Jesus’ passion as He was tried, condemned, crucified, and buried. ​​ Now John shares with us the one thing that sets Jesus apart from all others. ​​ He shares some facts about Jesus’ resurrection. ​​ These facts drove John to believe. ​​ John wants us to . . .


BIG IDEA – Follow the facts to faith.

Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 20:1-9)

    • Mary’s belief (vv. 1-2)

        • First day of the week

          • By the time the Gospel writers are writing, the significance of Jesus’ resurrection has transformed how they refer to the day on which He came alive again

          • It was certainly the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion, but it was also the first day of the week

          • “Although the death of Jesus was absolutely crucial for salvation and the forgiveness of sins . . . ‘the hinge point of Christianity’ is the resurrection. ​​ Indeed, on the basis of the resurrection Christians have established their day of worship and praise of God (John 20:19, 26; cf. Rev 1:10).” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 291]

          • We call Sunday, the first day of the week, and it’s when we gather together to worship and praise God

        • Early, while it was still dark

          • Mary was not alone when she went to the tomb early in the morning

            • It would have been out of character for a woman to be walking outside the city walls, by herself, while it was still dark

            • We know from the other Gospel writers that Mary had other women with her

            • Mary’s statement to Peter and John in verse 2 also tell us there were a group of women that went together, because she uses the word “we”

            • Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome had bought spices to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1-2)

            • There may have been more than just these three women

          • They were up early, probably between 3-6 am, and headed to the tomb

            • There was some urgency on Friday to make sure that the bodies of Jesus and the other two criminals were removed from the crosses before the special Passover Sabbath began, which is why the order to break their legs was given

            • Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus probably had to rush to prepare Jesus’ body for burial before sundown, and perhaps they didn’t finish it completely or didn’t do it as thoroughly as they would have liked

            • “On Friday Jesus was left of the burial preparation bench in the receiving room of the tomb chamber. ​​ No doubt the women thought they could return following the Sabbath, roll back the stone, and complete the burial, sliding Jesus’ body into one of the tomb’s burial niches.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 553]

        • Mary Magdalene’s background

          • While John doesn’t mention any other women, that doesn’t set his Gospel in opposition to the other Gospels – he is simply focusing on one character

            • She is first mentioned in John’s Gospel at the cross (John 19:25)

            • She is from the Galilean village of Magdala on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee

            • She was the one whom Jesus freed from seven demons that possessed her

            • She was one of the women that followed Joseph and Nicodemus to the tomb to see where Jesus would be buried

            • She is mentioned in all four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection

            • Mary loved Jesus deeply

            • She was wholeheartedly devoted to Him

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Our wholehearted devotion to Jesus brings joy to God’s heart.

            • Mary’s life was transformed through her relationship with Jesus

            • The same can and should be true of us

            • We should be wholeheartedly devoted to Jesus, because of what He has done for us

              • He left the glory and majesty of heaven to come to earth as a baby

              • He experienced the same things we’ve experienced as human beings (love, joy, laughter, loss, pain, suffering, temptation, and so much more)

              • He willingly died on a cross, as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, so we could be part of God’s family and be found righteous in His sight

              • Because of His ultimate sacrifice, we should be wholeheartedly devoted to Him

              • Nothing else should capture or captivate our hearts and minds like Jesus

              • The majority of our time should be devoted to pursuing Him and accomplishing His mission in this world – the Gospel

              • If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we would admit that we are not wholeheartedly devoted to Him

              • There are many other things that capture and captivate our hearts and minds

              • Take a moment to think about the things that have a higher priority in our lives, than Jesus

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess and repent of the things in my life that have a higher priority than Jesus and His mission.

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to being wholeheartedly devoted to Jesus.

            • Mary’s relationship with Jesus had transformed her and she was wholeheartedly devoted to Him and because of that . . .

          • Mary was up early and at the tomb when she discovered that the stone had been rolled away

            • Luke tells us in his Gospel that the women found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus (Luke 24:2-3)

            • John doesn’t mention that Mary enters the tomb, but it seems logical that she would have, because of what she tells Peter and John

          • John shares Mary’s reaction

        • Mary’s reaction to finding the stone rolled away

          • She runs to find Peter and John

            • Two beliefs

              • Some believe that she ran to Peter’s house first, and then together they ran to John’s house

              • Most believe that Peter was staying with John at his house

              • It’s not really important whether they were staying together or in two separate houses

            • Significance of going to Peter

              • We shouldn’t too quickly gloss over the fact that Mary Magdalene went to Peter to report what she found

              • “Even after his denial of Jesus, Peter is still the leading figure among his disciples.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 562]

              • We know from Scripture that Jesus still considered Peter to be an important and vital part of His mission, because He restores him (John 21:15-17) and then uses him to preach the Gospel at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41)

            • After she finds Peter and John, she shares what she believes happened

          • She shares her belief

            • They have taken the Lord out of the tomb

              • To understand what Mary believes we have to understand the culture of the day and then determine who she is talking about when she says “they”

              • Grave robbing

                • It was not uncommon for people to rob graves

                • They were looking for valuables (i.e. – expensive linen wraps, spices, jewelry, etc.)

                • It became such a problem that eventually Emperor Claudius “order capital punishment to be meted out to those convicted of destroying tombs, removing bodies or even displacing the sealing stones.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 636]

                • The Jewish religious leaders were aware of the common practice of grave robbery

                  • Read Matthew 27:62-66

                  • Read Matthew 28:11-15

                • Mary believes that someone has taken Jesus’ body – grave robbery has happened! (resurrection has not even crossed her mind)

              • “They”

                • When Mary says “they” she is most likely referring to the Jews and/or Romans

                • She believes the religious leaders have taken Jesus’ body, while the religious leaders believe the disciples could take Jesus’ body as a way to say that Jesus came alive again

                • Both sides were wrong

              • Mary believes the Jews have taken Jesus’ body and put somewhere, but they don’t know where

            • We don’t know where they have put him!

              • The “we” helps us understand that Mary was with other women at the tomb

              • It also helps us know that Mary identified herself with the other women

        • We know what Mary believed about Jesus’ resurrection, but what did Peter and John believe?

    • Peter and John’s belief (vv. 3-9)

        • Tomb Run

          • How many of you remember this game [show picture of Temple Run]

          • I’d never heard of this one, but it fits in with what Peter and John were doing [show picture of Tomb Runner]

          • Peter and John weren’t collecting tiles or diamonds on their way to the tomb, but they were trying to get there as quickly as possible

          • John tells us that he outran Peter, but he waited to enter the tomb until Peter arrived

        • Progression of “seeing” (understanding)

          • John visibly saw

            • In the NIV they don’t provide the translation for “saw”

            • In the NASB and most other translations they translate “saw”

            • NASB – “and stooping and looking in, he [John] saw the linen wrappings lying there. . .

            • The word “saw” in the Greek is ble’-pō (bleh-poe), meaning “to look at, to see visibly

            • John visibly saw the linen wrappings lying in the tomb where Jesus had been buried

          • Peter studied more carefully what he saw

            • When Peter arrived, he didn’t hesitate to enter the tomb, but walked right in

            • Peter also saw the linen strips lying there and the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head, folded nicely, but separate from the linen strips

              • This burial cloth had probably been rolled and wrapped around Jesus’ face to keep His mouth shut

              • Now it was folded nicely and laying separate from the linen strips that had been wrapped around His body

            • The Greek word for “saw” here is different than in verse 5

              • the Greek word is the-ō-re’-ō (thay-o-ray-o) which means, “to study more carefully

              • We get our English word “theory” from this Greek word

              • So, Peter is formulating a theory about what happened to Jesus’ body

                • He probably realizes that Mary’s belief is incorrect, because of the facts in front of him

                • Grave robbers would not have taken the body and left the expensive linens and spices

                • They certainly wouldn’t have taken time to carefully fold up the facial burial cloth and meticulously wrap the spices back up in the shape of Jesus’ body before leaving

                • They would have gone in and grabbed Jesus’ body, linens and all

              • Peter knows that the Jews and/or the Romans have not taken Jesus’ body – he knows that even some random grave robbers have not taken Jesus’ body

              • So, what has happened to Jesus’ body

            • Peter is formulating his theory when John enters the tomb

          • John comprehended what he saw

            • The Greek word for “saw” in verse 8 is ā’-dō (eye-doe) and means, “to perceive with intelligent comprehension

            • We get our English word “idea” from this, so it can also mean “I get it”

            • John saw the grave clothes and the head cloth and he believed that Jesus had come alive again

            • We’re not told if Peter believed at this point, but it’s not hard to see that he did believe that Jesus had come alive again

            • Both Peter and John had followed the facts to faith.

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when we see the empty tomb and believe that Jesus is alive.

            • There was a progression of “seeing” (understanding) for Peter and John as they examined the empty tomb

              • Where are you at in that progression?

              • Are you just seeing it for the first time, but not understanding?

              • Are you examining it more closely?

              • Are you at the “got it” stage, where you understand why Jesus had to come alive again?

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Follow the facts of Jesus’ resurrection and believe that He has risen from the dead.

              • Maybe you’re seeing it for the first time

              • You may be ready to study it more carefully for yourself (we’re here to help you with that)

              • Perhaps you’re ready to move to full comprehension (we’re here to help with that move also)

          • While they believed that Jesus had come alive again, they didn’t understand from the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead

        • Jesus had to rise from the dead

          • Do you understand from the Bible that Jesus had to rise from the dead?

            • This is an important truth of the Gospel

            • Many self-proclaimed prophets have died, but none have come back to life

            • Jesus wasn’t a prophet – He was the Son of God

            • God allowed Him to come alive again proving that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice was full payment for our sins

          • Prophecy had to be fulfilled

          • Redemption had to be accomplished

            • 1 Corinthians 15:3-4a, For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: ​​ that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

            • Isaiah 53:5, But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

          • We know the disciples eventually understood

            • Luke 24:6-8, He is not here; he has risen! ​​ Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” ​​ Then they remembered his words.

            • Luke 24:45-48, Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. ​​ He told them, “This is what is written: ​​ The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. ​​ You are witnesses of these things.

          • They definitely took the Gospel to all nations!

          • We are commanded to do the same thing


  • YOU

    • Are you wholeheartedly devoted to Jesus and His mission? ​​ If not, what do you need to confess and repent of in order to be fully devoted to Him?

    • Have you followed the facts of Jesus’ resurrection and believed in Him as a result? ​​ If not, what level of seeing are you at (visible, studying carefully, comprehending) and are you ready to take the next step?


  • WE

    • Are we (Idaville Church) ready to obediently follow Jesus’ command to take the Gospel to all nations? ​​ (this is why Jesus had to rise from the dead, so that redemptions plan could be completed and the mission of the church established)



“Charles Colson, convicted for his involvement in the Watergate scandal as an assistant to President Richard Nixon, writes:


When I am challenged on the resurrection, my answer is always that the disciples and 500 others gave eyewitness accounts of seeing Jesus risen from the tomb. But then I'm asked, ‘How do you know they were telling the truth? Maybe they were perpetrating a hoax.’ My answer to that comes from an unlikely source: Watergate.


Watergate involved a conspiracy perpetuated by the closest aides to the president of the United States—the most powerful men in America, who were intensely loyal to their president. But one of them, John Dean, turned state's evidence, that is, testified against Nixon, as he put it, ‘to save his own skin’—and he did so only two weeks after informing the president about what was really going on—two weeks! The cover-up, the lie, could only be held together for two weeks, and then everybody else jumped ship in order to save themselves. Now, the fact is that all those around the president were facing was embarrassment, maybe prison. Nobody's life was at stake.


But what about the disciples? Twelve powerless men, peasants really, were facing not just embarrassment or political disgrace, but beatings, stonings, execution. Every single one of the disciples insisted, to their dying breaths, that they had physically seen Jesus bodily raised from the dead. Don't you think that one of those apostles would have cracked before being beheaded or stoned? That one of them would have made a deal with the authorities? None did. Men will give their lives for something they believe to be true; they will never give their lives for something they know to be false.


The Watergate cover-up reveals the true nature of humanity. Even political zealots at the pinnacle of power will, in the crunch, save their own necks, even at the expense of the ones they profess to serve so loyally. But the apostles could not deny Jesus, because they had seen him face to face, and they knew he had risen from the dead.


No, you can take it from an expert in cover-ups—I've lived through Watergate—that nothing less than a resurrected Christ could have caused those men to maintain to their dying whispers that Jesus is alive and is Lord. Two thousand years later, nothing less than the power of the risen Christ could inspire Christians around the world to remain faithful—despite prison, torture, and death. Jesus is Lord: That's the thrilling message of Easter. It's a historic fact, one convincingly established by the evidence—and one you can bet your life upon.”


Charles Colson, BreakPoint Online Commentaries (4-29-02); submitted by Cynthia Davenport-Herbst, Paris, Texas.





Back To Church Sunday

Stronger Together

(Ecclesiastes 4:7-12)



Good morning and welcome, everyone! It’s so good to see you all here this morning. It’s so good to be here together!


We’re honored that you’ve chosen to be here with us this morning. As you probably know, we are excited to be participating in and celebrating the national movement of Back to Church Sunday. All across the country, the body of Christ is gathering together to reflect on and to reclaim the true nature of the church as a place of Christ’s love and hope for ourselves, our friends, neighbors, communities, and world.


As a church, we are the collective hands and feet of Christ, who reflect Him and do His work in the world as we grow in our relationships with Him and with each other. That’s not just us as a group of friends and family within Idaville Church—it includes those who are gathering in the church up the road, down the road, and in the other small towns surrounding us, and virtually at home, and on the other side of our country, and around the world.


Sometimes we do a better job than at other times. And sometimes we’ve all done a lousy job of that calling to represent Christ. I know that everyone here today has a personal story and experience with the church—some good and life-giving; some bad and painful. For those of you whose experience with the church may have been painful, I’m sorry. I may not know each of your individual stories, but I do know how deep and how wide and how high and how pure God’s love is for each of you. And I am truly sorry for the pain you may have experienced when the actions of one or some of His followers fell short or contradicted His love for you.


But whatever path has led you here today, let me say that we are honored to welcome you and to get to know you. We are excited to be here together. This is a Sunday of belonging, and together is where we belong. We are stronger together!


If there was ever any doubt, or any sense of taking it for granted, the COVID-19 pandemic has sure reminded us how much we need each other. ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ may be a cliché, but it’s cliché because there’s truth in it. Having to distance ourselves from each other sure has provided a powerful reminder of the value and importance of our need for connection. We have all been living through the most tangible reminder in our collective lifetimes that we need each other, that we belong in community, and that we are much stronger together.



  • ME

    • Hunting

        • For many years I hunted alone

        • I didn’t have a buddy to go hunting with

        • Those years were tough and I didn’t hunt as much as I wanted to, because it was lonely

        • I didn’t have someone to motivate me or that relied on me to be there for them

        • There wasn’t anyone to rejoice with in a successful hunt

        • God has provided a couple of guys that I get to hunt with now, and it is such a joy to be together with them and share stories


  • WE

    • Every one of us is probably part of a group that we cherish

        • I know we have some scrap bookers here

        • There’s also those of us who have our “shopping crew” for Black Friday

        • Maybe we’re thinking about our hunting, fishing, boating, golfing, disc golf, tennis, basketball, football, soccer, rock climbing, camping, hiking, kayaking, video game, genealogy crew (enter whatever activity you enjoy doing together with others

        • Think about those groups and what draws us together through them


In Ecclesiastes 4:7-12, the writer of Ecclesiastes mentions another thing, that he has observed in his life, that is meaningless. ​​ He talks about a man who is isolated and alone, without any one to help him. ​​ Then he contrasts that with the benefits of having at least one companion, but probably more. ​​ The writer of Ecclesiastes wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – We were created for community.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12)

    • Background

        • Ecclesiastes is one of the Bible’s wisdom books. ​​ Its narrator is the Teacher or the Preacher, depending on the translation

        • Most scholars credit Solomon as the author or someone writing for Solomon (it is not mentioned in the writings)

        • Most of us are familiar with the book of Proverbs

          • Solomon is the author of that book and he has packed it full of wise sayings

          • There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so it’s easy to read one Proverb a day for most months (I’ve done that in past years)

          • So, I’ve read and reread Proverbs a lot, but I can’t say that about Ecclesiastes

          • Perhaps we’re all the same when it comes to Ecclesiastes

        • Ecclesiastes can be a little hard to read

          • It can sound downright bleak in spots as the writer explores the futilities and emptiness of life

          • The same saying is repeated throughout the book, “this too is meaningless.”

          • Ultimately, the book walks through the ironies and empty pursuits of life, pointing toward trusting God as the only absolute, and it offers many wise insights along the way

        • The Teacher begins with the negative and then turns to the positive – from the bleak to the hopeful

    • Isolation (vv. 7-8)

        • The Teacher begins this section by repeating the statement that He saw something that was meaningless

        • Alone

          • The man that the Teacher observed did not have a son or a brother as a companion

          • Nothing is said of a wife, daughters, or sisters

            • Perhaps he had one or all of those

            • As we see in the remainder of theses verses, it seems as though work is the primary focus

            • In the Ancient Near East, most of the time, the men would be tasked with working in the fields or at a trade, while the women would focus on the housework (there were exceptions to this depending on life circumstances; i.e. – a widow, orphan, etc.)

          • The man not only has to work alone, but he doesn’t have anyone to pass on his possessions or trade to – there is no male heir for his inheritance

          • Application

            • Some of us can relate to this man’s loneliness

            • We don’t have siblings or children that can work alongside of us or take over the family business when we retire

            • It can be very lonely and tasking

            • It can cause us pain as we think about having to sell the business that we’ve worked so hard to create and develop

            • Perhaps some of us are feeling the same way as this man – everything is meaningless

          • We may also be feeling burned out

        • No end to his work and no contentment

          • Because he is all alone with no one to share the work load, he recognizes that there is no end to his work

            • Those of us who own our businesses know exactly what this man is feeling

            • There are farmers and small business owners who have never taken a vacation – or have rarely taken time away from work (they understand that the buck stops with them)

            • When asked about a vacation, they will probably respond, “What is a vacation? ​​ I’m not familiar with that term.”

            • They know that to be successful they have to work and work hard

          • Contentment

            • Many times, these hard workers are not content with the wealth they have accumulated

            • Proverbs 27:20, Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.

            • The Apostle Paul gives us the key to contentment no matter what our circumstances may be right now

            • Philippians 4:11-13, I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. ​​ I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. ​​ I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. ​​ I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God for His strength, no matter what my circumstances are right now.

          • Since this man does not have an heir, he asks two questions

        • Two questions

          • Who am I working for?

            • Some of us would answer this question with, “I’m working for the man!” (talking about our boss)

            • And in some instances, we may even say, “I’m going to stick to the man!” (again referring to our boss)

            • Paul helps us to change our perspective on this question

              • In writing to the believers in Colossae he provides some rules for Christian households

              • In that section it talks about slaves obeying their earthly masters, which for us can relate to obeying our bosses

              • Colossians 3:22-25, Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. ​​ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. ​​ It is the Lord Christ you are serving. ​​ Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

              • No matter what job you have, as Christians, we are working for the Lord

              • Perhaps that little reminder will change our perspective as we prepare to face another work week

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Begin my work week by asking the Lord to help me remember that I’m working for Him.

            • The second question is just as important

          • Why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?

            • Those of us who are workaholics know that we have missed some important events in our family’s lives, because of work

              • I know a mother who missed her daughter’s preparation for her senior prom, because she felt like she needed to be at work

              • Illustration about Craig Groeschel from The Christian Atheist

              • I’ve known other people who have been reprimanded by their supervisor for prioritizing time with their children, for important events, instead of being at work

              • Others have been criticized for not participating in a work related event due to medical concerns with their spouse, child, or parent

              • I want to encourage everyone this morning to take time to enjoy life, especially with family

              • Let me paraphrase what Andy Stanley once said, there are hundreds or thousands of people who can do your job as good or better than you, but you are the only one who can be the husband/wife to your spouse and the father/mother to your children

              • That should change our perspective about being a workaholic and prioritizing our family

            • The man in this passage says that being a workaholic is meaningless

        • Toiling endlessly without a break is not how God designed us to function

        • We have to make time to be in community, because we were created for community

        • We are stronger together

        • That’s what the Teacher shares next

    • Community (vv. 9-12)

        • A few thoughts as we consider the importance of community

          • “The old aphorism applies: ‘I went out to look for a friend and they were nowhere. ​​ I went out to be a friend and they were everywhere.’” ​​ [Moore & Akin, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 58]

          • “Unfortunately, true community is not what people in many churches really want. ​​ What they really desire is either people meeting their needs on their terms or what some prominent sociologists have labeled ‘lifestyle enclaves’ (Bellah, et al., 71-75). ​​ Lifestyle enclaves are artificial communities. ​​ They are groups of people with the same socioeconomic background who exist solely to satisfy their individual and collective desires. ​​ This is not the biblical meaning of community.” ​​ [More & Akin, 58]

        • Work (v. 9)

          • The lonely man sees no end to his toil and doesn’t have any one to share his workload

          • The Teacher tells us that two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work

          • Biblical examples

            • Genesis 2:18, The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. ​​ I will make a helper suitable for him.”

            • Luke 10:1-2, After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. ​​ He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. ​​ Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

            • Acts 13:1-3, In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. ​​ While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” ​​ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

            • Even after Barnabas and Saul/Paul parted ways over John Mark, Paul took Silas with him and picked up Timothy along the way (they were serving in ministry together)

          • Application

            • Pastor Marc and I have experienced this here at Idaville Church

            • We are a great team!

            • When either of us gets stuck with sermon preparation the other person is always ready and willing to listen and give ideas

            • When there are important decisions that need to be made, we are talking them through together

            • Pastor Marc knows I’m a verbal processor and is always willing to listen

            • I praise the Lord for Pastor Marc’s friendship and partnership in ministry

          • We’re not only stronger together when it comes to work, but also as it pertains to hurt

        • Hurt (v. 10)

          • Do you remember the catchphrase, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”

            • In 1989 LifeCall began running commercials using this phrase [show picture of woman who has fallen in the bathroom]

            • This was probably new technology at that time, to have this pendant that was worn around the neck in case of an accident or emergency

            • All someone had to do was push the button on the pendant and it would alert a dispatch service

          • Importance of having a companion to help when we fall

            • It’s certainly important to have a friend and community who can be there to help us when we fall down physically

              • When our boys were small, I woke up one night in the middle of the night, with something in my eye that could not flush out

              • I needed to go to the emergency room, but knew that Judy would have to get all three boys up for her to be able to take me

              • I called my best friend, Dwane, and asked him to take me, which he willingly did

              • How many of you have experienced the love and generosity of the community here at Idaville Church when you have gotten hurt or had to recover from surgery or another illness?

              • When Jesus was teaching about the final judgment, in Matthew 25:31-46, He talked about taking care of those who were hungry, thirsty, a stranger, needing clothing, sick, and in prison

              • Matthew 25:40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

              • Galatians 6:9-10, Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ​​ Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

            • It’s also important to have a friend and community that surrounds us when we fall down spiritually

              • Galatians 6:1-2, Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. ​​ But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. ​​ Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

              • Jesus taught in Matthew 18:15-20 what our responsibility is when a someone sins against us (one-on-one; one or two others with us; before the whole church; treat them as we would a pagan or tax collector)

            • Even in our hurt, we were created for community

          • There are times when we need each other just to survive

        • Survival (v. 11)

          • Literally

            • “The warmth of lying beside each other does not refer to sexual activity, nor are the two necessarily husband and wife. ​​ It is an image derived from that of travelers who must lie beside each other to stay warm on cold desert nights.” [Garrett, The New American Commentary, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 308]

            • This passage has been used during wedding ceremonies and can certainly pertain to a husband and wife (if you’re married, you understand sharing body heat to stay warm in the winter, especially when your wife’s feet are like ice cubes and she puts them on your legs to warm them up)

            • In the Ancient Near East, those who were traveling together needed the shared body heat of two people as they slept under the stars or in a tent

            • It was a survival technique

          • Metaphorically

            • Some scholars see this reference to staying warm as a metaphor for “emotional comfort against the coldness of the world.” ​​ [Garrett, 308]

            • 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. ​​ For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

            • Perhaps every one of us can remember a time when we have experienced the comfort of others who have gone through the same things we have

            • In God’s sovereignty, He provides the right people at the right time to comfort us

            • Maybe God is prompting someone here today to be a comfort to someone else

            • I encourage you to listen to that prompting, because we were created for community and we are stronger together

          • We need each other in work, when we’re hurt, for survival, and finally for protection

        • Protection (v. 12)

          • Standing our ground

            • It’s difficult to stand our ground when we are standing all alone

              • Most people are bolder and more outspoken when they have some friends standing with them

              • If those same people were alone, they may not speak out or stand up at all – they may just remain silent

            • Mark 3:23-26, So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? ​​ If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. ​​ If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. ​​ And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.

            • It’s a reminder of the saying, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

            • We need each other to help with accountability

              • Hebrews 10:24-25, And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. ​​ Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

              • Ephesians 6:12, For our struggling is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

              • We need to encourage each other to put on the full armor of God

            • “If one is bad, and two is good, how much better is three! ​​ In this regard note the Targum’s interpretation, ‘if two righteous people in a generation are useful, how much more useful are three righteous people in a generation!’” ​​ [Longman III, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Ecclesiastes, 143]

          • Cord of three strands

            • Rope

              • Most of us have used rope at some point in our lives

              • Have you ever taken rope apart? ​​ (it’s made up of different strands braided together)

              • Individually each of those strands might hold a little bit of weight, but it’s when those strands are woven together that their strength multiplies exponentially.

              • Examples

                • Would you rather water-ski behind a boat with a line of craft string or with a braided nylon tow-rope?

                • Would you rather rock climb on the thousand-foot rock faces of Yosemite attached to a long line of yarn? ​​ Or tied into a climbing rope?

                • Would you rather strap your harness to a tree in your tree stand with jute twine or a thick racket strap?

              • The important thing about rope is that it has always been made by twisting and weaving multiple strands or fibers together to make it stronger than one strand alone

            • Relationships

              • We are very much the same

                • We are like rope

                • We are stronger as we are woven together by and with Christ, and that happens when we are in community together

                • We were created for community

                • “The point of the image of the three-strand cord is rather that strength can be gained through human relationships.” ​​ [Longman III, 143-44]

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to being in community with other believers.


  • YOU

    • Do you need to trust God for His strength for a situation in your life?

    • Who are you truly working for? (God or man?)


  • WE

    • We all need to remember that we were created for community and we are stronger together



“Pachomius was an Egyptian soldier won to Christ by the kindness of Christians in Thebes. After his release from the military around A.D. 315, he was baptized. Serious about his new faith and determined to grow, Pachomius became a disciple of Palamon, an ascetic who taught him the self-denial and solitary life of a religious hermit.


In early Christianity, the model of devotion was the recluse dedicated to resisting the corruption of society. These hermits wandered the desert alone—fasting, praying, and having visions. Many went to extremes: eating nothing but grass, living in trees, or refusing to wash.


Such was the popular image of holiness: solitude, silence, and severity. And such was Pachomius's early spiritual training. But he began to question the methods and lifestyle of his mentors.


How can you learn to love if no one else is around?


How can you learn humility living alone?

How can you learn kindness or gentleness or goodness in isolation?


How can you learn patience unless someone puts yours to the test?


In short, he concluded, developing spiritual fruit requires being around people—ordinary, ornery people. ‘To save souls,’ he said, ‘you must bring them together.’


Spiritual muscle isn't even learned among friends we have chosen. God's kind of love is best learned where we can't be selective about our associates. Perhaps this is why the two institutions established by God—the family and the church—are not joined by invitation only. We have no choice about who our parents or brothers or sisters will be; yet we are expected to love them. Neither can we choose who will or will not be in the family of God; any who confess Jesus as Lord must be welcomed. We learn agape love most effectively in our involuntary associations, away from the temptation of choosing to love only the attractive.


So Pachomius began an ascetic koinonia, where holiness was developed not in isolation but in community. Instead of each person seeking God in his own way, with the dangers of idleness and eccentricity, Pachomius established a common life based on worship, work, and discipline.


In community with flawed, demanding, sometimes disagreeable people, followers of Pachomius learned to take hurt rather than give it. They discovered that disagreements and opposition provide the opportunity to redeem life situations and experience God's grace. Thus began genuine monastic life.


Pachomius, while largely forgotten in church history, points out to us that as attractive as solitary sanctification may seem, it is life amid people, busyness, and interruptions that develop many of the qualities God requires.”


Condensed from our sister publication Leadership journal, © 1993 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit


Marshall Shelley, "Developing spiritual fruit requires being around people – ordinary, ornery people," Leadership journal (Spring 1993).






Truth Teller

(John 19:28-37)



“David Greenglass was a World War II traitor. He gave atomic secrets to the Soviet Union and then fled to Mexico after the war. His conspirators arranged to help him by planning a meeting with the secretary of the Soviet ambassador in Mexico City. Proper identification for both parties became vital. Greenglass was to identify himself with six prearranged signs. These instructions had been given to both the secretary and Greenglass so there would be no possibility of making a mistake. The signs were: (1) once in Mexico City, Greenglass was to write a note to the secretary, signing his name as ‘I. Jackson’; (2) after three days he was to go to the Plaza de Colon in Mexico City, and (3) stand before the statue of Columbus, (4) with his middle finger placed in a guide book. In addition, (5) when he was approached, he was to say it was a magnificent statue and that he was from Oklahoma. (6) The secretary was to then give him a passport.


The six prearranged signs worked. Why? With six identifying characteristics, it was impossible for the secretary not to identify Greenglass as the proper contact. How true, then, it must be that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah if he had 456 identifying characteristics well in advance and fulfilled them all.”


John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Walter Kaiser Jr., "If Specific Prophecies Were Fulfilled by the Messiah, Does the Science of Probability Consider This Proof There Is a God?"; submitted by Aaron Goerner, Utica, New York.





  • ME

    • Completing something

        • Puzzle

          • Several months ago I started a Thomas Kinkaid puzzle of DC Comic Superheroes

          • It took me quite a few evenings to complete it, but there was such excitement and satisfaction when I was done

          • I took a picture of it and sent it to our boys

          • I told Judy, “It is finished!”

        • Sermon

          • Every week, as I prepare God’s Word for Sunday, I’m excited when it’s done

          • Now, I don’t shout, “It is finished!” to Pastor Marc, but I still feel a sense of satisfaction and anticipation to share it on Thursday evening and Sunday morning

        • Master’s degree

          • Those two were short-term victories for me

          • Completing my Master’s degree was a long-term victory

          • It took me several years of late nights, reading, writing, and studying, to complete my degree

          • I was glad when I could say, “It is finished!”


  • WE

    • Completing something

        • What short-term things have you completed? (book, puzzle, exercise, laundry, lesson plans, lunch preparation, video game, etc.)

        • What long-term victories have you completed? (degree, job search, marriage, family, etc.)


Last week we saw Jesus hanging on the cross, but He had not yet died. ​​ Today we’ll see Jesus’ last words and deeds and His death on the cross. ​​ He was completing a long-term victory – redemption of humanity. ​​ There are three more prophecies fulfilled in these ten verses. ​​ In fact, there were twenty prophecies fulfilled during Jesus’ trial and crucifixion [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 361]. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (John 19:28-37)

    • Prophecy of the drink (vv. 28-30)

        • Completed

          • Last week we saw that Jesus completed His first-born male responsibility to make sure His mother would be taken care of, after His death

          • Later

            • The NIV translation of “later” makes it sound like an undetermined amount of time passes, from Jesus putting His mother in John’s care, and His statement about being thirsty

            • Most every other translation says, “after this”

            • John is simply letting us know that he is transitioning to another memory of Jesus’ crucifixion

          • Jesus had completed everything that God had given Him to do while on earth

            • He is obviously not referring to His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension – those were still to come

            • “Others may unconsciously play their part in the divine plan of redemption (e.g. vv. 23-24; cf. Acts 13:29), but not Jesus . . . Jesus’ knowledge that all was now completed is the awareness that all the steps that had brought him to this point of pain and impending death were in the design of his heavenly Father, and death itself was imminent.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 618-19]

            • What Jesus completed

              • He had taught crowds of people about the Kingdom of God

              • He had prepared His disciples to carry on the Gospel mission to both Jews and Gentiles

              • He had prepared the way for the coming of the Holy Spirit

              • He had lovingly taken care of His mother’s future

            • It’s time for Jesus to return to the Father

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we obey Him completely.

            • Jesus modeled for us what it looks like to obey God completely

              • Jesus told His disciples and the religious leaders on multiple occasions that He was not doing or saying anything that was not from the Father

              • Philippians 2:8, And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

              • Jesus was willing to sacrifice everything in order to obey God completely

            • Are we willing to sacrifice everything in order to obey God completely?

              • 1 Samuel 15:1-35 (The Lord Rejects Saul as King)

                • Samuel gives Saul a message from the Lord about completely destroying the Amalekites and all their possessions

                • Saul attacked the Amalekites and completely destroyed all the people, except Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good (1 Sam. 15:9)

                • When Samuel confronted Saul, he joyfully greeted him and told him he had carried out the Lord’s instructions

                • Samuel was confused, because he heard the bleating of sheep, and lowing of cattle

                • Saul had not completely destroyed the Amalekites and all their possessions

                • He did not completely obey the Lord, so the Lord rejected him as king of Israel

              • Mark 10:17-28 (The Rich Young Man)

                • The rich young man comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life

                • Jesus reminds him of the ten commandments, which he says he has kept since his youth

                • Jesus then says this, “One thing you lack,” he said, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. ​​ Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

                • The young man went away sad, because he had great wealth

              • In our western culture, we struggle to sacrifice everything in order to be completely obedient to God

                • Many times we want to hang on to a little of our past, instead of completely sacrificing it to the Lord, and then we wonder why God is not blessing us or answering our prayers

                • Sometimes we only obey the parts of the Bible we feel are easy to do and we ignore the other parts that are more difficult to do

                • We determine that we can’t afford to tithe, even though God has commanded us to give from the firstfruits of our labor

                • We are commanded not to gossip, but we “share” a prayer request about another person

                • We know we should forgive others and work towards reconciliation, but it’s so much easier to just leave and find another group of friends, another job, or another church

                • We know that looking at a woman with lust is just like committing adultery with her in our heart, but we justify it in our minds, because we haven’t actually done the physical act (Matt. 5:27-28)

                • We know that being angry with someone is just like murdering them in our heart, but we still allow ourselves to justify being angry with them (Matt. 5:21-22)

                • We know that we are supposed to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we don’t (Matt. 5:43-44)

                • The list could go on and on

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Admit that I am not obeying God completely and ask Him to help me obey Him completely, each day.

                • Luke 9:23-25, Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. ​​ For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. ​​ What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”

                • We can trust that when we completely obey God, He will always fulfill His Word and keep His promises

          • We see the fulfillment of God’s Word in Jesus’ next statement

        • “I am thirsty”

          • Physically

            • We have already seen in verse 24 the connection to Psalm 22

              • Psalm 22:15, My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

              • Every one of us knows what it’s like to be really thirsty and to have a dry mouth, where our tongue sticks to the roof of our mouths

            • David, in Psalm 69, again references thirst and what was offered to quench thirst

              • Psalm 69:3, I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.

              • Psalm 69:21, They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

            • Jesus was certainly physically thirsty at this point

              • The beatings He’d endured, and having to carry His own cross to Golgotha resulted in dehydration

              • Jesus already knew what was coming next, so I believe He was preparing for His triumphant announcement – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves

            • Many scholars believe there is also a spiritual side to Jesus’ statement about being thirsty

          • Spiritually

            • Jesus knew that His departure from this world would usher in, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, on all His disciples

            • He was ready to return to heaven and see the ongoing fulfillment of the redemption story

            • Psalm 42:1-2, As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. ​​ My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. ​​ When can I go and meet with God?

            • Paul understood this desire to be with the Lord

            • 2 Corinthians 5:6-9, Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. ​​ We live by faith, not by sight. ​​ We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. ​​ So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

            • We see then what the soldiers do in response to Jesus’ thirst

          • Relieving Jesus’ thirst

            • Wine vinegar

              • The soldiers would have had a jar of wine vinegar right there to keep themselves hydrated during the crucifixion

              • In most cases, it took days for the crucifixion to be completed

              • The wine vinegar was a cheap sour wine

              • It was different than the wine mixed with myrrh

                • John doesn’t mention this wine, but the Gospel writer, Mark, does

                • Mark 15:23, Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

                • As Jesus is being led through the city streets, there would have been charitable people, who had mixed this wine, to help those being crucified

                • It was considered a sedative and helped to dull the pain and agony of crucifixion [Carson, 620]

                • The wine vinegar would have helped to hydrate the individual, prolonging life, pain, and agony [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 550]

              • The soldier uses a sponge and a hyssop stalk to offer the wine vinegar to Jesus

            • Sponge and stalk of hyssop

              • Some people try to claim that Scripture is false, because of this reference to the use of a stalk of hyssop

                • Hyssop was a bush that could grow just about anywhere [show picture of hyssop]

                • It could grow from the crack in a stone wall

                • Its stalks/branches were very thin and flexible

                • So, how could a wine vinegar-soaked sponge be supported by a stalk of hyssop?

                • Two things to consider:

                  • Many of us think about the images we’ve seen in movies about the crucifixion [show first crucifixion picture] where the feet of the person being crucified is at head level with those on the ground

                  • More realistically, the individual’s feet were probably between 2-4 feet off the ground [show second crucifixion picture]

                  • The hyssop stalk would probably have been strong enough for the soldier to lift it just above his head to Jesus’ mouth

              • We weren’t there, so we don’t know exactly how it happened, but we can trust God’s Word – it is accurate and true

          • After Jesus has His thirst quenched, He makes a powerful proclamation

        • “It is finished”

          • Victory!

            • Matthew, Mark, and Luke all say that after Jesus received the drink, He cried out in a loud voice

            • John is the only one who mentions that Jesus said, “It is finished!”

            • The drink enabled Him to loudly announce victory

            • “This confirms the sense we have seen throughout the Passion story that here Jesus is accomplishing what he intends. ​​ He is not a victim, but a servant doing God’s bidding. ​​ This is not a cry of desolation (‘At last it is over!’) but an announcement of triumph (‘It is accomplished!’).” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 529]

          • Handed over

            • “The verb ‘handed over’ comes as the last in a chain of occurrences of this verb. ​​ The devil through Judas Iscariot (13:2), ‘handed over’ Jesus to Caiaphas and the Jewish authorities (18:2), who ‘handed him over’ to Pilate (18:30), who ‘handed him over’ again to the Jews again for crucifixion (19:16). ​​ Now, Jesus himself ‘hands over’ himself – that is, his ‘Spirit’ – to someone, but to whom? . . . Quite clearly, Jesus ‘handed over the Spirit’ to the Father, just as in the other Gospels.” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 965]

            • Jesus was not a victim, because He willingly laid down His life

            • God had given him the authority to do it

            • John 10:17-18, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. ​​ No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. ​​ I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. ​​ This command I received from my Father.”

          • Application

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus’ death is our victory!

            • Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross and His triumphant announcement, “It is finished!”, we are able to be saved from our sins

              • Isaiah 53:6, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

              • Isaiah 53:5, But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

              • We can be healed from the scars of sin through Jesus Christ

              • We can be at peace with God, instead of rebellion against Him, through Jesus Christ

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Admit that I have turned to my own way, accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and be at peace with God.

          • Jesus’ death on the cross brings us victory over sin and death

          • God has promised us peace with him and healing from our sins when we turn to Jesus Christ

          • We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.

        • The second fulfillment of prophecy is found in verses 31-33 and 36

    • Prophecy of the bones (vv. 31-33, 36)

        • Special Sabbath

          • The day of Preparation was just that, the Jews were preparing for the Sabbath

            • This is one positive aspect of the Jews, mixed in with their betrayal and rejection of Jesus

            • They were preparing for the Sabbath

            • Sabbath was on Saturday and actually began Friday evening at sunset

            • We should pay attention to this important practice of preparing for the Sabbath

              • Our preparation for Sunday worship should begin Saturday evening

              • For many years we practiced this with our boys and taught them about the importance of preparing for Sunday

              • We usually didn’t have friends over on Saturday evenings to spend the night, unless they were going to church with us on Sunday

              • We rarely scheduled parties or other activities on Saturday evenings, so that we could prepare for Sunday

              • We would go to bed at a reasonable hour, so we would be able to get up and go to church on Sunday

              • If you aren’t preparing the night before for Sunday worship, I want to encourage you to consider making it a priority in your life

              • It can make all the difference!

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to preparing on Saturday evening for church on Sunday.

          • This was a special Sabbath because it fell during Passover and they had the special sheath offering during this time

        • Request of Pilate

          • Background

            • Roman crucifixion

              • It most instances, death by crucifixion took days

              • The impact was greater when criminals were left on the cross for multiple days

              • In fact, many times wild animals and carrion birds would come and feed on the rotting bodies still hanging on the cross

              • If the Romans needed to speed up the dying process, they would smash the legs of the individual with an iron mallet, so they would not be able to push themselves up and take a breath (they would die from suffocation)

            • Jewish law

              • The Jews were asking Pilate to speed up the dying process, because they didn’t want the bodies hanging on the crosses during the Sabbath

              • Their desire for this comes from their own laws

              • Deuteronomy 21:22-23, If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. ​​ Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. ​​ You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

              • The Jews obviously didn’t want the land to be desecrated, especially on this special Passover Sabbath

              • The Jews were aware of the Roman practice of breaking the criminal’s legs to speed up death, so they request that it be done and the bodies be taken down before sunset

            • Pilate agrees to their request and informs the soldiers

          • Broken bones

            • They begin with the two criminals on either side of Jesus

            • Why did they work from the outside in and not in a row?

            • We don’t know why they did it in this order, other than the sovereignty of God

          • No broken bones

            • When they came to Jesus, they recognized that He was already dead

              • We know that He had bowed His head

              • His body would have been still and He would not have been making any noise, at this point

              • Perhaps the other two men were still moving around on the cross and crying out in pain

            • John tells us in verse 36 that the soldiers didn’t break Jesus’ legs, because it was a fulfillment of Scripture

              • It is the sovereignty of God at work once again

              • We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.

              • Jesus was fulfilling and completing the sacrificial system that the Jews had lived under from the beginning

                • They were required to bring a perfect lamb, without blemish, as a sin offering (this only covered over their sins)

                • This lamb was not to have any broken bones and while they ate the sacrificial lamb, before the exodus, they were not to break any of its bones

                  • Exodus 12:46, “It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. ​​ Do not break any of the bones.”

                  • Numbers 9:12, They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. ​​ When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.

                • Jesus is identified as the Passover Lamb by Paul and Peter, so it’s appropriate that none of His bones were broken

                  • 1 Corinthians 5:7, Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – ​​ as you really are. ​​ For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

                  • 1 Peter 1:19, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

                  • Jesus was the perfect lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)

                  • His sacrifice was once for all and it didn’t just cover over our sin, it took it away

              • We also see the fulfillment of Psalm 34:19-20

                • David is writing and explains that the Lord will protect the bones of a righteous man

                • Psalm 34:19-20, A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones.

                • Jesus was perfect, without sin (a righteous man) and the Lord protected His bones during the crucifixion

        • While two of the criminals had their legs broken, Jesus’ legs were not broken, which fulfilled Old Testament Scripture

        • Instead of breaking Jesus’ legs, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear

    • Prophecy of the piercing (vv. 34, 37)

        • When they pierced Jesus’ side blood and water came out

          • There are all kinds of speculation about the meaning of blood and water flowing from the spear wound

          • What did the spear actually pierce? ​​ (heart, lungs, etc.)

          • We know that it did not break any of the bones in His chest or side

          • Most scholars agree that John’s intention in mentioning blood and water flowing out, is to remove any doubt that Jesus was dead – He died a human death

          • Had He still been alive, only blood would have flowed out [Gangel, 354]

        • Fulfillment of Scripture

          • We see again that this act of piercing Jesus’ side happened to fulfill Scripture

          • God was in control of every circumstance surrounding Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection

          • We can trust that God will always fulfill His Word.

            • Past: ​​ Zechariah 12:10, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. ​​ They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”

            • Future: ​​ Revelation 1:7, Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. ​​ So shall it be! ​​ Amen.

        • Jesus’ body being pierced instead of breaking His legs was a fulfillment of Scripture

        • John’s statement in verse 35 is really a fulfillment of Scripture too

    • Prophecy of the Gospel (v. 35)

        • Most scholars agree that John is the one who is being referred to here as the testimony giver

          • We already know that John was at the foot of the cross and had watched Jesus’ crucifixion and death

          • He was an eyewitness to the trial, flogging, crucifixion, and eventually resurrection and ascension

          • He would be the best person to give a testimony, as a first-hand observer/witness

        • John gives his testimony, so that those he is writing to will believe

          • The “you” in the Greek is plural

          • John is writing to us also – he is sharing his testimony of what he saw, so that we will believe in Jesus

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s desire is that we testify about Jesus, so others may believe.

          • This is His Great Command and Commission for His disciples (that’s includes us!)

          • Mark 16:15-16, He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. ​​ Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

          • Matthew 28:18-20, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ​​ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ​​ And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

          • John was obediently fulfilling this command and commission and through that he was fulfilling the prophecy of the Gospel

          • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Testify about Jesus to my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, so they may believe and be saved.


  • YOU

    • Are you obeying God completely?

    • Will you prepare on Saturday evening for Sunday morning?


  • WE

    • Are we making disciples?



“Frieda van Hessen was one of Holland’s foremost opera singers, but during the Nazi invasion she, as a Jew, was forced into hiding. ​​ In the providence of God, her life was spared. ​​ After the war someone told her she should convert from Judaism to Christianity, just in case something else was to happen. ​​ This suggestion nagged at her until she finally gave in and spoke to a minister. ​​ He set up a meeting for her with a Christian lady named Elizabeth who had converted from Judaism. ​​ Their Bible study turned into an argument. ​​ Frieda just couldn’t believe what she was reading from the Gospels. ​​ She accused Elizabeth of believing in fairy tales. ​​ After six weeks of fruitless arguments, they decided the next week would be their last meeting. ​​ Elizabeth asked Frieda to read two chapters from the Old Testament before their last meeting – Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. ​​ Frieda writes about that week:


Six days went by, and I could no longer procrastinate. ​​ I went to a small room in the house, closed the door, and opened up the Bible. . . . God, in His wisdom, had said to Elizabeth, ‘Tell her to read Psalm 22.’ ​​ . . . I found it, and what did I see: ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ ​​ I . . . remembered that in Bach’s ‘St. Matthew’s Passion,’ the basso, portraying the Lord, sings, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ ​​ Still in my rebellion, I said, ‘What do you know, they stole this from Bach!’


Oh, God is so wise! ​​ This finally got my attention. ​​ Now I wanted to continue reading to see what else had been ‘stolen’ from Bach! ​​ Then I came to verse 16, and read, ‘They pierced my hands and my feet.’ ​​ Almost in shock, I literally yelled out ‘That’s Jesus!’


I knew that Jesus died in that devastating way. ​​ The Jews stoned people to death but did not crucify them. ​​ Crucifixion was a Roman death penalty. ​​ Yet David wrote Psalm 22, prophesying this form of death hundreds of years before crucifixion was ever invented and practiced by the Romans.


Then I reread Isaiah 53, and clearly understood that it described the whole crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. ​​ Instantly, God had taken the blinders off my eyes and Satan was defeated! ​​ I called Elizabeth, who came over immediately, and together we read Isaiah 53. ​​ Then, all of it became very clear to me: ​​ how ‘He was despised and rejected of men,’ how He was a ‘man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,’ how ‘we hid our faces from Him,’ how ‘He had been afflicted and wounded for our transgressions,’ and how ‘with His stripes we are healed.’


I realized how ‘all of us, like sheep, have gone astray,’ and how ‘He died for our iniquities.’ ​​ Yes, for my sins too.


I reasoned that if David . . . and Isaiah . . . both knew Him, and Paul, a Pharisee, saw Him and knew Him, then I needed no further proof. ​​ I accepted Him too, as my Lord and Savior. ​​ (Roos-Van Hessen, Life, 190-92).


[Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 374-75].




King of Kings

(John 19:16b-27)



“Richard Dawkins is the author of The God Delusion. He was formerly Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He once debated John Lennox who is Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University. They debated the existence of God. At one point Dawkins says of John Lennox:


He believes that the creator of the universe, the God who devised the laws of physics, the laws of mathematics, the physical constants … that this genius of mathematics and physical science could not think of a better way to rid the world of sin than to come to this little speck of cosmic dust and have himself tortured and executed so that he could forgive.


That, says Dawkins, is profoundly unscientific. Not only is it unscientific, but it doesn't do justice to the grandeur of the universe. Why would God bother entering into our small and broken planet? Dawkins chided Lennox and all Christians for believing in that kind of God.


God’s only and eternal Son on a Roman cross? Despised and rejected by men on this tiny planet. It’s like being blind-sided in the subway station on a Friday morning in Washington DC in a hurry to get to work and you pass by one of the most brilliant violinists in the world playing some of the most beautiful music in the world on one of the most expensive violins in the world. You don’t expect to see the master violinist performing in such a dirty, undignified place. But that is the very point. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners.”


Charles Price in his sermon: “God's Power in Unexpected Places,” PreachingToday.Com (March, 2014).





  • ME

    • Confused by teenagers

        • I’ve been confused by teenagers and how and why they do things

        • What doesn’t make logical sense to me, makes perfect sense to them

          • They just ate, but now they have to run to a restaurant or convenience store to get more food, because they’re hungry

          • There’s perfectly good food in the house, but there’s nothing good to eat

          • They just left spending time with their boyfriend or girlfriend, but now they have to text them, Snapchat them, Instagram them, call them, etc.

          • They have friends over to hang out, but either play a one-player game on their game system or they all sit around spending time on their phones, not talking to each other

    • Confused in a conversation

        • There have been times when I’m confused in a conversation, because the person started the conversation in their mind and when they begin to verbalize the conversation they are part way through it

        • I always have to stop them and asked a few questions, to get caught up with the “private” part of the conversation

    • God’s sovereignty

        • There have been times in my life when I have been confused by God’s p