I Get It!
“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.
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!
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.
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
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”
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)
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)
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
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?
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.