Mary Magdalene gave this stunning testimony in John 20:18. I can just picture her -– racing toward the disciples, weeping tears of joy, voice trembling in excitement, face beaming as she gives her report. My Bible doesn’t have an exclamation mark in verse 18 (the original Greek didn’t have any punctuation marks), but I think we could add one here. I just can’t read this verse without some emotion. This is amazing! This is miraculous! This is life-changing!
Have you grown bored and blasé over the resurrection? The expression “familiarity breeds contempt” is never more true than in Jesus rising from the dead. For most of us, we’ve known this fact for decades. It has become so common to us that we are in grave danger of listening with a yawn and then moving on to discuss other, “more exciting” things like national health care and next weekend’s football matchup. But friends, JESUS IS ALIVE!
Last Sunday, as we studied John 20:1-18, we tried to approach the resurrection with a renewed sense of wonder and excitement, reliving the event from two different perspectives:
- The Apostle John (Jn. 20:1-10). The author of the Gospel gives a personal account of what he saw and felt the day Jesus rose from the dead. When John and Peter received word that Jesus’ body was missing, they ran to the tomb to investigate the scene of the crime. But after looking inside and entering the tomb, John realizes the linen wrappings and face cloth are still there, neatly wrapped and in their place. This is not the scene of a forcible entry and robbery! After investigating the tomb, John’s doubt turns to faith. He believes that Jesus is alive, and later that night, would see Him face to face (Jn. 20:19-20).
- Mary Magdalene (Jn. 20:11-18). Mary, a woman from the Galileean village of Magdala, had once been possessed by seven demons (Lk. 8:2). Ever since Jesus had saved her, she had faithfully followed Him wherever He went, even witnessing His death and burial. Her tears of grief turned to tears of joy when Jesus revealed Himself in the garden and proved He was alive! Mary immediately clung to Him, but Jesus cautioned her to let go, and that Mary needed to tell the disciples that His ascension was coming soon.
Both John and Mary were firmly convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead. He was not merely a spirit or a ghost. John had seen the cloths neatly arranged and believed. Mary was the first to see Jesus, hear Him, speak to Him, and touch Him. Both of these people who knew Jesus so well were absolutely sure Jesus was alive. And their faith is intended to strengthen our faith in the risen Christ.
We concluded on Sunday with five reasons the resurrection matters to us today: forgiveness (1 Cor. 15:17); new life (1 Pet. 1:3); peace with God (Jn. 20:17); victory over temptation (Rom. 8:34-37); and hope in our own resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20). The doctrine and proof of Christ’s resurrection should never grow boring to us! It is the greatest miracle God has ever performed, and is at the very heart of our Christian faith.
Questions for thought and discussion:
- When did you first hear about Christ’s resurrection? What did you feel and think?
- Do you still have a sense of awe and wonder that Jesus is risen from the dead?
- What are some proofs that Jesus is alive?
- What does John 20:17 say about your new relationship with God? Do other people see this in you?
- What is the #1 sin you are struggling with right now? How can Christ’s resurrection power give you victory?
- How do you feel about death? How can Christ’s resurrection give you hope?
Sunday’s sermon will be uploaded to our podcast site soon and available for free download.