Thankful for: Jesus Is Resurrected. (295)

Looking forward to what Christians have to be thankful for this year, Keith examines the best good news that anyone could hope to receive. Better than any political party. Better than any concept that our society or culture can lay on us. It’s the truth that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

Background Passage: John 20:1-18

Jesus’ disciples did not anticipate or believe the resurrection had happened at first, but when they saw the evidence, God opened their eyes to give them confident faith.

Introduction

Is faith just a childish belief?

Even a child can have childlike faith. As people mature and develop, our faith should also mature. It does this by responding to doubts. Faith grows through the exercise of the pushback that our doubts present. Sometimes it just takes clinging to faith, trusting that answers will be revealed in time.

The hinge point of faith

If Jesus was resurrected as the Bible says He was, then it should be the guiding truth of our lives, changing the way we interact with God and with each other. If the resurrection was a well-implemented plan to deceive people for multiple generations, then we are in far worse shape than we could ever imagine. But our faith is not blind faith. Jesus’ resurrection is attested in Scripture by eyewitness testimonies.

Spine of a Bible ca. 2001, “Used with permission from Microsoft.”

  1. Disbelieving the Resurrection
    (John 20:1-2 CSB)

1 On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark. She saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.
2 So she went running to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said to them, “They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him!”

An unlikely witness

Mary Magdalene, a woman with a sordid past.

Women in the culture were not legitimate witnesses.
She had a reputation with demons, and another ill reputes.

If one were to fabricate a fantastic story with the intent to deceive the world, >you wouldn’t choose this witness for your record. >You would choose a more reliable witness in the eyes of the community. But John delivered His gospel message like a physician delivering a diagnosis: he honestly presented the facts.

Devoted love

After Jesus cleansing Mary as no one else could, she became a loyal follower. She is recorded as traveling with the apostles. In her compassion in tending to his body in the burial ritual, she was blessed to be the first to witness the empty tomb. Before any government leader. Before any religious leader. Even before any men in Jesus entourage.

God used the weak to shame the strong, the foolish to shame the wise, the unexpected to carry the gospel message first.

In what ways have you seen God use unexpected or unconventional people for the sake of the gospel?

Doubt, vs earthly explanation

Mary, at first, believed there must have been some human explanation for Jesus’ missing body. She saw the moved stone. She saw the empty grave but immediately sought a practical explanation. They took his body! We don’t know what happened! She didn’t believe the resurrection yet.

If Jesus’ body were simply missing, as Mary Magdalene assumed, then Christians should be pitied above all because we are believing a lie and are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). If Jesus didn’t do what He said He would do—rise from the dead after three days (John 2:19-22)—then He couldn’t be who He said He was, which is the Messiah, the Son of God. But He did, and He is!

Commentary:

Theologically, Christ’s resurrection cannot be separated from his crucifixion. For what the crucifixion accomplished, that is, Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice for our sin is sealed and accepted by God’s raising Jesus from the dead. Christ’s resurrection is also his divine vindication. At the same time, through the resurrection,