- Sermon Notes
The Resurrection Factor
Well, it’s Christmas time in the city. The other day I woke up to snowflakes falling and temperatures in the teens; it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
I love Christmas. I love the decorations, I love the eggnog, a love the smell of pine needles, I love the family gatherings. I love making the pies. I love all of it. I even love the same Christmas songs we sing every year. I found a CD of Christmas songs last summer and thought, I can’t believe I used to like these songs. And then Christmas comes along and something happens to me. They were playing Christmas music at Costco and I found myself twirling my wife in a dance step.
What are we celebrating when we celebrate Christmas? We’re celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Wonderful. And we spend, what, a whole month celebrating Christmas? I love it too. But may we not replace what is needful for what is attractive. Let’s not miss the whole point.
What’s the point of celebrating His birth if you’re not going to take hold of His words? What’s the point of celebrating His birth, if you not going to take hold of the reason God sent Him? Take hold of His words and it will transform your life.
Jesus doesn’t want you to take hold of the outward form and become religious, He wants you to take hold of the reality of the thing, and transform your life. He sent His Son because He loves the world so much that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life.
God’s heart is that we have life now and life for eternity. But how do we receive it? That brings us to John 19 and 20. If you want to understand the whole point of Christmas, then you have to look at the resurrection.
If Jesus stayed in the grave, then He was just another spiritual teacher. If Jesus stayed in the grave, then our preaching is empty, our faith is in vain and you are still in your sins. If Jesus is still dead, then what’s the point of getting together for church? What’s the point of worship? There would be no reason to celebrate because there would be no hope.
The point of celebrating Christmas is that God sent His Son not just to bring good news of great joy, but to become the resurrection and the life by conquering death so we might have eternal life. The best way to celebrate Christmas is by also celebrating Easter, the day of the resurrection.
Somebody might say, what about the atheists? Christians have all the best holidays. We’ve got Christmas and we’ve got Easter, but atheists don’t have a day for them. I don’t know about that, April 1 might be a possibility. After all, the scripture does say, “The fool says in his heart there is no God.”
When we come to John 19 and 20, it’s the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is so much for us to take hold of here because there is so much that applies to us.
I. Believing is a Matter of Life and Death
- In verse 35, John tells us that his witness is true and that he is telling us the truth so that we might also believe.
- He then shows that these all fulfilled scripture… So that you also may believe.
- The purpose of God from the foundation of the world is being fulfilled in these things, and believing is a matter of life and death.
- John said that he wrote these things that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God; and that in believing we might have life in His name.
A. We were born in weakness and sin
- And our parents were born in weakness and sin; and our parents’ parents were born in weakness and sin. This goes all the way back to Adam.
- We were in Adam when he sinned. How? We were in his loins you might say. By being in him when he sinned, his sins are attributed to us.
Romans 5:18, So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men…
1 Corinthians 15:22, For as in Adam all die…
- You don’t have to look very far to see the consequences of that in our own lives.
- The tendency toward sin is part of the condition in which we were born and we’re all well aware of it. Everyone knows there is something inside of us that is drawn to sin.
Illus – You see that very thing in young children. As soon as you tell them not to touch something, that’s the very thing they want to touch. But we’re the same way; all you have to do is go on a diet to see how strong our desires are for those things which harm us.
Proverbs 9:17, Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.
B. Fear is part of our human condition
- The story of what happens to the body of Jesus is not complete until we understand some of the background of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
- When we first met Joseph and Nicodemus, we met two men taken by fear. They were followers of Jesus, but secretly, because of fear.
- Verse 38 – After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews…
- We first met Nicodemus in John 3 when he came to Jesus by night. Why did he come by night? No doubt because of fear.
- At one point Nicodemus tried to stand up for Jesus, but he couldn’t do it.
- But then something happens. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus risked everything to be identified with Christ’s death.
- Joseph went to Pontus Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Joseph and Nicodemus would then have worked together to take down the body of Jesus from the cross and prepare it for a proper Jewish burial. This meant that they would have washed the body of Jesus. What love; what honor they showed Him.
II. You Must Become Part of This Story
- Joseph and Nicodemus stood by silently and watched this story unfold. But there came a point when they could stand by no more. They had to get personally involved.
- When they took the body of Jesus from the cross and washed Him to prepare for burial, His blood would have been all over them.
- And this is where you have to get personally involved as well. Don’t just be a silent observer.
A. You must die with Him
- Jesus died during the Passover. The Passover comes from when Israel was in Egypt and had to apply the blood of the Lamb on the doorposts and lentil of the house so that death would “pass-over” that home.
- It’s a picture of the blood of Christ applied to us. In other words, His death must be applied to us.
Romans 3:10, 23, As it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one;”… for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death…
- If the wages of sin is death, then we’re in big trouble, because we’re all sinners and therefore all deserve death.
- But the death of Jesus is applied to our lives so that the wages of sin is paid for by his death applied to us.
Romans 6:2-4, How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death…
- This is why it is so important that people are baptized in water. Being baptized in water does not save us; it’s a picture of what God does through His Holy Spirit and it’s our declaration to the world that we identify with the death of Christ. It’s how our sins were paid for.
- In fact, when someone is baptized, they are laid in the water in the same position someone would be laid in a coffin. “How morbid,” someone might say. Not at all, because it’s also a picture of the resurrection. Jesus defeated death so that not only does His death get applied to us, His resurrection does as well.
Romans 6:4 -5, as Christ was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.
Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
- Death has been defeated because He took the sting of death upon Himself so that death is no longer a dark cloud hanging over our lives, we now have the victory to walk in newness of life.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? ...but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Illus – I remember hearing the story of a boy who was deathly allergic to bees and one day as he was riding in a car with his father a bee flew in through the window. The boy became frantic, but the father laid his hand on the bee and took the sting.
B. You must find your life in Him
- Chapter 20 brings us to the morning of the resurrection, the first day of the week, while it is still dark. This is why we gather for worship on the first day of the week. We’re celebrating because He is the resurrection and the life.
- The chapter begins with Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb, no doubt to bring more spices to wrap His body.
- Mary was a devoted follower of Jesus and she did not leave Him throughout His suffering and crucifixion. She was last to leave and first to arrive at the tomb.
- She had much love for Jesus because, no doubt, of all that He had done for her. She had a troubled past. Jesus had healed her of seven demons. She had all the pleasures of the world and all the troubles that go with it, but Jesus healed her and gave her a life of honor and value.
- She has the honor of being the first to see the risen Lord. In the first century women didn’t get the respect they deserved, so this is a great honor.
Illus - Jesus could have appeared to any number of powerful men. He could have appeared to Herod, or Pontius Pilate. I actually would have loved to have seen that one.
- You see how personal this is for her when she says, “They have taken away my Lord.”
- Many people know that He is the Lord, but it’s an entirely different thing when He is your Lord.
- But this is the very thing Jesus wanted her to say to the disciples, “Go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”
- It’s when Jesus said to her, “Mary!” That she recognized Him. He called her by name and that’s when her eyes were opened.
Illus - Our smart phones now tell us who is calling and will even show a picture. When my wife, Jordi calls, I always try to take that call. I’ll even interrupt a meeting. Other people? I’ll call them back later. Here’s the point; if the name “Jesus Christ” showed up on your phone, would you answer it?
- “What does He want? Why is He calling?” someone might say. He wants to forgive you of your sins. He wants to fill the void in your life. He wants to take the guilt away, give your life meaning and significance, and give you the assurance you’ll get to heaven.
- But you have to let go of the things that are killing you. Why would you want to keep ever present guilt, living without purpose or meaning, fear of facing judgment and not having assurance of eternal life?He knows your name; He’s calling.
John 19:31-20:8 NASB
31 Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, "Not a bone of Him shall bebroken." 37 And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."
38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." 3 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. 6 And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed.