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Apr 13 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 12, 2020

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. John 20:1

Intro: The formal Christian greeting this morning is not “Happy Easter”

It is, “He is risen” – and when greeted this way we respond,
“He is risen indeed”
– this morning we remember the most imp event in Christian history
• the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior
• we will resume our journey through Hebrews this week
◦ but today we will meditate on Jesus’ resurrection
– all four gospels tell the story, each focusing on certain details
• in John’s Gospel, the story is told in two parts
• part one begins with Mary Magdalene

Part One
Too eager to wait for the sun to rise, Mary made her way to Jesus’ tomb while it was still dark. This would not have been easy (or safe) without the benefit of street lights. Perhaps she carried with her a small clay lamp to help identify landmarks.
As she entered the garden and approached the tomb, she felt that something was off. Then it hit her. The stone that should have covered the entrance to the cave-like tomb was gone! Shocked by this unexpected situation, in her state of confusion she panicked. She did not take one step closer to the vault or try to look inside. Instead, she turned and ran back into the city, to the place where she knew she could find Peter.
Finding Peter and “the other disciple,” she blurted out, “They’ve taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him!”

Peter and “the other disciple”
Hearing this, Peter and John immediately reacted. Jumping up, the bolted through the door and ran to the tomb. John outran Peter, and without going inside he bent down looked inside where he saw the empty linen shroud that had been wrapped around the body. John, the contemplative disciple, was taking it in, wondering what it meant.
Then a moment later, Peter, the reactive disciple, arrived and charged inside, where he also saw the linen shroud–and another detail. The cloth that had covered Jesus’ face was folded neatly and set to one side by itself. Why would anyone–especially a grave robber–bother to do that?
John followed Peter into the tomb, looked around, and later he reported that at that moment he “saw and believed.” But just what he believed is ambiguous, because he admits that at that point the still did not understand the Scripture, that Jesus had to rise from the dead.
Not knowing what else to do, Peter and John returned to their houses–an anticlimax to say the least after the strange discovery that morning. Nevertheless, and undeniable electricity continues to pervade the plot.

Now back in the garden alone in garden, Mary is bending down to look inside the tomb. Surprisingly, she does not seem phased by the fact that two angels are sitting in there on the stone slab where the body had been laid, one at the head and the other at the feet of where the body had been lying. The angels spoke to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Sobbing, she answered, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they put him!
Did the angels sit there without saying anything? Did they give her a consoling smile, as if to say, “It’s okay”? Or did Mary not wait for their response? She turned from the dark entrance, perhaps planning her next move or looking for clues. Mary was on a mission! She had to find out what happened there that morning. She had to do something. And then . . . .

He was just–there. Mary saw him, but through her tears she did not recognize him. Jesus spoke first, asking the same questions the angels asked, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Then he added, “Whom are you seeking?” Mary cried, “If you know anything, can you help me? Just tell me where he is and I’ll go and get him myself. I’ll take care of everything!”
Jesus spoke one word–a name, her name, “Mary.”
This is one of those moments in scripture, where I would give anything to hear the tone in Jesus’ voice. What intonation did he use? Was it sympathetic? Did it sound as if he were saying, “You know me”? I am sure it was not a flat, matter of fact tone of voice.
A light went on for Mary, a thought occurred in a nanosecond, “I know that voice!” She wiped the tears from her eyes and really looked at him. Then screaming the one word, “Teacher!” Mary lunged at Jesus.
Please forgive me for adding to the story, but I imagine a detail John must have left out; namely, when he said, “Mary, don’t cling to me!” Oh yes, she had him in a bear hug. She had lost him once, she was not going to lose him again. No one was going to take Jesus away from her now. But as she loosened her grip, he explained she could not cling to him, “For I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Not that Mary understood what he meant by that, but she obeyed him.
Jesus gave Mary a new assignment., “Go to my brothers,” he told her, “and tell them I am ascending to my Father, who is also your Father, to my God and your God.” So off she went.

Part Two
The disciples (minus Thomas)

Later, that same day in the evening, fearing that the guards who arrested Jesus would be looking for them, the disciples locked themselves in private room in Jerusalem. suddenly, Jesus was standing there in the room with them.
“Peace be with you, he said.” Then he held out his hands toward them so they could see the puncture marks from the spikes. He pulled back his robe so they could see the wound in his side. Seeing him, they felt joy but were apparently speechless. So he said again, “Peace be with you.” Then he completed a chain by adding, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” We do not have to understand why he breathed on them, but I am thinking that it replicated the moment God first breathed the breath of life into humankind (Genesis 2:7), only this was the breath of new life. Jesus did not communicate this gift to them in words alone but with a real experience of the words he spoke, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

When Thomas rejoined the other disciples, they told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he answered them, “How am I supposed to believe that! I would have to see him for myself; in fact, I would have to touch him, feel the nail print with my finger and place my hand on the wound in his side!”
Thomas prided himself on being a realist, a rational person who was not easily moved by the hysteria of others. He refused to believe what he could not see. So, eight days later the disciples were together again and this time, Thomas was also present. And again, Jesus revealed himself to them and greeted them with, “Peace be with you, he said.” Then he went straight to Thomas.
“Put your finger here,” he commanded Thomas, “and see my hands. Stretch out your hand, and feel my side for yourself. Do not disbelieve, Thomas–believe.”
Amazed, Thomas whispered, “My Lord and my God!” And now we are given the point of the whole story. Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”
All through his ministry, Jesus was preparing witnesses who would tell others about him–his life, his miracles, his teaching, his death and his resurrection. Those who heard his witnesses would tell others, and those who heard them would tell others, and so on until the whole world knew that God had provided a way to himself through Jesus, his Son. And way down the line, we are among “those who have not seen and yet believed.”


Reading this chapter last week, something caught my attention
– John does not use the word “body” very often in his Gospel
• the first time he uses it is in chapter 2
◦ there he was asked for a sign that he was authorized to clear the temple of the money-changers and those who sold doves
◦ he answered, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up
• there, John ways he was referring to the temple of his body
◦ I find it strange that John does not elaborate on that statement
◦ but then again, Jesus used lots of metaphors and figures of speech
(e.g., Jn. 10:6; 16:25)
• after that, “body” does not recur until three times in chapter 19
◦ first, the bodies of Jesus and the two others who were crucified next to him
◦ then twice when Joseph requested the body of Jesus
– the last time body appears in John is here in chapter 20
Yet the whole chapter is about the body of Jesus!

Mary could not think of Jesus as a dead body, but referred to him as the Lord or my Lord
When Peter and John entered tomb, the only thing missing was the body
The angels were positioned exactly where the body had been placed
Mary intended to cling to the body of the risen Jesus
Jesus showed the disciples the wounds on his body
Jesus encouraged Thomas to touch his wounded body

So why is mention of Jesus’ body subdued in John’s story?
– perhaps because he never forgot that Jesus referred to his body as “this temple”
• maybe the Lord’s body was too sacred for him to treat it casually
◦ Jesus’ body was more than a shell
◦ it was the means by which he revealed himself, and God, to the world
– for Mary and others, Jesus’ body was how they knew and experienced him
• and as his witnesses,
◦ those who knew him before his crucifixion
◦ had to be able to ID him after his resurrection

Our bodies carry the story of who we are – our ID
– in our finger prints, facial recognition, and DNA
• also in our mannerisms, habits, and the sound of our voices
Pat Ogden, “The body speaks clearly to those who know how to listen. . . . The multifaceted language of the body depicts a lifetime of joys, sorrows, and challenges, revealed in patterns of tension, movement, gesture, breath, rhythm, [vocal intonation], facial expression, sensation, physiological arousal, gait, and other action sequences.”
◦ our bodies contain, act out, and reveal our personal histories
• our bodies have a destiny – now and in the future
The body is for the Lord . . . So glorify God in your body (1 Cor. 6:20)
. . . present your bodies as a living sacrifice (Ro. 12:1)
Arthur Vogel,“Love can literally fill the world if [people] will let it affect the body, for then it will be thick and the same stuff as the world; Christian love is not something spiritual that cannot be seen, for Christian love is Jesus Christ in the flesh. Love that makes no difference in the world is not love.”
In the future:
1 Corinthians 15 where Paul answers questions about our resurrected bodies)
And in Philippians 3:21, where he says we will have bodies like Jesus’ glorious body

My Uncle Bill owned a “body shop” in Santa Ana
He repaired broken cars
He he did the body work
to make them beautiful again
(that happened to be the place where my body got its first scar)

Jesus has a body shop
where he transforms bodies,
and where his Spirit
breathes new life into our bodies
(Romans 6:4; 8:11)

Today, we thank God
for the body of Christ,
given for us
And we thank him
for our own bodies,
that have been given to us,
and that we give back to him

He is risen

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