The Resurrection and Discipleship
Read John 20:1-18 prior to message.
Introduction: On that first Easter morning, when the women went to the tomb, they found something they didn't expect. The large stone which had been rolled across the mouth of the tomb and carefully sealed by the Roman soldiers, and guarded vigilantly, this massive stone had been moved aside! The stone was rolled away and Jesus was not there!
The stone was rolled away, not so that Jesus could come out. As we have read in the text, in His post-resurrection body Jesus could walk through walls. He certainly did not need to have the stone rolled away for Him to come out. The stone was rolled away to let us look in! When the ladies saw that the tomb was empty, they wondered what could of happened to the Lord’s body. As they entered the tomb they were told by angels that Jesus had risen from the dead. Jesus was not there, He was alive. He had broken the bonds of death just as He said He would. Alive! Jesus is alive!
Along with the Cross, the resurrection is central to the Christian faith. Without the resurrection, all else looses its meaning. Indeed, Paul says that if Christ has not been raised from the dead then our faith is worthless and we are still in our sins. Without the resurrection, Jesus was just a good teacher and mistaken about His ability to defeat death and sin. The resurrection proves that Jesus is who He said He was. The resurrection validates Jesus divinity. It sets Him apart from all the other great religious leaders who have ever lived. Gandhi is gone. Confucius is gone. Buddha is gone. Mohammed is gone. All the leaders are gone, and their graves are with us today --- with them still in them! But Jesus is alive! He alone is the true Son of God, the way of salvation.
This morning I want us to focus in upon not only what happened when the ladies visited the tomb and found it empty, but what happened later in the day when Jesus met with His disciples as a group. He had a message for them that because we are His followers today, also has relevance to us.
1. Resurrection Commission vv.19-21
John 20:19-21 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
a. Ten of the disciples met to discuss what was happening. Some of them had claimed to have seen the risen Lord. Most did not buy into it.
b. They met secretly for they were in fear because of the Jews and because the rumor had already spread that they had stolen the Lord’s body. They were afraid that they would be the next ones to be crucified.
c. Jesus appears in the group out of thin air and validates who He is by showing them the nail prints and the spear wound.
d. The disciples are overjoyed, it is true Jesus has risen from the dead. I wonder if a couple of them began to say “I told you we were not crazy”!
e. Amid the rejoicing , Jesus quiets them and gives them an important task to fulfill. He tells them that just as God the Father had sent Him, Jesus is sending them. What did that mean? What does it mean for us?
1. Jesus is the model for our going.
2. Jesus depended on the Father, and so must we.
3. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and so must we be about that same business.
4. Jesus came to be light in the midst of darkness, and so must we let our lights so shine that people may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
5. Jesus was set apart by the Father and we are set apart by Jesus.
6. Jesus gave His all, He laid down His life because He followed the father’s will.
f. Because of the reality of the resurrection those that believe in Jesus are not only saved to an eternity with Him, we are called to a lifetime of serving Him. The resurrection clearly demonstrates that Jesus is to be the Lord of our life. It proves that He is the sovereign being of the universe and it is our duty to obey and worship Him.
2. Resurrection Power v. 22
a. When Jesus finished telling His disciples their mission He did an interesting thing, He breathed on them!
John 20:22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
b. In Genesis 2:7 we are told that God breathed into Adam’s nostrils and he became a living soul. Here Jesus breathes into His disciples the Holy Spirit who would enable them to live with awesome power. These same disciples that were in hiding because they feared for their lives, would proclaim boldly the message of Christ. The fear that paralyzed them would disappear as the Spirit of God filled them. These fisherman would astound those around them with the authority and power with which they spoke.
c. God places in us this same Holy Spirit when we become a child of His. God not only sends us into the world to serve Him, He gives us the resources in the Spirit to be successful. All of us need - must have the power of the Spirit if we are to serve Jesus. The Spirit is not just for some elite super-spiritual few who live on some higher plane than the rest of us. The Spirit is not just for the so-called "professional minister." The power of the Spirit is for every believer. All of us are able to enjoy the power of the Holy Spirit. And we must have that power.
d. In order to receive the power, we must take it. That is the thrust of Jesus command. "Receive" can also be translated "take." Jesus asks us to take the Spirit. It is as simple as reaching out your hand to receive a gift from a friend. You must not be afraid of what the Spirit might do to you.
3. Resurrection Message v. 23
John 20:23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
a. What in the world was Jesus talking about when He said this? He seems to be saying that we can forgive sins. But we know that mere mortals do not have the power to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins. But He seems to be giving us some sort of role to play in the forgiveness of others.
b. This statement reminds me of another like it in Matthew's gospel. In Matthew 16:19 we find Jesus saying "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
c. The resurrection means that we must hold forth His forgiveness. This is what the commission is all about. This is why Jesus came. This is why He went to the Cross. This is why He suffered. This is why He died. This is why He rose from the dead.
d. We must also hold forth His forgiveness because so many need it. All around us there are people who are going through this life without hope. They stagger under the burden of their sins. They are under the just condemnation of a righteous and holy God. You can help them find freedom. You can be an instrument of forgiveness in their lives. You have the keys to the kingdom. You have the power to share with them a message which will change their lives. It is the message that Jesus can do for them what He has done for you.
Conclusion: When we examine the accounts of the resurrection, many times we stop short of the call to discipleship that goes with it. Today I hope that we have expanded beyond the facts that most of us are well aware of, that Jesus did indeed rise from the grave and is living today. The question is more than do you believe in the resurrection, but rather whether you are going to do something about it. Do you realize your mission realizing that Jesus has sent you, are you operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, are you sharing the message of forgiveness of sins through the Crucified and resurrected Jesus?