Sunday Messages

John 20:1-23 by Pastor Dan Walker
This Easter Sunday, experience the story of Mary discovering the empty tomb. Learn why the resurrection of Jesus Christ is both a historical fact and an essential aspect of faith. Discover hope for today, tomorrow and eternity through the resurrection.
Duration:25 mins 51 secs

Happy Easter! We’re glad that you’re joining us to celebrate Easter 2020. Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. So this morning, our message is entitled “The Risen Lord.” My prayer is that God will encourage each one of us and give us hope for the future.

1 Peter 1:3 (ESV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Because of the resurrection we can be born again and have a living hope that is never disappointed. Because of the resurrection, we can have hope since nothing is impossible for God. We can have hope in the current crisis, no matter how it is affecting us. We can have hope that God will provide, protect and heal as we trust Him. We can have hope that God has a good future planned for us as we follow Him.

1 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV)  And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

We can have hope that we will be with the Lord forever in eternity, along with believing loved ones. We can have hope that our sins are forgiven and we can have an eternal relationship with God.

Romans 10:9 (ESV)  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

This morning we are going to see that the resurrection is not a myth or fairy tale, but a historical fact. Belief in the resurrection is required in order to be saved. Without the resurrection, Jesus would still be dead and incapable of saving anyone. But the good news is that He is alive and Lord of all. He wants to give you hope this morning.

In the midst of a crisis, that none of us dreamed was possible just a few months ago, God wants to give us hope and we draw near to Him. No one knows how this crisis is going to proceed, except God Himself. So, let’s put our trust in Him. Open your heart this morning to receive God’s hope into your heart. As you choose to receive that hope and put your trust in Jesus, He will remove fear, worry and anxiety and replace it with His peace. This morning we will be looking at the story of the resurrection from the gospel of John, chapter 20. First of all, we’re going to see the …

Believe the empty tomb evidence

John 20:1 (ESV)  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.

Jesus had been crucified on the cross three days ago and our story begins with Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb early Sunday morning. She was coming to the tomb to anoint Christ’s body with spices to offset the stench of decomposition. When she arrived, the first thing she noticed was that the large stone covering the grave had been moved away. She saw that the …

Jesus’ body is missing

John 20:2 (ESV)  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

Mary came to the conclusion that someone had stolen the body of Jesus and taken it to an unknown location. So, she quickly ran back to tell Peter and John the unexpected and disturbing news.

Disciples confirm

John 20:6-7 (ESV)  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.

Peter and John raced to the tomb. Although John arrived first, he did not go inside. Peter went inside and saw the cloths that had wrapped the body of Jesus. Even the face cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was there, neatly folded apart from the other clothes. All these details about the grave clothes are the first evidence that the body was not stolen. Grave robbers would have no reason to unwrap the corpse, let alone neatly fold the face cloth and leave it behind. The disciples were struggling to understand what was happening after the death of Jesus.

John 20:9 (ESV)  for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.  

Even though Jesus had told them on multiple occasions that he would have to die and would rise from the dead, they did not understand. Nor did they understand the Old Testament prophecies on the resurrection of the Messiah.

The empty tomb is a strong piece of evidence that Jesus had risen from the dead. The Romans had posted soldiers to guard the tomb to prevent grave robbery, but somehow the tomb was now empty. The Jewish leaders, as well as the Roman government searched everywhere to find the body of Jesus to disprove the resurrection, but it could not be found. Something supernatural had happened. Jesus prophecies, as well as the Old Testament prophecies had been fulfilled. Jesus, the Messiah, declared dead by Roman soldiers after the crucifixion had come back to life after three days in the tomb. The Scripture says that when John saw the empty tomb, he believed that Jesus was alive. When we read the evidence of the empty tomb, we also must believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, never the die again. Do you believe? Let’s continue in our story with two …

Understand the supernatural encounters

John 20:11 (ESV)  But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.

Mary had followed Peter and John back to the tomb, but when they left, she remained there, overcome with grief. Not only was Mary grieving the death of Jesus, now this disappearance of His body caused her even more distress. But then, she stooped to look into the tomb again and something was different. God was going to give her …

Angelic confirmation

John 20:12-13 (ESV)  And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Now, besides the grave clothes in the empty tomb, there were two angels sitting. We know from the gospel of Matthew, that an angel had rolled away the grave stone. These angels asked Mary “why are you weeping?” Of course, the angels knew exactly what had happened. Jesus had risen from the dead, which was an event of great joy to be celebrated, not grieved over. Yet, Mary did not yet understand what had happened. She was still thinking that someone had stolen the body. And then suddenly …

Jesus appears

John 20:15-16 (ESV)  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Jesus asked Mary the same question, the angels asked. Why are you weeping? At first, Mary did not recognize Jesus, perhaps from her grief. She still was focused on the body being stolen. Then Jesus called her by name, Mary. When Mary heard Jesus call her name, she immediately recognized who He was and exclaimed Rabboni or Teacher. Then and there, Mary believed that Jesus had risen from the dead. Her tears were replaced with joy after these supernatural encounters.

We see first John, then Mary and ultimately the rest of the disciples believing that Jesus had risen from the dead. The Good News of the Gospel proclaimed by the early church was first and foremost that Jesus, who had been crucified, was alive, risen from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is not an optional part of Christianity. It is an essential part. There is not hope of salvation without the resurrection. You cannot be saved and have eternal life without believing in the resurrection.

Once you believe that Jesus rose from the dead and accept Him as your Lord, you can have hope in every situation of life. Jesus is with you in life every step of the way. When you pass on, you will be transported into His presence in heaven. One day, when Jesus returns, everyone’s body, whether dead or alive, will be transformed into an eternal body like Jesus’. So, this morning you can have hope. We’re going to pray together at the end of this message, that God will send hope through His Spirit into every heart listening. When you believe the good news that Jesus has been raised from the dead, you must …

Tell the good news

Let’s look at the first thing that Jesus told His followers after He revealed Himself alive to them. What was …

Mary’s witness

John 20:17-18 (ESV)  Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

 Once Mary recognized that Jesus was alive, she began to cling to Him, not wanting to let Him go. Jesus knew that in the near future, He would be ascending back into heaven to the Father. In the meantime, Jesus’ instructions to Mary is that she should go to the other disciples and tell them what she had experienced. And Mary immediately obeyed. She went to the disciples and told them about her encounter with Jesus. 

That evening, the disciples were in a locked room because they were afraid of what the Jews may do to them. Suddenly, Jesus appeared within the locked room to His disciples. Jesus showed them His hands and side, pierced by the nails and a spear. The disciples believed that Jesus had risen from the dead and rejoiced. Jesus then had a mission for His disciples.

Jesus sends disciples

John 20:21-22 (ESV)  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 

First of all, Jesus blessed the disciples with His peace, to replace their fear. Then He gave them their mission. God the Father had sent Jesus into the world to bring salvation through His death and resurrection. Now, Jesus was sending His disciples to bring the good news of the Gospel to the entire world. He was going to ascend back into heaven and they were to spread the message.

Next Jesus breathed on them, echoing the language of God breathing life into Adam in the book of Genesis. Here, Jesus was breathing spiritual life into His disciples, as they received the Holy Spirit. At this point, the disciples were born again, the Holy Spirit who had been with them, was now inside of them. They would yet need another encounter with the Spirit, Spirit baptism, before they were fully equipped to be His witnesses. We’ll talk more about that in our next message series from the book of Acts beginning next week, Church Without Walls. The Gospel of John is making it clear that those who believe in the resurrection are sent by Jesus to tell the good news.

So, this Easter Sunday, we need to ask ourselves, what is our response to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The evidence we’ve talked about this morning and much more we haven’t had time to discuss proves that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and is alive today. Do you believe, along with Mary and the disciples? If you believe in the resurrection, you know that it changes everything. If you believe in the risen Lord, your next step is to ask for His forgiveness and commit your life to Him. We’re going to give you an opportunity in a few minutes.

If you are already a believer this morning, then Jesus’ message to Mary and the disciples is His same message to you. You’ve believed, you’ve experienced being born again, now Jesus sends you into the world to tell others the good news. God calls us to spread hope to the hopeless. Now, let’s be clear, hope is only for those who believe in Jesus Christ. We have hope, both in this life and in eternity. The only hope for those who do not believe is that they will believe. Without Christ, there is no lasting hope, either in this life or for eternity. In this current crisis, many are thinking about the reality of life and death and eternity.  We have the truth of the Gospel that begins with the resurrection. Let’s ask God to help us find creative ways to share it with those searching for hope. I believe that God will help touch many more lives of Jesus.