Tag Archives: Peter

Resurrection! – John 20:1-9

Resurrection! – John 20:1-9
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 16, 2017

We are at a spiritual crossroads in history. We live in a day and age whereby folks do not use critical thinking but rely on their instinct or passion. This is dangerous because we are then motivated to think that what we feel is more important than facts. Or worse, that we can distinguish what is right or wrong in life simply by how it feels to us. From personal relationships, what we believe in, or to whom we vote for is a matter of feelings and not what we truly know. We end up hurt and confused when our emotions have steered us in the wrong direction.

The resurrection is not a matter of emotion or personal feelings. It is a historical physical fact. This is why later when Mary is crying by the empty tomb and the angel rebukes her by reminding her of the facts, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'” (Luke 24:5-7 NIV) And later here in John the angel bluntly reminds Mary to stop relying on her emotions by asking her, “Woman, why are you crying?” (v. 13) As believers or seekers we must come to the realization of the fact of the resurrection because if we do not we are still standing outside of an empty tomb that has no effect on our lives. Therefore this morning let’s look anew at the resurrection.

READ: John 20:1-9

When people die and you put them in their graves, contrary to any TV fiction, they do not get up and walk around! The dead stay dead! Except in the truth of the resurrection! In light of what occurred we must first ask…

I. Why is the tomb empty?! (Vv. 1-2)

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

1. Now there are some pretty nifty sleight of hand arguments concerning which Mary was where at what time. However, I believe we have to take each one as they were written realizing that the authors were remembering the event as it was told to them or as they saw it for themselves. John relates what he remembers that “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” It was early Sunday morning, probably right before the sun rose and the sky was still dark but the dawn of the new day could be seen. We discover that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb first. We know from other accounts that she was with other women who wanted to finish the burial preparation of Jesus’ body. Her gratitude and devotion to Jesus came from her deliverance from bondage to Satan. She had been an observer at the cross and now was one of the first folks at the empty tomb. She saw Jesus die and evidently knew where he was buried; now the heavy stone had been removed from the entrance! Mary does the first thing she could think of, “So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!'” Mary knew the tomb was empty but did not realize why and could only think of the logical answer, someone had taken Jesus’ body! Why is the tomb empty?

EXAMPLE: Go into any grocery store and Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart, or WinCo and you would find aisles of Easter eggs, cards, candy, baskets, bunnies, chicks, Peeps, and chocolate this or that. Yet you would not find the one thing that is most important part to all of Easter: the empty tomb! Easter is not found in bunnies, eggs, baskets, or Peeps. It is discovered in the fact that several thousand years ago folks found the tomb where Jesus’ dead body was laid empty. It therefore begs the question for us every Easter, “Why is the tomb empty?” Paul knew full well that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead”! (1 Corinthians 15:17-20 NIV) The tomb is empty!

Hindsight is always 20/20 but when you’re in the thick of it one’s vision can become very myopic indeed. As the facts of the empty tomb just keep coming and what is revealed makes one wonder…

II. Where is the body? (Vv. 3-7)

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.

1. Whether Peter is bewildered or he simply suspects what has happened is not at first clear, but he does the one thing most of us would do, “Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.” Peter and John “Both were running.” Both understood the importance of the news Mary had brought them and as they head to the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid to rest, the younger John, “the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.” Being younger perhaps John was fearful of defilement of entering a tomb or perhaps he was afraid of what he may or may not find inside. John therefore, “bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.” Whatever the reason, “Simon Peter, who was behind him,” and being older and more impulsive “arrived and went into the tomb” while the hesitant John waited outside in bewilderment. Peter also “saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head.” In fact we know this is an eyewitness account because of the detail described by John. Peter saw exactly how the burial cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head was lain aside and how neatly “The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.” The burial cloths were there but the fact remained, where is the body?

EXAMPLE: Where is the body? It was a natural question to ask. The Radio Bible Class relates, “No element in the Easter story is more troubling to unbelievers than the report that the followers of Jesus found the tomb empty that Sunday morning. Some simply deny it, saying that the women and others went to the wrong tomb. Others think that Jesus was not quite dead when He was buried, and somehow He revived and got out of the tomb—even though the Roman soldiers had declared Him dead (John 19:33), an eyewitness saw blood and water flow from the pierced body (v.34), and His body had been wrapped tightly with strips of linen containing 100 pounds of spices (v.39). In the first century, even Christ’s enemies agreed that He had died and the tomb was empty. They bribed the guards to say that the disciples stole His body (Matthew 28:11-15). Jesus rose from the grave in a real body, and that means everything to us. When a Christian friend or loved one dies, we can be confident that we will meet again. The body may turn to dust, but God will not forget it. It will be transformed into a body perfectly designed for heaven (1 Corinthians 15:35-50). This is not wishful thinking. It is an expectation based on solid evidence.” Where is the body? Happily it was not there!

Courage is often found in the strangest of circumstances. Here we discover John found his and…

III. Believed! (Vv. 8-9)

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb, first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

1. John in succinct fashion relates how he had gotten to the tomb first but was either too fearful or awestruck to go inside. What he had seen from the outside of the tomb was curious and so he just had to go in as well. “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb, first, also went inside.” What he saw inside of that tomb changed his life forever. John had run to the tomb out of curiosity, concern, or fear that someone had stolen Jesus’ body. John had run to the tomb merely as a disciple of an itinerant rabbi, but came away a true follower of Jesus. Believing there was a Jesus and believing in Jesus are two different things. John had loved Jesus’ teaching, he had loved and followed Jesus the man, but now he had to believe in Jesus the Messiah. And not just in a Messianic-type person but in the actual resurrection of Jesus the Messiah! The Living God! The first born! The King of kings and Lord of lords! Jesus was no longer just a good teacher; he was John’s Master and Savior. However, John’s personal notation tells us that both he and Peter “still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” But now they did! They believed!

EXAMPLE: When the dark day of Jesus’ crucifixion drew to a close, it seemed that the most wonderful of all lives had come to an end. For a few brief years, Christ had astounded the crowds and His followers with the wisdom of His teaching and the wonder of His miracles. But Jesus chose not to save Himself from the cross, and now His life was over. It seemed that nothing more could be expected of Him. Hope returned, however, on that first resurrection morning. A painting by Eugene Burnand portrays Peter and John running to the tomb. Shortly after dawn, Mary Magdalene had told them that she and her friends had found the tomb empty. In Burnand’s painting, the faces of Peter and John show contending emotions of anguish and relief, of sorrow and surprise, of despair and wonder as they race toward the tomb. Their gaze is eagerly fixed forward, turning the viewer’s attention to the sepulcher. What did they find? An empty tomb—the Savior was alive! Christ still lives. But many of us go from day to day as if He were still in the grave. How much better to look beyond the empty tomb to the One who can fill our lives with the power of His resurrection!  (RBC, Living With Expectation, March 27, 2004) They believed!

Conclusion:

Why is the tomb empty? Where is the body? They believed!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Religion, Sermon Notes

Receiving the Gospel – Galatians 2:15–3:9

Receiving the Gospel – Galatians 2:15–3:9
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 28, 2013 AM

Recently, the Dali Lama was in Portland. He held a conference with adherents of various other religions. Many of the Buddhists who attended were in a posture of meditation. Many of individuals who were interviewed by local TV declared all religions are equally valid in helping people experience genuine life. How tragic that some people choose a dead leader’s teachings or an esoteric lama rather than a relationship with God through faith in a living Savior. How would you answer someone who insists all religions are equally valid?

Many people today contend truth is relative—what is true for one person may not be true for another. They say one religion is as good as another is; any religion is equally effective in showing the way to God and eternal life. Unfortunately, even some Christians accept this false philosophy and say the gospel is not necessarily true for others. They need to realize this idea contradicts the Great Commission and thus blunts missions and evangelism. More importantly, it denies the Christian gospel’s basic truth. The truth of the gospel, however, is not relative and shows the only way to God and eternal life.

READ: Galatians 2:15–3:9

In Galatians 2:11-14, Paul recounted his confronting Peter in Syrian Antioch. When Jerusalem believers came, Peter withdrew from table fellowship with Gentile Christians. Paul publicly renounced Peter’s action. In verses 15-16, Paul emphasized justification comes by grace through faith in Christ, not “by the works of the law”. Paul insists that we…

I. Believe (Gal. 2:15-16)

“We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
(Galatians 2:15-16 NIV)

1. Paul had recounted his confrontation with Peter in Antioch in which Paul rebuked his fellow apostle for withdrawing from table fellowship with Gentile Christians. Now Paul reflects on that experience. What began as words directed to Peter, now moved to the emphasis as to what the Galatian Christians needed.  He uses the royal “we” to refer to the fact that he was a Jew by birth with access to God’s revelation. He had God’s law and once had tried to attain righteousness by keeping it. The term “Gentile sinners” has quotation marks to indicate Paul was quoting the Judaizers’ reference to non-Jews. Although Paul was Jewish, he understood that nobody is justified by the works of the law. Paul knew from experience that attempts to attain righteousness through keeping the law are futile. The word justified means “made right with God.” The phrase “observing the law” refers to keeping the Ten Commandments and the oral rules and regulations attached to them. Obeying the law does not produce a right relationship with God. Only faith in Jesus Christ makes people right with God. Faith is total trust in and commitment to Christ. Faith is the means, not the source, of salvation; it is openness to receive God’s great grace-gift. Paul’s then uses Jesus’ name and title to emphasize that Jesus of Nazareth is the Savior and God’s Messiah. Paul used the verb form of the noun rendered faith to stress that Jewish Christians (and all believers then and now) had been and are justified by faith in Christ! They could not be saved by works of the law, for keeping the law cannot justify anyone. The statement “because by observing the law no one will be justified,” probably represents an interpretive quote of Psalm 143:2. No one can do enough good works to earn a relationship with God. We have to believe in Jesus Christ to be justified!

EXAMPLE: Do some of you remember the “The ABCs of Salvation” we were taught during VBS? We receive salvation only by placing faith in Christ. Our understanding of this truth is crucial. Christians need to be clear about it so they can express it lovingly and kindly to unbelievers. Non-Christians need to hear this truth so they will not depend on false concepts of salvation.

Paul described his life before and after his conversion (vv. 17-21). His Christian life was totally different from his previous life because it was under Christ’s control. He tells the Galatians to…

II. Behave (Gal. 2:17-21)
“If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:17-21 NIV)

1. This verse may reflect the criticism the men from Jerusalem leveled against Peter. Jewish Christians from Jerusalem viewed Peter’s action of eating with Gentile believers as forsaking the law and thus as committing sin. Paul then raised the question, “does that mean that Christ promotes sin?” Paul absolutely rejected such an idea. For Christ to promote sin would contradict His character. “Absolutely not” literally is “let it not be so,” or “may it not happen.” It has the sense of “God forbid!” To Paul, the real sin was legalism. Paul’s reference to rebuilding what was torn down expresses a return to legalism after leaving it. If he went back, it would prove he was a lawbreaker. Paul emphatically states, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.” The phrase “through the law” likely refers to the law as the beginning point for Paul’s conversion. He came to recognize the futility of law keeping as a means of being made right with God. Paul died to the old way, the old law, on the Damascus road! It marked his complete break with legalism so he could live to God. His living to God involved following God’s will, living in such a way that honored Him, and no longer living for self. At conversion, Paul began to live under God’s direction. Paul described his conversion as his having been crucified with Christ. The tense of the Greek verb for crucified expresses an experience in the past, that continues in the present, and into the future! He was stressing identification with Christ. Mainly, Paul referred to his dying to the law and being freed to live for God. His experience involved dying to self—replacing self-rule with God’s will. “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” he completely identified with his Lord. Having died with Christ, Paul was raised to new life—resurrection life! Paul did “not set aside the grace of God,” as the false Judaizers claimed he did. In fact, “if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Jesus’ death would be nothing more than a tragic, insignificant martyrdom. Instead of invalidating God’s grace as the Judaizers did, Paul proclaimed it as the only way to be saved. Paul not only believed in Jesus for salvation, he behaved in such a way as to promote it with every fiber of his being!

EXAMPLE: When we place our faith in Christ, He radically transforms our lives, giving us the inclination, guidance, and power to behave, as He wants. He lives in us and expresses Himself through us. Knowing He loved us and gave Himself for us should inspire us to demonstrate His character in our behavior.

Paul urged the Galatian believers to be consistent in their theology and ethics, quizzing them about how they experienced salvation when he first preached to them. He also asked about their letting someone deceive them and about the Spirit’s presence and work among them. Paul says…

III. Be Consistent (Gal. 3:1-5)
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galatians 3:1-5 NIV)

1. Paul’s strong address, “You foolish Galatians,” expressed his dismay at their readiness to abandon the good news of grace. He incredulously asks, “Who has bewitched you?” The Judaizers had “put the evil eye” on believers, as sorcerers were thought to be able to do. The false teachers had bewitched the Galatian Christians. Yet, “Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified!” Paul bluntly reminds them. The Greek wording vividly portrayed means “to write (or ‘paint’) before the eyes” or “to post or placard.” Paul had presented the good news of Christ’s redemptive death graphically, as though he had posted a public notice in large letters. Paul asked, “I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?” The Galatian believers definitely did not receive the Spirit by works of the law. No good work had earned them the Spirit. When they heard the gospel of grace and placed their faith in Christ, they received the Spirit. Now, they were being inconsistent in their faith! Were they that “foolish”? Evidently, they were! Could they attain their goal of righteousness by “human effort?” the answer was, “NO!” Turning to legalism to attain righteousness instead of relying on the Spirit’s presence and power made no sense to Paul. Had they “suffered so much for nothing?” Paul’s question likely focused on believers’ facing opposition because of their faith. Paul’s final question was designed to cause these Christians to reflect on their experience with the Spirit, whom they had received at conversion. They had not earned this immeasurable gift by works of the law. God had supplied the Spirit. The Spirit’s presence and work produced the miracles. The gift of the Spirit and God’s miraculous activity among them came by hearing with faith—hearing the gospel and placing faith in Christ. They needed to stop being so stupid and instead be more consistent in their faith!

EXAMPLE: When we receive salvation through faith, we also receive the Spirit who wants to lead us to consistency in our beliefs and actions and to move us toward maturity as believers. We need to be sensitive to His presence, and we need to cooperate by acting obediently to His prompting within us.

Paul also contrasted living under the law to living in faith. And finally, he emphasized the permanence of God’s promise to Abraham. Paul related that we can also…

IV. Be Blessed (Gal. 3:6-9)
Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:6-9 NIV)

1. What was faith? Was it that important for the believers to grasp this concept? Paul immediately referred to Abraham, the father of the faith, and quoted Genesis 15:6 to stress the truth that people are made right with God through faith. Abraham “believed God”—he trusted in and committed himself to God. As a result, his faith was entered in the positive side of the ledger as righteousness—a right standing with God. Before God gave the law and before Abraham was circumcised, he was made right with God through faith and not following the law! Paul emphasized that people who place faith in Christ are Abraham’s spiritual descendants: “Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham!” Circumcision and works of the law have nothing to do with real righteousness and being Abraham’s true descendants. Faith has everything to do with both. We are Abraham’s children as well! Next, Paul personified the Scripture and quoted Genesis 12:3b, a reference the Judaizers likely qualified by insisting it carried the requirement of circumcision. Paul contended that God’s promise, “All nations will be blessed through you”, was a prophecy of good news to Abraham. The Lord would make the Gentiles right with Him in the same manner Abraham was made right: by faith. Thus, everyone who exercises faith as Abraham did shares the blessing he received: right relationship with God.

EXAMPLE: What does sharing Abraham’s blessing mean to you? How do you define faith?When we become Christians, we receive the blessing God promised Abraham and that countless multitudes have enjoyed. This blessing is available to non-Christians through faith in Christ. When believers talk with others about becoming Christians, we give them the opportunity to participate in fulfilling the Scriptures, to receive the blessing God promised Abraham’s descendants.

Conclusion:
1. We receive salvation when we believe by placing our faith in Christ.
2. When we place our faith in Christ, He radically transforms our lives, giving us the inclination, guidance, and power to behave, as He wants.
3. When we receive salvation through faith, we also receive the Spirit who wants to lead us to consistency in our beliefs and actions and to move us toward maturity as believers.
4. When we become Christians, we receive the blessing God promised Abraham and that countless multitudes have enjoyed.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sermon Notes