Journey to the Cross- Easter Sunday-April 12, 2020
Scripture Reading: John 20
Easter Sunday is the most exciting celebration in the Church. Jesus who died, has been raised from the dead! This good news is at the heart of our faith. If you do not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead, then you cannot be a Christian. As the apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 15:14-15, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.” Everything in Scripture: every story, every prophecy, every psalm, every bit of wisdom has been looking forward to this good news. Jesus is raised from the dead. New life has come to us and the whole Creation.
Take a look at what the Heidelberg Catechism teaches us about the Resurrection.
Lord’s Day 17, Q & A 45
Q. How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?
A. First, by his resurrection Jesus has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he obtained for us by his death.
Second, by his power we too are already raised to a new life.
Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.
As John took us on a journey to the cross where we saw Jesus crucified, in our reading today from Chapter 20, we move from the cross to a tomb. In an interesting bit of information, we were told that this tomb was located in a garden (John 19:41). Why is that? We shall soon see. As the story continues, it is now the first day of the week and someone has made her way to the tomb.
Who goes to the tomb and sees that the stone has been rolled away?
When she sees what has happened, who does she tell?
Which disciple was the first one to look inside the tomb?
Note: In this gospel, the “disciple Jesus loved” is the author of this account!
So now let’s go back to our reading. On the first day of the week, Jesus walks out of the garden tomb and nothing is the same anymore! In John 20 we are not only being told the story of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we are also being shown that his resurrection is the beginning of a New Creation. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Revelation 21:5 says, “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not only good news for sinful humanity, it is good news for all of Creation.
John began his gospel account with a re-telling of the Creation Story (John 1:1-14) and now he finishes by revealing the New Creation that has come in Jesus Christ. John 20 has many similarities to Genesis 1 and 2. For example, it is the “first day of the week” (John 20:1) and it is still dark. In the Creation story evening is followed by a morning. In our gospel reading the pattern continues. In the dark God’s grace is at work to make all things new. From out of the darkness Jesus is raised to new life. From out of the garden Christ leads us into a New Creation that is born with him. It’s a New Day and we are awaken to New Life.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ stands at the heart of our faith. Many have tried to dismiss it or disprove it, but all have failed. Nothing accounts for the change in the disciples and the change in the world that has happened since a dead man walked out of the grave as the Lord of life. The details our so vivid in our reading.
What do the disciples see in the tomb? What’s left behind?
Who is the first person to see Jesus after the resurrection? What does he tell her to do?
Who is the disciple that doubted the resurrection? Do you ever have doubts?
Towards the end of our reading Jesus says to his disciples, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) When he spoke these words he was thinking about us. We can no longer see that actual resurrected body of Jesus but we can still believe. By faith we know all this is true!
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again!