Sunday, July 27, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "My Lord and My God!"

“My Lord and My God!”
The Gospel in the Gospels :: Family Bible Week 2014
John 20:1-31 :: July 27, 2014

This is our last class together on what we’ve called this week “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - The Gospel in the Gospels.”

Our Family Bible Week adult class has been learning all about what a gospel is.

There are four gospels in the Bible, and the gospels are like biographies of Jesus Christ.

But they are unlike any other biographies of any other person in history.

Because almost all other biographies don’t spend between 25% and 50% of their word-count and page-count on one week of the subject’s life.

And there is a twist at the end of this biography that is different from all other biographies.

And we’re going to celebrate that big twist in today’s message.

On Monday night, we learned that there are four gospels and that they are each different from one another. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the most similar to each other, but they, too, cover different things from each other and in different ways.

But they all agree, as well, that Jesus is the most compelling person in all of human history.

And together they paint the most amazing portrait of the most compelling person there ever was.

On Monday night we learned about His birth from the book of Matthew.  The promises and signs that were fulfilled. The names that He was to be given. Those that sought Him out to kill Him and those who sought Him out to worship Him.

On Tuesday night, our class studied one of Jesus’ miracles in the book of Mark. Mark tells us Who Jesus is by showing us what Jesus did. Mark is an action book, and it was exciting to see Jesus heal someone in love and how that showed us Who He really is.

On Wednesday night, we studied what Jesus taught in the book of Luke. We read and analyzed one of Jesus’ parables. Luke was the consummate historian who researched in Jesus’ life and teaching. No one ever taught like Jesus. No one ever lived like Jesus. No was so gracious yet so holy at the same time like Jesus.

On Thursday night, we studied the death of Jesus in the gospel of John. Jesus was crucified. Nails piercing His hands and feet. Death by slow asphyxiation.  His lifeless corpse was placed in a new tomb by bold disciples.  And the one who claimed to be God in the flesh...was now dead.

I’m so glad there’s a big twist in this story!

Are you ready for the twist?  Jesus didn’t stay dead!

John chapter 20.

“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 [we believe he is John the gospel-writer himself], and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!’

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.

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.)

Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’

‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don't know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. ‘Woman,’ he said, ‘why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'’ Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.”

I love that line, “I have seen the Lord!”

Jesus did not stay dead.

The tomb was empty and there were eyewitnesses to say so.

And Jesus appeared to Mary.

I love that moment when Jesus says, “Mary.”  And she knows Who He is.

And then He says, “Go tell my brothers.”

And she becomes the first evangelist.

The first with the good news on her tongue – “I have seen the Lord!”

He’s alive. He’s alive again.

Yes, He did die. But He’s alive again.  “I have seen the Lord.”

Mary was an unlikely witness for Jesus.  In those days, the testimony of a woman was not admissible in a court of law.  And Mary was known to be a real sinner, she had had 7 demons cast out of her by the Lord.  This sin-stained woman was the first to see with her own eyes the Risen Jesus and the first to be sent on the mission of sharing the good news of His resurrection!

How about you?

You might feel like a unlikely witness, too–but you are who God wants to use to spread the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, to cause others to believe that Jesus is Lord!

Go and tell.

And then Jesus appears to all of the disciples on that first Resurrection Sunday, shows them His hands and side, and they are overjoyed. Look at verse 19.

“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!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ [Go and Tell!] And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’

Jesus is giving a form of the great commission.

I think He’s predicting the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost with His breath.

And I think that verse 23 is all about the gospel.

"If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."  I don’t think He’s talking here about your personal forgiveness of someone who hurts you.

He's talking about sharing the Gospel--the message of forgiveness.  If you don't tell someone that they can be forgiven by God because of Jesus' Cross and Jesus' Resurrection, they will die in their sins.

BUT, if you do share the message of forgiveness, that they can be forgiven of their sins by God if they put their faith in Jesus, and they believe, then they WILL BE forgiven!  We have a mission to share the message of forgiveness.

Go and tell.

That’s what we’ve been up to all week here at Family Bible Week and what we want to do with the Good News Cruise.

But even more importantly than those events, we want to do it in every day life.

Go and tell.

Jesus is alive. Let’s get out the word.

Of course there was one of Jesus’ disciples who wasn’t there that first Sunday.

We don’t know where he was, but he wasn’t there when Jesus appeared to the rest of the disciples.

And because he wasn’t there, it was very hard for him to believe.

What was his name?

Thomas, right?

We often call him, “Doubting Thomas,” right?

Well, I like to call him, “Missouri Thomas.”

I’ve told you before that when I was boy, we liked to play a game in the car on vacation where we spotted license plates from all the different states.

Did you ever play that game?

I wanted to turn pro at the license plate game!

I loved to recognize a licence plate from half a mile away and rack up the points ahead of my family!

It was very competitive.  In fact, I don’t think I saw very many of the sights on our vacations, I was too busy trying to rack up the points at the licence plate game.

Grand Canyon?  No, I must have missed that.  But I saw an Alaska license plate!

Playing that game, we got to know license plates pretty well.

And each state’s plate had its own motto.

I was from the humble state of Ohio whose motto was, “Ohio - the Heart of It All!”  Very humble weren’t we?!

I always loved Pennsylvania’s.  I didn’t know that I was going to grow up to be Pennsylvanian, but I loved the PA license plate.

Both the keystone shape and the motto, “You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania,” right?!

Okay, here’s a test for you.  What was the motto of the state of Missouri on their license plate?

What state are they?

The “Show Me State.”

Now, I always thought that meant, “Show me all the wonderful things in Missouri.  All the great things to see.”

But it turns out, I later found, to mean, “I'm from Missouri, and I won't believe I thing you tell me until I see it with my own eyes!”  I guess they're famous for the attitude, “seeing is believing.”

I think that Thomas could have been from Missouri.  So, I call him, “Missouri Thomas.”

Because the other disciples tried to explain to Thomas that Jesus is alive, but he didn’t believe it.  He doubted.  He chose, in fact, to not believe unless he was given first-hand evidence.

“Show me!” his license plate says.  Missouri Thomas. Look at verses 24.

“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’”

Now, let’s not be too hard on Missouri Thomas.

I mean, do you think that you or I would have done better?

Thomas was a very brave disciple.  In John chapter 11, Thomas is the one who encourages the other disciples to follow Jesus into danger–being willing to die with him.  Thomas didn’t keep that promise and go with Jesus into death, but neither did any of the other disciples, including Peter who had said that he would die with Jesus.

Thomas had just seen Jesus be betrayed, arrested, beaten, tortured, ridiculed, and killed.

Pardon me for not believing that He is alive!

It was easier for the other disciples to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead–they saw him with their own eyes.

So Missouri Thomas says, “Show me.” v.25

‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’”

Now, I love this next part of the story in this gospel...

Jesus is alive, and He knows what Thomas has said.

And in grace and love, He brings the proof that Thomas had required.

He didn’t have to, but He does.  V.26

“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them [this time]. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’  Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’”


It’s true! Jesus is alive.  Death could not hold him.  Doors could not keep him away.  And he appears to the disciples with peace on his lips and to Thomas with an amazing invitation.

“‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Jesus knew exactly what Thomas had said, and now he lovingly holds out his hand to Thomas and invites him to believe.

No, it’s more than that, isn’t it?

He demands that Thomas believe.

Thomas demanded proof.  Jesus demands faith.

“Stop Doubting and Believe.”

Jesus insists on faith.  I like how the NASB translates this “Be not unbelieving but believing!”  Here's your proof Thomas, now believe!

Jesus loves us, but he demands our faith.

 He loves us and He does not allow us room to half-way believe, to disbelieve in Him, to not trust Him.  He demands faith of all his followers.

And He is still inviting skeptics to consider his claims.

Is that you? Have you been dragged here against your will?

I’m glad you are here today even if you don’t want to be.

If you are here and you’re skeptical about the whole thing, I understand.

I’ve been there, too.

I’ve struggled many times with questions about the reality of the resurrection.

But I’ve come to believe that gospels present a compelling picture of an amazing and the true history of both His death and His resurrection!

There is evidence that demands a verdict.  And Jesus will accept no middle ground.
He demands our faith.  “Stop doubting and believe!”

Now, that might be a process for many of us.  For many, many years (even after I had gone to Moody Bible Institute), I struggled with believing in the resurrection.  But Jesus would not accept my unbelief.

He brought me again and again to consider the evidence in the gospels for the reality of His resurrection and insisted that I stop doubting and believe.  And He does the same with you today.

How many took home one of those “The Case for Christ” books this Easter?  How many have read it?

“Stop doubting and believe!”

Because Jesus is really alive.


Now, catch this. This is where we’re going.

Missouri Thomas stopped doubting immediately.

And then he uttered the fullest expression of the worship of Christ that anyone had ever said up till that point.  v.28

“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

And he wasn’t swearing!

He was worshiping.

“My Lord and my God!”

Thomas was proclaiming his faith in Jesus.

He was proclaiming his worship of Jesus!

He understood what was happening now.

This Jesus is none other than the Lord.  None other than God Himself.

And He deserves total worship.  In my mind's eye, I see Thomas falling on his face before Jesus.  Not even bothering to touch his hands or torso.  Just falling down in worship of the Risen Jesus.  “My Lord and My God!”

That’s what the gospels have been pointing us to all week.

“My Lord and My God!”

Notice those personal pronouns.  My Lord and My God.

He’s not saying that He isn’t the Universal Lord and God of all things.

But it’s personal.  He belongs to Jesus, and Jesus belongs to Him.

My Lord and My God.

He worshiped Him as truly as you and I have come this morning to worship Jesus!

We aren’t here to memorialize a great and dead saint.  Saint Jesus.

No, no. We’re here to worship the risen and living Savior–Our Lord and Our God.

And notice what Jesus does NOT do here.  This is so totally important.

He doesn't say, “O no, Tom, don't worship me.  I'm not God.  I'm not your Lord.  Don't bow like that.”

NO!  He receives his worship.

Jesus allows Thomas to ascribe deity to Him, to recognize him as his Lord and his GOD!  The Risen Jesus receives total worship from Thomas.

And He wants our total worship today.

He not only demands faith from us but he receives our worship.

That’s why we’re here today.

Not just to worship some generic creator God.  But to worship the God/Man Jesus Christ!  We are Christians!  We worship the Risen Lord Jesus, God Jesus!

We say, with all of our hearts and all of our minds and all our souls and with all of our money and with all of our strength, “Jesus!  Our  Lord and Our God!”

Now, notice what Jesus says next.

Jesus has been gracious enough to show himself to Thomas like Thomas had demanded.

But now He needs to gently rebuke Thomas and promise you and me a greater blessing.  V.29

“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”

See who He’s talking about?

He’s talking about you and me.

You and I haven’t seen, yet we believe.

There is a special blessing for people like you and me.

You might get the idea that the most blessed people in the world were those who lived in the gospels.

Who had seen Jesus and believed: Matthew, Mark, and John.

But that's not what Jesus says!  Jesus says that there is a blessing (a special gift of God's grace) to those who believe without seeing him yet!

And that’s you and me.  We have not seen Jesus yet except with the eyes of faith.  We know that He lives, but our eyes have not yet beheld His risen body.

We are waiting, waiting for that.

Think about that for a second, the disciples didn't have something (a blessing) that you and I can have by putting our faith in Jesus!

Jesus is promising us a special blessing because our faith has not yet become sight.

Peter, years later, reflected on this in his first letter, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are (blessed!) filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Someday we will see him.  1 John 3 promises, “...we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  But not yet.  Till then we hope and trust and obey and wait–and are blessed.

And John goes on to call it LIFE.  Look at verses 30 and 31.  What we called this week the purpose statement of John’s Gospel:

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”


Believe and be blessed with LIFE.

Abundant life.
Life to full.
Eternal life.
Forever life.

Blessed life!

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of death.

I’m tired of our loved ones dying.

Just since Christmas I’ve done these funerals: Ann Neidrick, Darla Coble, Lloyd and Dora Hampton, Brenda Plisco, Tom Kerin, Dianna Moore, Bea Johnson, and Barry Bonsall.

Some of those were in their 90's.

But that doesn’t make death good.  Death is an enemy.

It’s a part of the curse on this world.

Death is not the way things should be.

I’m tired of the sentence of death hanging over my life and the life of all of those I love.

And I’m waiting for death to die.

You know that death will die one day, right?

Death is going to be thrown into the lake of fire, the second death.

Death itself is going to come to an end.

We know, from the 4 gospels, that Jesus has conquered death and brought life.

He brings life to all who believe in Him.  V.31

“These [things] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have LIFE in His name.”


Jesus has conquered death.

So, stop doubting and believe.

If you are here today and not yet a believer, I urge you to turn from your sins and put your trust in the Savior, Jesus Christ who died for your sins to bring you to God.

Stop doubting and believe.

And start believing and be blessed.  Blessed with LIFE!

And going and telling the world that Jesus is alive!

The gospel from the gospels!

Worshiping Jesus our Lord and our God.