Sunday, April 17, 2022

“I Have Seen the Lord!” [Matt's Messages]

“I Have Seen the Lord!”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
April 17, 2022 :: John 20:1-18

Jesus was dead and buried.

Over the last two Sundays, we have been reading about the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ. Two weeks ago, we started in chapter 19 as Jesus was made to carry His own cross to His own execution.

And then He was nailed to it and then He fought to breathe. Fighting against asphyxiation while hanging there nailed to the wood.

Excruciating pain and anguish and agony and thirst and horror and shame. And then death.

True death. Not faked. Not almost there. But certifiably dead. His executioners knew their business, and they had accomplished their mission. Jesus was killed.

And then He was buried. A couple of disciples who had been “secret disciples” stepped out of the darkness and at some risk to themselves took possession of the lifeless corpse, the body of Jesus, and laid it nearby in a freshly dug tomb that had never yet been used by the owners. Everybody knew where it was. 

It was close to Skull Hill where Jesus was killed, in a little garden nearby–very easily locate-able  even in the dark. 

Even though He had died with nothing and treated as less than nothing, in His burial, He had been treated royally wrapped with 75 pounds of spices intertwined in linen strips. But it had been done hastily because the sun was going down and the Sabbath was beginning.

And all night Friday and all day Saturday, nothing happened.

Jesus was dead and buried.

And with Jesus, all of His disciples’ hopes were dead and buried, as well.

Jesus was dead and buried.

And then came Sunday morning!

Look with me at the historical record. John chapter 20, verse 1.

“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’s early early on Sunday morning. Mary was one of the women that was there on Friday and had to watch that monstrous thing happen to Jesus. She went to the tomb, the other gospels tell us, with those with other women to finish the rush job that Joe and Nick had done on Friday evening as the Sabbath fell. 

And as the sun starts to come up, Mary sees that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.

What does she think? Does she think, “Hooray! Christ has risen indeed!”

No. That’s not where her mind goes.

She thinks of one thing only, “Grave robbers.”

“Those guys put 75 pounds of expensive spices in that tomb. Myrrh and aloes. Somebody’s probably made off with the body. I better go tell Peter.” v.2

“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!’ [“It’s terrible. He’s not only dead, but now His body is stolen.”] So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.”

Remember, the “other disciple” is probably John the guy writing this story out for us. He’s so bowled over by the idea that Jesus loved Him. He can’t get over it. And he’s full of grief.

He and Peter run to the tomb, leaving Mary behind. V.4

“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. [I love those “eyewitness” details. There’s not deep spiritual point to that. It’s just history. It’s just how it all actually happened. John got there first but for some reason stayed outside. Maybe he couldn’t bring himself to look. V.6] Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. [Classic Peter, right?!] 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. [This does not look like the work of grave robbers. They left the valuable spices in the linens?! They folded up the head cloth?! I don’t think so. V.8] 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.)”

Peter has seen it with his own eyes, but he’s not sure what he’s seen. The other gospels tell us that he went away marveling over this and trying to figure it all out.

But John says that at moment, he got it. He got it. He understood. 

Jesus is alive!

John didn’t understand that the Old Testament had always pointed towards the Messiah dying and rising again. Like Psalm 16, verse 10 that we studied last year on Resurrection Sunday out there in the big parking lot. Where David wrote (ultimately for the Christ), “You [LORD] will not abandon me [CHRIST] to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”

John says he didn’t understand all of that, but he did believe that Jesus was alive again. And so should we.

I want to give out two points of application this morning, summed up in just two words. And here’s the first one:


Like John here in verse 8, believe that Jesus of Nazareth has come back from the dead. This isn’t a myth. It’s not a fable or a fairy tale. It’s not just a metaphor. A nice story to explain how sweet the season of Spring is. This is reality. This is historical fact. And it changes everything.

Believe that Jesus has risen from the dead.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed.

Indeed. For real, in other words.

Ryen, Jordan, and Leo have come to believe that Jesus is alive again and that’s why they are going through with baptism.

None of them want attention. 
None of them love to speak in public.
All three of them believe that Jesus is alive.
All three of them believe Jesus was dead and buried and is alive once more.

Watch them show it by being buried in the water and coming back out again themselves!

Do YOU believe?

I love how John has not yet seen the Risen Jesus and yet he already believes. Because that’s like us, right? 

Have you seen the Lord? It would be wonderful to see Him with our own eyes, and one day we will. Somebody is just about to in the next part of the story.

Do you believe? Here’s how blessed you are if believe: John said earlier in chapter 1, “[T]o all who received [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...” (1:12).

Ryen, Jordan, and Leo have become children of God!

They believe that Jesus died for their sins and came back to life to give them eternal life with Him.


Mary did not yet believe. She didn’t understand what had happened. Apparently, she made her way back to the garden and missed Peter and John and everybody else. And she just stood there outside the tomb and cried. V.10

“Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying.”

The Greek word for “crying” there might be better translated “wailing.” She was sobbing. She was overwhelmed with emotion. I’ve only cried like that a few times in my life. One time was 23 years ago today. 23 years ago this weekend our oldest daughter, Charis, died in utero.  And I wailed in that hospital room like I had never wailed before.

Mary’s Lord was just as dead, and now His body was stolen. She was inconsolable. And then she saw something mysterious and amazing. V.11

“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 [madam], why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don't know where they have put him.’ [v.14]

At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.”

Why was that, do you think?

It might have been because it was still early and dark.
It might have been because she was looking through tears.
It might have been because she didn’t look very closely.
It might have been because she was somehow kept from recognizing Him.
It might have been because He looked different after having been tortured, either he looked worse or He looked better than she had just seen Him a couple of days ago.

We don’t know.

Personally, I think it’s just because she didn’t expect to see Jesus!

Jesus was dead.

And then He speaks. Verse 15.

“‘Woman,’ he said, ‘why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ [I see a twinkle in His eye. He can see what’s going to happen when the light dawns for her.] 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.’ [She saw what she expected to see. But He was not what she expected to see. Verse 16.] Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ [Just like He always did! [an insight from D.A. Carson] She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).”

What a moment!

Can you imagine?
Can you imagine what she felt like?

His sheep know His voice.

It was Him!
It was the Teacher.
It was the Lord!

It was Jesus back from the dead.

In my mind, she falls at His feet and grabs Him around the knees.

I can’t imagine how I would have felt if our daughter had come back to life.

I wouldn’t have ever let go of her.

But Jesus says, “Let me go. Okay. Let me go.”  Verse 17.

“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.'’”

I think the point there is, “It’s okay, Mary. I’m not going anywhere just yet. I am going to be ascending to the Father, but there is still more time for us to be together. It’s understandable, but you don’t have to cling to me.”

“Instead, I have a mission for you. Go tell my brothers (the disciples) that I am ascending to my Father.

But He’s not just my Father. He’s your Father.

He’s not just MY God (even though He’s mine like nobody else’s), but He’s also YOUR God.

You disciples are children of God because you believe in me.

Go tell them that!

And that’s our second and last point of application this morning:

#2. TELL.

Believe that Jesus has risen indeed. 
And tell others that Jesus has risen indeed!

Mary did. Verse 18. “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.”

That’s what you and I are supposed to be doing with our lives in 2022.

Just like Mary. We’re to go and tell the brothers, like everybody here, and go also and tell the world that Christ has risen indeed.

And that’s what Ryen, Jordan, and Leo are prepared to do right now.


Messages in this Mini-Series:

1. "Here They Crucified Him" - John 19:17-30
2. "They Laid Jesus There" - John 19:31-42