April 19th, 2020
Minoh International Church
Pastor Joseph Ricohermoso
Today is the first Sunday after Resurrection Sunday. I’m not quite ready yet to move on to other matters of the Christian faith. I would like us to linger a little bit more today by contemplating the events that took place, the personalities involved and the significance of it all, relating to the rising from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Merrill Unger in his book, The New Unger’s Bible Handbook, listed the order of events of the resurrection in this way:
- Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome start for the tomb, Luke 23:55~24:1
- They find the stone rolled away, Luke 24:2~9
- Mary Magdalene goes to tell the disciples, John 20:1~2
- Mary, the mother of James, draws near and sees the angel, Matthew 28:1~2
- She goes back to meet the other women following with spices
Meanwhile Peter and John arrive, look in and depart, John 20:3~10
- Mary Magdalene returns weeping, sees two angels, then Jesus, John 20:11~18
- The risen Christ instructs her to tell the disciples, John 20:17~18
- Mary (mother of James) meanwhile returns with the women, Luke 24:1~4
- They (women) return and see the two angels, Luke 24:5; Mark 16:5
- They also hear the angel’s message, Matthew 28:6~8
- On their way to find the disciples, they are met by the risen Christ, Matthew 28:9~10
Now, let’s review what Mary and the others did. Here we see:
- The resurrection gives basis to faith in times of grief
Christ had cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2). She became a loyal follower of our Lord Jesus and she dearly loved Him. In her confusion and disappointment, Mary jumped to conclusions and thought someone had stolen Christ’s body (John 20:2). She ran to tell Peter and John, who in turn visited the tomb (John 20:3).
What did the men find in the tomb? They saw the burial cloths lying in the shape of the body, but the body was gone! The graveclothes lay like an empty cocoon (John 20:5~7).
The theory that Jesus’ body was stolen must be rejected outright. It was not the scene of a grave robbery, for no robbers could have gotten the body without carrying the corpse’s graveclothes too. They would not have taken the time removing the corpse’s burial clothes first. We can imagine that things will be in disarray. Yet the facial covering, like a handkerchief, was carefully folded, lying by itself.
The only plausible explanation is that Jesus had returned to life in power and glory and had passed through the graveclothes and the tomb itself!
Verse 8 tells us that the men believed in His resurrection because of the evidence that they saw. Belief! That is a ray of hope amidst the darkness of grief. Later, they met Christ personally and also came to believe on the testimony of Scripture (John 20:9; Luke 24:25~27).
There are, then, three (3) types of evidence that you can rely on when it comes to spiritual matters:
- the evidence God gives and is found in the world He created;
- the evidence of recorded history and His works written in the Bible; and,
- the evidence from our personal experience.
How can a man know that Christ is real? He can see the evidence in the lives (testimonies) of others; he can read the Word; and if he trusts Christ, he will experience Jesus personally.
Note that in v.10 the men returned without sharing the message of the risen Christ. Mere intellectual evidence alone (such as seeing the empty tomb) will not change people. We must meet Christ personally in His word and receive enlightenment from the Holy Spirit.
That is what happened to Mary — she lingered and met Christ. There’s inherent blessing when we wait!
Proverbs 8:17 – “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”
- The resurrection opens door to joy in times of grief
Mary Magdalene saw two angels in the tomb (Luke 24:4 calls them “two men”) but was so overwhelmed with grief to let them comfort her. The description of the angels in v.12 reminds us of the mercy seat in the holy of holies (Ex. 25:17~19):
17 “Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 18 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 19 Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends.”
Hallelujah! The risen Christ is now seated on the Mercy Seat in heaven.
Mary turned from the angels, for she was seeking Christ. Mary was more focused on finding His body than be fascinated by the sight of angels! The person she then saw was really Christ, but somehow she could not recognize Him. Here’s the conversation in verse 15:
15 He [Jesus Christ] asked her, “Woman, 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.”
The one word, “thinking” in v.15 explains all her sorrow. Many people feel miserable because they “suppose” something that is not at all true. Mary knew Jesus was dead. She thought that He remained dead and expected to find His body.
Of course, we cannot fault Mary for that. After all, her disappointment and her grief turned to joy. 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”), (v.16).
Mary’s grief turned to joy. Mary’s sorrow turned to rejoicing!
- The resurrection is our ultimate hope
In many of the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, people who saw him had a difficult time recognizing Him. Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener (John 20:14~15). The disciples didn’t realize it right away when He met them by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:4). And the two (2) men on the road to Emmaus did not realize they were talking to Jesus (Luke 24:15~16).
In these resurrection appearances, all of them eventually did recognize Jesus. Yet there is something that makes His appearance different from before His arrest and crucifixion. As we try to understand our own future resurrection in Christ, it’s important for us also to appreciate the new quality of His return to life.
In other words, the ultimate hope of the believer is the resurrection—when God will do for us and for all creation what He did for Jesus on Easter. The resurrected Jesus was still the same Jesus who had lived for more than thirty-three (33) years and worked among the disciples for more than three (3) years, but He was changed—He was “new,” He was more, He was resurrected.
The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is a model of the Christian’s resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2; 1 Cor. 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and provides a foretaste of heaven for the believer (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
Paul gives us an exciting glimpse of this coming reality (1 Corinthians 15:42–44; 49–54). God’s plans for His people in Christ are so good. The sure hope that believers have is that, one day, the whole creation will be made new, and all will be made right. God Himself will dwell among His people, and He will wipe every tear from their eyes. More than that, there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).
Our Lord will reign fully and forever, and everything will be as it should be. There will be no sin and no possibility of sin, and believers will finally live the lives God had designed them to live from the beginning of time.
This is our Resurrection Hope.
Let us pray…