This Easter, I had the privilege of preaching about the resurrection from John 20. Since Sunday, I’ve been reflecting on the ongoing significance of Christ’s resurrection and glorification as I reread the passage. Here are two things that stand out to me.
1. We can trust Jesus because He did what He said He would do. The mysterious Messiah predicted his death and resurrection on more than one occasion. Speaking of laying down His life in John 10:18, he said, “I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” In John 12:7, Jesus defended Mary’s extravagant anointing because it was “for the day of My (His) burial.” Jesus also hinted about His upcoming death in John 13:33 and 14:25.
Easter puts an exclamation point on Christ’s authority – He delivered on His promise. In turn, this puts a renewed emphasis on Christ’s other promises. He did what He said He would do and delivered on His promises. He promised eternal life to those who trust Him (John 4:14). He also promised that genuine eternal life would not be lost (John 10:28). One of His most comforting promises was the promise to return for His followers one day (John 14:2-3).
2. We have a mission as the baton of ministry has been passed from Jesus Christ to His followers. The resurrected Jesus couldn’t have been clearer when He visited His surprised followers. He was about to ascend to heaven, so He wouldn’t be on earth very long (v. 17). He was about to send out His followers in the same way the Heavenly Father had sent Him out (v. 21). There would be many others who would believe in Jesus Christ based on their words and witness rather than their own sight (v. 29, v. 30-31).
Easter is source of celebration, but it’s also commissioning service. It’s a reminder that we have a job to do. The torch of gospel ministry has been passed down through every generation since the first generation of believers, and we don’t want to drop it.
The significance of Easter extends well beyond one day a year. It’s a yearly reminder that Jesus can be trusted and we’ve been trusted with a very important task.
Can you predict the future? Think about the last time you made plans for an outdoor event or activity. Did the weather work out the way you hoped it would?
No matter how hard we may try, we cannot predict the future accurately. Sometimes we get it right, but just as often we get it wrong. This can leave us with a sense of dread.
Instead, it should push us towards faith – faith in the One who can predict the future. We should acknowledge our limits and lean on the one Person who knows our past, our present, and our future. We should trust Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ’s ability to predict the future was highlighted during the weeks that led up to His death, burial and resurrection in Jerusalem. Just before approaching the capital city, He took His followers aside and explained to them that He was about to die. He told them He would mocked, scourged, and crucified, but on the third day he would be raised back up to life (Matthew 20:17-19).
Jesus had made many other hints and declarations of His death and resurrection; this was just the most direct. Not only does it underscore His dedication to God’s plan for redemption, it also helps to explains why He made it a point to tell His follows about His death and resurrection before it ever happened (Matthew 16:21-23, 17:22-23, 27:63, 28:6).
This last prediction was meant to help His followers find their part in God’s plan for redemption. In Matthew 20:18, Jesus said, “We are going up to Jerusalem.” The rest of His statement implies that He was sharing more than travel instructions. He was sharing how His followers would be involved in and affected by the coming events. The Jewish officials would condemn Him to death. The Roman authorities would carry out that sentence. And His followers would have a front row seat to what happened next.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is more than a historical fact, it’s the focal point of God’s plan to redeem the world. The clues that the Savior dropped along the way to Jerusalem were shared as request for all His followers, past and present. They were meant as an invitation to share in His death and His resurrection.
Easter is a reminder that “He has risen, just as He said” (Matthew 28:6). It is also an invitation to put our faith in the Savior who defeated sin and death on our behalf. It’s an opportunity to follow the One who knows our past, our present, and our future.
A mysterious encounter leads to a boatload of fish. But that wasn’t the most surprising thing that happened by the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus appeared to his disciples twice after the resurrection, but the disciples were still confused about should happen next. At some point, Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James, and John went back to fishing. After a long night with no fish a mysterious figure showed up on shore. The figure inquired about their catch and then told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. As soon as they did their net was full to capacity. Peter immediately jumped into the water and swam to shore recognizing the mysterious figure as Jesus.
Jesus was already cooking fish by a charcoal fire when the rest of the disciples arrived. As they hauled their catch on land, they heard Jesus uttered these remarkable words: “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught” These words were remarkable for three reasons. First, because Jesus was there to say them in person. He had been executed on a Roman cross and laid in a Jewish grave. The very fact that Jesus was alive again was amazing.
The second reason Jesus’ words were remarkable was because He gave them credit for catching the fish. Peter and his companions had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus did the most important part by telling them where to cast their net, yet He still gave them ownership over their success.
Thirdly, Jesus’ words were remarkable because the disciples had abandoned and denied Jesus. When the authorities came to arrest Jesus in Garden of Gethsemane, they all ran away in fear. When Peter was questioned about his relationship with Jesus, he denied he even knew Jesus three times. The men who promised to be faithful had been faithless, and yet Jesus welcomed them anyway.
This is a picture of miraculous, gracious, forgiveness. Jesus wasn’t supposed to be a part of their frustration-filled fishing trip, but He was. Jesus didn’t have to help them catch a record-haul of fish, but He did. Jesus shouldn’t have welcomed them to join Him by the fire, but He called out the invitation. Jesus is still showing up and calling us close today.
There are lots of names in the Bible that are popular today, but not Lazarus. You know a Noah and an Elizabeth, but do you know a Lazarus? Probably not.
Lazarus is a name that is associated with life and death. Jesus brought Lazarus back to life at the peak of his ministry. Like all the other signs that Jesus did, this miracle was designed to reveal something about our Savior.
Jesus brought Lazarus back to life in front of three different groups of people. These groups all had there one question for Jesus. These questions help us understand this pivotal event.
Why would you risk your life? (John 11: 1-16)
Jesus had developed a close relationship with Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. When Lazarus got sick, the sisters sent word for Jesus to come. This prominent family lived in the village of Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem.
When Jesus announced his plans to go to Bethany, his disciples questioned him (v. 8). The Jewish establishment had tried to kill Jesus twice before he escaped to the other side of the Jordan River. The disciples knew that it would be very dangerous for Jesus (and them, v. 16) to go near Jerusalem.
The disciples were also confused about Lazarus’ condition. The message they received only said that Lazarus was sick. Jesus said that Lazarus was sleeping, which didn’t warrant a life-threatening mission to Jerusalem.
Why did you wait so long? (John 11:17-27)
When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Martha came out to meet Jesus and question him (v. 21). She knew that Jesus had an intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father, but why didn’t he come two days earlier to heal Lazarus.
Jesus revealed that he was more than a healer, he was and still is “the resurrection and the life.” Jesus claimed to have power over life and death and he would soon prove it.
Why didn’t he do something? (John 11: 28-46)
Mary also came out to speak to Jesus followed by a large group of mourners. Mary’s family must have been well known because a large number of people came from Jerusalem to comfort her and her sister after Lazaurus’ death.
Mary took Jesus to the tomb where they laid Lazarus and she wept along with the crowd of comforters. Jesus also wept, overcome with emotion and his disappointment with the brokenness of sin.
As the mourners watched Jesus they questioned him If was a miracle worker, why didn’t he perform a miracle for this man and this family who he clearly loved? If he could help, why didn’t he?
Jesus commanded that the stone be removed from the entrance to the tomb. Martha objected because at that point Lazarus was definitely dead and the smell would be overpowering. Jesus prayed out loud for the benefit of all three groups that were present – his disciples, Martha & Mary, and their comforters – and called Lazarus out of the tomb. As he stumbled out into the light, they unwrapped him from his grave clothes.
Jesus answered these three questions by defeating death so that…
So that you would love Him.
Jesus risked his life to save the life of a friend he loved very much. Will you love him in return? John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
So that you would glorify Him.
Jesus waited to visit Lazarus so he could perform a greater miracle. Will you welcome and worship Jesus as God in the flesh? John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
So that you would believe in Him.
Jesus’ entire earthly ministry was about one thing – getting people who need to be saved to believe that he was their Savior. Will you accept him or reject him? John 20:31 says, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Easter is a big deal. It’s a big deal because it’s the oldest festival celebrated by the Church. In our day and age, Easter has also become the heart of the spring season with warm weather, baby animals, and family gatherings. Experts expect that Americans will spend over 18 billion dollars in 2019 on Easter clothes, food, decorations, and candy which means Easter also has a huge impact on our economy.
Easter is an even bigger deal because it commemorates Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The resurrection itself is a big deal because it is central to the Gospel – the main message of Old and New Testaments. Well-know Pastor, John MacArthur, has said, “The truth of the resurrection gives life to every other area of gospel truth. The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter.” In other words, if you don’t have a resurrection, you can’t have the Gospel.
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, the Apostle Paul lists three ways that the resurrection is central to the Gospel. The resurrection of God’s Son is the biggest miracle in human history. As we explore the connection between the resurrection and the Gospel we will be better prepared to embrace the supernatural side of Easter.
1. The Resurrection Informs the Implications of the Gospel. (v. 1-2, 11)
The first implication of the Gospel is that if Christ was raised from the dead then you can be raised too. At least some of the people in the church at Corinth did not have a coherent grasp on the Gospel. They had received the Gospel. They stood in it and were saved by it, but they were at risk for believing in “vain.”
Jesus shares his resurrected life with everyone who comes to him by faith. One aspect of that resurrected life is a spiritual resurrection (I Peter 1:3). The other aspect of the resurrected life is a bodily resurrection (1 Cor. 15:42).
The second implication is that everyone who preaches the resurrection preaches the same message. The Apostle Paul preached a message that he received directly from God, along with a growing group of believers who shared their faith. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are the most important thing about the church. We can find great hope and solidarity in that message!
2. The Resurrection Supplies the Substance of the Gospel. (v. 3-8)
The Gospel message contains at least four parts. The first is that Christ died for our sins. Jesus died for other people’s sins, not his own. While presiding over the Last Supper, he said, “This is my body, which is for you” (1 Cor. 11:23-24). Christ’s sacrificial death was predicted in throughout whole Old Testament, not just one particular passage.
The second and third parts are that Christ was buried and that He was raised on the third day. Amazingly, Jesus predicted his death and his resurrection (Mark 8:31) The third day was key because it provided that Jesus was really dead. In Jewish thinking, the spirit didn’t leave the body until the third day.
The fourth part of the Gospel is that Christ appeared to many. According to Paul, Jesus appeared to his disciples and his brother, James, He also appeared to 500 more people, many of whom were still alive at the time of Paul’s writing to give an eye witness account. Last, Jesus appeared to Paul making him an apostle as well.
3. The Resurrection Emphasizes the Effectiveness of the Gospel. (v. 9-10)
The gospel delivers us from death to life. In verse 8, Paul refers to himself as “one untimely born.” That phrase is refers to a baby who is stillborn. By using this phrase, Paul is pointing out his spiritual death and bankruptcy. Paul’s experience is our experience – that we are all born “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
The gospel also takes us from hurting to helping. Paul was so spiritually dense, he persecuted the church. By God’s grace, Paul began to build up instead of tear down the church. Like Paul, we can’t take any credit for “labor,” because it is all by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The resurrection is central to the Gospel – You can’t have one without the other.
We’ve explored these three connections between the resurrection and the Gospel so that you can embrace the supernatural side of Easter. Easter is a miracle we all need. Our lives are all more delicate than we want to admit, and our lives are passing quickly away.
You can embrace the supernatural side of Easter in two ways. First, analyze the content of the Gospel you believe. Does your Gospel include Jesus? Does it include His sacrificial death for sin? His resurrection from the dead on the third day?
Second, assess the effects of the Gospel in your life. How have you changed as a result of the Gospel? Are you experiencing a new life? Are you anticipating heaven? Are helping to build God’s kingdom here on earth?