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Why we Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead

Why We Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead
John 20

Christians believe that 2,000 years ago on a Friday Jesus Christ was nailed to a Cross, died, and was buried.  But then early Sunday morning something astonishing happened – he literally, physically rose from the dead

So why do we believe that?  Lots of people think faith means believing something without needing reasons.  That if you need reasons then you don’t have true faith.  Which means that when it comes to Jesus’ resurrection – we are supposed to believe it without needing any evidence.

But is what Jesus taught?  Not at all.  To see this let’s turn to John 20.  If you need a Bible go ahead and raise your hand and we will bring one to you.  John 20 is on page 906 in the Bibles we are passing out.

John wrote chapter 20 to show us how Jesus’ disciples came to believe that Jesus rose from the dead – and -- to show why we who are alive today can believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

But before we go there let’s ask -- what difference does it make if Jesus rose from the dead?  In this chapter John mentions three words that can be true for us if Jesus really did rise from the dead.

Each word has the letter “F” in it.  So kids, you can quiz your parents while you are eating lunch this afternoon.

The first word is Forgiveness.  Look at v.23.  Jesus is talking to the disciples, and he says -- 

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."

Jesus is not saying that the disciples decide who is and is not forgiven.  He is saying that His death paid for the guilt of our sin – and His resurrection proves it.  So when the disciples tell others about Jesus, and people trust Jesus, then the disciples can tell them – You are forgiven.  But if people don’t trust Jesus – then they are not forgiven.

But what this means is that if Jesus really did rise from the dead – then that means we can receive complete forgiveness from God.  I remember the first time I felt this forgiveness – back when I was a senior in high school.  Because Jesus died and rose again – if we will trust Him then all our sins can be completely forgiven!

The second word is Father.  Look at v.7.  Here Jesus is talking to Mary --

Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

If Jesus rose from the dead, then that means that by His death we can be completely forgiven.  AND – because we are forgiven, we can know God as our loving Father who cares for us, strengthens us, provides for us, guides us, helps us, satisfy us.

The second word is Father.  If Jesus rose from the dead – then God can be our Father.

The third word is Life.  Look at v.31 --

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

You can look for life in money, travel, food, sex.  But you won’t find life there.  Life is found only in knowing and loving God.  So -- because Jesus rose from the dead -- we can be forgiven, we can have God as our Father – and as a result we can have the life that comes from knowing and loving Him.

So if Jesus rose from the dead – we can have forgiveness, God as our Father, and life.  So did Jesus rise from the dead?  This chapter is written to show us how the disciples came to believe Jesus rose from the dead – and why we can believe Jesus rose from the dead.

This chapter starts with John himself.  Why did John believe?  Look at vv.1-10 --

1             Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

2             So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved [that’s John], and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."

When Mary saw that the stone had been taken away, her first thought was not that Jesus had risen, but that someone had taken Jesus’ body.  That’s what she told Peter and John.  So what did they do?  V.3 –

3             So Peter went out with the other disciple [John], and they were going toward the tomb.

4             Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

5             And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.

6             Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,

7             and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.

This was shocking.  Because if you were going to take the body, you would not unwrap the body.  You would just take the body all wrapped-up.

Which shows that no one had taken the body.  So what had happened?  Jesus had risen from the dead.  Look at how John responds --

8             Then the other disciple [John], who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

9             for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

10            Then the disciples went back to their homes.

So why did John believe?  Because he saw that the body was gone and the linen wrappings were left behind.

Second -- why did Mary believe?  After Peter and John left -- Mary came to the tomb.  Look at vv.11-18 --

11            But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.

12            And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.

13            They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."

14            Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  

That’s probably because she could not see him through her tears, or because she was not expecting to see Him.  So what happened next?

15            Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."

16            Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).

Now she recognizes Him.  Up to that point she thought He was dead and his body moved.  Now she sees – He’s alive in front of her.  And she falls at His feet and clings to Him.

17            Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; [He’s saying: “I am not about to ascend to heaven and leave you – I will be here a while longer – you can stop clinging to me.”]  but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am [that is “I will be”] ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

18            Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"--and that he had said these things to her.

Why did Mary believe?  Because she saw Jesus – He was there, physically, in front of her – so real that she could cling to Him.

Third, why did the other disciples (except Thomas) believe?  Look at vv.19-23 --

19            On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."

20            When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Jesus offers them evidence.  He shows them his hands and his side.  “Here – my scarred hands.  Look – my scarred side.  It’s me – I’m alive.”  That’s why they believed.

21            Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."

22            And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  

23            If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."

So He commissions them, gives a symbolic picture of how He would pour the Spirit upon them on the day of Pentecost, and gave them the message of forgiveness.

So why did the other disciples except Thomas believe?  Because they saw Jesus’ hands and side.

Fourth, why did Thomas believe?  Look at vv.24-29 --

24            Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.

25            So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."

Jesus knew what Thomas had said.  So --

26            Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."

27            Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe."

Jesus wanted Thomas to believe.  So Jesus invites Thomas to touch his nail-scarred hands, and feel his spear-scarred side.  So Thomas touches Jesus – and then v.28 --

28            Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

29            Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

So why did Thomas believe Jesus rose from the dead?  Because Thomas physically touched the resurrected Jesus.

One last question John deals with -- why should we believe?  Look at vv.30-31 --

30            Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;

31            but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

So Jesus did a lot of other signs which John did not write about.  But John did write about a lot of signs.  He’s talking about how Jesus turned 180 gallons of water into the best wine, He healed a man blind from birth, He raised Lazarus from the dead.

But John is also talking about the signs right here in ch.20 – the empty tomb, the linen wrappings left behind, seeing Jesus Himself, and seeing and touching his hands and side.

That’s why we should believe Jesus rose from the dead – because John was an eyewitness of these signs – and he wrote them down in this book that we are holding in our hands so we, too, can believe.

What does this mean for us?  It means Jesus rose from the dead. 

It means we can believe that – not as a blind leap without evidence – but because we have evidence.  John, the eyewitness, wrote about how he saw the empty tomb and left-behind linen cloths.  He wrote about how Mary saw Jesus, how Jesus showed his hands and side to the disciples, how Jesus urged Thomas to touch Jesus’ hands and side.

And because Jesus rose from the dead, when you turn to Him and trust Him as your Savior, and Lord, and all-satisfying Treasure – amazing things will happen.

You will be completely forgiven for all your sin.  You will come to know God as your loving Father.  And for the first time you will experience the life God created you for.

Some of you have been trusting Jesus – and this morning He wants this to strengthen your trust in His resurrection – so you can be even more assured that you are forgiven, that God is your loving Father, and that the life you long for is found in Him.

Others of you have never trusted Jesus.  But today you have heard the evidence.  You have every reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.  Which means that if you will turn to Him and trust Him – you will be completely forgiven for your sin, you will come to know God as your Father, and you will experience life as it was meant to me.

Turn to Him now.  Trust Him now.  Let’s pray.

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