24 September 2023 - LIFE'S COMEBACK II John 20 SERIES FINAL 'Stretched by the Miraculous'
MESSAGE BY PASTOR DANIEL PARK FROM
BAPTIST CHURCH IN RICHMOND, BC.
To recap, we’ve gone over 7 miracles of Jesus in the Gospel of John
Turning Water Into Wine (John 2:1-12)
Healing the Nobleman's Son (John 4:46-54)
Healing the Man at the Pool (John 5:1-11)
Miracle of 5 loaves and 2 fish (John 6:1-15)
Jesus Walking on Water (John 6:16-21)
Healing a Man Born Blind (John 9:1-12)
Resurrecting Lazarus (John 11)
And as John says in 20:30-31
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.
John calls miracles signs because the miracles are not the end, but the ONE who carries out the miracles
The miracles are meant to point and direct us to Jesus who did the signs to help us see, to believe and in doing so have eternal life
And LIFE is has been behind every miracle if you think about it.
To have life and have it abundantly
Climaxing to the last sign, Life’s Comeback shown through the resurrection of Lazarus.
Today, we wrap up that comeback with Jesus’ own resurrection.
And we see that THIS is the sign we had been driving towards and waiting to see,
Now that says, “NOW ENTERING”, “WELCOME TO…”
The sign that everyone looks forward to the most.
The resurrection of Jesus is not counted among the 7 signs but is considered the FINAL sign.
The resurrection of Lazarus, and actually all the others before building up to this ultimate sign
The definitive comeback and victory of life
I want us to stay a while on the event of the resurrection for a bit
If you think about it, believers today don’t talk about the resurrection as much as the death of Jesus.
Maybe in connection with the love and grace of God, but we seem to emphasize the DEATH of Jesus much more
The death of Jesus opened the way to a relationship with God
In that He paid the price for our sins so we can be in the right relationship with God
But the resurrection of Jesus GIVES us a relationship with God through Jesus
And as Paul says in 1 Cor. 15, If Jesus was not raised from the dead, there is no point in any and all of THIS
And there is no FAITH
Because the resurrection of Jesus is the BASIS, the foundation of our faith
In fact, in the Book of Acts, the main emphasis for the disciples as they preached and evangelized was the resurrection of Jesus more than anything else.
So the resurrection is SUPER important!
And the event itself is probably the most hotly contested and scrutinized point for skeptics
But I am happy to say that it is also the most accurately and reliably recorded fact in the Bible.
From multiple sources and angles and witnesses.
How can you say that? Some people might ask..
It’s because the New Testament is the most reliable among all the historical and ancient texts that we have in existence.
Everything we read about Jesus in the New Testament is way more trustworthy than everything we can learn about Julius Caesar.
We have more believable historical evidence of Jesus’ resurrection than everything we know about Napoleon
The number of the copies of manuscripts we have of the NT,
And how CLOSE they are to when they were originally written is astounding
We have portions of the Gospel of John that have been dated to within 100AD which is less than 50 years after it was actually written
Greek manuscripts alone, we have around 5800 - but with other early languages such as Latin, Coptic - it becomes over 24,000 copies
Compare that to:
Homer’s Iliad - written in 900BC but the earliest copy we have is from 400BC, which is 500 years apart, with only 643 copies in existence.
Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars - written some time in 100-44BC but the earliest copy we have from 900AD, which is 1000 years later, with only 10 copies in existence
As a historical figure, Jesus is more believable than anyone else from 1000 years ago and before that
And the events in the NT have been reliably recorded and preserved.
Recorded and preserved so that WE, 2000 years later can believe that Jesus is who He says He is.
In the passage that was just read, John uncharacteristically notes small details when it comes to the tomb and the resurrection.
Even so, some people argue that people made it up.
Maybe not ALL of it… but some - like Jesus coming back to life
To that, the argument I find the most compelling is the records of the disciples of Jesus and many, many believers, thereafter who were willing to die and did die to share this truth with people and to stand by this truth in the face of threats against their health and lives to deny it.
A few hundred crazy people could die for something at a certain time.
A few million? 10s, 100s of millions of believers who have died over 2 centuries rather than deny Jesus and His resurrection?
It’s hard to argue that many people were crazy with the same thing and continue to be 2000 years later.
Another argument is that the NT unashamedly includes people of no repute or even people who would looked down on as bearers of truth
People like tax collectors who were treated as Roman sympathizers against their own people and liars and thieves
Fisherman with barely any education
And women who had one social standing at the time, like Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus appeared to before anyone else after He came back to life.
Death paid for the debt of sin and erased it.
Resurrection overcame and conquered sin and death
The resurrection of Jesus opened the new and living way to relationship with God.
By the resurrection of Jesus, life has come back to our relationship with God
In John 14:18-21, Jesus made a promise, which He keeps.
18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
At the heart of repentance and redemption is the restoration of relationship.
And love is the heart of all relationships.
And it is for God so loved the world that He sent His son, Jesus to die in our place. So that whosoever believes in Him will have eternal life and relationship with God.
Jesus did not come to the world just to show off His divinity power and majesty.
Jesus came to live in full humanity and died and rose again back to life for the will and glory of the Father - God.
But the crazy thing is that God’s glory involves us.
In this way the honour and prestige of a father or mother will hinge on their children as well.
God’s glory is one with His desire for a relationship with us.
As a Father with His children.
Jesus was more than a Rabbi or teacher.
In 3 short years, He formed genuine intimate relationships with his disciples and followers.
He laughed, joked, and cried with them all.
Dying and leaving them thinking He was gone forever has not been a light thing for Him.
Though He did try to warn them as well, but they couldn’t understand.
I’ve often wondered why Jesus didn’t try to explain what was going to happen more clearly to the disciples.
I now see that they would not have been able to fully understand the complete scope of what Jesus was doing and had to do.
It had to be EXPERIENCED.
Mary Magdalene experienced the sorrow of losing Jesus, and then she saw Him again and regained joy
Mary probably thought Jesus coming back to life would mean things would go back to what it was like before and they would continue on teaching and doing miraculous signs. So Jesus had to temper her joy, saying hold on… I’m not COMPLETELY done yet.
I’m risen indeed from the dead, but not so we can continue on like BEFORE…
But so you and I can have a relationship where no one and nothing can take this joy from you.
A situation where nothing can separate us from our loving relationship.
An eternal relationship.
You know that song, Lord I lift Your Name on High
The end of the chorus says,
From the grave to the sky
Actually Jesus didn’t go back straight to His throne
He went from the grave back to His disciples first.
To lovingly encourage them and to prepare them for the full picture of what it meant to believe in Him as the Son of God.
That is, to receive and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
2. By the resurrection of Jesus, life has been restored to our relationship with God in the Holy Spirit
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,[c] 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. 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.”
Here we see the END GAME we can say, of the reason and purpose Jesus came to the world for.
Jesus, being the Son of God, personally brought the Spirit of God back into a world that had forgotten and rejected God, its Creator.
Not to say that God’s Spirit COULDN’T before - but this was God’s perfect and incorruptible way
For each individual to receive His Spirit, personally from Jesus, His Son.
Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit the same personal and intimate way God created and brought Adam to life in Genesis - by His own breath.
Jesus is resetting or rebooting the creation of humanity
Back to the original state before the fall
The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ Spirit
So when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it is not a power, but a divine person who is living in and through us.
And this is what makes us righteous.
On the day of Judgment, when God looks at us, He sees Jesus, His own Son.
This is how and why Paul says that we are co-heirs with Christ
How we can be Christ to the people He sends us to.
This is the Great Commission right here. We who have Jesus’ Spirit in us, have the same purpose as God’s Son who was sent to the world
To show people the signs that will help them believe that Jesus is Son of God and that by believing they may have eternal life.
To lead them to repentance so that they can have that right relationship with God
And see, Jesus has equipped and empowered us to do this.
We are filled with Jesus’ Spirit to continue His work in this world and in our time
This also means that Jesus is ALWAYS with us.
He is living and active
He is intimately and personally close with us.
He can feel His love as we live according to His commands or ways because they protect us and keep our relationship alive
And His Spirit guarantees that relationship to be eternal.
3. By the resurrection of Jesus, our relationship with God comes alive in the Holy Spirit by faith
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin,[d] 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.”
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.” 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.”
It might be tempting to try and simplify and qualify faith linearly
The age-old question: Which comes first, the egg or the chicken?
The Holy Spirit or Faith?
The easy answer is all of the above.
I don’t think faith works linearly.
And it’s different for different people in different circumstances.
For example, earlier in the chapter, John races into the tomb, sees it empty and believes.
We don’t know anything about Peter.
Mary Magdalene and then the disciples saw Jesus physically in front of them and believed.
Thomas, who was absent from the room when Jesus appeared to the disciples HEARS of Jesus’ resurrection but refuses to believe
Very adamant too! “Unless I see… I will never believe it.”
This disciple who witnessed Jesus turn water into wine
Heal numerous people with different illnesses and conditions
Feed tens of thousands of people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish
Raise a dead man to life after 4 days.
Thomas who already believed in Jesus.
To be fair, Thomas, like the others did not understand the Scriptures, that Jesus must rise from the dead as it said it verse 9, and how that is the end game.
We, today have the benefit of hindsight and ability to understand (relatively) the full picture
But here is an interesting observation.
Believing in Jesus and believing in the resurrection of Jesus are 2 separate things.
Believing that Jesus rose again from the dead is paramount to faith because
The death of Jesus was proof of His humanity - which is kind of easy
Anyone can die, everyone does die
But the resurrection of Jesus is the proof of His divinity.
I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but there always seems to be a waiting period before something miraculous happens
Jesus kept Thomas waiting for 8 days
I think Jesus was preparing forward for the time from then on
When people would not have the privilege that Thomas and other disciples had - TO SEE and BELIEVE
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
And it just so happened that the chapter opened with such faith
John saw the tomb empty and believed - even before understanding what it truly meant
I remember Pastor Rob saying a few weeks ago that we don’t have to understand everything about Jesus to believe in Jesus.
We can believe that we might understand, as taught by St. Augustine and Anselm of Canterbury
This is a blessing for us thousands of years later
And remember the rational barriers to believing the resurrection actually aren’t as high as people make it out to be.
Jesus’ challenge to Thomas in verse 27 is for us today:
Literal wording is:
“Do not become unbelieving, but believing”
So many people have become unbelieving in the last 3 years all over the world.
A study done in the United States say that 40 million people have left the church in the last few years there.
People have started living “unbelievingly” and have turned their backs on the church, Jesus, faith
From lack of interest or relevancy, need.
I think maybe part of the problem of unbelieving is that we were called and rallied to faith that was not based on the evidence of resurrected life
Life that has come back from death
Enlivening our relationship with God that overflows into relationships with people
Confirming and empowering a new and living way to life in the Spirit of Jesus - living, filled with the Spirit of Jesus in us.
Maybe we need to stop believing in the things we have been seeing with our eyes.
But believe THROUGH the things we cannot necessarily see with our eyes.
The invitation to an eternally loving relationship with the Father in heaven, who looks at us the exact same way He looks at His own Son, Jesus
Maybe another part of the problem is that we have forgotten that we are all sent by Jesus as the Father sent Jesus.
Sent where and to do what?
Sent to people and more people for the exact same things we have received and experienced
Relationship, filling of the Holy Spirit, and faith.
We need to show people what they have turned their backs on.