April 21, 2019

Easter Sunday, Sunday April 21, 2019 — John 20:1-10 — Evidence of the Resurrection

Preacher:
Passage: John 20:1-10
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Bible Text: John 20:1-10 | Preacher: Andrew Schaller |  Easter Sunday – April 21, 2019
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come…and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (Revelation 1:4–6, NKJV)
John 20:1–10 (NKJV)
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
 
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
  Who died and rose again the 3rd Day,
      Who has the keys of the Grave and of Death,
           Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Most Precious Blood –
CSI – Crime Scene Investigation is a series of popular television programs begun in 2000.  The first program was so popular that it has spun off into a series of others: CSI Miami; CSI New York; CSI Las Vegas, CSI Cyber.  I haven’t watched these particular programs, but the idea is intriguing.  Forensic Science has made leaps and bounds since the days of my childhood, when police hoped to find fingerprints and a murder weapon.
Today, Crime Scene Investigators look for hair, skin and fluids to determine the specific genetic makeup of the individual who committed the crime.  Once obtained, those findings can be compared to that of any number of potential suspects.
CSI – Jerusalem.  It would be difficult to search for fibers and fluids in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea today because we don’t know for certain where that tomb was located, now more than 2,000 years later.  However, we know with all certainty what would be found – the bones and DNA evidence of Joseph of Arimathea and presumably his family.
However, investigators would find little evidence of Jesus of Nazareth.  The body of Jesus wasn’t in the tomb very long, it didn’t even begin to rot.  Why?  Well, because He rose again the third day!
He is Risen, Hallelujah!
This morning we look – not for forensic evidence – but for the God revealed evidence of the Resurrection.  This evidence is reliable, because it comes to us from God Himself, who does not and cannot lie.  In this scripture we find the first three pieces of evidence: The Stone, The Linen Cloths and the Face cloth.  These are only the first of a number of proofs that confirm, without a doubt, that Christ is Arisen.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, accept my alleluias and increase my joy, by bolstering my faith in Your Resurrection through Your Word.  Comfort me with the assurance that my sins are forgiven and my name is written in the book of life.  Grant that the boundless joy of my Savior’s Resurrection embolden me to go and tell the good news to people who do not know the true meaning of the Resurrection. Grant that others be led, by the message of your glorious resurrection to rely upon You by faith and come to worship you until they, in faith, pass from death into life.  Amen.
 
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We begin with the evidence first discovered very early in the morning by Mary Magdalene. While we might say that Mary Magdalene discovered this evidence, that’s not entirely true.  Mary of Magdala wasn’t alone when she traveled to the tomb early on the first day of the Sabbath, the day of the week we know as Sunday.
 
Matthew – The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Mary Magdalene and ‘the other Mary’, ‘the mother of James and Joses’ went to the tomb early (Matthew 28:1). These were two of the women who watched (Matthew 27:61; Luke 23:55) as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus wrapped the body of Jesus in linen strips with Myrrh and Aloes.
They were up early – some to see the tomb, some to finish embalming the body. They wouldn’t need to finish the job.
Luke — The Gospel of Luke reveals that a woman named Joanna and certain other women went with them (Luke 24:1,10).
Mark – The Gospel of Mark even allows us to listen in to their conversation, which reveals their chief concern that morning (Mark 16:3):
“Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?”
The Stone…they were concerned about the stone.  It was a large, heavy stone that was rolled against the door of the tomb by Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:59-60; Mark 15:46). It had also been sealed and placed under guard (Matthew 27:65-66).
It was as they approached that they discovered the Stone had already been rolled away.
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
How would you respond if you returned to the Cemetery two days after a burial and found the grave marker toppled over and the ground dug up?  We would probably wonder if the body had been exhumed or possibly disturbed by grave robbers.  We might run right up to the gravesite or we might head directly to the sextant’s office for an explanation or maybe even call the police!
When Mary Magdalene saw the stone had been taken away from the tomb, she took leave of the other women and ran to inform the disciples, Peter and John, who is called ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’  While Mary turned back, the other women went to the tomb and entered and there they met two angels in white who explained to them the meaning of the empty tomb.
Mary Magdalene only had the evidence of the stone, having been rolled away. She assumed that someone must have taken the body of Jesus out of the tomb.  Why else would someone roll away the stone from a tomb except to remove the body?
We can almost imagine Mary, short of breath, explaining: “The Lord…is gone…we don’t know where they have laid Him.”
 
Mary assumed that the tomb had been opened by other human beings.  She didn’t know whom, but it seemed a fair assumption.
Mary’s assumption was wrong.  It wasn’t a group of men, but a single glorious Angel of the Lord, who having descended from heaven, rolled back the stone from the entrance of the tomb and sat on it.  This messenger of God could not be hidden from sight by the darkness, for his face was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow (Matthew 28:2-4).  The event was witnessed by a handful of Roman Soldiers tasked with guarding the tomb. They became so terrified that they became catatonic.
The Stone wasn’t rolled away so that men could carry away Jesus’ body.  It was rolled away to show the world that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God, was already gone.  He had arisen from death, as the other evidence would also prove.
 
Mary’s initial assumption was proven false by the facts. The stone rolled away is evidence that God wants everyone to know that Jesus is living, that he has arisen from the dead – for a dead Jesus is no savior.
We’d have no case if this were the only evidence.  There is still more evidence of the Resurrection…and we haven’t even seen the Living Jesus…yet.
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.
 
Crime Scene Investigation requires looking carefully at the cold hard facts, and noticing and deducing things that aren’t immediately evident.  A broken window can be the result of an errant baseball, or evidence of a thief breaking into the house.  If the glass from the broken window is inside of the house, it is evidence that it was broken from the outside.  It really seems obvious when you think about it.
When Simon Peter and John set out for the tomb of Joseph, they were together.  However, John outran Simon Peter and arrived at the tomb first.  He looked into the tomb and found the next piece of evidence – the Linen Cloths…but no body.
We know how Jesus’ body was prepared for burial because we are told (Mark 15:42-46, Luke 23:53, John 19:40):
 
“Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.”
 
When they laid the body of Jesus to rest, it probably looked like what we would call ‘a mummy.’ It was the custom of the Jews to wrap the bodies of the dead in layers of linen strips, each layer laden with myrrh and aloes.
When John looked into the tomb, he may have expected to see a wrapped body or no body at all.  After all, if someone had come in the dead of night to take away the body of Jesus, they wouldn’t have taken the time to unwrap the body and leave the linen strips behind; they would have quickly carried the corpse away, linen and all.
What did John see?  He saw more evidence of the Resurrection.  He saw the linen strips lying where the body of Jesus had been…but with no body to hold them up. If this was a grave robbery, it was a magical one, because the body had passed through the linen strips leaving them behind, undisturbed.
There was no evidence of a grave robbery…but only evidence of Jesus’ glorious exit from the grave.  The Apostle Peter, still huffing and puffing his way to the tomb would later be led to write by the Holy Spirit about what happened (1 Peter 3:18-19):
 
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.”
 
Christ arose and leaving the linen behind, went and proclaimed His Victory to Satan and his host in Hell.  But first, Jesus left still one more piece of evidence to be found by Simon Peter.
 
 
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.
 
When Simon Peter caught up, he found John outside the tomb looking in through the entrance.  Peter slipped by the Apostle John and entered the tomb.  He saw what John had seen, the linen cloths lying there like an empty cocoon, without a body.  Then the old fisherman saw one more thing, one more piece of evidence – the Face Cloth.
Face Cloth – The word used sometimes means, ‘sweat cloth’ and refers to a cloth used for wiping perspiration. It’s for this reason that our translations call it a handkerchief.  It was larger than what we call a hanky, because it was used to wrap the entire head.  When Jesus raised Lazarus, he still had his on because we are told (John 11:44):
“And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Where was the face cloth?  It was folded up in a place by itself.  It was as if it had been carefully folded and set aside, no longer needed.  Jesus took the time to leave this little bit of evidence for Simon Peter, John, and you and I.  Jesus might have simply left it as He had the linen cloths, but He folded it up and set it aside separately.  It’s more evidence of the resurrection.
Did the disciples see these things as evidence?  The Apostle John did, for it says that He saw and believed.  On the other hand, it simply says of Peter that He was amazed and marveled (Luke 24:12). It is evident from these words that they did not fully understand what the Scriptures meant when they declared He must rise from the dead.
9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
They went home. There is no discussion recorded. In the beginning they didn’t tell anyone.  It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?  We have the benefit of the New Testament…they were living it.
Now, this is told us so that we tell others.  This evidence is shown to us so that we pass it on and help others to see the evidence of the Resurrection and believe!  Everyone needs to know that a dead Jesus is no savior; but Jesus isn’t dead.  He has risen from death!
Jesus Lives! He is Risen!  Hallelujah!
Amen!
 

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