Three moments in history and one dramatic confession.

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11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13They 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.”

14Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus 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.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus 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.’”

18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.  John 20:11-18

“I have seen the Lord.”

Mary began with a statement of fact.

“I have seen the Lord.” He said, “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.’”

And so the good news of the Kingdom was now more real, but not yet fully realized.  I’m sure they had lots of questions!

Mary’s confession is a proclamation that screams “Jesus is alive!” I imagine that their confusion would have been about both how and why? Now a search for meaning would ensue that had three historical moments to understand: The birth of Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus and The Resurrection of Jesus.

The Resurrection of Jesus requires us to examine the Scriptures and understand what His life, His death, and His Resurrection means. After the disciples met the Risen Lord they had to wrestle with the question, “What has God done through the Lord Jesus Christ?” What is this Gospel?

One of the first written accounts of the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 highlights the Gospel narrative and its rootedness in historical events. Paul writes:

1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord reaches back to a historical moment in which we believe God has acted decisively for His glory and our benefit  through the life, the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the reason we have examined the first two historical moments is because of the last, Jesus’ resurrection. It changed everything!

“I have seen the Lord.”

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You wouldn’t want to miss these post-resurrection dinners with Jesus.

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They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:39-43

I wish I could have sat in on the dinners Jesus had with the disciples after His resurrection from the dead. We get glimpses of these dinners in John 20 and 21, Luke 24, Acts 1:3-8, and the passage above. Peter says, our resurrected Lord Jesus spent time over meals with a chosen few that they would be His witnesses, prepared for His mission. Peter sounds so matter-of-fact. But I can imagine the joy and awe they shared in those forty days as the ate and drank with him. I suppose they hung on his every word.

Drawn to the table, they shared food and drink, and heard Jesus’ heart as He spoke over their meal. Jesus wants people to know the what God is up to through His life, His death, and His resurrection. He has been making it know through all the prophets and now through His disciples and His church.
All people will be judged by Jesus.
All who believe in Jesus will receive forgiveness of sins through His name.

Jesus also spoke of another dinner. It’s post-resurrection and post-judgement. You won’t want to miss it!

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28for this is my blood of thecovenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Matthew 26:26-29

Your body is meant to be a sacred space.

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18So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

John 2:18-22

 

Jesus saw two temples: The temple Israel built with stones. And the temple of His body built by God.

 

Which temple mattered the most?

 

Which holy space is God’s most dear concern?

 

Jesus had just cleared the Court of the Gentiles of the people committed to profiting from His Father’s house and the desire for righteousness. When asked for a sign to show His authority, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and three days I will raise it up.” His audience was confused and incredulous. The Temple in which they stood took 46 years to build.

 

But the temple of which Jesus spoke was His body. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) Jesus was looking forward to the culmination of His passion in the resurrection of His body. The implications are staggering. 1) Jesus understood that His body was the first arena for experiencing and knowing the Heavenly Father. Your body is meant to be a holy space. 2) Through Jesus’ occupation of flesh, God has solidarity with people. People matter to God. 3) Therefore the buildings we build for His glory must serve God’s greater purpose for the redemption of people.

 

Jesus anticipated His destruction at their hands on the cross. But he also anticipated  the impact of His completed work of forgiveness for sin: The Holy Spirit would be sent by the Father in Jesus’ name to occupy the “temple” of every one His disciples. Later the apostle Paul would write:

 

For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

 

Grace!

 

What if we were not afraid?

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25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”  John 11:25-27

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” …53So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.  John 11:45-50, 53

Identity Issues

After Jesus made this extraordinary admission of his identity he proceeded to the tomb of Lazarus and called him out. Jesus radiates His glory in word and deed:

The Resurrection: Whoever believes in me, though he dies, shall live.

The Life: Whoever believes in me shall never die.

The body will fail us. Jesus will not.

The spirit of a person made alive in Christ will live though the body dies.

 A Threat to the Status Quo

The healing of Lazarus solidified the opinion of some people that Jesus was a threat. Can you imagine? What if the followers of Jesus were not afraid of death? For those authorities who rely on violence to retain their honour, their position and their influence a people who do not fear death is intolerable. So these authorities take a posture against Jesus and His people.

So, what if we were not afraid?

“You can kill the body, but the Lord will raise me up.” “To be absent from the body is to be with the Lord.” “You decide, is it better for us to obey people, or the Lord?” “Jesus is Lord.”

Where would we go? Who would we love? What convictions would remain? What trivial pursuits would we abandon?

So, what if you were not afraid?

What if heaven, our Lord, and His call loomed larger than death itself?