Miracles at Breakfast, John 21:1-14, 24 November 2013

Big Idea: God will surprise and delight us if we look to Him and follow.


Have you ever experienced a miracle? Perhaps we should begin with defining a miracle.

- an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God
- a very amazing or unusual event, thing or achievement

The Bible is full of them. Well, our Bible is full of them. Thomas Jefferson literally cut all miracles out of his Bible, unable to acknowledge the presence of our Creator in our world, despite the gift of Emmanuel, God with us, and later the Holy Spirit who lives inside every believer.

Do you believe in miracles?

As we approach the conclusion of our series on the gospel or good news of John, we have read this compelling biography of Jesus, from His arrival on our planet to His death, resurrection, and two surprising appearances to His disciples in locked rooms. In John chapter 21, He makes a third appearance.

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus ), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. (1-3)

Why did Peter go fishing? Wasn’t he supposed to be fishing for men? Perhaps he thinks his ministry future is over since he denied Christ, returning to his former occupation.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (4)

John may be reminding us of another recent even involving Jesus early in the morning, a time when Mary did not recognize Him in the garden. He’s about 100 yards—or a football field—away. They could not see Him from that distance.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

These were experienced fishermen. They knew the sea. They spent all night fishing with no success. They’re even less likely to catch fish in the daytime.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (6)

They could’ve said, “Jesus, you’re crazy. We are professionals. The fish aren’t biting. What difference does one side of the boat make versus the other? Clearly this is a miracle.

Have you been frustrated, unable to make progress in an arena of life? Maybe you just can’t land a job, fix a broken relationship, or break an addiction.

I often find myself stressed about things—money, parenting, preparing a good sermon, a tough decision—only to discover Jesus waiting for me to notice Him, listen and obey. Pride tells me to do it my way, but His ways are far better than mine.

Much earlier in an account recorded by Luke Jesus gave fishing lessons to His followers and they had an unbelievable catch of fish. Then, Peter begged Jesus to get away from him because he realized he was a sinner unworthy of Christ (Luke 5:1-10). This time he races toward Jesus.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. (7)

Peter had some unfinished business with Jesus which we’ll examine next Sunday. Days earlier he had denied Christ three times and was undoubtedly filled with shame and guilt. Here he impulsively jumps in the water, leaving the others in the boat to work with the fish.

Note, too, that rather than taking off clothes to swim, he puts them on. Perhaps he was hiding his shame like Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden.

The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. (8-9)

Why did John mention the charcoal? Smell is the most sensitive of the senses. Visual recall is about 50% after three months. We can remember smells with 65% accuracy…after a year! Furthermore, 75% of emotions are triggered by smell which is linked to pleasure, emotion and memory. One survey found 85% of participants remembering their childhood when they smelled Crayola crayons.

Do you think this charcoal fire triggered a memory for Peter? It was around a similar fire that he denied Jesus three times (John 18:18). Again, we’ll address that next Sunday.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. (10-11)

That’s a lot of fish! Miracles abound, not only in the size of the catch but the strength of the net.

A first-century fishing boat was recently found by members of Kibbutz Ginosar in Galilee. I saw the boat, 26.5 feet long and 7.5 wide. If it was similar to Peter’s boat, it would be too small for seven men, so it is believed two boats may have been used.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. (12)

This is an odd verse. They knew it was him but they didn’t ask? N.T. Wright says this only makes sense if Jesus is recognizable yet somehow different. His body was obviously different, no longer subject to death or decay.

Wright compares it to someone in the sixteenth century seeing someone surf the Internet. They didn’t have electricity, much less computers! Jesus’ risen body is something from the future—our future. It isn’t magic. It’s real, but different.

God has blessed them with a huge catch of fish.
He has blessed them with breakfast.
He has blessed them with His presence.

Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. (13-14)

God’s cooking breakfast! He didn’t need their fish. He had His own—and bread, too. Loaves and fish. That reminds me of another story!

Jesus already had fish on the fire because He doesn’t need what we bring, but He wants it!

While they ate, He was sending a message: I love you.

So What?

This story has some unusual moments. The fact that it appears after the previous chapter which seemed to wrap up the entire book is unique. Jesus cooking fish while the disciples fail to catch any and then become inundated with them is interesting, to say the least. What are we to make of it all?

I think it’s a great reminder that God is alive, He is accomplishing His purposes, and we must always be ready to be surprised by God. At any moment He may ask us to do something crazy, like give away more money than is in our budget, engage in a conversation with someone that makes us uncomfortable, or sacrifice comfort and convenience for making space to serve strangers. We don’t always see God, we don’t always hear His voice, but He is here. He is with us. He lives inside us. How would our lives look differently if we truly pursued God and followed Him. Jesus provided daily bread—and fish—for His friends, and He still provides for us, today. So…

What is God saying to you? What are you going to do about it?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Belief & Doubt, John 20:24-31, 17 November 2013

Big Idea: Belief and doubt are not opposites, but rather related components of faith.


Jesus asks one thing of us…believe. It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy. Just ask Thomas.

And what does it mean to believe? It’s one thing to intellectually agree with propositional statements, but it’s another to take actions that prove belief.

It reminds of the old story of ham and eggs. The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed!

Thomas heard his friends talk about a risen Christ, but he needed to see for himself. He even stated that unless he saw, he would not believe.

Does that sound familiar? “Prove it,” shouts the skeptic. “If I could see Jesus, I would believe,” says the agnostic.

Yet here we are, two thousand years later with at least an element of belief in someone we have never seen. Yet questions remain. Doubts appear. What does that say about our faith?

As we continue to celebrate Easter in November, we’re going to look at this tension between
doubt and belief.

John 20:24ff

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. (John 20:24)

Didymus means “the Twin.”

Where was he? We don’t know, but he missed the miraculous appearance of Jesus in a locked room, a passage (John 20:19-23) we examined last week.

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

One writer said, “Hardheaded skepticism can scarcely go further than this.”

Have you ever been skeptical or even obstinate about a situation?

Why did Thomas doubt? Sure, he spent time with Jesus, but He also watched Him slaughtered. Imagine someone tells you they saw your friend that was buried days earlier. You’d think they were crazy! They saw a ghost or a vision, but dead people don’t walk—except in zombie movies, right?

Thomas gets a bad rap for his skepticism, but don’t be fooled. The other ten disciples were just as surprised a week earlier. Remember it was John himself who wrote at the empty tomb, “He saw and believed.” (20:8b)

Jesus knows the human heart like no other. He said to the Capernaum official back in 4:48

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” (John 4:48)

Why did Thomas doubt? Why do we doubt?

Faith contains an element of mystery because, by definition, you
can’t prove it. Sure, Thomas was able to see Jesus, but what faith is required of something that you can prove? As Paul said, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (26)

Does this sound familiar? Last week we looked at the same people in the same house with the same doors locked with the same Jesus suddenly appearing among them saying, “Peace be with you!”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (27)

Stop doubting and believe. Jesus says, “Bring it on!” If you need proof, I’ll give you proof. We don’t know if Thomas moved his finger and hand, but his response is legendary.

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (28)

It has been said that “the most outrageous doubter of the resurrection of Jesus utters the greatest confession of the Lord who rose from the dead.” (Beasley-Murray)

Notice how Thomas’ response is not merely, “My Savior” but “My Lord and my God.” He is the first person in John to call Jesus “God.” Many want Jesus as good teacher or even Savior, but Lord and God is something entirely different.

John began his Gospel by announcing that

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Now as John approaches the finish line of his biography, the deity of Christ as God is crystal clear.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (29)

This is the climax of the passage. It is Thomas’ seeing that is credited with his faith. He sees and believes.

Not everyone that saw Jesus believed. Many saw Jesus perform miracles and refused to believe. Nevertheless, Thomas’ faith is connected to his sight.

I love that Jesus speaks here about us! We have not seen Jesus or His wounds, but we’ve heard the story. We have been reading the eyewitness account from John.


Do you doubt? Do you believe? Perhaps your answer to both is “yes.” You’re in good company, not only with Thomas, but countless men, women and children through the centuries that struggle with faith. Many agnostics
want to believe but have lingering questions that hold them back. I read this week about a man who believed, then renounced his faith, then returned to it.

Faith is a gift. I can’t force it upon you. I can’t make you believe. I can only pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth of Jesus to you. But even Jesus-followers have doubts.

When do people seem to doubt their faith? During trials and tragedies.

Matthew 28:16 is in intriguing passage as Jesus prepares to ascend:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matthew 28:16-17)

So much could be said about the doubts of believers, but perhaps the best thing I can share with you is a short interview between John Ortberg and Dallas Willard, two of my favorite authors. Ortberg asks Willard, who died earlier this year after decades of teaching at USC, about doubt.


Doubt is okay. Questions are okay. If we’re honest, we all have them, which is why we need one another. We need to be able to ask, discuss, probe, and be challenged. Personally, I welcome your questions. I don’t promise answers since God is both knowable and mysterious. I’d love to serve you in any way possible, however, and guide you to people and resources that can help you on your journey.

This is especially true if you are listening via podcast or blog. I’d love to hear from you at

Again, I don’t promise to have all of the answers, but I’d love to encourage you on your faith adventure.


Finally, John concludes this chapter with the following:

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (30-31)

Jesus did many other signs or miracles.

Jesus is the Christ (Greek:
Christos, Hebrew Mashiach, the “anointed one”)

Do you believe in Jesus? Faith is more about relationship than creed. Perhaps the question should be asked, “Do you know Jesus?” He wants you to know Him, and we have the Bible and prayer as tools to develop that relationship.

Scholars have debated whether John intended to write to bring people to faith or to deepen the faith of Christians, one leading to evangelism and the other encouragement. In either case, he wrote that we may know Christ, the Good Shepherd who not only takes care of His sheep but lays down His life for them.

John tells us throughout His biography that Jesus is under trial. The religious leaders, high priest and Pilate made judgments about Jesus, but ultimately you and I must decide—who is Jesus? As C.S. Lewis stated, Jesus is a lunatic, a liar, or LORD? He is “Mad, Bad, or God.” John’s answer is crystal clear, and he should know. Jesus was his best friend. He was discipled for three years under the rabbi. As we saw a few weeks ago,

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside.
He saw and believed. (John 20:8)

His faith was tested. He ultimately suffered for his faith in Christ, thrown in a vat of boiling oil.

The twentieth chapter of John provides us with four examples of faith:

Peter and John who race to the empty tomb
Mary Magdalene who is the first to encounter the risen Christ
The ten disciples who huddle in a locked room only to find Jesus in their midst
Thomas, a man like most of us who demands evidence

You either believe Jesus is God or you don’t. Even if you do believe, faith can be fragile. One of my favorite verses in the entire Bible is in Mark 9. A man’s son is possessed by an evil spirit.

“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:22-24)

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief. That is one of my most common prayers.

I believe there are two types of faith—theoretical and tested. I can believe a chair will hold me, but until I sit in it, I’m not certain that the object of my faith is true.

I can believe someone will catch me when I fall, but the real test of my faith is my leaning back.

It’s possible to intellectual believe in an historical Jesus that lived, died, and rose but if I live my life as a practical atheist—filled with worry, selfishness, idolatry, and pride—is my faith actualized?

Jesus is not an idea or a religion, but an historical Person who walked the earth and will return soon.

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. (John 11:25-26a)

Do you believe this? John wrote so that we may believe.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29b)

N.T. Wright says, “The resurrection is not an alien power breaking into God’s world; it is what happens when the creator himself comes to heal and restore his world, and bring it to its appointed goal. The resurrection is not only
new creation; it is new creation.”

John never uses the noun “faith,” but rather the verb “believe” almost a hundred times. Faith is more about relationship than creed. Jesus wants to know you. He wants to be not only Savior but Lord and King and God.

And He can be trusted.

Do you believe?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Commissioning, John 20:19-23, 10 November 2013

Big Idea: We have been given authority. We have the Holy Spirit. We have been commissioned to make disciples.

Jesus has risen and appeared first to Mary Magdalene. Now He appears to ten disciples.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (19)

This is Sunday night. The disciples are behind locked doors, bolted to keep out the Jewish leaders. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is still underway so they are still in Jerusalem, unable to leave for home in Galilee.

Suddenly Jesus appears! What do we know about our future, glorified bodies? They are not subject to the laws of the material universe.

His greeting is the standard Jewish greeting, meant to communicate peace, similar to “God bless you” today. Even today it is common for a Jew to say to his friend, "Shalom aleichem," or "Peace be upon you," and the other will respond, `Aleichem shalom," or "Upon you be peace.” This is the peace of deity touching humanity. As we will see, He offers more than a greeting, but He fulfills the promises in John 14:27 and 16:33 to deliver peace.

After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (20)

They knew Jesus. They saw His hands—including his wrists where the spikes were driven—and side.

His scars were for us.

The disciples are thrilled. They are rejoicing. Wouldn’t you?

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (21)

Jesus repeats His greeting of peace. This may be a different peace than in verse nineteen. This is the peace of those in the will of God and are doing His will.

In Jewish tradition prophets often appointed their successors. Jesus is passing the baton.

One of the exciting things about being a part of the Christian & Missionary Alliance is the connection to previous generations leading back to the apostles. I’m not suggesting that John or James were Alliance members, of course, but our church is not an upstart organization someone created independently. To some extent, our history goes back to John 20:21. The Father sent Jesus. Jesus sent the eleven (actually ten here). They made disciples who made disciples who made disciples who…eventually disciples A.B. Simpson in New York City who eventually developed a global movement we now know as the Christian & Missionary Alliance.

What about you? What will do? Are you making disciples? The next generation is desperately in need of hope, joy, love, and life. It might begin with a simple conversation.

Jesus has sent us to make disciples…our our children, friends, neighbors, co-workers…

You may be thinking, “How do I begin?” First, realize
you can’t. You can’t save anyone. You can’t even save yourself, but you can serve others and you can share your story. You can also pray…that the Holy Spirit would show you opportunities, provide you with words, and prepare others to surrender to Jesus. It’s a God thing!

And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (22)

This is the climax of the entire Gospel of John. The promised Spirit is given to the disciples.

This is between the resurrection and Pentecost when the Holy Spirit is unleashed on believers worldwide.

This simple sentence is one of the most controversial in the Gospel. Here are three views, according to Dr. Gary Burge:

- a symbol: the disciples did not receive the Holy Spirit here, but rather a symbol of what it would be like in Acts 2

- a partial anointing: this view is that a partial gift of the Holy Spirit occurred here, but it will be completed at Pentecost as if this is an embryonic Paraclete or Holy Spirit

- a genuine anointing: John makes no mention of something to come and Easter Sunday; “that they would be empowered again, in a different way, on Pentecost does not eliminate the possibility that they were filled earlier.”

The disciples never asked for the Holy Spirit, but in Acts 2 the Comforter arrives.

The Church came into existence on Acts 2.

Jesus breathed on them. This expression appears nowhere else in the New Testament. Only when God breathed into Adam in Genesis 2:7 of the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, do we see this phrase.

(Gen. 2:7 Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. )

It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for “spirit,” ruach, is also “breath” or “wind.”

If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (23)

Wow! Does this mean the disciples forgive sins? No. They proclaim the forgiveness of sins. God is going to forgive sins
through them. Remember, they were just given the Holy Spirit.

What forgives sins? The blood of Jesus. Until Jesus died, God couldn’t arbitrarily forgive. J. Vernon McGee says in the Old Testament God saved on credit, looking forward to the Messiah. Now we live with both the crucifixion and resurrection in the rear view mirror. Notice that Jesus states this in both positive and negative light. The disciples are given the other to forgive and also to not forgive. The death of Jesus provides both salvation and judgment to the world.

Salvation has come from the Jews and will extend to the Gentiles, including us! Jesus passes the baton to His disciples. They will do in and for the whole world what Jesus did in Israel. They will do what Jesus did…and so are we.

Just as Jesus followed the Father, so we are to follow Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

When we proclaim the Gospel, we act as God’s agents. We have been given authority. In fact, Jesus said to His disciples,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

We cannot change the world, but we have been sent to make disciples of all nations in the power of the Spirt. We have been given authority. We have been commissioned.

Let’s go!!!

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Mary Magdalene and the Risen Jesus, John 20:11-18, 3 November 2013

Big Idea: Jesus is alive! Let’s tell the world!

We often approach communion with great reflection, and well we should. However, the story does not end on the cross. Last week we saw Mary Magdalene and others shocked to find the tomb of Jesus empty.

Jewish people spent seven days mourning the loss of a loved one. This meant they could not wash, work, study the law, or even have intercourse for a week. They knew how to express grief! An empty tomb prevented final acts of love to be done to Jesus. Even tomb raiders would usually leave behind the body.

We know “the rest of the story,” but those at the empty tomb

still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. (20:9)

What does this mean? It means they did not understand! Have you ever read the Bible and seen something you never saw previously? Some Scriptures require experience to fully understand.

Jesus had said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? (John 16:19b)

Jesus had said, “You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” (John 16:20b)

Jesus had said, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22)

Sometimes we are just filled with disbelief.

When we ended last Sunday, we read that

Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. (10)

Jesus died. The tomb is empty.

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. (20:11-12)

Imagine the week Mary has had. This is a woman that deeply loved Jesus. He had expelled numerous demons from her. He showed her great compassion. She cried at the foot of the cross as her hope literally died.

His body was buried quickly and two days later she comes with friends to bring spices for the body. The tomb is empty. Peter and John leave. Now she is crying outside the tomb…and she encounters two angels, two angels dressed in white, hardly appropriate during a time of mourning!

Where were the angels when the boys were around?

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” (13a)

Why do they ask? They’re angels! They know. Jesus is alive, but Mary remains clueless.

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

She thinks someone moved the body.

At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

Mary didn’t recognize Jesus. Unbelief is blind. He was the last Person Mary expected to see. Did her tears mask His face?

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” (15a)

Jesus echoes the angels, asking the reason for her tears. She hears His voice now and still has no idea who is before her.

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” (15b)

Was it common for gardeners to open tombs and hide bodies? Hardly! They were at the bottom of the social ladder and tended to gardening.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” (16a)

The most important word in the world is your name. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. One word changed everything for her.

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). (16b)

This means “my teacher” or “master.”

It’s easy for us to miss images and symbols John’s initial readers would recognize.

John is the only Gospel writer that tells us these events take place in a garden, a garden filled with spices, suggesting the imagery of the Song of Songs. Mary is a woman who finds the one she loves in a spice-filled garden and wants to be with Him.

Dr. Gary Burge notes,

“Miriam was the most famous sister of Moses, who oversaw her little brother’s journey down the Nile. In an ancient Jewish synagogue at Dura Europos on the Euphrates a fresco depicts this scene carefully. The floating bed of Moses becomes a coffin and tomb from which the baby Moses is raised to life (thus avoiding death).42 Old Testament Miriam even becomes a prophet (Ex. 15:20–21; Num. 12:1–2) who bears a message to Israel. While John refers to Mary in the narrative with the Greek word Maria, when Jesus (the new Moses) meets her in 20:16, oddly, he employs the Hebrew form of the name: Miriam (Gk. Mariam, Heb. Miryam). He names her “Miriam Magdalene”— where Magdalene connotes the Hebrew noun migdal, “tower.” This caretaker of the new Moses, this intimate helper, is now transformed from a mere “Mary” into a Miriam, into a migdal that now bears a prophetic message to the apostles.” (The NIV Application Commentary, John)

A woman in “paradise” encounters the Creator and Ruler of the Garden, Jesus.

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” (17)

Why did He say not to touch Him? Scholars have wondered for two thousand years. Some believe Jesus literally meant don’t touch His body, but Thomas would soon. Some have translated it “do not fear,” but that seems unlikely. Others suggest it is preparation for His ascension, His return to the Father. In other words, He may be saying, “Do not cling to Me. Go tell the disciples I will soon return to the Father.” He will leave our planet, but also leave the Holy Spirit, an even more intimate expression of God who will live inside every believer.

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. (18)

John records her as the first one to see the resurrected Messiah.

She has seen the empty tomb.
She has seen the LORD.

So What?

Mary Magdalene told the disciples the good news: Jesus is alive.

It is our privilege to tell our friends, neighbors and co-workers the good news: Jesus is alive!!!

Last week it struck me how the Gospel is good news. Who doesn’t want to share good news? It’s hard to deliver bad news, but it should be a joy to announce good news.

This text perhaps raises more questions than it answers, but one thing is clear…Jesus is alive! The One who died for us, who redeems us from sin and death, lives.

We don’t worship an idea, a concept, or a book. We worship a Person who entered human history and transformed it.

Listen to the words of John Updike in his poem “Seven Stanzas at Easter.”

Make no mistake: if He rose at all it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse,
the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the church will fall. . . .

Let us not mock God with metaphor, Analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché, Not a stone in a story,

But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of time will eclipse for each of us,
The wide light of day.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.