Because Jesus is Alive

Aaron Birk October 3, 2021
Outline

1 Corinthians 15:19 - If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

2 reasons to believe that Jesus rose from the dead

I. The Empty Tomb Fulfills Scripture (vv.1-10)

John 20:9 - For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

A. It fulfills Old Testament prophecy about the Christ

Psalm 16:10 - For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

2 Samuel 7:12-13 - When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Acts 2:29-32 - Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

Isaiah 53:8-10 - By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

Luke 24:25-27 - O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory? Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

B. It fulfills Jesus’ own words about His resurrection

John 2:18-22 - The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

John 10:17-18 - For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.

Mark 8:31-32a - And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly…

C. Facts are not enough for genuine belief

John 21:25 - And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

John 11:43-44 - When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

II. The Eye-Witness Testimony of Mary (vv.11-18)

A. Her mourning (vv.1-2, 11, 13, 15)

John 20:1-2 - Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So 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.”

B. Jesus calls her by name (v.16)

John 10:3 - … and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

John 20:15-16 - 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.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).

C. Her joy swallows up her grief (vv.16-18)

John 20:18 - “…I have seen the Lord…”

John 16:20-22 - Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”

We have all been in situations where you have to figure out if someone is telling the truth in order to make a decision.

  • You found something damaged at work when you inspected it and are trying to understand what happened.
  • As a parent you hear the thud, then crying, and your two children come to you with their story of what happened
  • In some situations, considering all the facts and then choosing to believe who is telling the truth can have major consequences.
  • I served as a jury member to a case of someone who was charged with attempted murder.

For the defendant, the verdict of guilty or not guilty carries with it significant consequences!

But not just for the defendant. Also, the alleged victim has a lot at stake in the verdict as well. The wrong verdict might put an innocent man behind bars, or it might be a victim at further risk of being attacked again. Either way, the truth really matters. Now think about when it comes to eternal matters.

The reality that if one chooses to not believe the testimony about Jesus Christ, that He is their Lord and Savior, that eternal separation from God’s presence to bless and instead eternal conscience torment is at stake.

For this case, I had to look at phone records, listen to recording, listen to testimonies of several individuals, hear from doctors and medical professionals…and then from all the facts reach a verdict. Some of the most important evidence for us reaching a verdict was the physical evidence before us that could not be denied, and the eye-witness testimonies.

The Gospel provides us physical evidence, all the facts related to the empty tomb, and eye-witness testimony of the resurrection of Jesus so that we would believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

To fulfill the purpose of John’s Gospel, that he writes these things 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.

Please turn in your bibles to John 20:1-18…page 89 in the back section of the bible under the chair in front of you.

For Christianity, a critical aspect of the truthfulness of the Bible has to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lee Strobel who wrote the book The Case for Christ, which also had a movie made based off of it, was advised to begin with evaluating truthfulness of the resurrection of Jesus, because “If the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t happen, it’s a house of cards.”

The apostle Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:19: 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

  • In other words, if Jesus isn’t resurrected, the Christians are the most pitiful people on the planet!

The Gospel of John has been pointing to this sign, the greatest sign, the resurrection of Jesus Christ as evidence for who Jesus is.

Last week we saw the truth and testimony about Jesus death and burial as our Passover lamb, the sacrifice that satisfies God’s wrath, and provides forgiveness of sins…Remember the testimony and truth earlier in the gospel by John the Baptist…

John 1:29 – “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

John 1:34 – “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

Then you have John the Disciple, the author of this book…who was there with John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry testify…

John 1:35-36 – “Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”

Then, John the disciple at Jesus’s death testify and say…

John 19:33-37 - but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

So last week we read about clear evidence and testimony of Jesus’s death and burial, and today we will hear clear evidence and testimony of Jesus’s resurrection.

Follow along as I read…Read John 20:1-18

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2 So 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 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.

6 And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

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 Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.”

Our annual theme this year is Enjoying Life in His Name, and as part of that theme we’ve been studying through the gospel of John verse by verse. Enjoying Life in His Name is only possible Because Jesus is Alive!

Enjoying life vs. being the most pitiful is a big difference, and it all rises and falls on the truth of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

With the time we have remaining we are looking at 2 Reasons to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

The first reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead is because the evidence of the empty tomb fulfills Scripture.

The empty tomb fulfills Scripture (vv.1–10)

This is one of the most amazing aspects regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus had only been raised from the dead and his tomb was empty, but there had been any prophecy and prediction regarding his resurrection that would still be amazing!! But, not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but the prophets of God spoke about his resurrection centuries before it ever happened so that when it happens we would believe!

That’s why John 20:9 -For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”

Notice that, John says according to the Scriptures Jesus had to rise from the dead. There is debate about specific Scriptures that might have referred, but the “singular” word for Scripture there probably is just referring to the Old Testament as a whole.

So consider how the empty tomb fulfills OT prophecy about the Christ.

It fulfills Old Testament prophecy about the Christ.

For example, Psalm 16:10 - For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

King David is the one who penned those words in the Old Testament. And we know from the covenant and promise that God made with David in 2 Samuel 7, that God would raise up one of David’s own offspring, future descendant, to be the anointed King, the Messiah.

2 Samuel 7:12–13 – “12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

The problem with establishing any single human king’s kingdom forever is that people don’t live forever! So, the expectation had been for the Messiah to come from the line of David to establish this promised Kingdom. However, in order to do that this coming King needed to not be abandoned to “Sheol” as Psalm 16:10 says…his soul needed to not be delivered over to death and decay.

What is revealed through the Holy Spirit and through Peter’s preaching in Acts 2 is that David was prophetically speaking of his future offspring—Jesus—who wouldn’t be abandoned to death.

In Acts 2:25–28, Peter quotes Psalm 16:8–11 and then says,

Acts 2:29–32 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day (if David’s tomb from centuries ago was known, certainly others could have gone to Jesus’ tomb and proven that the tomb wasn’t empty if Jesus was really dead!). 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, (that’s what we just read about in 2 Samuel 7)31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

Not only is Psalm 16:10 fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection, but also Isaiah 53:10. I’m going to read a couple verses before so we can see the context.

Isaiah 53:8–10 -8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

God gave written and recorded testimonies of the prophets predicting Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. The detail of the prophecy is stunning!

Focusing on Christ’s resurrection, v.10 is of interest to us. V.10 mentions that he would be a “guilt offering.” If you read the instructions for a guilt offering in Leviticus 5&6, a guilt offering meant the sacrifice was killed.

So how could Jesus offer himself as a guilt offering and yet “see His offspring” and have his days prolonged? The answer? Because the tomb of Christ is empty! Jesus is alive!

So as John writes in v.9, according to the Scripture He must rise from the dead. Those two verses are pretty straight forward prophecies concerning just that.

In Luke 24, after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus says to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus who are saddened about his crucifixion and death that occurred three days ago…

Luke 24:25–27 “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 ?Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”? 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

We don’t have time to go through all of the Old Testament and explain how they point to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, but please don’t miss that according to Jesus there are way more than just a couple verses about his resurrection!

So why believe that Jesus is alive, because the tomb is empty and the Old Testament predicted just that! God does not lie, He speaks the truth and fulfills his word.

Additionally, the empty tomb fulfills Jesus’ own words about his resurrection.

It fulfills Jesus’ own words about his resurrection.

All the way back in John 2 Jesus predicted his death and resurrection after cleansing the temple.

John 2:18–22 18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

That’s exactly what happened. They destroyed Jesus’ body on the cross and then now on the first day of the week—three days later he raised it back up!

In John 10, where Jesus calls himself the good shepherd, he says in

John 10:17–18 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

  • - Jesus claimed that his death was going to be at his own volition. That’s exactly what we see on the cross. He died at the right time. He bowed up his head and committed his Spirit into his father’s hands only after he said “It is finished.” And he died before the soldiers came and broke his legs in fulfillment of Scripture!
  • - But not only did he lay down his life of his own accord, he has the authority to take it back up again. The empty tomb is proof of that very point!

Then, when we layer in the other gospels, like Mark we understand that Jesus specifically predicted of his own death at the hands of the chief priests and the Romans and his resurrection three days later three times! The first place in Mark says it this way:

Mark 8:31–32a 31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly…

Then in Mark 9:31, 10:33-34

So if the OT prophesied Jesus’ resurrection, and Jesus himself prophesied his own resurrection 3 days later, then you may rightly ask, “Why is Mary and John and Peter not at the tomb on the 3rd day waiting for the resurrection?”

Why are they mourning and confused by the empty tomb?

You’d expect as soon as Mary sees the empty tomb she’d run back and say, “The tomb is empty! Do you think that Jesus’ prediction to rise on the 3rd day is true!?”

Then perhaps you’d have John and Peter still engaged in their foot race, simply because they want to see it for themselves. But you’d expect to read as soon as they get to the tomb they see the grave clothes and they believe and they hug and rejoice and go tell the other disciples! But that’s not what we see.

Now, we are told that when John enters into the tomb and sees, that he believed. The text doesn’t indicate that Peter believes at this point. Peter seems to be wrestling with the facts of the empty tomb and the grave clothes and face cloth that are left behind and laying in place. John, according to his own testimony believes. But his faith doesn’t seem to understand how it fulfills the Scripture.

One thing that is clear is seeing the facts does not equate to genuine belief.

Facts are not enough for genuine belief.

Here’s what I mean…the disciples walked with Jesus for three years, and heard Jesus predict his death, burial and resurrection multiple times and plainly. His enemies heard him predict by what kind of death he was going to die—we saw that at the end of John 12.

Not only did Jesus specifically predict his death—which happened just as he said it would—but the disciples also witnessed Jesus do more miracles than they could even record!

John 21:25 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

So, a miraculous resurrection shouldn’t honestly have been that much of a surprise!

Furthermore, it wasn’t very long before Jesus’ own resurrection that he raised Lazarus from the dead! The disciples were with him when he did this. In John 11, before he raises Lazarus from the dead, he declares, “That he is the resurrection and the life.”

  • - That’s a bold claim!
  • - Then he proves it by raising Lazarus from the dead.

But when Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb do you remember how the text describes Lazarus and what must happen with Lazarus that is very different than Jesus’ resurrection?

John 11:43–44 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Why does Peter focus on the grave clothes and the face cloth still lying in their place? Why is it that when John goes in and sees those things lying there that he believes?

  • - It’s because even if Jesus simply raised from the dead, the question is, “How did he get out of the grave clothes?”
  • - If the body was stolen, “Why leave the grave clothes?”
  • - If the body was stolen, “why would the robbers go to the trouble to leave the grave clothes in such a way that it looks like the body just vanished out of them?”

Don’t miss the details, you have multiple eye-witness accounts that the tomb is empty and these details about the burial clothes. What best fits the facts?

If facts were enough to bring about belief, then Mary and Peter would have believed. But the text indicates that Peter…the spokesman of the disciples, doesn’t understand or believe yet despite seeing all these details.

And when we read about Mary, she doesn’t get it either.

But before we turn our attention to Mary, what about you?

Have you let the facts of the empty tomb and the prophecies of the resurrection of Jesus encourage your belief in Jesus and have confidence in his resurrection?

  • - It’s not enough to acknowledge that Jesus lived and died and even that he was raised again. Facts alone don’t bring a person to belief in Jesus Christ, such that you will have eternal life in his name.
  • - You must be born again. You must personally receive Jesus Christ and believe in his name.
  • - This gospel that we’re studying was not written to be only an academic exercise or solely to just record historical information. It has authority so that it changes how we should live our lives today.
  • o The gospel is certainly meant to be studied as we have been doing week by week, verse by verse this year.
  • o And the gospel is certainly giving us history.
  • - The gospel is a message that proclaims Jesus’s Christ as Lord so he has authority over your life. You are commanded by Jesus to repent, to return to him and believe in him, or you will perish. There are serious consequences for how I respond to this good news about Jesus Christ.

Non-Christian friend, if you are doubting and rejecting the truth about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is hope. It is natural for all of us to suppress the truth about Jesus Christ so that we live however we want. So, we choose to ignore all the evidence presented to us by God. But Jesus offers you forgiveness of your sins and urges you believe in him.

The closest disciples of Jesus were not easily convinced to believe that Jesus was alive. What does that tell you?

If anyone had a motivation to believe that Jesus was alive, wouldn’t it have been the disciples? Wouldn’t it have been those closest to him?

Friend, the critique that the first followers of Christ were gullible, naïve, or easily tricked into believing just doesn’t accurately account for all the facts!

Furthermore, if they are trying to convince people to believe, how are the details regarding their confusion and lack of belief a persuasive strategy?

So, there is hope for you. Do not remain blind, stubborn, and hard heartened, you can be saved, just like the disciples, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, he died for your sins, and rose from the dead so that you can be right with God if you would believe in him.

But there is still more to get through if you’re not yet convinced by the evidence of the tomb, the Scriptures, and Jesus’s own words!

The 2nd reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead is the eye-witness testimony of Mary.

The eye-witness testimony of Mary (vv.11–18)

This part begins with Mary’s eye-witness testimony and it ends with Mary’s eye-witness testimony. Where she begins and where she ends can really only be explained by one fact…the tomb is empty and it’s not because of grave robbers—JESUS IS ALIVE!

Consider her mourning at the start.

Her mourning (vv.1–2, 11, 13, 15)

In vv.1–2 we are not told that Mary is weeping, but when we consider the rest of the text it’s hard to imagine that she isn’t weeping and mourning over the death of Jesus at this point because she goes to the tomb with burial spices with the other women. Mary is certainly going to the tomb early in order to mourn. Her expected mourning over the death of the Jesus that she loved dearly was dramatically changed to the frantic grief of believing that Jesus’ dead body was stolen.

John 20:1–2 1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2 So 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.”

In vv.11–15, the text emphasizes her grief by stating she was weeping twice and then being asked why she is weeping twice.

“But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;”

And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

  • - If Mary didn’t genuinely believe that Jesus died and was still dead, what would explain her tears?
  • - What would explain her testimony to John and Peter that the Lord’s body is taken?
  • - What would explain her question to the supposed gardener concerning the location of Jesus’ body?

The best explanation is that the tomb is empty because Jesus is alive!

Mary looks in the tomb and sees two angels in white! She sees angels…we are not told at all what she thinks about them…but that’s strange that’s not normal…angels are servants to God!

  • - We also know from the other gospels that appearances of angels at the tomb after Jesus’ resurrection are amazing and frightening!
  • - Mary seems to be completely distracted about the two angels just sitting in the tomb beside the grave clothes.

Then they ask her why she is weeping? And its because she thinks the body is stolen. First, she clearly states in her testimony that she did not believe Jesus resurrected from the dead.

Then, she turns and sees Jesus and YET she doesn’t recognize him.

Why not? Because she isn’t expecting a resurrected Jesus she is looking for the scourged, beaten, bloody, body that is was killed 3 days earlier.

There are lots of facts screaming at her right in the face, Jesus is alive!!!

But she is blind to the facts because her conclusion is Jesus is dead and the only explanation is that the body must have been taken.

So, what explains the 180 degree turn around from unbelief in the resurrection of Jesus and mourning Jesus’s body be taken to assurance and joy?

The answer…can you guess? Is that Jesus is actually alive, and he is doing what he promised. Jesus calls her by name.

Jesus calls her by name (v.16)

Remember Jesus promise as the Good Shepherd in John 10?

John 10:3 … and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When does Mary believe?

  • It’s not when she sees Jesus. She thinks he is the gardener.
  • It’s not when Jesus asks her why she is weeping or who she is looking for.
  • It’s when he simply says her name…

John 20:15–16 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 Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).

This is one of my favorite parts in the gospel of John. How does Mary go from unbelief in the resurrection to belief? When our Good Shepherd calls her by name! That’s when her eyes and heart are opened to see and understand that her Lord is risen and standing right in front of her!

There is an immediate change as a result. Her joy swallows up her grief!

Her joy swallows up her grief (vv.16–18)

The tears of mourning are completely gone. If there are tears, they are tears of exuberant joy in the good news of Jesus resurrection!

At the beginning of the text and the start of the first day Mary runs back to report on the horrible news of Jesus’ missing body…now at the end of the text Mary is running back to report the good news—to report the gospel! In her words…

John 20:18 “…I have seen the Lord”…

Listen to her testimony…I have seen the LORD!

Friends, what could account for that kind of change? What kind of story accurately accounts for all of the facts?

  • It’s that the tomb is empty because Jesus really is alive, just as Mary testified!

Moreover, Jesus even predicted this kind of emotional transition the night before his death! In John 16 we read…

John 16:20–22 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

How do know if this is the truth?

  • I believe that if you really let this text and this gospel speak, you’ll find that it most accurately explains all the facts.

For example, if Jesus really did die and stay dead, why is Jesus still the number one most known person to have ever lived?

If Jesus really did die and stay dead and the disciples knew it, why would devout Jews have broken away from Judaism and begin Christianity?

If Jesus really did die and stay dead, what explains the fear, and confusion of the disciples that is turned into boldness and clarity that ends up turning the entire world upside down?

I don’t believe there is any way to explain the Bible, or explain history following Jesus death up to today unless Jesus really did rise again!

If you have more questions on this please reach out to one of the pastors…we’d love to sit down and answer any questions that you have, so that you might come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that in him you might have life in his name!

But I want to conclude with this…Jesus is the Good Shepherd that really does call his sheep by name. Unless Jesus calls, there is no coming to him. But the way he calls his sheep by name today is a little different than what we see with Mary…

None of us have seen the resurrected Lord, and the resurrected Lord did not audibly call my name out loud.

So, what does the Lord calling you by name look like? Well, it’s an answer to Jesus’s prayer when the good news of Jesus Christ is shared.

  • John 17:20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word.” God’s word preserved by the prophets and apostles is active and powerful, and when the message of the good news of Jesus is shared and these words of God go out, there are people who hear and believe. They receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
  • Sometimes this is through a sermon on Sunday, or a bible study, or a friend who counsels them and share the Scriptures…and you are cut to the heart, you listen to the voice of God in his word and want to follow Jesus.
  • It’s an amazing thing that as I share God’s word today, that it is one way the Jesus voice goes out and calls his people by name to follow him.
  • So I plead with you if you’ve been coming for a while or even if this is the first time and you feel like I’m speaking directly to you…it’s not me that is convicting you, but the Spirit of God through the word of God. Our resurrected Lord, Jesus, is commanding you to follow him.

Christian, if you’ve already heard and responded to Jesus calling you by name. There are several implications I want to leave with you.

  • God wants to strengthen your faith and assurance in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ based on the evidence of the empty tomb that fulfills Scriptures and the testimony of Mary.
  • If your greatest joy and hope is tied to Jesus Christ whatever grief you experience in this life can be swallowed up by the joy that nothing can take Christ from you. Nothing stops your Lord, nothing is stronger than your Lord, nothing is greater than your Lord. Death cannot separate you from Christ’s love. Jesus’s resurrection means you have a living, eternal, and never-ending joy that can’t be taken from you.
  • The resurrection assures us Jesus has authority over sin and death, so Christian you can consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God.
  • The resurrection assures us that those who have faith in Jesus are right with God, because Jesus was raised for our justification.
  • The resurrection means that Jesus is our forever high priest who lives forever to intercede for us as our mediator and representative.
  • Because Jesus is alive and bodily raised from the dead never to die again, we have the assurance that our bodies will be raised imperishable.
  • Because Jesus is resurrected from the dead, he is the first fruit of the new creation and the one who has authority to make all things new in the New Heaven and New Earth.
  • Based on this good news, can I ask you, “Are you responding to the resurrection news like Mary?”
  • Are you running to tell others to testify about the Lord. He’s Alive, Hallelujah!
  • I pray we’d grow in our belief and boldness in declaring that Jesus is alive. Let’s pray.

Authors

Aaron Birk

Roles

Pastor of International Ministries - Faith Church

Bio

B.S. – Accounting and Management, Purdue University
M.Div. – Faith Bible Seminary

Aaron is married to Tirzah and has four children: Zemirah, Boaz, Keziah, and Isaiah. Aaron is the Pastor of Global Missions for Faith Church. He serves as a service Pastor for the 11:00 a.m. worship service at Faith West. Aaron oversees international student and family ministries, missionaries, and short-term missions. He teaches in Faith’s Biblical Counseling Ministries and is certified as a biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).