On a Good Day

On a Good Day

Darkness of Good Friday gave way to the brightness of Easter morning. He has risen indeed. Our text before us is John 20. We’ll be starting with the first 10 verses. And as we look to the reading of God’s word, if you please join me in prayer. Blessed are you, Holy God, in Jesus Christ, your light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Bless are you, God of light, we ask that you would shine in our lives this day through your word, that you would do so with the light of Christ, that we might give you praise through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy spirit, now and forevermore. Amen. ‘ beginning in verse one. Now, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early while it was still dark and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the whom Jesus loved, and said to him, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him. ‘ So Peter went out with the other disciple and they were going toward the tomb.

Both of them were running together. But the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stoping to look in, he saw the linen cloth lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came following him and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloth lying there, the face cloth which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying, now lying with the linen cloth, but folded up in place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed, for as yet they did not understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. The word of the Lord. Please be seated. Easter morning did not start as a really good day for those following Jesus. In fact, it was a miserable one. Two of the disciples at first chance left Jerusalem, and they were looking very sad as the risen Jesus started walking with them, but they didn’t recognize him. And he asked them essentially, Hey, guys, what’s up? Or in the King James, Hey, ye, what’s upeth? And they were taken aback. They’re like, Seriously?

Where have you been? And they started telling him all about Jesus and about his death and everything that happened. And they said this, But we had hoped that he was the one who would redeem Israel. And they told them about the women at the tomb and the missing body. But their response, it showed they missed something besides the ribbon Jesus walking beside them. They thought redeem Israel mostly was about the Romans going home, about making Israel a great nation again. But Project Jesus was about to complete a human heart renewal. A new covenant coming to a fallen humanity, salvation from sin and death. Because even the very best of humanity falls short, it is the Lord who must be the one who fixes what we’ve broken. And yet for the greatest event in human history, it surprisingly comes in such an understated way. Sad people walking away, some women seemingly overreacting, a missing body, a bunch of dejected and disappointed people. How strange it all is. If we take a step back from this moment and look then at the bigger picture, the big story arc of the Bible itself. We see creation, fall, redemption.

In Genesis 1 and 2, God called the world into being to be his faithful covenant partner. He willed unity and harmony and goodness for us. But we were the ones who made in his image rebelled and broke that. We have been resistant to his purposes ever since. And from the fall of Adam and Eve, we get the very start of God’s story of redemption in its seed form. To the deceptive serpent, God gives his pronouncement of a curse. And in it is also the hope of humanity. He tells them, I will put enmity, hatred between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring, and he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Speaking forward to the coming of Christ. It was God’s purpose to begin a human renewal project, to fix and restore what we broke, a complete renovation from the inside out, a new heart, a new covenant. The Bible traces this development through a man and his family, which turns into a national tribe and then a kingdom. We see this in Abraham, Moses, and David. Abraham, this great man of faith. On a really good day, Abraham showed amazing faithfulness, so much so that we read, And he believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.

But Abraham had other days that weren’t so good. He doubted God. He tried to force the fulfillment of God’s promises through his own failed plan, including lying about his wife, having a a child through another woman. And as we move forward, we see Moses. And on a good day, Moses is awe-inspiring. We read there in Exodus, The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend. But we get other days from Moses. The Moses who said, Lord, here am I. Send my brother. And he failed multiple times. He did not enter into the promised land. And takes us forward to David. And we are used to hearing about David, David, the man after God’s own heart. He wrote half of the Psalms, and King David is a very archetype of the coming Messiah. But we also have other days from David. Who failed by a heart running after adultery and murder. If you go forward, you think, Well, surely those who are now with Jesus are new and improved, right? Well, the Peter seems to combine his very best days and his worst days in the same day.

He makes this amazing confession about Jesus, Mark 8, You are the Christ. Just a couple of moments later, Jesus actually has to rebuke him saying, ‘Get behind me, Satan. ‘ And on the night that Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter rises up to defend Jesus with a sword. And a little while later, he betrays Jesus himself when a couple of slave girls question him. The Bible is brutally honest about its people. There’s no whitewashing of history on its pages. The greatest heroes are also shown with their sin hanging out, their failures showing. Pick the very best of humanity, and we’re still left disappointed because nobody can keep it together for very long. It’s like we all need get to the moon, and the best we have to get there is the right brothers. It’s like, Wow, you made it 100 yards, Orville. You only have 420,464,000 more yards to go. You can do it. We believe in you. There’s no way. So what difference then does Jesus make? The covenant with God was broken by man, and no broken man could fix it. We need someone who is both God and man to do this. But how is that even possible?

Apollo 11 has just stepped up. We see there’s a big difference now. He, Jesus, voluntarily took the punishment we deserve in order to conquer sin and death once for all. The resurrection from the dead was the vindication of all that he had accomplished. It’s the down payment of everything that’s still yet to come. As we go forward then in John 20, Mary Magdalene and the other woman, they come to the tomb. It’s dark and the tomb is open and empty. The only rational explanation is that the body has been taken by somebody. She ran back to Simon Peter and to John, and we hear the grief and the despair in her voice. They’ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they’ve laid him. So Peter and John, they were running together. The other disciple outruns Peter, and they reach to tomb. There’s this footrace. I’m sure Mary’s voice is just ringing through their minds. They’ve taken the Lord. They’ve taken the Lord. A final blow to the day that they thought couldn’t get any worse. John gets there first, and then Peter comes, and he looks in, and he sees the linen cloth lying there, the faith cloth, which had been on Jesus faith, lying next to the cloth, all folded up nice.

And that word saw that Peter saw, it’s actually in the Greek, it’s, which we get our English word, theorize. It’s got the nuance of perceiving, observation with attention. It’s saying what Peter observed didn’t add up. Who moved the stone? Who would go through all the trouble to bother and fold up burial cloths nice and neat and then take out a naked body? That doesn’t make any sense. Where are the guards? Nothing adds up. It’s not adding up because they’re still looking for a corpse. And read verse 9, as of yet, they did not understand the scriptures that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples, they just went back home. They went back home. No big difference yet. The body had been taken. There’s no other explanation that makes sense. They simply go back home to live like everyone else in Jerusalem was living. But in truth, nothing was going to be the same. And they’re soon to find this out. For those who are keeping the score of such things, what historians find so compelling about the gospel accounts is the information that someone making this up would never have ever included.

One writer put it like this. He said, These stories have the air of someone saying, I didn’t understand at the time. I’m not sure I do now, but this is more or less how it happened. Now, 20th century people, we like that it was the women who first reported these events. We don’t have any problem with that. But that was actually a huge mark against a resurrection in the first century. The testimony of women were not admissible in either Jewish or Roman courts. A second century Greek philosopher, Celsus, he wrote against Christianity, and one of his complaints was the eyewitness of women. He referred to Mary Magdalene as a hysterical female diluted by sorcery. Peter John, they leave. It’s this Mary with her dogged determination that stays, and she stood weeping and she looks into the tomb and there’s angels there. She asked them, or they asked her, they tell her, Why are you weeping? They’ve taken the Lord away from me. I don’t know where they’ve laid him. She still can’t comprehend what’s happening. She’s looking for a corpse because dead people don’t live. Then she turns and she sees Jesus, and she doesn’t recognize him.

He says, Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you seeking? She thinks he’s the gardener. She said, Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you’ve laid him, and I will take him away. Such love and devotion She wants Jesus, the one who had delivered her, the one she knew and adored. Doesn’t recognize him until Jesus says her name, Mary. Click. Rabonai. It’s Jesus. Now, nothing would ever be the same for Mary. The incarnate one who had been put to death was now alive before her. She reaches and she wraps her arms around him. And Jesus says to her, Don’t cling to me, for I’ve not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my Father, your Father, to my God and to your God. ‘ Now, Jesus wasn’t being rude to Mary. But everything was different now. Her relationship to Jesus would no longer be the same either. In a sense, he’s telling her, Yes, Mary, I am here, but not in the same way. I have fulfilled all that I came to do. You will not be getting up tomorrow morning business as usual.

You are now a witness to me to go and to tell others. And that’s what she does. In verse 18, Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, I have seen the Lord, and then said the things that he told her. Jesus, of course, later appears to them. And from this point forward, this timid bunch of disciples, they are now going to go forward and give their very lives to boldly tell others about Jesus. In Matthew and Luke, we are told that they worship Jesus. Think about that. These very strict Jewish monotheists suddenly placing a man on par with God. How do you explain that? The resurrection, it changed everything that they thought they knew. The resurrection changes everything, even while things still seem so ordinary. One writer, he captures this sentiment well. He said, The full triumphant power of Easter consists precisely in the fact there’s nothing here to prove. That all of man’s knowledge, all of human proofs, are totally powerless before this reality. And then that question, it comes to each generation. It comes to us. Who are you looking for this day? The song Jesus is an idol tale. Nothing changes for them.

Maybe a good moral teacher did some nice things, but I’ll get up tomorrow like I have done every day, and nothing is different about how I live. How sad is that? To live for yourself, to put yourself at the center of life, will only make it meaningless and filled with futility. Because you were created to see the infinite horizon of God before you, to have your life infused with eternity, to be united to him. The God man Jesus brings the big story arc of human history together. The heart renewal project, the salvation from sin and death, it all come from him on that very good day. It’s all grace. He found you. You did not find him. Jesus is essentially saying, I don’t save your very best and brightest. I don’t save you by what you do to impress me by your great strengths. I save you by my work. I save the weak and the helpless. And that’s truly good news because our failures are not the final and last word. His Resurrection means that even death is not the end for those who put their faith in him. Because think about it, on our very best day, it’s not enough and it will not last.

On our very best day, how many hours does that even extend? Not very far. And what about the very worst days? The ones that fill our heart with shame and doubt. In Jesus, a new heart is offered. We don’t have to be the same. A new covenant with our creators extended to us is here now, but not fully. That human restoration project will only be completed when Jesus returns. But real substantial changes are before us in Christ Jesus. Forgiveness, cleansing of our sins. Even our suffering is used by him for our great good. Brothers and sisters, the very good day of Jesus now becomes ours. In him. Pray with me. Oh, God, it’s by your one and only son that you have overcome death and opened up to us the gates of everlasting life. We ask then that you would grant that those who have been redeemed by his passion may rejoice in his resurrection. That, Lord, you would continue to change our timid murmurs to bold proclamation of the goodness of our savior, of all that he has done for us and through us. We bless you this day through the same.

Discaimer: This sermon text was generated by an automated transcription service.