Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
John1:1-5 John 1: 6-18 John 1:19-51 John 2 John 3:1-21
John 3:22-36 John 4: 1-42 John 4:43-54 John 5:1-15 John 5:16-47
John 6:1-40 John 6:41-71 John 7: 1-53 John 8:1-30 John 8; 31-53
John 9:1-41
John 10:1-42
John 11: 1-57 John 12: 1-26 John: 27-50
John 13: 1-38 John 14:1-14 John 14: 15-31 John 15: 1-17 John 15: 18-27
John 16: 5-33 John 17:1-26 John 18: 1-16 John 18: 15-27 John 19: 1-16
John 19: 17-30 John 19: 31-42 John 20: 1-23 John 20: 24-31 John 21: 1-25
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John 20:1-23

 

“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.  Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.  Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.  So they ran both together: and the other disciple outran Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.  And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.  Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.  Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.  For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.  Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.  But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.  And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?  She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have lain him.  And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?  She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast lain him, and I will take him away.  Jesus saith unto her, Mary.  She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.  Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.  Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.  Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week [Sunday], when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in their midst and saith unto them, Peace be unto you [Shalom].  And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side.  Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.  Then Jesus said to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.  And when he had said this, he breathed on then, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy
Ghost
:  Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”

He is Risen!

 

“Let’s turn in our Bibles to John chapter 20.  I’d like to encourage you again to keep in prayer the community night of prayer, just as far as ten area churches, evangelical churches coming together for prayer the last Thursday of this month at Fitchburg High School Auditorium.  And if you’re able to free away some time to be there that would be great too.  We’re hoping to provide child-care here at the church for that night.  We’re hoping to anyway, we’re trying to organize that, so as many of us as possible can be there.  I think it’s a real powerful opportunity, and I really believe, myself, that the Lord has a plan for it in the community.  So last Thursday night of the month.  If you could keep it in prayer, and in fact, the few days before as a church we’re going to set aside some time for fasting and prayer.  Of course that’s completely voluntary and completely personal and private.  As a church congregation we can do it individually privately, but congregationally together, you know what I’m saying.  And so, I know the ten pastors that, well there’s more than ten pastors, a dozen or so pastors that’ll be part of it are also just going to really set aside their hearts for that night, to be prepared for that night.  So I just ask you again to keep it in prayer.  Who knows too, maybe God has a bigger plan, you know, just the timing of it all with what’s going on in Iraq.  And we may very well be at war as a nation, and so maybe the timing of it all is just God’s timing, maybe he has even more planned than we think he has planned for that night.  So just to encourage you to keep it in prayer.  I guess in my heart, my desire is to see this happen, and maybe to happen maybe quarterly or three times a year, because I believe when the church prays together like that, we may not necessarily agree on all our different little doctrines and things but we are all born-again believers, so therefore we’re God’s kids.  Coming together united like that, I think it spells potentially breakthrough for this North County, and that’s what I hope is to see breakthrough, meaning just a strong, vibrant Church, seeing the lost come to Christ and accepting him as their Lord.  I think of just the story this week, and I don’t know if this individual is here, so I’m not going to share names or anything like that.  I don’t want him to feel uncomfortable, but I think this is one of those God-thing kind of stories.  In fact we were talking to somebody this week, and they were giving us, you know, a God-thing kind of story, and we responded with this God-thing story.  There’s a lot of those kind of stories.  But this is what I hope to see, and God working in these ways, and just the veil being taken away from hearts and eyes and those that are in bondage being set free in this community.  But a particular gentleman was in this community, this man has had a lifestyle for some time of addiction, and he was hitch-hiking and an individual in our church picked him up one day.  And as they began to talk this person shared his struggles, and this one person from our church said, ‘You know, you need to speak to Doug McDonald, and you really need to check out ‘Most Excellent Way” and speak to Doug McDonald.  Well anyway, some period of time went by, I don’t know how long or how much time, but don’t you know, this person’s hitch-hiking again and Doug McDonald picks him up [laughter].  So I think Doug actually picked him up twice, and I don’t know if they realized it the first time, but now, if I understand the story correctly, they’re talking in the vehicle and it comes out somehow that this man has gotten a ride with an individual before that said ‘You need to speak to a guy named Doug McDonald.’  And they realized somehow in the conversation, ‘You’re Doug McDonald.’  [laughter]  Now that person showed up at church on Wednesday night and gave his heart to the Lord.  Because what do you do with something like that?  That’s a God-thing.  Right?  [loud applause]  And that’s what I pray happens more and more, those kinds of stories in our community.  Well we have come to John chapter 20, and I guess I’ll start with a little story, this story I heard at the men’s retreat just last week, a story about a particular man whose mother-in-law was in, some of you guys will remember this, his mother-in-law was in Israel, in Jerusalem visiting.  And evidently something happened to her, and she suddenly died.  So this man was then told his mother-in-law had died, and as he talked to the Israeli officials he learned that in order to transfer his mother-in-law’s body from Jerusalem back to the United States, it cost $5,300.  But he was then told by this official, that you know you can have your mother-in-law buried in Jerusalem, and it’ll only cost you $150.  Well this particular man thought about this for a little bit, and then responded and says, ‘You know, I think I’ll have my mother-in-law shipped back to the United States.’  Well the person that was speaking to him said, ‘Well that’s kind of strange, $150, $5,300,’  He said, ‘Why do you want to ship her back to the States?’, and this man said, ‘You know, I heard some time ago there was a man buried in Jerusalem, and three days later he rose to life [laughter].’  Well this man didn’t totally understand the resurrection story, but he had been effected by it, anyway.  At least he was a little nervous.  And today we are going to study the resurrection story.  It’s interesting, I think it was two years ago we were in Luke, and we happened to be in Luke around the Easter time, towards the end of Luke.  And we got kind of an extended time studying the Easter [Resurrection] message, and that’s going to happen to us this week, because as we study the Easter [Passover/Resurrection] story, and then in a few weeks we’ll be able to study it again as we come to Easter [Resurrection] Sunday.  And when we come to Easter [Resurrection] Sunday we’re going to have a lot of background.  We’ve been working our way up to this point for weeks, and we’ll be there again.  I think God is just blessing us, giving us a good time just to consider this event, and it’s so important.  Again it’s like the cross, last week we mentioned the cross, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the center-point of all history.  It’s all about this, there’s no doubt about it.  So, I pray as we study this today, and a few weeks again, maybe we’ll look at it from another Gospel’s point in a few weeks, but I pray the Lord just opens our eyes all the more to the beauty that’s here, and to the power that’s here.  In fact, I pray our heart is like Paul’s heart as Paul wrote to the church in Philippi in Philippians chapter 3 he said, “Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection.”  So let’s say a word of prayer and we’ll get started.  ‘Lord, we want to thank you for this opportunity to be here together and to study your Word.  And I think again of Paul’s words there in Philippians 3 as he said to the church, that man, nothing in his life and the history of his life before, especially before Christ, none of that stuff mattered anymore.  What really mattered to him was getting to know you more.  He was driven with such passion and desire for that.  And that included to get to know and understand the power of your resurrection, and oh, what beauty and just what power there is in it, for each and every one of us here this morning.  So as we study these things together, we ask Holy Spirit that you’d be upon all of us, and even myself now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, Amen.’

 

Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and finds the body of Jesus missing!

 

Let’s begin with chapter 20, verses 1-2, “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  Then she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’”  Well, it’s early Sunday morning.  Three days after Jesus was put into a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, you remember they prepared the body, they put Jesus in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb.  And John begins his narrative now of this Sunday morning, this incredible morning, by initially focusing on Mary Magdalene, and her experience in the early hours of this morning.  Now the other Gospels place Mary Magdalene early at the tomb also, and they also place her with part of her group, and we’ll talk about that as we go on.  But they place her early here at the tomb, as we see here in John, but also in Matthew chapter 27, Matthew shares that she was also the last one, part of that group of the last people at the cross with Jesus when he died.  It is noted that she was part of that last group there, waited to the last possible moment.  But also Matthew tells us in Matthew chapter 27, verse 61 that she’s at least one of the two ladies, maybe there’s a few others, that then follow Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, maybe at a distance, and follow them to see where they place the body of Jesus.  So she was part of that group also.  And now we’re told, which I think is predictable, as we consider her heart and passion, that she’s part of this first group very early.  In fact we’re told she leaves while it’s dark, she leaves and departs for the tomb.  But why such dedication?  This lady is showing some real zeal, some real dedication to her Lord.  I think it’s a testimony of her love for her Master, her love for Jesus.  It’s a passionate love, and I think it’s also understandable as we consider how she’s been effected by Jesus.  This lady’s been radically effected by Jesus.  You may remember in the other Gospels, Mark notes it in his Easter [Resurrection—I don’t like the word Easter, comes from pagan origins, Ishtar, queen of heaven, Babylonian Mystery Religion], he notes in Mark chapter 16 that this is Mary Magdalene whom Jesus had cast out the seven demons.  So this lady earlier, before Christ, had seven demons in her.  And you can only picture what that would be like, an individual with seven demons in them. Fortunately I haven’t seen too many people demon possessed.  I know last fall in New York City, the Festival of Life, Mike Jacob and I and some of the leaders there at the Crusade in the back there of Centennial Hall were praying for a particular lady, and I think she was demon possessed, if not demon possessed, maybe incredibly demon oppressed.  But it was really kind of freaky.  This lady was in such oppression, such suffering.  That even at times now I’ll think of her and I’ll pray for this particular lady, my heart goes out for her.  So Mary Magdalene, possessed by seven demons.  Jesus comes into her life and delivers her.  You can understand then that this lady would have such a zeal for Jesus.  In fact, Jesus said in Luke chapter 7, and he’s saying this in the context about one particular lady that’s ministering to him at that time, and some people believe that particular lady is Mary Magdalene, may or may not be.  But what he says, “Those who are forgiven much love much.  Those who are forgiven little love little.”  And I think that’s seen in this lady’s life, man.  She was there at the cross at the last, she followed to see where they’re going to put the body, she’s been planning for a couple days, now the first opportunity she gets, the first day of the week, it’s Sunday morning, she comes out to check out Jesus, and just to minister even to his body there, as they brought spices and things to prepare his body further.  She’s got a real love, she’s got a real appreciation for the grace of God, and therefore a real love for Jesus.  And I think it’s true for all of us here this morning.  Maybe you lack a little bit in love for Jesus, a little bit of lack of zeal or passion.  But I tell you, the more we understand the grace of God towards us, and all of us that are born-again Christians here have experienced an incredible measure of his grace.  But the more we understand his grace, the more our eyes are opened to the cross and the grace of God, the more we just can’t help but be zealous for Jesus, and passionately in love for him like Mary Magdalene is here.  And when you have a real love, and you’re real zealous, you easily are doing things, like drawing aside to be with Jesus, whether it be early in the morning like here, or at night or whatever, it’s easy for you to go and be with Jesus.  Maybe you struggle with getting alone with Jesus.  And it’s just a testimony, it’s a statement of a lack of passion in here.  And that would be a statement that you don’t completely appreciate the grace of God.  Then ask God to open your eyes all the more to his grace.  It’s incredibly wonderful, you can’t help but be drastically moved when you see his grace for what it is.  But when you love, love and passionately love something, it’s easy for you do it.  You know, it’s not hard for me, early in the morning to get up and meet the guys at the 50-50 Diner and go play some golf, whenever we schedule that in the summer man, I get up so easily, I just love playing golf, I love going to the 50-50 Diner, eating that great food, and it’s just easy to get up.  And when you love to do something, man, you’ll do anything to do it, so easily, it’s just easy when you love it.  And this woman loves Jesus, and she’s just moved to go and do these types of things.  And maybe that’s what the Lord needs to do more so in our hearts.  Now it says “Early in the morning”.  The word there in the Greek is the “fourth watch”, it refers to the fourth watch of the night.  You may remember when we studied this earlier in John, that the Roman soldiers had a number of watches where they would stand guard.  There were four watches, the first watch was from six to nine pm, the second from nine to midnight, the third from twelve to three, and the fourth watch, which is now, is between three to six in the morning.  So it’s pretty early, between three and six in the morning, that this lady sets out to go to the tomb.  Now if you compare this with the Gospel of Matthew and Mark’s Gospel, chapter 28 of Matthew, chapter 16 of Mark, you’ll notice that it says in those Gospels that it’s light, it’s dawn, it’s the beginning of dawn it says in one, in the other it says the sun had risen.  Here it says it’s dark when she gets there.  You’re like, ‘Wait a minute, there’s an inconsistency.’  There isn’t an inconsistency.  What you get when you put them together is the full story.  In fact, even the words help show that.  It says here that she went, and it means that she left, then it was dark, she set out early.  We don’t know how long it took her to get there.  But when you look at the other two Gospels, Matthew and Mark says “When they came to the tomb”, meaning when they arrived it was light.  So she left when it was dark, she got there when it was light.  You know if I told you that I went to New York City this last Monday, I left early at 4 o’clock in the morning, it was dark.  I could say I went to New York City when it was dark, but I got there at 6:30, 7 o’clock in the morning when the sun was up.  I came to New York City, you know what I’m saying?  So we get with the different Gospel writers, you get the whole picture.  Not inconsistencies, in fact it only shows that it is indeed a true story, historical account.  Well, it’s dark, so it’s early.  And I don’t know, I’m going to announce this, I’m a little hesitant.  I get excited about it, and I always go, ‘Whoa, why are we doing this.’  But we didn’t do it the last year too, but we are planning, at least hoping to have another Easter sunrise service this year.  Maybe you remember if you’ve been around long enough, we’ve done a few.  We do them at the State Forest, and we get up early.  One year we got there really early, I think like 4 o’clock in the morning, we weren’t wise then, we learned, later.  We were excited I guess, like Mary Magdalene.  But we’re going to have another one, and it’s dependent on the weather of course.  And what we’re hoping to do this time is having it next door in the stadium next door, rather than at the State Park, and set up our stage, and have a Sunrise Service 6 o’clock in the morning or something like that.  And then for those of us that can’t get up that early we’ll have our 10 o’clock service, either there or over here, dependent on the weather.  So just something to pray about.  The neat thing about doing the sunrise service, we haven’t done it the last year because of the weather at the park, but it is an opportunity to invite people to something unique.  When we lived in southern California my wife and I always invited her parents to Mike McIntosh’s Easter sunrise service, and we’d get there early, but we always invited them, and they would always come to that.  They never came to church other times, but they came to that.  So it’s an opportunity, and I’m sure come the day before, the night before, and I’m cramming to do my study, I’ll be thinking ‘Why in the world are we doing this?  I gotta get up at 3 o’clock in the morning, I’m gonna get about two hours sleep here.’  But you know, it’s always a cool deal anyway.  And often we have Duncan Donuts coffee, that’s been like the tradition [laughter], we have it set out there on the table, and maybe, who knows we will too.  So that might be just the thing you love to get you there, early, you know.  [laughter]  Well, John shares with us that when Mary Magdalene finally arrives at the tomb, she discovers as you remember the narrative, something really incredible, she’s, in the other Gospels we learned, wondering ‘What are we going to do about that stone?  That’s a very large stone, nobody can move that stone.’  And she gets there and the stone has been moved.  Why has the stone been moved?  The other Gospel tells us, it isn’t noted here, that just before her arrival, at some time before her arrival there’s a great earthquake.  And that’s because an incredible angel comes down and moves that stone out of the way, and then the angel sits upon the stone.  And at this particular time when she arrives, the angel is not on that stone.  But that’s how the stone is moved.  [And the Roman guards who were there guarding the tomb basically froze in their tracks (maybe messed their paints), and then fled for their lives.  This angel was visible to them when he moved the stone and then sat on it---can you imagine?]  Well as you have here, verse 2, John then tells us that she sees and she notices that the tomb is empty, Jesus’ body is not there, and then she turns around and runs, as you would expect, to tell Peter and John.  And in verse 2 she tells them ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb’, and notice it says, ‘and we do not know where they have laid him.’  We.”  Now in John’s narrative, there’s only Mary Magdalene, but she notes “we”, she notes that there’s other ladies with her.  And that is because there is, as you note in the other Gospels.  Clearly she wasn’t alone, in Mark chapter 16, verse 1, Mary the mother of Joses was also there with her, and also Salome, we’ve got the two noted in Mark chapter 16 and in Matthew chapter 28.  Matthew only mentions one, but Mark gives us there a total of three.    

 

The pastor’s unofficial harmony of the Gospels on the Resurrection

 

Now when you do this, and I’m going to just give this to you, maybe later you might want to get this tape if you need it.  I spent some time this time, I spent a few hours actually trying to resolve this.  And I’m going to try to step you through this quickly.  But when you study the Resurrection narrative, when you study the four Gospels, all four Gospels talk about this incredible event.  Of course, this is what it is all about on Resurrection morning.  When you study them, if you have, you might hear skeptics do this.  There are a lot of different details, and what’ll happen is skeptics will tell you that there’s a lot of inconsistencies.  Why is there only one angel here?  Why is the angel standing?  Why is the angel sitting over here?  Why are there two angels in this account and but there’s only one in that account?  Why aren’t there any angels in this account?  Why is there one lady?  Why are there two ladies?  Why are their names different?  How does it all work out?  Well the reason it’s that way is again, there are different witnesses, the information has been brought to the writers from different sources, all inspired by the Holy Spirit.  [2nd Peter 1:20-21, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy [teaching] of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.]  But it’s a true historical event.  And it is when we put all the information together you get a better sense of the picture, and I believe that’s why God has done that.  [i.e. to get a clear meaning, you must follow the rule of thumb “All Scripture is additive, not subtractive.  You must add all the related Scriptures to a subject to get the full proper meaning.  Here you get a bunch of eye-witnesses, and each one sees this event through his or her own eyes, and they all see differing pieces of the event.  Like in any courtroom, all the evidence of the witnesses must be added up to get the complete picture, just like in the Perry Mason shows.  The full picture doesn’t really appear until all the eye-witnesses have testified.]  Now when you describe an event, if the Gospel writers were to describe each event in detail, man, we would have encyclopedias full of information.  They all are very concise, just to get to the point they were getting to.  But each one had a different little bent to it, so there’s different pieces of detail that give us more color.  But the reason why I just want to note it to you this morning, I’m going to give you a story that fits all of the narratives, brings them all together into one story.  And it may not be what happened, there may be a slightly different rendering, but this one certainly works.  But the reason why I want to do it again is because there are people that try to discredit the Bible.  And maybe you’re here, and I’ve never done this before in the detail I’m going to do it, but maybe there’s a few people tuning in that are critics of the Bible, and you’re listening, and your saying, ‘Clearly, I’ve heard it before, been in the other Gospels, these stories don’t line up, this is a bunch of hogwash, it doesn’t line up.’  Some will say that it was made up, for that reason, or others will say ‘Maybe it’s a real event, but clearly the Bible isn’t infallible, and it isn’t inerrant because these details just don’t line up.’  But they do, you can find stories that make a lot of sense, that take all the details into account.  I’ll just give you a quick flow, of one story, you may want to get the tape.  This could be valuable to you, if you ever sit down [and look at the Gospel accounts alongside of this story].  I remember watching a debate awhile back between a Muslim and a Christian, two apologists.  And the Muslim was really going with this point, that the Gospels, I mean the Resurrection is so important, that the Muslim was really trying to make this point, ‘These stories do not line up, these stories are not genuine, thus the Resurrection is not a true story.’  But here’s a very simple story [i.e. this would be called a harmony of the Gospel accounts on the Resurrection] that makes a lot of sense, that make all of the Gospel accounts then flow into and fit very well.  The first thing to note is that there is more than one lady, there’s several ladies, in fact there are at least five.  And if you take Luke chapter 24, verse 10 and Mark chapter 16, verse 1, you just put them together you get at least five gals.  Four names, and then Luke says “the other women”, when he says “other” you you’ve got at least more than one.  So you can add up at least five ladies, maybe there are even a few more.  But they’re all not noted.  Now they all go to the tomb, we’re told they go to the tomb, and they all report back, but that doesn’t mean they all travel together.  Last week when I went to the men’s retreat a group of us from this church went to the men’s retreat in Plymouth, and we could say “Last Friday night,” or “Last Friday we went to the men’s retreat.”  It sounds like maybe we all got on a bus and went, but the truth is, we all went at different times, different vehicles, all met different people at different times, had different conversations.  And that’s what happens here is they leave, the ladies plan, these five ladies earlier had planned to go to see the tomb this early morning, but they didn’t leave together, they left at different places and they planned on meeting there.  But because of what happens, they’re not there at the same time, not all of them anyway.  And so there’s these slight variations.  It begins like this, I believe.  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and then Salome, Matthew 28 and Mark 16, they head out to the tomb together.  When they get to the tomb, you don’t have it here, but I believe you can put it in here, but there’s reasons why it isn’t noted, what you don’t have here is in Matthew and Mark it’s noted that when they get there, there’s an angel.  Initially Matthew mentions an angel seated on the rock that scares [the blooming daylights out of] the soldiers.  The soldiers then depart.  A little later that angel then goes into the tomb and sits down on the right side of the tomb, and then these ladies arrive.  That’s how you put those two accounts in Matthew and Mark together.  And the angel has a message for these particular ladies. Given the message the ladies then depart.  But the message includes “Go and tell Peter”.  So what happens is the two ladies Mary the mother of James and Salome go one way, and Mary Magdalene goes another way, she goes to tell Peter and John, which we have here.  Well, Mary Magdalene then arrives to tell Peter and John, as we have here.  And because she’s overwhelmed with this whole event, I mean, she goes expecting to prepare the body further, doesn’t know what to do with the stone, but instead runs into an angel, doesn’t completely grasp what’s happened, and you’ll even see that as we go on. She’s overwhelmed, her mind is on overload, her emotions are on overload, you’ll see that as we even go through John’s text here.  That when she gets to Peter and John she just says this statement, ‘Hey, they’ve taken away the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve laid him.’  It doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but she did get more instructions from the angel than that.  [poor angel’s probably banging his head against the wall at this point.]  But she’s a bit overwhelmed and bewildered.  You’ll see that a little later in verses 11 to 18.  She even sees angels again, two other angels, she comes back to the tomb a second time, and even her conversation then with these angels is a little peculiar for a conversation to have with angels.  And then initially she even sees Jesus and it doesn’t even sink in yet that it is Jesus.  So this woman is a bit perplexed by what’s going on.  So that’s why here it doesn’t note when she gets to Peter and John she doesn’t tell them anyway that she has seen an angel.  Well, while these three ladies depart, the tomb is empty, now there’s a couple more ladies that then get there.  They would have met up with Mary Magdalene and those ladies if Jesus would have been there.  But he wasn’t, so that first group leaves, another group comes, and that is what you read about in Luke chapter 24.  And if you compare the renderings, Luke 24 is fairly different.  But when Luke mentions the names of the ladies, he’s not as precise.  In fact, initially he just mentions “ladies”, and then later he gives he list of the names when they’re speaking to the disciples, meaning after the event he gives a list of names.  And certainly that opens the possibility in Luke chapter 24, verse 10, that the ladies weren’t there at the same time, the ladies that he mentions.  He just mentions the ladies’ names while they’re with the disciples later.  So what happens is these other ladies come, one of them is Joanna, and another angel, or actually two other angels now are standing outside of the tomb.  They go in initially, there’s no body, they come out, there’s no angel in there, they come out and there’s two angels now standing beside them, and then those two angels give a slightly different message, in fact, it’s a different deal as you read it.  They then leave.  After they’ve departed, they head to tell the disciples, but after they depart, now Peter and John arrive.  Remember, these people aren’t necessarily next to this tomb, they live in different places.  Peter and John arrive, and that’s where we are here.  Peter and John then have their experience initially at the tomb, they may leave then, before Mary Magdalene gets there the second time.  She may arrive before they leave, but Mary Magdalene definitely comes a second time, as we even see clearly in the sequence here.  She stands, verse 11, weeping at the tomb, she looks in and then there’s two angels.  Maybe it’s the same two angels, Luke chapter 24 that talked to that one group of ladies.  Now they’re seated inside the tomb.  She has a verbal exchange with them, she then turns and sees Jesus.  And then in verse 10 [must be verse 10 of Luke] she departs to tell the disciples.  Then the other ladies, the mother of James, and Salome, they then see Jesus on their way to tell the disciples, somewhere along their path Jesus appears to them.  And that’s the order, and I will just give that to you, because it’s a story that makes a lot of sense, the ladies just didn’t get there at the same time, and then because of what’s happened, they’re just scattering.  And because they’re overwhelmed, they’re not necessarily saying all they’re supposed to say.  It really actually makes more sense, I’ll note that to you, because it might be important for you some day.  Maybe there’s somebody tuning in right now that needs to chew on that a little bit and put it together.  And it makes logical sense.  There’s other stories you can come up with that are very logical.  So there’s no inconsistency or discrepancy, it’s just details to the same event [coming from different eye-witnesses] that we then have the challenge of putting them together. 

 

Peter and John race each other to the tomb

 

Verses 3-4, “Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.  So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.”  Evidently John takes a jab at Peter here, because he outruns him, at least maybe he boasts in himself.  Although we know that John is a lot younger than Peter.  In fact, John may only be about 20 years of age here at this time.  And we know that Peter is a big man, very clearly from the other Gospels.  Well John 20, verses 5-10, “He stooped down and looking in he saw the linen clothes lying there, yet he did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came following him, and went into the tomb and he saw the linen clothes lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but folded together in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple who came to the tomb first went in also, and he saw and he believed.  For as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.  Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.”  Verse 9, there’s this note they didn’t yet comprehend, Jesus had told them so many times that this was going to happen, now it’s happening, and now they’re still not comprehending.  That also adds weight to the possibility that maybe with Mary Magdalene this thing isn’t completely sinking in initially, and that gives weight to maybe why she might respond differently.  Well, she does go faithfully, here, verse 3, gives this emotional report to Peter and John.  No doubt they’re excited, so they run, and again John does run a bit faster.  I also envision in my mind Mary Magdalene running right behind them.  But this lady’s had a long journey to get to the tomb initially, she’s also then run, we’re told, she ran to Peter and John.  So she’s probably pretty exhausted by this point.  So I see her huffing through the streets of Jerusalem, following behind Peter and John.  They have their experience and leave.  And then Mary Magdalene shows up the second time [right behind them], and remains there a little bit.  Well verse 5 when it said that John stoops down and looks in, you get the sense that the opening of this tomb, it isn’t like a large door.  You know, we with our building codes, we have six foot eight clearance is what we need.  But with these tombs, I mean, they put a stone,  a large stone in front, but the openings weren’t very large.  In fact, if you go to Gordon’s Calvary there, outside of the Old City walls of Jerusalem, as we’ve been there a couple times, and as you go to the tomb that’s nearby, it seems in many ways to fit the story.  It may very well be the tomb that they placed Jesus in.  There’s different theories, and people look at it a little differently.  But that tomb in so many ways seems to fit.  It’s an old tomb, it was a tomb that was not completely done, as you go inside.  They were digging it out and preparing it for the bodies.  But they weren’t completely done, and for some reason it was never then used completely.  And it’s not far from Golgotha, it’s just a stone’s throw away from where Golgotha might have been, where it’s believed possibly to have been.  So that tomb that you can actually visit, the Garden Tomb, it could very well be the tomb they placed Jesus in.  It’s a very beautiful place to go to.  We had communion there, we always have a special time when we go to the Garden Tomb.   And they’ve made a nice little garden around it.  A little theater to sit and pray and to do Bible studies.  So he stoops down, it’s a little door.  And if you go there today [you’d have to stoop down too]…He notes the handkerchief that was initially on Jesus’ head is now lying there, in fact it’s folded in its place.  Now the Greek there in those words, when it talks about the cloths lying there, the Greek language indicates that the cloths are in the form they were in, in the folds and in the whole sense when they were wrapped around Jesus.  And that’s important, because it’s because of that, that things start to click a little bit with these disciples.  The cloths are as if they were still wrapped around Jesus.  Now I remember Hal Lindsey saying years ago that by this time the mixture with the aloes on those clothes, this mixture probably formed a cast, so you would have sense of a cast, not ripped apart.  The cast that was around Jesus’ body was still there.  That’s possible.  Maybe it hadn’t formed that hardened type of structure yet.  And maybe the cloths are limp, but they’re at least folded the same way, they’re put together as if the body just somehow evaporated.  [obviously Jesus immaterialized, moved out of this cast, and materialized again when he wanted to, just like holy angels can materialize and immaterialize whenever they want to.  No big deal for a Spirit Being like God, God the Son, resurrected back to his original state of being, now as Yahweh-shua.]  That’s what the Greek means when it talks about that there.  Now if somebody came and stole the body, it’s really unlikely, you had Roman soldiers outside to begin with.  How did they get past these Roman soldiers?  If they did get past these Roman soldiers, these soldiers, if they failed at their job of guarding the tomb, they would have been executed.  And you got some killing-machines out front, these are highly trained soldiers.  [The Roman Army had adopted the best part of Spartan warfare in both armour and tactics.  Want to see how the Spartans were, buy or rent the movie “300”, about Leonidas and his 300 Spartiates who slew 20,000 Persian soldiers in three days at the Hot Gates.]  You just couldn’t get by.  But there are theories that they stole the body.  And the theories that the body was stolen just don’t work.  For one, how do you get by the soldiers?  The Gospel of Matthew tells us that after the first angel comes and the soldiers are terrified, they then leave, they then go to the religious leaders, and the religious leaders say ‘We’re going to take care of Pilate here so he doesn’t kill you.  But tell the story that the body was stolen.’  Because if it was, the soldiers should have been executed. [So these soldiers, knowing that if they went to straight back to Pilate and told him what happened, they’d be executed on the spot.  So in a very wise attempt (I mean, these guys know what’s coming if they just go back to Pilate) to save their lives, they go first to the religious leaders.  I could see this guard of 40 guys talking with their fellow soldiers, who would respond to that story, “Yeah, right!  How did anyone get by you guys to steal that body?  You say it was an angel, it must have been a pretty scary angel for you guys to run like that!”.  Btw, in one of the books of the Kings, one holy angel, sent by God to protect Hezekiah and Jerusalem slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night as they camped outside of Jerusalem.  Angels in their real appearance are pretty scary to look at.  They can appear like a man, but that is not their normal appearance, the way they look.  Read Ezekiel 1:1-14, both in the King James and NIV.  Every time a human has seen one of these, they’ve fallen face down in abject fear.  This one angel probably appeared to the Roman soldiers the way he normally looked, and then changed his appearance to that like that of a man, toning it down quite a bit so the woman and Peter and John wouldn’t be terrified.  This kind of terror can cause heart attacks.]  And that would be the only way to make that story legitimate was to execute the soldiers.  [And they weren’t executed.]  But anyway, if somebody stole the body of Jesus, I don’t know about you, but if I was trying to sneak in past some soldiers, I wouldn’t spend the time and unwrap the body.  Right?  But if I did, maybe I’d be thinking, ‘We’ve got a hundred pounds of myrrh and all that’, so maybe its heavy.  Well if I unwrap the body, I wouldn’t then fold some of the stuff.  You know what I mean?  I mean, it’s all folded together here.  The theory that it was stolen just does not fit at all any historical account, except for rumors, that then don’t make sense.  Because why weren’t the soldiers executed?  Why was the napkin folded?  Now, another thing you can note here, is the Shroud of Tourin, you know you have the Shroud of Tourin that people go and see.  Evidently it’s an ancient cloth, and maybe if you’ve seen it, maybe you’ve heard about it, seen pictures of it.  There’s this impression and this outline of an entire body, head and body, that’s been imprinted on this shroud.  Now if you read just the Gospel narrative, it doesn’t give credence to that shroud, that piece of cloth being what was on Jesus’ body.  How the impression of a person got there I do not know.  Certainly it’s old.  But as you see here, there was the cloths that were wrapped around him, and then there was a napkin on his head.  There wasn’t one particular, one piece of material from head to toe.  There were separate materials.  So you can’t have one with the impression.  Do you follow what I’m saying? So it doesn’t give credence to it.  And I believe that God has done it that way.  Because you remember back in the Old Testament, the brazen serpent when Moses created that?  God had Moses make that.  When he lifted it up the people were healed.  You remember later, because that happened, the Israelites then took that thing and they worshipped it.  [What symbol is used for modern medicine, found on ambulances?  It’s two serpents spiraled around a pole.  We’re still worshipping that thing in our modern world, instead of the One who heals us.  (This Israelis have one serpent standing up next to a pole.)]  And that’s what happens when there’s a relic.  If God had it that we found all these things from Jesus, and we found the cross, we found the shroud, we found all these things, as they do with the Shroud of Tourin, it becomes idolatry.  [Interesting, what religion places statues of Saints and of Jesus all over the place?]  And God doesn’t want us to miss the message, man.  It’s not about relics, it’s about Jesus Christ.  And a cloth, even if it was on Jesus, what value does it have now?  What added value can it have, the fact that Jesus rose from the dead is all I need.  I don’t need anything else.  I got his death, burial and resurrection.  I got everything there.  That’s the whole ticket.  Well, we’re told then that John goes in, in verse 8, and it says that he saw---now the word “he saw” is the Greek word “idean”, which is where we get our word “idea”, meaning an idea came, meaning essentially he says “I get it.”  There’s something miraculous that just happened.  When he looked, he’s like, “Something incredible just happened here.  A miracle has just taken place.”  Although he doesn’t fully comprehend that Jesus has risen from the dead, but something radical has happened, and he gets that sense.  Because in verse 9, it does say “For yet they did not know the scripture that he must rise again from the dead.”  That is so amazing, man, how many times have we been studying John, did Jesus tell them, ‘This is the ticket guys, I’m gonna die for three days’?  I mean, he was pretty explicit at times, ‘Three days, I’m gonna die, and for three days I’m going to be in the tomb, and then I’m gonna rise after the third day.’  He said that so many times, yet they don’t get it.  I don’t know how you don’t get that, when you say it explicitly, what else has he gotta do?  You know what I’m saying?  But yet, there’s something so incredible, and they had certain expectations for Jesus, that it’s hard for the full weight of this to sink in.  I think that’s why Mary Magdalene, when she hears the report from the angel initially, doesn’t go and say that Jesus has risen from the dead, but instead says what she says in verse 2, that the body has been laid somewhere else, and she doesn’t know what they’ve done with the body.  Well, the disciples then go away to their own homes.  Interesting, it’s in Jerusalem, own homes, that would then give weight to that theory too that John has a home in Jerusalem, as we noted before.  [And Peter was probably staying at John’s house there in Jerusalem.]

 

Mary Magdalene sees the Lord, hugs him

 

John chapter 20, verses 11-18, “But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.  And she saw two angels in white sitting one at the head and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain.  Then 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.’  Then when she had said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?’  She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, ‘Sir, if you’ve carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’  Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’  She turned to him and said, “Rabboni!” which is to say ‘Teacher!’.  Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren and say to them, I’m ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.’  Mary Magdalene came to the disciples and told them that she had seen the Lord and that he had spoken to these things to her.”  So Mary has clearly come back to the tomb, very clearly.  While she’s there, she’s weeping, overwhelmed.  She now stoops in and looks into the tomb, and now we’re told there are two angels again now sitting in the tomb.  One is seated at the head of where Jesus’ body had been, one at the feet.  Some commentators note there we have a picture of the Ark of the Covenant, you have two angels, you know the blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, so you have where Jesus’ body was.  Maybe there’s some stains of blood.  So you do have a picture of the Mercy Seat there on the Ark of the Covenant.  And I’ll let you think about that.  But they say to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  And she says, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”  And that’s all that she says to these angels.  Now Jesus approaches at that moment.  But it just seems to be lacking in an encounter with a couple angels [they probably look like normal humans, except they’re dressed in sparkling white raiment.].  And I think that says to me, even further that she still has a certain state of mind.  So Jesus approaches her, Jesus is standing there, she turns and she sees Jesus.  But it says in verse 14 she does not know it’s Jesus.  It’s possible that after the whole crucifixion and the beatings, and three days his body was dead in the tomb, that he does physically appear differently at this point. It’s also possible that he’s resurrected, and in this process of returning to the Father, maybe there are even some changes in appearance that’s associated with that.  We don’t know for sure.  But the lady’s weeping, that’s also why maybe she isn’t seeing very well.  And she’s overwhelmed emotionally, she’s bewildered.  I would probably lean towards that than anything, she’s just not seeing.  And the fact that Jesus physically would be just different because of what’s happened to him.  Physically, he’d appear a little bit different.  [If he appeared as he looked after the scourging and crucifixion, he wouldn’t be recognizable as a human, at that point, marred as never a man has been, as Isaiah says.   He may or may not look that bad after his resurrection, we’ll have to wait and see at our resurrection to immortality.]  Well he speaks to her.  She doesn’t recognize him physically, but when he speaks, she recognizes his voice, and it just connects.  And you can only imagine at this point, the emotion, and it seems she goes up and puts a death-grip upon Jesus.  Because Jesus is like trying to get her off of him, basically is what the Greek says.  I mean, she just goes for it, you know.  And that’s why Jesus says ‘Don’t cling to me.’  Now you may have the King James that says ‘Don’t touch me.’  And with that rendering in the King James people wonder why he says ‘Don’t touch me.’  Why does he say that, but then later, the other gals, when Jesus appears to them, it says they actually grab hold of his feet?  And then when he appears to the disciples a little later, he’ll actually say to them, ‘Behold my hands and feet, handle me and see.’  He’ll actually say ‘Touch me, and see.’  So why would he say here ‘Don’t touch me’?  It’s because I think of the words in the Greek, and that’s why the New King James uses the word “cling.”  It has that sense to it that it maybe means more than just touching, and there are many commentators that believe that man, she just took a-hold of him.  ‘Hey, I lost you for a little bit, but I’m not letting go this time.  I got you.’  And just that sense, and he’s like, ‘I got some stuff to do here Mary.  You know, come on.’  Really, that’s a real possibility.  And it’s pretty realistic, ‘Don’t cling to me.’  [There is an Old Testament symbolic meaning to the “Don’t touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father” statement in the Wave-sheaf offering which was commanded to be offered on the first Sunday after the Passover.  In Old Testament Israel they could not start their Barley or winter wheat harvest in the spring until this Wave-sheaf offering by the priest had been offered to God.  That Wave-sheaf pictures the resurrected Jesus Christ having his sacrifice officially accepted at God’s throne in heaven that very same Sunday morning.  Then Jesus returned back to earth.  Some feel that is one of the reasons Jesus said “Touch me not…”  The Wave-sheaf offering on that first Sunday after Passover pictures Jesus, the first of the first-fruits, being waved, accepted before God the Father.  Read Leviticus 23:9-14.  This spiritual nugget comes from the Sabbatarian Churches of God understanding of God’s Old Testament Holy Days.  Just thought you might find that enlightening.  Every denomination has something to contribute.]  But look at her heart, she would be clinging like that.  She also says to Jesus initially, thinking he’s the gardener, ‘Hey, tell me where you’ve laid him, I will take him away.’  Really?  You’re just going to take his body, and throw him on your shoulder, Mary?  But she’s, you know, hey, she’s just gonna walk off with Jesus, I mean, she’ll just, this lady is passionate.  And I’ll quote to you Charles Spurgeon, he said, “Her love made her feel equal to anything.  However ghastly and heavy the burden she would bear, love would make it light.”  And with that you have 1st Corinthians 13:7, “Love bears all things.”  But this lady has such love, she says, ‘I’ll take care of the body.’  There’s zeal and passion for sure with her.  Well, Jesus says “I’m ascending to my Father and your Father.”  Beautiful words.  But then he says “to my God and your God.”  Now some may say, ‘Now wait a minute, he refers to God the Father as God, [and so] clearly he’s not God.’  We’ve talked about this before, he’s a physical man at this point, he’s still God the Son, but yet he’s also put aside his glory.  [He may actually be a Spirit Being now, just as he was before, yet has transformed himself back into human form, just as he did with Abraham, when he as Yahweh appeared to Abraham with the two angels in Genesis 18, and even sat and had a meal with Abraham.  Spirit beings, whether angels or God can manifest themselves either in human form, or in their glorified state, both visible and invisible.  We just don’t know at this point what Jesus’ actual makeup is, mortal or immortal.  And to state so, or be dogmatic about something we just don’t know, well, doesn’t make it so.  So he may not be just a “physical man” at this point.  A little later he will phase through walls and doors, to appear to the disciples, as we’ll see.  Humans can’t do that.]  And he refers to God the Father in those terms.  I mean, he’s completely submitted himself, put aside his glory to God the Father.  But he is God, because later in the same text, you’ll see in the same chapter there are people calling him God, and really meaning it.  We’ll see that.  Well, verse 18, Mary leaves, Mary Magdalene leaves.  She goes and speaks to the disciples.

 

Jesus meets with the disciples later that day---they receive the Holy Spirit

 

Verses 19-23, “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ [Hebrew: Shalom]  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you.  As the Father has sent me I also send you.’  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”  So, Jesus now appears to the disciples, the same day but later.  He also appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus before this.  And also one of the Gospels tell us that he appeared to Peter at another time.  But now the disciples are together, minus Thomas at this particular time, and Jesus appears to them.  We’re told that they had the door locked, there is fear, and then suddenly Jesus just stands in the midst.  He does have a change in his form, that he’s able to just appear like that, and stand in their midst. [Like I said, he has returned to his glorified spirit composition, but where, just like in Abraham’s time, he could fully manifest himself in human form at will.]  And when he does, he says “Peace be with you”, or you have that Hebrew word “Shalom”, you know, “Peace” is what he essentially says to them.  They’re in fear, in fact, in Luke initially when he appears, it says they were greatly troubled in fear because they thought he was a spirit, or that just some sort of spirit had shown up.  So they were frightened.  But he says “Peace, peace.”  You know they’re thinking one thing, they’re scared, they’ve got the doors locked, but it’s a completely different situation, and Jesus says “Peace”.  And I tell you, he can say that to our lives, he says that to my life at times.  Sometimes even recently, looking at the situation the wrong way, I’ve got fear, I’ve got a heaviness in my heart, and then Jesus gives the truth and the light, and he just says “Peace.”  And he says peace to you, no matter where you are, “Peace be with you” he says.  ‘You just let me teach you my ways, show you my point of view, show you what I’m going to do, show you how I’m going to be with you, peace be with you.  You don’t have to be so stressed and so heavy-hearted about the situation.’  He shows them his hands and his feet, and we know these very marks from the crucifixion are still with him, even now in Revelation he appears as a lamb that was slain, there when John sees him in heaven.  So in verse 21, he says “Peace” to them again, and then he says, “As I’ve been sent, I know send you.”  So he commissions them [cf. Matthew 28:18-20].  We’ll talk more about that later.  And then in verse 22 he says to them, he breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  And what exactly does that mean?  Why would he breathe on them and say “Receive the Holy Spirit”?  It is believed by commentators, and I believe this, is that this is at the point where the disciples are officially born-again.  They’re followers, but you can’t be born-again unless you’re on this side of the cross. It takes the cross to be born-again. It takes that work. [I’m not totally convinced that’s true, king David had the Holy Spirit indwelling him, all the holy prophets of God, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist.  He’s referring to the followers of Jesus, the disciples and the 120, or 500 in other reckonings, didn’t have the Holy Spirit until this side of the cross.  But others in the Old Testament dispensation did have the Holy Spirit, and thus were born-again.  But these were individuals, not a whole group.] So now they’ve been with him, they’ve been following him, they’ve been close to him, the Holy Spirit has been working in their lives indeed [around them, but not within them], but now he breathes on them, and there’s an incredible experience being born-again.  And then later [on Pentecost] this Holy Spirit will actually come upon them.  But the breathing on them, you know, in Genesis God breathed into Adam, you know, and gave them life, physical life.  Now you see the breathe there with the spiritual life [being bestowed on them].  And maybe you’re here physically alive, but maybe you’re here spiritually dead, because you don’t have Christ in your life.   And God wants to do this very thing to you, he wants to breathe into your life spiritual life, and make you born-again.  But we’ve come to the end of our time, and I wanted to continue through.  But I’ll just note to you verse 23, and we’ve read it, and you might be thinking “What does that mean?”.  Does it mean that the disciples could go out and say “Your sins are forgiven, I now forgive your sins, your sins are cleansed [like Catholic priests do in confessional stalls], is that what he’s saying?  I mean, those are the words he uses, he says “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven, if you retain the sins of any, they’re retained.”  Did the disciples have the ability to go out and ‘Nope, you’re not forgiven’, and the people wouldn’t be forgiven, even though Jesus had died on the cross [so they could be forgiven]?  When you study any Scripture, you always have to balance all the Scriptures [on any particular subject] together.  And you can get into a dangerous situation if you just take one verse by itself.  You’ve got to put them all together.  You’ve got to lay this then against the rest of the Bible, which includes Mark chapter 2, verse 7, which is throughout the Scriptures, but the religious leaders in Mark chapter 2 make this point, “Who can forgive sins but God alone.”  And they say that, meaning that only God can forgive sins.  Then in Psalm 51 David talks about his sin and wanting God to forgive his sin, and he says in Psalm 51, “Against you alone I have sinned”, meaning his sin he knew ultimately was against God.  And if it’s against God, then only God can forgive the sin.  And the Scripture teaches clearly that only God can forgive sin.  So what is meant here?  What is meant here is this, and that is, that as ambassadors for Christ, they can’t provide forgiveness, but they can proclaim forgiveness.  Meaning, when they go out and share the Gospel, and somebody receives the Gospel, they may not necessarily believe it at that time, but the disciples can then come and say “You’ve received Jesus into your life, and you are forgiven of your sin.”  And they can give assurance, they can give affirmation.  And they can also say to somebody who doesn’t have Jesus, “Your sins are not forgiven, not because of me, but because of the Gospel, you don’t have Christ in your life, if you don’t have Christ, according to the Word of God, your sins are not forgiven.”  That’s what that means.  And next week we’ll pick up with verse 24…[a transcript of an expository sermon on John 20:1-23 given somewhere in New England.] 

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