Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Empty Tomb (Jn. 20:1-10)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 6 October 2013 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 20:1-10

Jesus did not even reserve for Himself a single material thing on earth.  He came from the Father into the world and He went back to the Father.  That way He ended His 33.5 years on earth.  He was born through virgin Mary who had no relationship with a man before.  He rode on a donkey that was never ridden on before.  And He was buried in a tomb that was not used before.

Nothing else was recorded about Joseph of Arimathea except his role in burying Jesus.  He had great political, economical and social standing, but was only remembered for his involvement in Jesus’ burial.  There are many things we want to do in life.  But what are the things that really matter?  How much relationship is there between our activities and God’s work? 

The tomb borrowed for Jesus’ burial was only used for 2.5 days.  But this tomb is of significance because it had a part in God’s greatest plan.  Otherwise the tomb has no value.  It has value because God used it. 

Many people think if God uses their resources, they are being exploited.  However the truth is the other way round.  It is most glorious when God wants to use me, my financial resources and my talent as I have a part in His eternal plan.  Our lives only have value when God wants to use us. 

When Jesus was resurrected, it was the women, not His disciples, the first visited Him.  Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, other Mary and other women came to anoint Jesus.  They experienced and followed Jesus all the way to crucifixion.  Because they participated in their entire process, they knew where to find Jesus on the third day.  Other than John, there is no other man. 

When Mary came early in the morning, she saw that the stone had been moved and told Peter and John that people had taken away the body of Jesus (Jn. 20:1-2).  It took very strong men to remove the stone.  Peter and John were anxious for they had decided to follow Jesus the rest of their lives.  They had believed Jesus was the Messiah who came after centuries of waiting.  They thought Jesus would rebuild Israel and the kingdom of God.  But they followed Him with a political and self-centered hope. 

John being the younger outran Peter and reached the tomb first, but waited for Peter to arrive and allowed Peter to go into the tomb first.  John had the right attitude.  (v. 3-6)

When they went it, they saw linen cloth lying in its original state but Jesus’ body was not there.  The cloth was there, not cut open, not in a mess, not unravelled, it stayed in its original place and in the same shape.  This demonstrates Jesus has resurrected and this surpassed space.  John saw the cloth and he immediately understood and believed. (v.7-8).  The Bible did not say what Peter think. 

Both came to the tomb and both went home.  Why did Jesus not appear before them?  Why did Jesus appear before Mary first? 

The first person to understand the kingdom of God was not Peter, John, or His other discipels, but the robber.  He was hanging on the cross, he initially insulted Jesus but later on read the inscription on the cross “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews”.  He believed.   The disciples who have followed Jesus for 3.5 years could not understand this while the robber could see Jesus as King in the few hours.  He saw what God wanted him to see.  He saw what Peter could not see, what John could not see, what His disciples could not see.

The first person to hear to command to preach the gospel after the resurrection was Mary Magdalene.  Jesus was willing to appear first to this woman who was once possessed by demon.  Jesus wanted to use her.   God allowed the robber to be the first to understand the kingdom of God.  Likewise God used the Samaritan woman to bring the whole town to faith.

God often shows special mercy to the weak and use people who are despised by men.  People who think themselves intelligent God will hide Himself.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Jesus' Burial (Jn. 19:31-42)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 29 September 2013 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church Singapore. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 19:31-42

The sky turned dark when Jesus was crucified.  He was crucified for 6 hours, from 9 am to 3 pm. At 3 pm, He gave up His spirit, “I commit my spirit into Your hands.” Jesus’ death is an active death.  He died willingly. 

The leg bones are harder to break than any other bones in the body.  They were broken to ensure the crucified criminals die.  When they found that Jesus already was dead, there was no need to break His bones.  To confirm His death, His side was pierced and blood and water flowed.  Jesus showed no reaction confirming He already died.  (Jn. 19-31-35)

These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken, and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (Jn. 19:36-37)


This was spoken long time ago by the prophets.  At that time nobody understood what it meant and who the Scripture was referring to whose bones will not be broken.  This is the word of God that transcends all time and space.  Through the mouth of David the psalmist, God spoke about the death of Jesus and the manner in which He would die, and specifically that  His bones were not broken. 

Jesus sacrificed His whole life for us.  How shameful it would be for us not to love the Lord when we see Him face to face one day.  His love is too high, too wide and too deep.  When we think of how much He suffered for us, may we love Him more.

Jesus never did something for Himself during His time on earth.  He was never concerned about material things.  When He died, even His outer garment was taken.  Who then would take care of His burial?  Where did Peter weep?  Where were all His disciples?  Who should handle His body?


The Scripture recorded two persons, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.  This is the only time Joseph of Arimathea was mentioned.  He was not one of the twelve.  He was a righteous man, with good standing in the society and was a rich man.  The problem with him was he was afraid of his own safety.  He wanted to play safe so he followed Jesus secretly.

One day he saw Jesus died.  He never imagined Jesus would sacrifice Himself to die for them.  His conscience was stirred and he wanted to handle the burial of Jesus.  Joseph was also a trusted and respected man as he was able to get permission from Pilate to take the body of Jesus, though Pilate had been troubled with Jesus the whole day.  (v.38)

Before Joseph buried Jesus, Nicodemus came.  Both were highly respected Jewish leaders.  Nicodemus embalmed the body of Jesus with about 100 kg of spices.  It is a very expensive burial.  Jesus never prepared anything for Himself in His life but God had prepared everything for His burial (v.39-42). 

When you faithfully serve the Lord, God will take care of you.  We do not need to be concerned about our own needs as our true and living God will take care of us.