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.


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