John: The Commissioner
Exegetical & Homiletic Point: Jesus sends out his Disciples with the Spirit to bring life through Faith.
We live in a world full of resurrection. People are constantly trying to resurrect nostalgia and recapture past glories.
Our video games often have a “life” system where if you die, you’ll be back in a moment. Have another go! Death is just a inconvenience.
Our books, film & TV have characters who seem to miraculously return from the dead - you know the trope - so-and-so who died in a car crash 5 years ago returns, it was all a cover-up to throw the bad guys off the trail… Not to mention the whole zombie genre which is an interesting take on the theme.
Our doctors have got pretty good at doing things like resuscitation, including even restarting the heart after it has stopped pumping. It’s a kind of Resurrection, but it only works in a very narrow window - it’s not really bringing people back from death as it is staving off death.
Yet for all our culture’s attempts at Resurrection, it’s all shadows of true resurrection. We can make up stories and motifs, we can leverage our created physiology to bypass true death for a time, but true Resurrection from death is out of reach.
When our pets die, they are gone. Permanently gone. The life has left them.
When people die, they are out of our reach. There may be hope in those first few moments, that perhaps medical intervention can change the natural course of things, but as the minutes slip by, our hope slips away. We will never speak again, we will never hug again, we will never smile with them again.
There is no respawn, there is no faked death to confuse the bad guys, there is no ethereal spirit of the great beyond sending people back because their time on earth is not yet finished.
When we die we are gone. And there’s nothing we can do about it.
Yet, we have before us today a historical record of a man who did rise from the dead. He was killed - beaten within an inch of his life, executed by crucifixion, with a spear in his guts for good measure - then the body was put in a cold tomb and sealed with a massive stone door. Yet, on the third day after he died, this man is up and walking around, folding cloths, talking to one of the women who came to prepare his body for proper burial.
Death could not hold him!
He wasn’t raised to life by medical intervention, it wasn’t an elaborate fake death & cover up to get the government off his back, this guy had actually died, and come back from the grave.
But, What do you do about a guy who comes back from the dead?
How do you respond?
Well a natural first response is doubt. We would doubt that someone has returned from the dead, or we might doubt they died in the first place!
But lets say you’ve seen the evidence, and you’re convinced. What now?
This changes everything - the whole paradigm shifts! If someone can overcome death, then this changes the way we live. It changes the lens we use to see the world!
If someone can overcome death, surely we should find out how?
If someone can overcome death, surely we should tell others how they too can escape death?
If someone can overcome death, surely we should find out who he is, and what makes him capable of such a feat?
The one who defeated death is Jesus of Nazareth, and he was the Messiah the Jews were waiting for.
He is the Son of God, God-made human, who came to overthrow death.
Our passage this morning addresses the big questions that follow the astonishing news that Jesus rose from the dead!
What are we do do with this new? What happens now?
We have three GREAT answers on how we are to respond to the Resurrection.
A Great Commission
A Great Commission
Remember, empty tomb, but Mary had seen the Lord!
She was sent back as the first one to witness & proclaim the resurrection. We know from the other gospels that there was a mixed reception to this news, including that some people thought the women were crazy.
Pick up the story in v19...
(Small text, follow along in your bibles! There are spares up the back.)
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Jesus appeared on that same day in the evening.
Sundays are now the standard day that Christians meet. Although we’ll meet on other days, and in some cultural contexts the weekly gathering/service will be on a different day, yet we naturally return to meeting on Sunday in perpetual remembrance of the Resurrection of our Lord. Before Christ, the Sabbath (Saturday) was the special day, it was the last day, at the end of the week, now the special day is the first day. It is as though OT believers lived in anticipation of coming rest, and with the coming of Christ, no believers live out from the rest received in Salvation.
Back to the disciples: Still afraid of the law - didn't want to be next. The fear created by taking down one person causes others to tow the line.
We saw this in recent years where people who spoke up and spoke-out against injustice and tyranny were silenced and arrested and charged and fined - both here and around the world. This is an example of the effect caused by silencing some “problem people” as an example to the rest to tow the line. These disciples were initially in this same mindset - afraid for their lives and hiding away. This would not last, because something amazing would happen to change their whole outlook...
Jesus stood among them! Locked doors, yet Jesus waltzes in! Either by miraculously unlocking the door, or “phase shifting” into the room.
Peace be with you x1
Physical evidence of His bodily resurrection.
Why were there wounds in a resurrection body?
Signs of the atonement made and battle won. Wounds of shame now stand as emblems of salvation.
Much like our sins, the awful things we are disgusted by from our past, yet they are now markers of God’s grace - He would forgive even that! So although our sins are not to be celebrated or glorified, they have a new meaning to us as signs of our rescue.
Other wounds and trials, now mark our
Response: Joy! Why?
They have received back the one they thought lost.
Jesus words were being fulfilled!
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
Joy in having their teacher back, but also a joy in the fulfillment of the scriptures, a defeat of death!
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
I have titled this sermon, The Commissioner. For you word buffs out there, Commissioners are usually someone who has been given a commission, but here I’m using the word as a verb - someone who commissions. Jesus did have a commission from the Father, but he is now the one giving the commission to his disciples.
Peace - the results of Jesus work are peace! Peace be with you x2
As the Father sent - Disciples are sent in the same way that Jesus was sent -
Speaking the Words of God - Gospel
Save God’s sheep - they will hear his voice!
Sent by Jesus
Breathed (not “on them”) - Spirit & breath connected. Weird for us who are thinking of the spirit coming of Pentecost, yet this is something of a foretaste of what is to come.
Perfect tense - “the perfect gives the sense of completed past action with continuing results in the present.” (The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2070).
“They have been forgiven”
God’s church pronounces the forgiveness or non-forgiveness of sins.
Sent ones - collectively. By Jesus
A Great Faith
A Great Faith
Classic story of “doubting Thomas”, but as we shall see, this name is unfair, because he beleives!
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Naturally report the news about Jesus.
Like many of us, we want empirical evidence.
(remember, most of what we believe in life is not based on such evidence…)
Jesus will condescend to Thomas, but in a way that actually undermines his demands!
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Jesus reveals himself again!
He condescends to let Thomas actually touch his resurrection body.
Thomas is confronted with the truth, and he must make a decisions.
But before we get to that decision...
Peace be with you x3 - Fulfills Jesus earlier promises!
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The Resurrection of Jesus bring peace!
Not peace with the world, or peace with sin, but peace through the overthrow of enemies.
Peace with God, peace of souls not searching perpetually for the a way out.
Back to Thomas...
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
He does believe, and he doesn’t need the touch to do so.
He confesses Jesus not only as master but as God! Tying this end of the book to the opening paragraphs!
Blessed are you! If you will believe without seeing. A beatitude.
This is a blessing for us down through the ages.
Jesus not being mean, he has sent his Spirit to accomplish the work through the Word.
People will not believe even if they see someone return from the dead! Hearts need to be changed!
We are blessed!
A Great Book
A Great Book
Bible studiers love verses like these, they take away the guessing and plainly state the reason for the authors writing.
This verse is familiar to us as we have reminded ourselves of it time and again across our series
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John curated this book to help you believe - best bits (by the HS)
You will have Life!
Responding to the ressurection:
Peace be with you
Commissioned like Jesus
Take out the message of a resurrected Jesus
Blessed are those who believe without seeing
But by believing you may have life!
Carson’s Pillar Commentary on John.