In this morning’s sermon (Nov. 8, 2015), I preached from John 20 where the resurrected Jesus appears three different times and with each of these appearances, there are extremely important similarities that are helpful for us. Here is what the text says:
John 20:11–29 (ESV)
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
So that it is super easy for you to see the parallels between these three occasions, I have laid them out below:
|Result-||Profession of Faith||Faith (Assumed)||Profession of Faith|
|What Jesus did-||Sent
The resurrected Jesus changes people doesn’t he? He shows up and for Mary, sorrow becomes joy. For the disciples, fear becomes gladness. For Thomas, doubt turns into worship. This is what we should expect when it comes to the gospel converting sinners. What we are looking for in those we share the gospel with is radical conversion that changes entire lives.
One more thing that I want to point out in this text is the way the resurrected Jesus brings joy. Jesus is alive! This reality is not something that is accepted with a straight face and a monotone profession. Thomas cries out to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28). This is what we pray for people. That Jesus would take those who are dead in sin and make them alive with gladness in his salvation. As the psalmist said, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the people with equity and guide the nations upon the earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.”