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He Is Not Here!

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He Is Not Here!

Matthew 28:6 HCSB
He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead is a historical fact, about a historical person, who died an actual historical death, and rose from the dead in a real historical and physical form, though a glorified body. The resurrection is absolutely critical to Christianity. It means that God was satisfied with the sacrifice for sin that Jesus Christ offered. It means that He conquered death, not only for Himself, but for all who believed on Him.
The evidence of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ permeates the entirety of Scripture. The OT writers presented the resurrection in a number of way. Our Lord Jesus Himself spoke many times of His resurrection to His apostles. But in spite of what Scripture said, in spite of what our Lord said many time — specifically that He would die and would rise again on the third day — in spite of all this, incredibly — the first skeptics were His followers!
We’re in the 20th chapter of John — .
John 20:19 HCSB
In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”
“In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews.”
Isnt that incredible?
That first day of the week — Resurrection Sunday — the first Easter, everything has happened just as He said — He was handed over to the Jews, He was beaten, crucified, died, and buried — and He rose from the dead! The women have testified that He is risen. Two disciples testified that He appeared to them on the road to Emmaus. Peter has been to the tomb and He is gone. And yet — Look at this!
Where are the disciples?
They locked themselves behind closed doors — afraid, frightened, and terrified.
The very last thing they expected was a resurrection. They don’t believe in a resurrection. They don’t believe the testimony of eyewitness whom they knew and were credible.
How did they reach the point that they preached the resurrection all the way to their death?
How did they get to the point that they preached Christ risen against the immense hatred and opposition, eventually to the point of giving their lives as martyrs?
I want you to think about this:
What other reason explains the massive transformation that turned these disciples from tightened, coward, disappointed disciples into bold, relentless, fearless preachers of Jesus Christ?
If it wasn’t a resurrection, then what greater event completely transformed them?
Let’s read the text.
John 20:19–29 HCSB
19 In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 20 Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” 26 After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.” 28 Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”
What had happened?
He is risen! — Just like He said.
What had happened already that morning is recorded in . Let’s turn there before we get into our text. Luke 24.
The women arrive at the tomb to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.
Luke 24:3 HCSB
3 They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
Let’s pick it up in verse 4.
Luke 24:4–8 HCSB
4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. 5 So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground. “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. 6 “He is not here, but He has been resurrected! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” 8 And they remembered His words.
Then they returned from the tomb and reported all of this to the Eleven. Now look at verse 11.
Luke 24:11 HCSB
11 But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women.
Peter, always spontaneous —
Luke 24:12 HCSB
12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths. So he went home, amazed at what had happened.
Luke 24:
Even though Peter had seen the empty tomb for himself, we’re not really sure he actually believed in a resurrection.
So, the women had gone to the grave and the tomb was empty. The grave clothes were lying there. The two angels told the women He had risen. This is testimony from heaven. This is God’s word on what happened. The women believe it, but the Eleven are skeptical. The Lord appeared personally to Mary Magdalene.
And now in , we pick up the story in verse 13 where two disciples, not apostles, but two followers of Jesus were on their way seven miles to the town of Emmaus. They’re disputing with one another concerning all that had happened concerning the crucifixion and resurrection — and Jesus Himself approached them. Now this is the risen Christ. And He asks them what their disputing over. And one of them, Cleopas answered Him —
Luke 24:
Luke 24:18 HCSB
18 The one named Cleopas answered Him, “Are You the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?”
And Jesus’ response is just incredible, prompting Cleopas to admission of what he thought of Christ.
Luke 24:19–24 HCSB
19 “What things?” He asked them. So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a Prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that He was the One who was about to redeem Israel. Besides all this, it’s the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women from our group astounded us. They arrived early at the tomb, 23 and when they didn’t find His body, they came and reported that they had seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see Him.”
And here Christ gives them the Word of God and interprets it to them — which reveals who He is — the Messiah. Though at first sad, disappointed, and despondent — Look at verse 32.
Luke 24:32 HCSB
32 So they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?”
This is the response of believers.
So, Christ has now disappeared from their sight and they get up head back to Jerusalem. When they arrive, they find the Eleven holed up and as they’re reporting that Jesus is alive — Scripture says — “He Himself stood among them.” Then He speaks to them, shows them His hands and feet, and asks for food to eat — And He Eats it!
Now all of this indicates a real, bodily resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. The testimony of God to the women through two angels, the testimony then of the women to the Eleven, Peter still is astonished, the testimony of the two disciples, and now there is Jesus standing before them.
Now let’s pick it up in our text in — at verse 19.
John 20:19 HCSB
19 In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”
They were afraid that they also could be arrested and led to the same fate that had befallen the Lord.
They were together with the doors locked. The Greek word actually is barred or locked. They are holed up behind locked doors because their master had been arrested and killed and they feared the same thing.
Then the text says simply: “Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’”
How did that happen? How did he appear in a room that was locked?
He rearranged the molecules in His resurrected body to go right through the wall. Skeptics suggest He met a janitor who had a secret key and let Him in. That’s not true. Someone suggested He found an open window. No. Others say He was in the room before they got there and locked the door. All ridiculous. The Scripture says, He appeared.
Notice now what He says to them — “Peace to you!” This is exactly what they need. Now you notice it’s not the same thing He said to the two disciples.
Luke 24:25
Luke 24:25–26 HCSB
25 He said to them, “How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?”
But He doesn’t say that here. The Lord knows exactly what is needed. They needed affirmation of His resurrection. They were traumatized and needed the reality of the resurrection. They needed His pronouncement of Peace! And then He shows them His hands and His side.
And their response to Christ was joy. The rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
We often talk about what someone says before they die and how important this is. Usually, people don’t trivialize the moment of death. What people say in their last breath is something that’s dominating their thoughts and hearts.
We’ve been studying the Upper Room discourse on Sunday nights and what the Lord wanted to teach His disciples that last time together, that last night.
But think about this:
What is the first thing Jesus wants to tell His disciples after His resurrection? How important is this moment?
It’s a clear and simple message. It occupies just 3 verses and it is profound.
John 20:21–23 HCSB
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
John 20:21
This is His first post-Resurrection sermon and it is so vital and essential a mandate.
Let’s look at this briefly — The First Easter Sermon.

I. The Commission — Im Sending you

John 20:21 HCSB
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
John
Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.
Why did the Father send the Son into the world?
The Father sent the Son not to bring social justice, not to eradicate poverty, not to make circumstances better — the Father sent the Son “to save the lost.” He had no other purpose — He came to save the lost, to provide the sacrifice for sin and to bring salvation to all God’s chosen people through out all of redemptive history.
Do you think about your life this way?
I hope you do. This resolves all fears. Jesus has accomplished all things necessary to eradicate sin and redeem you. Can you imagine Lazarus? He was sick and died. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and when raised he was not sick any longer. What Jesus did was to die for you, taking the penalty of sin — death, that you might be justified before God. In Him then your life is then resurrection life! Just as Lazarus’ sickness that killed him was no longer an issue, so is the sin that has killed you is no longer an issue. You are then more than conquerers!
So, as the Father sent Me, I also send you. You are sent for the same purpose. You are here to live resurrected life and carry that message to sinners.
Acts 1:1–2 HCSB
1 I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day He was taken up, after He had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen.
Acts 1:1-
You and I are continuing what the apostles continued and that was what Jesus began to do and teach. Everything we do in our lives is to let our light shine so that men can see the good works, glorify God who is in heaven who transformed us to such good works, and shine His light in the world by preaching the Gospel to the lost.
So, that’s the first thing in His Easter Sermon is the CommissionAs the Father sent Me, I also send you.” The second thing is then — the Power for that Commission.

II. The Power — Receive the Holy Spirit.

John 20:22 HCSB
22 After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
John
This is absolutely critical!
When Christ came into the world and He began His ministry, the Holy Spirit came upon Him at His baptism — and launched Him into ministry. As the Father empowered Jesus with the Holy Spirit, Jesus empowers us with the Holy Spirit.
Throughout the evening before in the Upper Room (, , and 16) He kept telling His disciples.
John 14:16 HCSB
16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.
John 14:
And then in Acts
Acts 1:8 HCSB
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
How vital is this for our spiritual life?
As vital as it is for our physical life.
Genesis 2:7 HCSB
7 Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.
Genesis 2;
We get a picture of this in . You remember this is Israel lying like a valley of dry bones in a desert.
Ezekiel 37:5–6 HCSB
5 This is what the Lord God says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. 6 I will put tendons on you, make flesh grow on you, and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you so that you come to life. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.”
Ezekiel 37:6
And so God commands the prophet
Ezekiel 37:9–10 HCSB
9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man. Say to it: This is what the Lord God says: Breath, come from the four winds and breathe into these slain so that they may live!” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me; the breath entered them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army.
Ezekiel 37:9
And in — the Holy Spirit descended on all the believers there, including the Apostles, and the disciples — and they turned into fearless, bold preachers of the Gospel who confront the leaders of Israel, kings, Governors, and the world. They preach the death and resurrection of Christ. And every single Christian receives the same Holy Spirit upon conversion.
No believer is left without the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:9 HCSB
9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
The Lord Commissions His disciples and Empowers them.
And Finally,

III. The Authority — Forgive Sins.

John 20:23 HCSB
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
This is often misinterpreted. The Roman Catholic system applies this to the Pope, bishops, cardinals, and priests. But our Lord is talking to the Apostles and not just the Apostles but other people were with them as well — so this is to All Followers of Christ.
This is remarkable and absolutely critical to the mission.
Now you might be saying:
Wait a minute! How is that possible? Only God can forgive sins, right?
Mark 2:7 HCSB
7 “Why does He speak like this? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
But listen to the testimony of Peter in .
Acts 10:42–43 HCSB
42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to solemnly testify that He is the One appointed by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 10:42 HCSB
42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to solemnly testify that He is the One appointed by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead.
Did you get that?
Peter says, “We’ve been commissioned, sent, ordered to preach the Gospel. And what we preach is the Gospel, that everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ receives forgiveness of sin.”
So, if we preach the Gospel, whoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, then we can say to them — “Your sins are forgiven.”
If when we preach, someone rejects the Lord Jesus Christ, then I can say, “You are still in your sins, your sins are retained.”
That’s the authority the Gospel message has on the hearer — and the rejecter.
Jesus told the Jews this very thing in John 8.
John 8:24 HCSB
24 Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
So, the Commission, the Power, and the Authority. That is our calling: “Go to the world, just like the Father sent Me, the Son sends us. “Go in the power of the Spirit and preach the forgiveness of sin with the authority of the Son who died and resurrected.
One final thing here.
8 Days Later — Thomas
One of the disciples was not there — Thomas.
John 20:24 HCSB
24 But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples
The other disciples kept saying, “We have seen the Lord.” But Thomas is sceptical.
John 20:25 HCSB
25 So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!”
And now here they are again, the next Sunday. The doors were locked again, Jesus appears to them again with the same message — “Peace to you!”
But then look at this — This is just absolutely great. Look at the personal care.
John 20:27 HCSB
27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”
Our Lord knows exactly what we need.
And that was enough for Thomas.
John 20:28 HCSB
28 Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
And look at our final verse, verse 29.
John 20:29 HCSB
29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”
And that includes all of those who believed from that moment until His return — that includes us.
1 Peter 1:8 HCSB
8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy,
1 Peter 1:
That is the beauty of the care that our Lord had for His disciples as a group, for Thomas personally, and each of us. The physical, literal evidence of a resurrected Savior is the reality we live in. We have a risen Christ, a risen Christ whom we love and whom we believe, whom we experience in our lives because He has transformed our lives. The Resurrected Christ has commissioned us to “Go to the world,” empowered us with His Holy Spirit, and given us authority for those who believe to say, “Your sins are forgiven.”
We live in the power of His resurrection today.
Let’s Pray.
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