April 3, 2018
Have you ever had something happen to you that changed everything? I got a phone call from my friend Rod Kolke a few years back. At first he sounded troubled. But he was more bewildered than troubled. It seems that one of his life goals was to pay off his mortgage. Well, he told me that TD Bank, the bank that held his mortgage actually draws one mortgage each year to pay off, and they drew his. They paid off his mortgage! But Rod didn’t know how to take this good news. I guess he just needed someone to tell him it was ok to celebrate. For this news changed everything for Rod. Now he didn’t have to worry about making it. Now he had freedom. Now he had security. The retiring of his mortgage was a blessing that changed everything for Rod.
Another instance comes my friend Joann Johnson. Joann has a genetic disease called polycystic kidney disease. About 7 years ago, that disease started taking its toll on her. She’d get fevers and end up in the hospital for days. The first time that happened, she discovered she had only 15% use of her kidneys. Pretty soon she ended up on dialysis and her name was put on a waiting list for a new kidney. Listen to her words of the day everything changed for her: “After 2.5 years of dialysis I got a call that there was a good match for me. I remember so many people had been faithfully praying for me, some I have never met! That day there was an army lifting me up in fervent prayer. The word that came to mind over and over as I was preparing for surgery was “Covered” and the peace of The Lord’s presence with me was more tangible than I’d ever experienced. Once the transplant happened I felt distinctly healthier and like I had been given new life. The gift of my new kidney is for me a metaphor of the gift of Christ’s sacrifice for me. I don’t deserve it and I can never say thank you enough. Not a day goes by that I’m not acutely aware of the blessing of the life I’ve been given. God has been so good to me!” Getting that new kidney changed everything for Joann.
Now, if you’re like me and you hear stories like that, it makes you wonder if something like that could ever happen to you. And if you’ve ever wondered that, then I have some good news for you today. For that is what today is all about. For on this day, some 2000 years ago and event took place that changed everything for your life today. That’s what the resurrection of Jesus Christ is all about. You see on the Friday before, Jesus shed his blood for the sins of the world. He took upon his flesh the punishment our sins deserve, and then He died in our place upon that cross. His body was taken down from the cross and was buried in tomb. Darkness and grief consumed his followers. But on the morning of the third day Jesus rose from the grave just as He said, and that changed everything – not just for his followers then, but for us today.
So this morning, if you want to know how the resurrection can change everything for you, then let me encourage you to open your Bibles to John 20:19-23 where Jesus appears to his disciples in the evening of that first day. For as we come to this resurrection encounter with Jesus, Jesus himself reveals to us at least three ways His resurrection changes everything. And the first way the risen Jesus changes everything is this: Jesus comes to us with His Presence and Peace Look at verses 19-20: 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. John 20:19-20
This must have been some gathering, because this had been some day. Earlier that morning, Mary Magdalene and some of the other women had discovered that the tomb were Jesus had been laid was now empty. Upon this discovery, Mary quickly came to disciples and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Upon hearing that, John and Peter then sprinted to the tomb to see if what Mary had said was true. Listen to how John describes this: Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. John 20:4-8
Later, Mary went back to the tomb, but this time she met Jesus and Jesus spoke to her. She was the first to see the risen Jesus. So she returned a second time saying, “I have seen the Lord!” And then, earlier that evening, two disciples returned to Jerusalem after encountering Jesus on the road to Emmaus, found the Eleven and said to them, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” I can’t imagine what they were thinking, what they were feeling. After all, the last few days had been a nightmare. Now all these reports of seeing Jesus alive. Could it be true? But at the same time there was a report out that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus. That’s why the doors were locked. They were afraid the religious authorities might come any moment arrest them for stealing the body of Jesus. And yet, it is at this very moment, the Bible tells us, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” In Luke’s account, he wrote, that “they were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.” (Luke 24:37) And that is why, After Jesus said, “Peace be with you,” he showed them his hands and side. And at that moment everything changed: For the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
The disciples changed from fear to joy. Jesus was with them. They could see him. They saw the scars in his hands and side. He wasn’t a ghost. He was alive. That’s the first and most significant life changing fact of the resurrection: #1 JESUS IS ALIVE Jesus defeated death. Because Jesus lives, you don’t have to die. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. This makes hope real and tangible. For if you trust in Jesus, you will live with Him, now and forever. Knowing this is life changing. Now because Jesus lives – You don’t have to fear death. You don’t have to fear an uncertain future. You don’t have to fear failing heath. You don’t have to fear anything. You can simply have joy knowing that Jesus is alive. This alone is the most significant fact of the resurrection. Here’s the second:
#2 JESUS GIVES PEACE When Jesus rose from the grave, the first thing He did was impart peace to His disciples. He says to them: “Peace be with you” For Jesus, this was more than a greeting. This was the peace he had promised – a peace that the world does not give. The world offers a “peace” based on favorable conditions and circumstances: “If you get everything right in your life you can have peace.” But at this point, nothing had been going right for these disciples. They were confused, full of fear and doubts. Their lives had been turned upside down. But with the resurrection of Jesus comes a peace that surpasses understanding – a peace found in Him.
That’s why the resurrection changes everything. Now that Jesus has risen, his peace is available to anyone who trusts in Him. Jesus is our peace. He says that in this world we will have trouble, but He will always be with us no matter what we may face. And that’s the good news. The good news of the resurrection, is that you can always have His peace. For He promises to always be with us, never to forsake us. That’s the second significant fact of the resurrection. Now the third:
#3 JESUS HAS SCARS When Jesus rose from the grave, he kept the reminders of his death for us. Jesus’ scars are a constant reminder of his sacrifice for our sin: We have a Savior with scars. He suffered the worst evil humanity can dish out, yet he has forgiven us. His payment for your sin and mine is complete. And now his resurrection insures that he will never again have to die for your sin. Because Jesus conquered the grave, your guilt is gone. Your condemnation is removed. Jesus bears the scars of his love for you, so you will never have to die for your sins. And that changes everything! So rejoice! For his resurrection means you can be forgiven forever!
But there’s more. Look now at verse 21, Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!” As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21 Jesus didn’t rise from the grave simply to forgive you. No, His resurrection has far more implications than just giving you a pure heart. His resurrection also means that He can now include you in his plan to change the world. That’s what we see here: Jesus sends us with His Peace and Purpose
Again Jesus declares, “Shalom Alekem” “Peace be with you!” At first, this was heard as an ordinary greeting to calm their fears and give them peace. But now that the disciples believe that Jesus is alive, he says it again. But what we don’t see is the expression on his face. This is why Jesus came in the first place. Surely He came to die for us so we could know Him and live forgiven. But he also came that we might experience the “Peace of God” to the fullest. “Shalom” Life as God meant it to be. Life: where people are treated with dignity and respect. Life: where we love our neighbors and even love our enemies. Life with no worries. Life with meaning and joy. This is the life of the Kingdom that Jesus brings. That is what’s at the core of this Hebrew word Shalom. Shalom means “well-being” in its fullest sense.
So the best way to define this pronouncement of Shalom is this: Shalom is life at its best under the gracious hand of God. That’s why the resurrection changes everything.
You see, Jesus’ resurrection isn’t just victory over the grave, Jesus resurrection ushers in the DAWN of a new day. Jesus’ rising from the dead is just the beginning. From here on out Jesus passes the same mission his Father gave him… TO US. We rejoice that Jesus is alive, BUT OUR JOY MUST NOT BE OURS ALONE! GOD WANTS EVERYONE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE TO THE FULL. GOD WANTS EVERYONE TO HAVE JOY, MEANING and HOPE. GOD WANTS EVERYONE TO KNOW HIM AND HIS LOVE So Jesus rises to send us to bring HIS Peace to our world.
Now this may seem a daunting task at first. But I want us to see the significance of Jesus’ words. When Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me” he used a very specific verb; a perfect tense verb; which means Jesus’ mission began in the past with continuing application in the present. Why is this significant? His mission didn’t end at the cross. His mission didn’t end at the resurrection. No, The Father’s plan for Jesus’ mission to our world is meant to continue through us. IT IS THE SAME MISSION! The One Mission of God has two phases: the first, the life of the Son that was lived out through His incarnate life; the second phase, is that of the Son in His risen life, lived out in the present – through the lives of his people. That’s us! That’s every man, woman and child who believes in the risen Jesus. This is why the resurrection changes everything.
For the day Jesus rose from the dead, HE initiated a REVOLUTION to bring the Shalom of God to a broken and hurting world. On that first night, Jesus commissioned his followers to be the hearts, hands and feet of His redemption revolution.
In other words, because Jesus rose from the grave, HE is now able to live in and through you today: to love the unlovely, to lift the fallen, to strengthen weak, to rescue the perishing, to restore the broken – to bring the Shalom of God to our world.
This is the message of the resurrection that needs not just to be proclaimed, but to be LIVED OUT by us. Our world needs the grace, truth and the life that Jesus brings. But that will only happen if we LET the resurrected Jesus live through us!
This is God’s plan for the world: The church is the hope of the world because we have the risen Jesus. And He changes everything. For once we have the risen Jesus, he gives us what we need to live out his mission to our world. And that’s the last life-changing piece of the resurrection we see in this passage. Look now at verses 22-23 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.” John 20:22-23 So what does Jesus give us to help us fulfill his mission?
Jesus gives us His Power and Pardon When Jesus breathed on his followers in the upper room, he was imparting new life to them. Just as God breathed life into Adam and made him a living being, Jesus breathes spiritual life into anyone who believes in Him. This life is His life, the life that enabled Jesus to rise from the grave. It is the power that now enables anyone who believes to live like Jesus, love like Jesus and forgive like Jesus.
Listen to how Paul describes this incredible power Jesus gives us: I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
That’s why the resurrection changes everything. For when you receive Jesus you receive His Spirit. And when you receive His Spirit, you receive the power to live this new life of grace, truth, hope and love. And this is what our world needs today.
For our world is broken. It is full of anger and fear, blame and alienation, distrust and despair. So Jesus gives us His Spirit so that we might heal what is broken. That we might show the world another way: the way of acceptance and love, healing and restoration, compassion and hope. Our world is not as it should be. So Jesus sends us into this world with the power to change everything. That’s why He gives us His Spirit. For it is only by His power that life can be made new. It is only by His power that enemies can be made friends. It is only by His power that healing can begin.
And it all begins with FORGIVENESS. For the moment Jesus rose from the grave a new day dawned. Now, when you put your faith in Jesus, God forgives your every sin. That’s the good news of the resurrection. That’s the power of our mission. For when we tell others of our risen Savior, that he defeated sin and death by rising from the grave – that means HE now has the power to forgive you of all you sin, and give you a new life with Him. And that changes everything. That’s what happened 2000 years ago on this day!
Jesus rose from the grave to change you. That’s the good news of the resurrection. Jesus is alive. He offers you His peace. He shows you His Scars. He gives you His life, so you can have a life like you never imagined: a forgiven life, a full life, and fruitful life. That’s how the resurrection changes EVERYTHING. So let me ask you: Has it changed you?