Here’s a story in four parts. I would like for us to observe our own emotions towards each part.
Part 1: There was a man who was doing business, and he became so successful and became a billionaire.
Part 2: In his old age, he wanted to pass down his wealth, and made a system in which his rightful heir can inherit the wealth.
Part 3: He’s your ancestor.
Part 4: You are the rightful heir.
You’ve had an emotional response to each part of this story. Which of your four emotional responses did you have when you heard that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead?
We cannot compare the value of heaven and salvation with material things on this earth, but if we could, how much would eternal life in heaven be worth? What could we exchange for entrance into the kingdom of God?
Jesus died and rose again, and today we give thanks and celebrate His resurrection. Why? Because of this news, we can become heirs of the kingdom of heaven.
What does resurrection mean to us? Is it truly exciting news to you?
What Jesus’ resurrection meant to His disciples (John 20:19)
According to the Gospel of John, the disciples didn’t seem to be too excited about Jesus’ resurrection immediately. Mary and the other women came to them and told them the news, but they weren’t that excited about it. They were sceptical and confused. It was in the evening when this happened, implying their spiritual state. The disciples had shut the doors and hid in a room. Jesus had risen, but they were still in darkness. They had shut the doors of their hearts and hopes because Jesus had died on them. They were afraid of the Jews, the persecutions, and the confusion that had been introduced into their faith. They feared that Christianity wasn’t true. Other people had testified that Jesus had risen, but they probably could not understand or believe what was going on in their lives. They were stuck at Jesus’ death. And even if Jesus had risen from the dead, what did that imply? They had given up on their jobs, their families, their reputations, their money, everything. They had put all their hopes on Jesus and followed Him. They believed that Jesus would be with them all the way, but Jesus died on the cross. Even if Jesus were to come back to them, things would not be the same as before. They felt terrified and lost. That’s why they shut the doors and hid in fear.
What about us? What’s the cause of our fear today? What makes us shut the doors to other people and to Jesus? Why is it so hard for our hearts to open up and believe in the Gospel? What am I waiting for? Why is my heart, not opening? That was the state of the disciples.
What did Jesus’ resurrection mean to the disciples? They were in spiritual and physical darkness, but Jesus came in and stood in their midst. This is the mystery of Jesus’ resurrection. They weren’t ready to open the doors to the room, and the doors to their heart. They weren’t ready to stand before Jesus because they were so ashamed. They needed to set things in order before coming to Jesus. They locked the doors securely, but Jesus came in anyway.
What about you? Has Jesus come to your heart? We have barriers in our hearts, trying to keep Him out, but Jesus comes in anyway. And what does Jesus say? “Peace be with you”. What does this mean? Jesus is saying, “I know you are afraid right now, and that you couldn’t believe it. I know you are ashamed. You are disappointed in Me and in yourselves. But it’s over now. You don’t have to worry anymore.” That is what Jesus means when He says, “Peace be with you.”
If someone lends a million dollars to you, and you find yourself unable to pay the debt, you cannot be the one to say to the debtor, “Peace be with you.” Only the debtor can say that. All the debts that we owe the Lord, He says to us, “Peace be with you.” Not because we have paid all our debt, but because He has risen.
The disciples were not ready to go out, but Jesus said, “Just as the Father has sent Me, I send you.” (John 20:21-23). Jesus is saying, “I trust you. You take My place and do My work.” And then Jesus tells them to receive the Holy Spirit, and He gives them the authority to forgive sins.
What allows us to forgive others? When we can see the greater order of God’s redemption work, we can forgive each other. There are two kinds of forgiveness that we can give. Only those who truly believe that you are forgiven of amazingly great sins can forgive others.
The first kind is to forgive someone who has hurt me. But Jesus isn’t only talking about this kind. Jesus is also talking about letting someone receive forgiveness from God. It is us taking Jesus Christ’s forgiveness and giving it to other people. This is the mission of the disciples: to spread the news of the Gospel. We need to therefore forgive those who have sinned against us and to spread the Gospel to those around us. Forgiveness is the key that opens the doors of peace, and the doors to people’s hearts.
Nelson Mandela was formerly the president of South Africa. He fought against racism and spent about 27 years in prison. And in his inauguration speech, he said, “I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” What does this mean? Bitterness and hatred is a prison, and he could get out because he chose to forgive. In this world, forgiveness brings peace. He was able to forgive because he saw a greater purpose for South Africa. Jesus’ resurrection gives us a greater purpose for the world, for our lives, and for the future.
What did Jesus’ resurrection mean for Thomas?
What did Jesus’ resurrection mean for doubting Thomas? Did he really not believe it? Was his faith so much smaller than the other disciples? When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, the people warned Jesus not to go there because people wanted to kill Him there. But Thomas said, “Let us go, so that we might die with Him.” (John 16). Jesus promised to prepare a place for His disciples, but Thomas said, “We do not know the way You are going” (John 14:3-5). Thomas is brave and straightforward. That’s the kind of personality he had. That’s why in today’s passage, Thomas said that he would not believe unless he sees the holes in Jesus’ hands.
What is better? A faith that is tested, or a faith that has not withstood trials? Faith solidifies only after it is tested. Some people, like Thomas, must be clearer about things before they can believe. Thomas isn’t saying that he doesn’t want to believe. He isn’t challenging with a defiant attitude, but because he wants to believe. Is it possible for someone to believe Jesus without doubts? What do we do when we hit a roadblock in our faith? Do we continue acting like we believe? Do we give up our faith? Or do we hold on, wrestle, and struggle with God? Jacob wrestled with God, and God gave Jacob a new name. Acting like we have faith, even though we don’t, is hypocrisy. Thomas wasn’t like this; he was honest.
The number eight represents renewal (John 20:26). After 8 days Jesus came to His disciples with Thomas among them, and He asks Thomas to put his hand on His side. Jesus already knew Thomas’ unbelief and his doubts. We can only believe because Jesus helps us to believe. If Jesus didn’t help us, we would not be able to believe. That’s what Jesus’ resurrection means to us. It is an assurance of faith for us.
What did Jesus’ resurrection mean to Peter and the other disciples?
Jesus manifested Himself to Peter and the other disciples who were fishing (John 21:1-5). These disciples saw the empty tomb. They heard Jesus was alive, and met Him. They witnessed Jesus appearing to Thomas. And after all that, they went back to their livelihood of fishing. Why? The right answer is that they didn’t know what to do. It must have been so confusing and hard for the disciples in their situation. So they decided to go back to what they were familiar with. And Jesus comes to them.
Jesus asks Peter to tend His sheep after asking him “Do you love Me” three times. Peter couldn’t match the level of agape love that Jesus wanted from him. He could only love Jesus with a phileo love. But Jesus told him to tend His sheep anyway. It was here that the disciples realized that they had to mature as followers of Jesus. They had to stand on their own now, instead of depending on Jesus’ physical presence. They needed to learn to depend on Jesus’ spiritual presence.
Conclusion: If Jesus did not rise from the dead, what would my life be like today?
If Jesus had not resurrected from the dead, then where is our source of hope? Our lives would only be a race toward hell. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we can have hope, purpose, and direction. Just like the disciples in today’s story, Jesus gives us a new purpose and direction. No matter what trials may come their way, they can overcome them. This year may the power of resurrection come to us. May we be able to hear Jesus telling us today, “Peace be with you.”
Jesus commissioned His disciples to make disciples of all nations and to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. If we can join this mission, wouldn’t it be worth investing our entire lives? Let us respond to Jesus’ calling with an “Amen”. This is all possible because Jesus rose from the dead.