Jesus: Properly Dead. Properly Alive Again.

Why Jesus is My Hero #22 of 52

I’m on camp this week, so I don’t have time to write a proper blog post. Here’s a copy and paste job of the talk I’m doing tonight.

How can we know that what Jesus said is true? How can we know that his life wasn’t just a waste?

Jesus makes some pretty big claims:

  • He’s said that we’ve all turned away from our heavenly Father and said to God “I wish you were dead”
  • And what could be bigger than his claim to be God? HUGE
  • And we saw this morning about how Jesus can forgive our sins – that we can have a restored relationship with God by trusting in the cross – that the no entry sign is torn in two

And I wonder how all that leaves you feeling about Jesus? Maybe you’re a bit doubtful – it sounds like a lot of big talk about some guy who lived a long time ago a long way away.

  • It really matters whether this is real or whether this is just make-believe, and perhaps to you right now it feels like it’s all just make believe?
  • If he died, how do we know his claims are true? How can we trust anything he said?
  • Maybe he was just a weak silly man who died on a cross

Well this evening I want to introduce someone who can help us answer all this. Let me introduce you to Mary from that passage we’ve just read – she’s a close friend of Jesus

  • She’d heard Jesus making these incredible claims up close
  • She’d really started to pin her hopes on him – he holds out the offer of restoring her broken relationship with God

And yet have a look down at v11: v11 “Mary stood outside the tomb crying.”

  • When we meet Mary, she’s in floods of tears

What’s gone wrong? Why is she crying?

  • Well, it’s been a traumatic weekend for Mary
  • She’s seen her dear friend Jesus – the one she’s invested so much of her hope in – she’s watched him be executed on a Roman cross and his body laid to rest in a cold tomb, and a great big stone rolled across the entrance.
  • He’d done and promised so many amazing things that it really seemed like he was God come to Earth. And now he was gone, just like any normal human being.
  • No doubt about it: Jesus was definitely dead.

Mary went to the tomb that day to try and pour special burial oils on Jesus’ body, but when she got there she didn’t find what she expected at all. Mary discovered that day three surprising facts.

  1. The Tomb Was Empty
  • Mary had seen Jesus buried, she knew which tomb she should go to
  • And now when she shows up at the tomb on the Sunday morning, the huge stone has somehow been rolled away, and the body is gone. Jesus’ body isn’t there.

An already traumatic weekend just became even more emotional for Mary, so we can hardly blame her for weeping outside the tomb. Where has the body gone?

Well Mary wasn’t alone outside the tomb. Have a look with me at v11:

“As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.” – you know something pretty unusual is going on when you meet two angels!

It carries on, “They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where the have put him.”

And then she meets a third man who she doesn’t immediately recognise.

Read with me from v15: “‘Woman’, he said, ‘why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.'”

Poor Mary – she’s clearly utterly overwhelmed with grief at this point. “I’ll go and fetch him” she says – You can just picture this image of her going and finding Jesus’ body and trying to pick it up and carry it all by herself – she’s utterly overcome with grief because Jesus’ body is missing, the tomb is empty.

But then the gardener speaks one word which changes everything forever:

v16 “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.'”

  • Suddenly there is instant recognition – this is no gardener, this is Jesus, her friend Jesus who was dead is now alive again and standing before her, talking to her.

And that’s the second surprising fact that Mary discovered that day:

  1. Jesus Was Alive Again

Her friend Jesus is standing in front of her alive and well.

  • She turns towards him and cries out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” which means Teacher.
  • From Jesus’ words in v17, it seems she throws her arms around him and clings on to him as though she never wants to let go ever again.

Just as Jesus was definitely dead a few hours previously, now he is definitely alive again

  • As Mary puts it in v18, as she runs off to tell the disciples the good news: “I have seen the Lord!” She’s seen it with her own eyes

There’s no doubt that a miracle has taken place unlike anything that’s been seen before:

  • Even in the unlikely event that Jesus had somehow managed to cling on to life after being crucified and having a spear thrust into his side, he’d not have had an ounce of strength left in him
  • Who knows how on earth he’d have managed to roll away the huge boulder blocking the mouth of the tomb – and bear in mind that by this point he’d not have eaten a thing since the Thursday night
  • But when he appears, there’s something glorious and powerful about this risen Jesus that people find utterly compelling and awe-inspiring. This isn’t some bruised and battered man who’s just crawled out from a grave where he’s wrongly been buried alive. 

No, Jesus was definitely dead – too many people saw that and testified to that for there to be any doubt.

And now Jesus is definitely alive again.

* He is risen – resurrected.

And this isn’t just some fairy story or a metaphor. The people writing this down for us want us to understand this as historical fact – something that really happened

  • Like we heard in the interview, he was seen by many many people after his resurrection
  • There were too many of them to just be imagining it. And it wasn’t just wishful thinking – Mary and the disciples were as sceptical as anybody
  • The man Jesus who lived in human history was definitely dead, and the many, many eye witnesses assure us that a few days later he was definitely alive again.

  • This is utterly unique
  • There’s never been anything like it either before or since
  • A few people claim to have had near-death experiences – but they all died eventually
  • Jesus’ resurrection was unlike anything else – it’s way more significant than the Pirates of the Caribbean and their Fountain of Youth – Jesus didn’t just get an extra 50 years added to his life:
  • Jesus defeated death – he rose from the dead, never to die again

We know all too well that dead people don’t come back to life

  • That’s what makes death so painful – its permanence
  • And for every other religion in the world, the person who founded it has long since passed away
  • A Muslim can’t have a relationship with Muhammed – he’s dead
  • A Buddhist can’t have a relationship with Bhudda – he’s dead
  • The fact that Mary met Jesus alive again, risen from the dead – it sets him completely apart from everyone else – he’s in another league altogether. He’s unlike anyone who’s ever come before or since
  • All the facts, all the eye witnesses, point to the fact that Jesus is alive – death was not the end for Jesus. He’s not dead – he’s ALIVE

And if this is true, then it’s a fact that has profound implications

The fact that dead people don’t come alive again is precisely what makes Jesus’ resurrection so important:

3. Jesus Is Everything He Says He Is – that’s the final thing Mary discovered that day

Jesus defeated death and proved that everything he said about himself was true.

[Illustration: Captain Barbosa actor in another film, Shine, about pianist who has a mental breakdown.

Looks all shabby in his raincoat, muttering under his breath, cigarette hanging from his mouth.

Fantastic scene where he wanders into a posh restaurant clutching piles of sheet music, sits down at the piano – says he knows how to play. Everything laughs – he’s clearly mentally ill, looks like a weak silly man.

Then he breaks out into this amazing virtuoso performance of the Flight of the Bumblebee, hands running up and down the keys, an incredible performance – and everyone is utterly speechless, jaws hanging open. He’s everything he said he was – nobody could believe it until they saw it with their own eyes.]

It means his death on the cross really was enough for us to be forgiven.

  • Look down at v17 again, and see how Jesus calls the disciples now his “brothers”: “Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father.'”
  • Jesus’ death has broken down the barriers between them and God now, so now they have the amazing privilege of being able to call God their Father. “my Father and YOUR Father.” – we can be accepted because he was rejected
  • They’re Jesus’ brothers now.

Do you see how incredible this is?

  • If we trust in him, we don’t need to fear being shut out from the presence of God like we deserve for turning our backs on God.
  • It means we can be friends with our Father again because of what Jesus has done

It doesn’t mean we won’t still die one day.

  • But Jesus’ resurrection means we can know for certain that the cross worked – the no entry sign is gone
  • It’s not all make believe after all – we can be with God

What could be more wonderful news than that? There’s hope even in the face of death!

This is the most amazing moment in history, that proves that sinners like the disciples, like you and me, can be brought into God’s family.

Do you see that Jesus’ death and resurrection means that we can be part of God’s family now?

  • What an amazing promise, and one that we can be absolutely confident of

So how can we know that what Jesus said is true? How can we know that his life wasn’t just a waste?

  • Jesus was really dead, and now Jesus is really alive – nothing can stand in his way.
  • Jesus is Everything he says he is