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The Resurrection - John 20:19-31

This is a family service talk by Malcolm Peters from the Riverside Church service on 4th November 2007.

Click here to read the bible passage. Click here to use larger text.

[Banner 1 on screen] Who can tell me what this has been all about?   [engage] That’s right.  As I said at the beginning, this year, we’ve been looking at the story of the whole Bible.  And so back in January, we learnt that the reason God's in control and got the right to command us what to do is because He made everything in the first place.  He made A&E and He made us.  And in the beginning, everything was good.   [Banner 2 up].  But then Adam and Eve disobeyed God.  They wanted to be the king of their own lives. [Bible p 26 Pictures on screen].  And so God punished them by throwing them out of the garden Eden. 

[Banner 3 up] But then in March, we saw that God had a plan to sort out the mess.  And that plan started with a man called Abraham.

And God made 3 promises to Abraham.  What were those promised?  [engage].    That’s right:  God promised that:

his descendents would be a great nation,

they would have a land of their own; and

They would be blessed. 

[Banner 4 up]:  And after Abraham, we looked at the story of King David.  And we saw that, under David, those promises to Abraham were being fulfilled.

[Banner 5 up]:  After David came Solomon.   And Solomon disobeyed God by worshipping false gods;  so God was very angry.

[Banner 6 up]  But after Solomon, Israel's kings rejected God even more.  So God had to judge His people.  And he judged them by throwing them out of the Promised Land.    So God's people were led off into exile in Babylon. 

Being in exile was bad.  But what was even worse was the question of whether God had abandoned His people and given up on His promises to Abraham and King David?  Would God keep His promises?  

And in of July, we saw that the answer was Yes.  Because GOD always KEEPS HIS PROMISES. God had a plan all along.
And His plan was to send his very own SON.   [Banner 7 up ]

 

And Jesus was going to fix the problem of sin. Jesus would be King forever. But last time, we were still left with a problem.  How was a baby in a smelly manger going to save His people? 

[Banner 8 up]

And so last time back in September, we saw that the answer was the Big Swap.  Who can remember the Big Swap I did with Daisy?  [Engage]        [Clue:  what did Daisy get in exchange for her wooden spoon:  what did I give her as a swap?]

That's right a big box of chocolates.  I swapped something good for something not so good.  And we learnt that that’s exactly what Jesus did for us on the cross.  You see, Jesus didn't stay as a baby;  no, he grew into a man, and when he was 33, he did a big swap.  He died in the place of His people.  But who can remember why?  Why did Jesus have to die?  What was so good about Good Friday?  [Engage]

Exactly:  because Jesus gave up something Good:  he gave up his perfect life, in exchange for something bad:  death:  the death and punishment we all deserve for disobeying King Jesus.  None of us are perfect.  And so we all deserve to be punished by God;  but Jesus took the punishment instead of His people.  Jesus died in the place of people like you and me.  Jesus did a big Swap.  The cross was bad for Jesus but v good for His people.  And that’s why we call Good Friday ‘Good Friday’.  Because it's Good News.    It’s Good News because we don't need to fear death any more;  it’s good news because we don’t need to fear being punished after we die;  and all because Jesus died in the place of His people.   

Activity + [puppet sketch]

 

Main Talk

Sometimes, you hear the most incredible stories and you're not sure if they're true.  It might be something you heard in the playground at school.  Or something you read in the paper or whatever.   Unbelievable you might say.  Like some of those words we looked at earlier in our Balderdash game.  As Victor Meldrew would say;  I don’t believe it.  Or like when Daisy told her friends about going to the Christ factor. It just sounds so incredible, that you dismiss it as unbelievable.   

But each of those words we looked at in Balderdash were true:  they were real words with real meanings.    In in the puppet sketch, how did Daisy prove to her friends that she'd really been to the Christ factor?  [engage]

 

Exactly:  she gave them some proof.    She showed them the photographs of her at the Christ Factor.    Remember what she said when I asked her if her friends believed her after that:  she said:  well when the photos (or the evidence) is right in front of you, you can’t deny it can you. 

And that’s what was going on in this month's Bible Story.  Jesus provides proof that he really did come back from the dead.  And like Daisy’s friends we need proof don’t we? Because it’s an amazing story.  And amazing stories are hard to believe aren't they?

So it’s the same with the story about Jesus being raised from the dead on Easter Sunday.  It’s the most amazing story in the whole world.  But did it really happen?  Or is it just unbelievable? 

Well that’s what Thomas thought in our reading.  Thomas was what you might call a very SUSPICIOUS PERSON!   Three days after Jesus died, we’re told that God brought him back to life again.

Sometimes people have been so sick that they stopped breathing for a few minutes and then they’ve come back to life. And we call that being “revived.”  But Jesus had been dead for three days, and now he was alive again. That’s not a revival, it’s a RESURRECTION.  People who’ve been dead and buried for 3 days don’t come back to life unless there’s a miracle.  And that’s exactly what the Bible says happened.

Jesus was God's son. So He couldn't stay dead.   And because he’d beaten death and come back to life, he couldn't keep quiet about either.  No, first he wanted his disciples and everyone else to know about it.    This was one amazing story that everyone needed to know. 

So one night, Jesus went round to the disciples’ house for tea.  Except he hadn’t been invited and they didn't know he was coming.    So there they all were in the upper room having tea, when Jesus turns up. 

But the door was locked and Jesus had still managed to get into the room.  They might have thought he was a ghost or a vision of something. 

So what did Jesus do to them to prove that it was really him?   
[Clue:  What did Jesus show them to prove it really was him;  the same Jesus that had died on the cross 3 days before?]       [Engage]

That’s right:  he showed them His hands and his side.  It’s me;  the same Jesus who was nailed to a cross and had a spear thrust into my side 3 days ago.  The same Jesus you saw buried in a cave.     It’s me Jesus.

So the disciples were amazed.  [pause]

But one of them was missing.  Who can remember who it was? 

Exactly.  Thomas hadn’t been there to see the risen Jesus. And when his friends told him, he did a Victor Meldrew:  I don’t believe it.  It just such an incredible story isn’t it?   So who can remember what Thomas said ?    [engage] 

["Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my fingers where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."]

Dead men don’t rise, Thomas thought.  And even if your best friends say Jesus has come back from the dead, it seems so unbelievable.  If it was really was true, then Thomas had to see it for himself  before he'd believe it.

So next Sunday night, the disciples were having tea again.  And this time Thomas was with them.

And who can remember what happened   [J turned up again.]

And what did Jesus say to Thomas: 

["Thomas, put out your hand. Put your finger in where the nails were. Feel where the spear went.  So STOP DOUBTING AND BELIEVE."]

So how did Thomas respond?   Did he still say:  I don't; believe it?   [engage]        [Exactly:  Thomas didn't need to put his fingers in J's wounds.  He simply said:  My lord and my God.}

Because he's seen the risen Jesus he believed the incredible story.  Jesus had been brought back from the dead.  And if that was true, then Thomas knew that everything else Jesus had said about himself was also true. 

Because if God the Father had raised Jesus from the dead, then this proved that everything Jesus said about himself was true.  Jesus really was the Son of God.  Jesus really was God’s promised king.  And J’s death on the cross really did work:  on the cross, Jesus really was punished for all the sins of His people.  Forgiveness and life beyond the grave really are true and not just amazing stories. 

And so people like Thomas went around telling everyone the good news.  The good news that the whole of the OT story had been pointing forward to.    As Jesus put it at the end of our reading:

Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

In other words:  you Thomas are  now an eye-witness and you’re blessed.  But those who accept the testimony of eye-witnesses like you are just as blessed.  And that eye-witness testimony has been written up for us in the Bible.  As the apostle John puts it at the end of our reading:

30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may[a] believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

J’s being raised from the dead is an incredible story.  But there’s tonnes of evidence to prove that it really did happen.  And when we accept that it’s true, when we accept the Jesus really is God and that he took the punishment we deserved, then we’re truly blessed.  Because just like Jesus was, we can look forward to being raised from the dead and spending eternity with him in heaven. 

[Banner  9 on screen]

And that’s where this week’s banner comes in.  If Jesus is our king, then we’re blessed just like the people were in David's time.

But what’s the key difference from the time of David?    What’s the difference between the banner for David and the month’s banner?

[Put up David banner 4 on screen to compare]

Ans: God's people aren’t in the land are they?  God’s people living in the land of Israel was simply a picture of His people living in the perfect land of heaven. 

So where’s heaven then and what will it be like?    Is it going to be really boring, floating around on clouds and playing harps and all that? 

Well that’s what we’ll be looking at next time in the final part of the story of the whole Bible:  Heaven:  where it is and what’s it  going to be like.  And perhaps most importantly, how do you get there?

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