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Believing is Seeing (John 20:1-31)

Sermon on 12 April 2020 by Paster Gaius Lee

Introduction

God was there at the beginning. His name is I AM. He is beyond time. There is only one theme for Easter – the resurrection of Christ. He is risen! Therefore we can come together to worship Him.




Message

In the world, the saying goes “seeing is believing”. But in God’s eyes, it is the reverse. When you believe, you can see.

Verses 1-10 talk about the resurrection.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 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, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. They still did not understand from the scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. - John 20:1-10

Verses 11-18 talk about Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene.

Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. 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. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus. “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.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means teacher). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” - John 20:1-11-18

Mary initially did not recognise Him, but when He called her name, she immediately knew it was Him.

Verses 19-23 talk about Jesus appearing to the disciples.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, 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. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” - John 20:1-19-23

Jesus knew the disciples were worried because they had locked their doors, so He immediately brought peace by saying “peace be with you”. In our difficult moments, what we truly need is His peace. We may have a lot of resources, but without the peace of God, we are not able to go through challenges. Jesus knows what we need. Apart from the blessings we receive, we need the peace of Christ. Let us be victorious in what we think, say and do, because we have His peace. Let us not be overly worried about things. If we do not believe, it is difficult to know that God is helping us.

Verses 24-29 talk about Jesus and Thomas.

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” - John 20:25

Thomas said “Unless I see… I will never believe.” Does this sound familiar? Sometimes in our own answers to people, we say this. This is a big influence from the world we live in – that seeing is believing. When something supernatural happens, it is very hard to believe in something that goes against our own intellect and there is no evidence. But we must understand that God is beyond all this. Everything is created by God, including science. He is almighty. What we know is a very small part of everything. Our knowledge is limited. We are not able to fully comprehend the full picture. Since we cannot see, the only way is to believe. When we believe, God will open up our eyes.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1

Things are not seen, but you are assured that what you hope for comes true. For example, Jesus will come again. We cannot prove this, but we can be hopeful. We have faith that He will come. And because we hope for His second coming, we will take His word seriously. We will not want to live a life of repeated sinning – such life is not victorious but is in bondage of our old ways.

1. God wants us to first believe in Him

God first told Moses to stretch out his hand and staff, only then did God part the Red Sea. God wants us to take the first step, to walk in faith. Then He will do the rest. He will not disappoint us because he is the king of kings, the Lord of Lords.

2. God wants us to be blessed

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” - John 20:26-29

Believing without first seeing – is this blind faith? When we read the bible, we must read it in the full context. What we should be believing in is His word. It is not about the things of the world – the information we receive on our phones, the things people share on the internet – such things should not supersede God’s word. Only His word gives us peace and answers.

If you believe you will see the glory of God. - John 11:40

When we believe, we are blessed. When we are blessed, we see the glory of God. His protection will bring us through any difficulties.

3. God wants to be with us

Verses 30-31 tell us the purpose of this chapter.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. - John 20:30-31

He wants us to believe, so that we may have life in His name.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

We are very familiar with this verse, but, do we truly believe it? We receive eternal life because of His grace, not by our works. But if we love Him, and honour His word, we will live our life according to His word.

And what is eternal life? It means to live in God’s presence all the time. Right now on earth, He is with us. We want to have this life with Christ, enjoying His love, joy and peace, forever in heaven. Christ died for us 2000 years ago, because He wants to be with us. When we open up our eyes, we can see his marvellous light, even in times of difficulty.

God wants to be with us. Do you want to be with Him?

Closing

Let us continue to act in faith, proving our belief with our actions. Let us bring the peace of God to others, so that they can see His light.

Believing is seeing.

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