Who Is Jesus?
Arise! Shine! - Jim Geiszler
1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."
3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.
4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,
7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.
8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;
9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
Hallelujah Jesus is alive. He is Risen! Won’t you stand and let’s sing about our risen Savior.
In the passage I just read a moment ago from John 20, we read that Peter and John went back to their homes, but Mary Magdalene remained at the empty tomb, weeping. But who is this Mary from the town of Magdala? What is her story? We know very little, but what we do know is that Mary was a very ill person. Often illnesses were associated with demons and it is said that she had seven demons. So how does this ill woman end up following Jesus and now stands weeping at Jesus’ empty tomb? Let’s listen to Mary Magdalene’s Story presented by Darcy.
Easter is Everything: Mary Magdalene’s Story - Darcy Osburnsen
Then in John 20:18 it tells us that:
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"
“I’ve Just Seen Jesus” Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris
Mary’s story is a story that is repeated over and over in the hearts of people, even today. Certainly, we are never the same again when the reality of the resurrection grabs a hold of our hearts and saves us from the darkness of our lives being captive to sin. We might even say that there is great power in the resurrection. It is life changing power; it is a power that gives us new life in Christ. We can say that because Scripture even tells us there is life changing power in the resurrection.
I would like for us to look briefly at Philippians 3 this morning as we focus on the life changing power of the resurrection. Won’t you turn there with me to Philippians 3? If you are using a pew Bible, it is on page 981.
Understanding Our Spiritual Condition (vv. 4-6)
Every single one of us in this room this morning starts out in the same spiritual condition that Mary Magdalene found herself in. Oh, we may not have the illness she had or the demons that possessed her, but we all begin as captives to the darkness of sin and its condemnation to an eternity separated from God. We are all spiritually ill, you might say, and we face an eternity that is even more dark and gloomy than the way Mary Magdalene saw her life. But there is life changing power available to us through the resurrection.
The Apostle Paul experienced this in his life. Though very different from Mary of Magdala, Paul was a very religious man. He knew the laws of the Old Testament Torah. He adhered to them in every way. Listen to how he describes himself in Philippians 3:4-6:
If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
But even though Paul was a religious man, he still found himself in the same spiritual condition as this very ill woman named Mary Magdalene. We often ask how can that be? We expect that people who do good things, people who go to church, people who help others, people who are truthful, people who say they are godly will certainly be counted worthy of being in God’s presence in eternity. Right? That only seems right, doesn’t it? Now, people who are evil and do wicked things, we have no problem understanding that they will be separated from God for eternity in a place of eternal death.
But the problem is not the number of good things we do, but the spiritual condition we are in. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23 tells us that because of that sin, our wages, or what we deserve, is eternal death which eternal separation from God. Religious or not, that is the spiritual condition where every single one of us starts. But for many of you, you know that it doesn’t need to stay that way, does it? That spiritual condition can change!
Letting Go of Works (vv. 7-8)
Let’s continue reading in Philippians 3 where Paul addresses the value of all those good things in his life. All the good religious works that he did.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Did you hear that? Paul says that all those things he counted as gain, things that he did, that he saw as good things in life, are a loss. The things that he may have thought were gaining him a good spiritual standing with God are all rubbish. Garbage. Now we don’t know a lot about Mary of Magdala’s background, but I am sure most of us would be quick to judge and say that the things she did were rubbish, not Paul’s! But not according to the Apostle Paul! He says those things are like rubbish to be tossed out the door in comparison to know Jesus Christ his Lord.
In other words, none of the things Paul did before were of any gain to him in knowing Jesus as his Lord and Savior. None of the so-called good things we do can get us into a right standing with God or make it possible to know Christ in the way Paul is speaking about here. He is not talking about knowing facts about Jesus, he is talking about knowing Jesus in a relationship with Him. All those good things he did, Paul says were a loss, they were like garbage, and he had to come to a point in his life of letting that all go so that he could gain this relationship with Christ through faith.
Paul had to let go of his good works, but it may be that Mary of Magdala had to let go of her thinking that she was so bad, that she would never be accepted by God. In much the same way, she needs to let go of the bad works thinking that they are keeping her from God. You see, we are all in the same spiritual condition and we all need to let go of thinking that the things we do either make us acceptable or unacceptable to God. Once we come to this realization, this is were faith comes into play.
Placing Faith in Jesus (v. 9)
And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--
You see, there is nothing that comes from our good works, our obedience to the laws of God, or our being nice to others that gives us a righteousness that we can claim as our own. Romans 3:10 tells us that “None is righteous, no, not one.” So, no one here can make themselves righteous. So, what is the righteousness from God that Paul is talking about? It is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came into this world in perfect righteousness, perfect sinlessness, and in a perfect state of being.
When Jesus went to the cross, He took our sin upon Himself and took our condemnation for sin. When we come in faith, believing in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for our sin, His righteousness is placed on us. The concept is simple. Jesus took our sin upon Himself and by faith His righteousness is placed on us.
2 Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
By faith we receive the righteousness from God. So, what does all of this have to do with the resurrection. After all, its Easter! Well look back at our passage in Philippians 3. What happens after we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, not only faith in His death and burial, but also faith in His resurrection?
Experiencing the Power of the Resurrection (vv. 10-11)
That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
I love that phrase in verse 10, “that I may know Him.” Anytime a person comes in genuine faith believing Jesus is the Son of God who took our sin, bore our shame, and endured our suffering, that person wants to know Jesus in a personal way. Not just know information about Him but know Him in a relationship. Many times, we hear stories of emergency personnel saving the life of someone in peril. After the peril is over and the things are somewhat back to normal, the one who was saved often wants to get to know their rescuer. Often this begins a life long relationship between the two of them. A relationship between the emergency person who saved their life and the one who was rescued.
Jesus has saved us, rescued us, and given His life for us. When we put our faith in Him and trust in His salvation, we want to know Him in a personal relationship. Not only know Him but experience the power of His resurrection in our lives. What kind of power is that? Well, when Jesus rose from the grave, it was physical death being brought to life in a glorified form. But that’s not all. It is spiritual death being brought to life. Curse of eternal death being destroyed, and eternal life being granted. No longer eternal separation from God but being in the eternal presence of God. That’s the power of the resurrection.
As we live each day in faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior, we have resurrection power to live for Him in victory over sin. Sin no long has dominion over my eternal destiny!!
This morning you may have come to this service like a Mary Magdalene, thinking that there is no hope for you because you have done to many bad things in your life. Listen, Jesus died and rose again that you may have eternal life with Christ’s righteousness placed upon you. Or may you have come this morning like a Paul, thinking you do enough good things to meet God’s approval. There is no one who is righteous enough to meet God’s standard of holiness. Jesus died and rose again that you may have eternal life with Christ’s righteousness, not your own.
You must let go of those things you think merit eternal life and trust in Jesus’ work on the cross. You must experience the power of the resurrection and get to know the One who has died for you. Have you experienced the power of the resurrection? Do you know Jesus in a personal relationship? Do you want to be free from the power and penalty of sin in your life? Wont’ you come to faith in Him today? You can experience resurrection power today if you will only come in faith to Him today.
Recently, I read a statement that powerfully illustrates the difference between a genuine relationship with Jesus and an intellectual understanding of Jesus. The statement went something like this: “It is not about you possessing faith, it is about faith possessing you.” Does your faith possess you? Is everything about your life come out of your faith in Christ?
Over the last few weeks we have seen:
The Great I Am – Jesus is eternal God
The Name Above All Names – Jesus became human
The Lamb – Jesus became the sacrificial lamb shedding his blood
The Condemned – Jesus took my condemnation
The Resurrection – Jesus rose victorious over sin, death and grave
The Lamb of God has risen!
Do you know Him?
Jesus Is Alive!