Background Text: John 20:1-18
Devotional Text: Revelation 21:3-4
In last week’s story of the resurrection, we saw Jesus, the Savior, offering himself as the bread of life. In doing so, he began the sacrament known as Communion.
Whether your church holds it once a month or every week, Communion is a reminder of the great sacrifice Jesus made for the forgiveness of our sins — saving us as he died on the cross.
We ended last week with the empty tomb on Easter morning, and the resurrection of Jesus. Today, we continue the story.
In chapter 28 of Matthew, we find two Marys arriving at the tomb with spices early on Sunday morning. Verses 2-3 tell us of “a great earthquake with an angel from heaven coming down and rolling back the stone. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were as white as snow.”
The following verses show us the guards frightened as unto death, and the angel addressing the women, telling them not to be afraid, that Jesus was not in the tomb but had risen just as he had foretold to them. They were to go and tell the disciples.
We find the same story of the arrival of the women in Mark 16:1-8, and the appearance of an angel at the empty tomb. However, Mark adds that Mary Magdalene also saw the risen Jesus (16:9-11).
The Gospel of Luke tells the story of the women coming to the tomb but does not identify them. In this account, we also see the angels and hear of their account of the risen Lord. Again, the women are told to tell the disciples.
Lastly, we come to John’s Gospel, chapter 20:1-18. In John’s account, Mary Magdalene is at the tomb and is distraught by the empty tomb, fearing someone has taken the body of Jesus.
Mary goes to tell Peter and John about the empty tomb, and immediately Peter and John run to the site. Getting there first, John finds the tomb empty but does not enter it. As soon as Peter arrives, he heads directly for the tomb and goes inside.
The two men, filled with awe and wonder, return to the others to report their findings.
Mary, however, lingers at the tomb. Again, we have an angelic appearance where Mary learns that Jesus had not been taken but has risen into life as he said he would.
As Mary turns to leave, she sees Jesus himself walking in the garden, but she thinks him to be the gardener. When Jesus calls her by name, she recognizes Jesus and runs to him. After a heartfelt reunion, Jesus tells Mary to report to his brothers (the disciples).
But that, my friends, is not the end of the story. Actually, it is the beginning.
The Way, the Truth, and the Life
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and many other people. He stayed on Earth for another 40 days to instruct his disciples in the Scriptures so they could be sent out to fulfill what is known as the Great Commission, telling all the world about Jesus Christ and salvation.
We will begin looking at the many Scriptures that speak to us about eternal life after first taking a look at some of what Jesus said himself.
Starting with John 5:25, Jesus talks about “a time is coming (and is now near) when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who respond to it will live. The Father is the source of life, and he has enabled the Son the authority to pass judgment because he is the Son of Man ...
“A time is coming when all the dead will hear his voice and they will come out of their tombs. Those who have done good will come back to life and live. But those who have done evil will come back to life to be judged.”
Jesus has told us himself, as written in John 14:6-7, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on you do know him, and have seen him.”
Later in life, John also wrote, as found in 1 John 5:11, “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
As we draw to a close on the promise of eternal life through Christ, let’s take a look at the Scripture found in Romans, 1 Timothy and Revelation:
Romans 6:23 speaks the words of the apostle Paul as he wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
From the first letter to his friend Timothy, Paul wrote, “Fight the good fight. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
Writing once more, in the last book of the Bible, John wrote to us in Revelation 21:3-4, “God’s dwelling place is among his people. ... He will dwell with them, and he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more mourning, no more crying or pain.”
So, what were we to fear about death? In 1 Corinthians 15:54b-55, the apostle Paul wrote these words for us, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” And then he continued by quoting from the book of Hosea, “Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
Jesus, our Savior, paid the price for our sins when he died for us on the cross. His great sacrifice on the cross has given to all believers eternal life.
Meanwhile, as we live our lives on Earth, we have the words of Jesus and his disciples found in Scripture to help us in our daily lives. Jesus has taught us how to treat one another as the people of God. Jesus taught us that he is always with us to help in times of trouble, and to rejoice with us in times of joy.
Jesus, God who came from heaven to Earth, lives forever, and through his resurrection offers all believers eternal life.