Hi, it’s Mick here and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast at STC Sheffield. This week we are looking at the last two chapters of John’s Gospel and the theme for this week is ‘encouragement’. Yesterday, we considered the death and burial of Jesus, and particularly reflecting on his words on the cross: “it is finished” – God’s plan for humanity to reconnect with him was completed on the cross. Today, it’s resurrection day… The reading for today is John 20:1-18 which you can hear before the worship song.
Richard Grant, a former colleague of ours here on the STC team, had a phrase which he used often and which we will all remember him by: he would often say, “there’s been a resurrection!” He said many other things of great worth (after all, he is a Blade – for the uninitiated, a supporter of Sheffield United, the finest football team in the UK and very recently promoted to the Premier League!) Richard is growing a new church plant with his wife Louise, family, and team in Gateshead in the north-east of the UK!
What does it mean to us today that “there’s been a resurrection”? Let’s go back to that first Easter Day in this passage. Two verses to consider: verse 8 tells us when John entered the tomb ‘he saw and believed’. No one had actually seen Jesus, but the tomb was empty and it was enough in that moment for him to believe. The disciples already ‘believed’ that Jesus was the Messiah, but this was different. The story continues and in verse 18 we hear Mary Magdalene telling the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”. Something had happened to both John and Mary that changed their lives forever, because … there’s been a resurrection.
The love of God is shown on the cross; the power of God is shown in the resurrection. And this power to live our lives differently is for you and me today as we follow Jesus. St Paul reminds us as he writes to the church in Ephesus, ‘his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead.’ (Eph 1:19-20) So, the Bible is clear: this power is ‘for us who believe’. What a great encouragement this is, that the power of God is at work in you and me today as we go through our everyday lives.
The Easter story is not just about encouragement; it’s also about hope. Everyone needs hope – it’s a human thing. We look for hope because hope changes things; politicians of our day use the word hope to support their policies – indeed as I write this Podcast the SNP in Scotland have their ‘Hope is Possible’ logo on display. Political policies often fail but Jesus never fails!
Easter Day is Resurrection Day; Easter Day is Hope Day … all year round. Being a follower of Jesus is not easy, and we can often feel like giving up. The prophet Homer Simpson once said, “So you’ve tried and failed. The moral is, never try again.” I definitely think Homer got that one wrong! Jesus says, keep trying, keep pressing on in the Christian life. Why? … there’s been a resurrection.
So, do you need encouragement today? God’s courage for the challenges ahead? Remember, there’s been a resurrection!
Do you need hope today? A Godly lift to get you up and keep you going? Be encouraged – Remember, there’s been a resurrection!
Father, thank you for those first disciples, that they saw and believed. This day, may we say “I have seen the Lord” and so be encouraged to press on. Amen.
READING: John 20:1-18
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 came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped round Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, 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 Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Now 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 round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus.
He asked her, ‘Woman, 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 towards him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’).
Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.