I Have Not Yet Ascended

John 20:11-18

Jesus’ Destiny

If you are ever in a teaching situation, students having hard time grasping what is crystal clear to you, remember Jesus. Immediately following Peter’s confession:

Mark 8:31And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 9:31-32For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.” But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.

Mark 10:32-34He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

Peter remembered Jesus’ warning of his upcoming denial (Luke 22:61). Chief priests, Pharisees remembered “while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’” (Matt. 27:63) But for disciples, wasn’t until after Jesus was glorified “they remembered the things written about him” (John 12:16). But Jesus knew all along. Knew the depths of humiliation he would undergo for our salvation. Knew also the heights of exaltation he would enjoy when Father answered prayer in garden: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:5)

Jesus’ challenge: teach his followers, who at times were “foolish and slow of heart to believe” (Luke 24:25). Teach them well enough that could carry on effectively after he left. In contrast to the disciples, Mary Magdalene had much different heart, one from which we can learn important lessons.

A. sorrowful heart v.11-13

grieving her loss (11)

her deliverer

prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, only mentioned once – among those who were with Jesus during his minstry (Luke 8:2)

had been delivered from oppressive power of 7 demons

understood in way different from disciples what spiritual bondage was like, what it meant to be released

grasped greatness of her debt to Lord Jesus

now, in addition, opportunity to show respect/reverence

had watched Jesus die (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25)

had watched his burial (Matt. 27:61; Mark 15:47)

had come with spices to finish preparing his body for burial (Mark 16:1)

expecting an empty future

key figure in her life now absent – couldn’t imagine life without him

one who had given her life and so much more – would that life and deliverance disappear also?

if his presence only temporary, maybe his work temporary also

unable to get beyond what her senses were saying (13)

he’s dead, she doesn’t even have a place to go to grieve

doesn’t seem to recognize who questioned her – two angels – at least at the time

had run away in panic (v.2) before hearing explanation given to other women (recorded in Synoptics)

perhaps didn’t have courage first time to get too close – needing to deal with her grief in stages

now, too overcome with grief and distracted to see clearly

sorrow and grief proper responses to loss

Mary, like disciples, had real faith

was small, weak, not fully informed

B. questioning heart v.14-16

who is this (14)

didn’t recognize his identity

no reason given for lack of recognition – could be a number of things

poor light – Mary facing the sun, Jesus’ face in shadow

poor vision – prolonged grief and weeping, eyes full of tears

out of context – Kate R at Goodwill – takes a few seconds to catch on, even on a good day

what do you know (15)

can almost sense questioning frustration in her heart

everyone is asking questions, no one is giving answers

Peter and John weren’t any help – saw empty graveclothes, then beat feet for home

angels / men in the tomb no real help either

now, someone else asking the same questions

in reality, asked wrong question of the right person

unwittingly made right assumption – “if you have carried him away”

wasn’t the gardener, wasn’t the angels that took Jesus from the tomb

was indeed the one she was speaking to who had done it!!

perhaps beginning to sense the truth, momentarily pushed aside as irrational

Mary’s failure to understand full meaning of Jesus’ teaching (along with disciples) caused at least temporary disbelief

can be true for us: lack of full understanding makes it hard to believe plain sense of what Scripture says

Jesus didn’t speak in code – “third day he will rise again”

none of disciples / followers understood until had further revelation

is it possible? is he real? (16)

voice recognition not anything new!

had Jesus been playing games? disguising his voice? making a point?

in spite of all else, we recognize when we are called by name – see John 10:2-5

something about how Jesus spoke brought immediate understanding

called him Teacher

Mary had learned much prior to his death, was continuing to learn more

C. hopeful heart v.17

“he’s back for good”

your sights are set too low – don’t cling to him, try to keep him here

relationship between Jesus and followers must change – a new and different kind of intimacy

think beyond temporal, sensory – get over into spiritual realm

new spiritual realities will be far better

begins in this life, doesn’t wait for heaven: “It is to your advantage that I go away” John 16:7

“he must go further to do greater”

he can’t complete his ministry if he stays here on earth

no outpouring of Holy Spirit – to empower and equip for ministry

Gospel would never leave that locked room without power of Holy Spirit

no gifts given to men after his ascension (Eph. 4:8ff) for benefit of the church

church would never grow beyond Jerusalem without gifts Christ would give her

no intercession for believers (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25); author of Hebrews declares it is “because he always lives to intercede for” those who come to God through him that he is able to save them completely.

“our ultimate destiny is not here”

we must seek what is above Col. 3:1

that’s where Christ is seated, where our focus must be if we are raised with him

that’s where our hope is: with our God and Father, also Jesus’ God and Father but in different way

he rose and ascended to draw believers to heaven with him

Jesus’ prayer: “ I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me;” (John 17:24)

from there to exercise the authority given to him (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:36; 5:29-32)

Paul tells us how it must go: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” (1 Cor. 15:22-25)

D. obedient heart v.18

unlike other Mary, other time, “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”

as soon as she had grasp on truth, had received instruction – went and told

not that he was risen – they already had been told that that

that she had seen him, that he was going to ascend to the Father

their response was …unbelief (Mark 16:11)

even though he’d told them about his ascension, too – see John 14:2-4

not that they didn’t believe in God’s power, etc. – didn’t understand the how and why

lack of belief not sufficient to discredit witnesses

Jesus’ final instructions to them: declares “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

early church history recorded in Acts – confirms effectiveness of their Spirit-empowered witness

our presence, our belief confirms it also

confidence in Jesus’ resurrection motivates obedience

the one we love is alive

since he is victorious, we will be also

we must tell others

out of duty – he said to be witnesses

out of desire – to please our Savior, to do greatest good for our brethren

May God give us great privilege of bringing news of a risen and living Lord to those who need him most. Because he lives, we will live also (John 14:19) as will all those who put their faith and trust in Christ.


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