A time for JOY: Easter
Sermon date: April 21st
Reading: John 20:1-21
Have you ever heard or seen God bring something or someone back to life? (It could be a Church or ministry that was struggling or someone going through a difficult time that felt their life coming back to them)
What is your reaction to these stories? Should we share them more often?
I would like you to read this passage from the perspective of Mary Magdalene. Imagine you are her while you read the passage.
Please read together: John 20:1-21
Q1 – How did she feel in verses 1 & 11a? Why?
Q2 – What do you think was her reaction when she discovered that she was speaking to Jesus? (Verse 17 gives us a hint of what might have happened)
Q3 – How do you think you’d react if you saw Jesus in his resurrected body?
“Seeing” and “hearing” is a big part of John’s gospel. Mary was seeing Jesus but didn’t recognise him, but when she heard him call out her name “Mary”, she was then able to say “I have seen the Lord”.
Q4 – Do you find it hard to “see” God at work in your life, surroundings and World?
I would like you to read this passage again, but now from the perspective of the disciples, imagine you are Peter and “the other disciple” (John) running towards the tomb.
Please read together: John 20:1-21
Q5 – After hearing the news, both disciples ran to see what had happened. They seem desperate to know what happened. Do we have that same sense of attentiveness to what God is doing? Would we run to discover what God is doing?
Q6 – Verse 8 says “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed”. Again we have the theme of “seeing”, John was able to see what Peter didn’t. Could we work on improving our capacity to see what God is doing? How?
While the disciples were together with “doors locked” Jesus came in and said “peace be with you”. This verse (19) speaks loads of what has just happened. Firstly, Jesus has a renewed body, we know that it had the marks of his crucifixion (v.20), but he could walk into a closed room (v.19). The most important thing is what he is saying “peace be with you”.
Q7 – In what ways has Jesus provided peace for us through the events of Holy Week? What does it mean to receive God’s peace?
Q8 - When they “saw the Lord” they were “overjoyed” (v.20). Again the theme of “seeing”, it seems like they didn’t “see” him immediately, after hearing his message of peace they “saw” him and were overjoyed. Does “seeing” Jesus after his resurrection give you joy? What does being “overjoyed” look like in your life?
Q9 – If “seeing” Jesus and knowing of his resurrection produces joy in Christians. Is it alright to be depressed? Is it ok to have a “bad day”? Do we need to be happy clappy all the time?
(Important Hint: NO! Most of the main figures in the Bible have gone through times of depression and sadness. Jesus before going to the cross, arguably Paul in prison and almost every Old Testament character. The JOY we talk about in Jesus, is the knowledge that at the end of the day He is in control, he has already died for our sins and we have the hope of eternal life with Him)
Q10 – In a sceptic world like ours, Jesus’ resurrection is one of the big questions people have about Christianity. We get asked, “Did Jesus really die? Was his resurrection literal?” Most of the mainstream Christians agree that the resurrection was a historic event. Do you believe this? Why?
The joy comes from “seeing” Jesus, from knowing that he died and rose again (granting us forgiveness and peace) and sharing this between each other.
Q11 – What gives you joy in your Christian life? When do you feel it the most? (The question is about the joy that comes from knowing Jesus, not just general happiness)
Q12 – How can we help each other out to encourage that joy in ourselves and others? What can we do to help others feel that joy?
Lord God You loved this world so much,
That you gave your one and only Son,
That we might be called your children too.
Lord, help us to live in the gladness and grace
Of Easter Sunday, everyday.
Let us have hearts of thankfulness
For your sacrifice.
Let us have eyes that look upon
Your grace and rejoice in our salvation.
Help us to walk in that mighty grace
And tell your good news to the world.
All for your glory do we pray, Lord, Amen.
Rachel Marie Stone