THE FIRST SEVEN WORDS OF THE RESURRECTED MESSIAH
By Frank Tunstall, D. Min.
The seven last words of Jesus from His cross have been the topic of many pastors and teachers. Very few, however, give attention to the seven first sayings of Jesus after His resurrection. I read a nameless article some years ago that set me to thinking. The idea is surely not original with me, and I knew the day would come when I would address the subject. That time has arrived.
Why Jesus went to Golgotha and submitted to crucifixion is the theme of Jesus’ last seven statements from the cross. They reveal the rich love of God for all mankind that defines Jesus’ Deity and discloses His integrity and character.
The first seven statements after Calvary unveil the purpose of Jesus’ resurrection and identify what the gospel is all about.
Without the resurrection of Jesus there would be no Redeemer, no Holy Bible to give us the written Word of God, no new birth, and no hope of eternal life.
1. “Woman, why are you weeping?” (John 20:15).
Women lived very restricted lives in first century Israel. Their domain was the home and their role was domestic – give birth to children, and all the follow-up that went with this important but limited role. Women could not give testimony in court, for one example.
Mary was at Jesus’ tomb about sunrise resurrection morning weeping bitterly. Tears do have a place in life by washing out the heart and helping people go forward amid great pain. If sin had not come into the world, there would be no place in God’s creation for tears.
Eve played a very significant role introducing sin into the world, and a woman named Mary was given the high opportunity to announce the Messiah’s cure for sin. Jesus showed how He valued women by giving to a woman named Mary the assignment to announce His resurrection.
2. “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabonni,’ meaning Teacher’” (John 20:16).
Jesus did not speak harshly to Mary, or even mildly rebuke her for being at His tomb so early in the morning. [Why aren’t you at home taking care of your family?]. Instead, Jesus gave her new meaning and a new beginning. It was time for Mary to begin to discover the new future of resurrection living.
Have you wondered why she did not recognize Jesus at first glance? Could it have been her tears that blinded her? Tears will wash out the soul but can also blind us to our new beginning.
Jesus called Mary by name. I admit, dear readers, I have trouble remembering names, but Jesus knows everyone by name. Please consider: Jesus has followers in the billions; in fact, they are too numerous to number. Jesus knows all of their names and never misses a name or forgets a name. We will know our loved ones by name in heaven too.
3. “Go tell my brethren” (John 20:17).
Mary learned the news of Jesus’ resurrection from the Lord Himself, before the disciples did. Her assignment was to tell the Lord’s apostles, and they were to tell the nations. And what is the message? Jesus paid my sin-debt on the cross, and yours too, when we could not even pay the interest. The grave is not the end for the child of God; instead if offers a new beginning in the arms of God, the gift of eternal life (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
4. “Peace be with you” (John 20:19-21).
19 “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
A good translation of the word ‘peace’ from the Greek, is to set things in order. For one example, a home is at peace when everything is in order in the family.
Jesus provided the plan of redemption at Calvary, and continued to activate it after His resurrection. All was in perfect order with Jesus, but not with His disciples. They had the “doors locked for fear of the Jews.” The Lord entered the room by passing through the wall! When Jesus showed them His hands and His side, the disciples were overjoyed as peace flooded into their hearts. Yes, Jesus did have everything in order.
5. “I’m sending you – receive the Holy Spirit”
“Again, Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:21-23).
This is the Great Commission in capsule and the assignment is clear. Every child of God has a “sent” dimension in his life. No one is saved to sit; we all are born again to serve actively. But we are powerless without the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
A part of the peace of God to Jesus was setting things in order so that all believers can be filled with the Holy Spirit – young and old, sons and daughters, Gentiles and Jews, all nations and ethnic groups. The Lord’s vision is just that international. They had to be willing, however, to “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The big day was just a few days up the road.
6. “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (Luke 24:27).
“Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
Can you believe it? Jesus walked six miles on resurrection day after He was brutally cut and slashed with the whip, mutilated, and then crucified. Six miles on the road to Emmaus – six miles in at least a three-hour walk, and He taught His two companions along the way. That would be impossible in a natural body the first day after such horrendous punishment, but Jesus had a new body, a glorified body. That glorified body made Jesus the firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
Those hours were truly “God moments” for the two companions – three hours alone with Jesus the Master Teacher.
Yes, Jesus will spend three hours teaching just two people; in fact, salvation comes one person at a time.
Our Messiah began with Moses as He interpreted the Old Testament messianic prophets to them. They would never forget what they learned as they walked with the resurrected Savior.
One day we – the Lord’s followers – will have an immortal body like Jesus’ resurrection body. Jesus was raised from the dead in an eternal, glorified body, meaning He was not limited by time or space, and His resurrection body was not restricted by the pull of gravity. Neither would He ever taste death again.
7. “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe”(John 20:24-27).
The corona virus has taught many in American to attend church ‘digital.’ This kind of worship does have a place especially in times of sickness; however, the Lord has always intended for His church to be a meeting place. The Greek word ecclesia, translated church means assemblies. Unless providentially hindered, worship is to be carried out in public gatherings of believers who come together to hear the Word of the Lord preached and to encourage one another.
The disciples told Thomas they had seen the Lord, but he doubted their testimony. A week later the disciples were together again with Thomas present. For a second time Jesus entered the room with the door locked.
Jesus is a master locksmith who can open any lock, including the multitude of spiritual locks that bind so many people.
Jesus also told the disciples again, “Peace be with you,” and this greeting said it all. Jesus at Calvary had set everything in order for the disciples [and for us] to live in fellowship with God in this life, and enjoy eternity with God in heaven.
Jesus was full of love for Thomas but nonetheless confrontational. “Stop doubting and believe!”
Thomas possessed overwhelming evidence. Jesus Himself was standing face to face before Thomas – eye to eye. Thomas saw Jesus’ nail prints into which he placed his fingers. The cavity in His side from the spear was large enough for Thomas to insert his hand. The issue was not lack of evidence, but what would Thomas do with the proof. Would he walk away with the confirmation standing before him, or would he follow Jesus the remainder of his life?
“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:28-29).
The convicting power of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of the Holy Scriptures are the foundation for faith in the historical reality of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus said a greater blessing awaits the Lord’s children who believe the evidence as recorded in the Bible, and accept Jesus as the Son of God.
I consider the evidence to be irresistible. Do you?