Please read John 20:1-31 in box below
On the wall in our fellowship hall hangs a portrait given in memory of Mabel Lenning, a child of God.
The artwork was produced by Roger Loveless, and is simply entitled, “My Redeemer Lives.” It captures the familiar scene that is a portion of the reading you just completed from the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John.
Looking at the portrait, one can almost hear the word of Jesus to Mary Magdalene: “Mary!” In this artwork, Mary is turning to see if her ears deceive her; her handkerchief is in mid air. There, standing near the open tomb, is the Conqueror of Death.
I realize that this artwork is just the product of an artist’s imagination. Only when we look into the Scriptures do we see the real portrait of Jesus, the Conqueror of Death. This portrait—the one found in Scripture—is the one that we sinners love to view; it’s one that we need to see every day… not just on Easter Sunday.
As this devotion is being written, two other children of God in our midst seem to be near death. Perhaps by the time you read this,
they will have gone to be
“with Christ, which is far better”
Death is something we don’t like to think about or consider. It’s a subject that often causes anxiety and not a little fear. Each of us well knows that temporal death is in our future (unless the Lord Christ returns first). Still, we very often don’t think about it until we must. In our country people spend billions of dollars every year in an attempt to avoid death. We exercise to stay healthy, go to the doctor, and take pills—all in an effort to prolong life, to live.
Yet we can’t avoid death. We can’t escape it. All the tears in the world won’t resurrect a loved one. Death hurts. Those who enter into death often experience pain. Those who must say good-bye at a loved one’s passing feel pain. The Lord Jesus Himself groaned inwardly and wept at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:33-35).
What makes death painful is not merely the rending of soul from body or the physical separation from loved ones—but it is sin, borne witness to by the Law (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:56).
For those who die in unbelief, there is the further anguish and pain of suffering forever in hell apart from God’s goodness. On the other hand, for those who die believing in Christ, there remain eternal joys in the presence of God.
This is why we in life, and especially at death’s door, look in hope and with confidence to Jesus, the Conqueror of Death. This chapter in John’s Gospel is an intimate portrait meant to give each of God’s children a buoyant hope in the resurrected Christ.
These words reveal plainly that Jesus triumphantly rose from the dead the third day after His crucifixion. He plainly revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene and to the disciples first without—and again with—Thomas. He invited them to touch Him and see that He who was dead was alive. He is the one who holds the keys of the grave and of death (cf. Revelation 1:18).
The open and empty tomb is proof that Jesus is the Conqueror of Death! As the angels sitting
in the tomb said to Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?” (v. 13)
Take a look! The Scripture paints the picture of Jesus, the Conqueror of Death! “Peace to you!” the risen Lord said to His disciples (v. 26).
As the Conqueror of Death told Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29). Praise God that one day we will see Him face to face!
1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. 11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. 19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:1-31