Friday night, Pastor Barry from the Free Methodist church preached at the community Good Friday service. He shared the story of a debate he had with classmates when he was in Bible college. Some students were debating with him whether or not Jesus was an actual human being. Some of the students wondered if he were a ghost or a spirit. Pastor Barry, of course, believed that Jesus was, in fact, a human being.
This may seem an odd debate. However, there were a great number of believers in the second century that thought Jesus was just a spirit. They believed some things about Him such as his miracles, but they didn’t believe in the birth, death, or resurrection of Jesus. It seems remarkable to us that someone would believe in Jesus but not believe in the most dramatic moments of His being.
The Gospel of John was written with the specific intent to settle the matter of Jesus’ humanness. John pays special detail to Jesus’ humanity to make sure that his readers understand that Jesus was both human and Divine, both man and God. John offers several accounts of Jesus’ appearance to the Disciples after His resurrection. In today’s program and over the next several weeks, we will read from the Gospel of John and hear about Jesus’ appearances between His resurrection and His ascension in to Heaven.
Jesus’ humanness matters. It matters that God was born and took on the form of a human. It matters that Jesus suffered. It matters that he was crucified and died and was laid in a tomb. It matters because through Jesus’ life and death God knew human suffering. He knows what its like when we suffer and has compassion for us from His own experience of suffering.
It matters that the stone was rolled away revealing that He was no longer there. As Mary and the other women entered the tomb, they knew that He had physically gotten up and walked out of the tomb. If He was only raised in spirit, the stone didn’t need to be rolled away. It was for Jesus to exit and for the women to enter. The fact that Jesus was physically raised from the dead matters too. We are assured of our own resurrection when Jesus returns in His glory to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth that He may reign in truth and righteousness for ever and ever.
When we come to the table of the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of His death. We too should be reminded of His resurrection. His death is meaningless without the resurrection. We know we have been redeemed because God overcame the power of death when He resurrected His Son from the grave. As we share the bread and cup, let us remember Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection that we may remember the fullness of the story and the fullness of life we receive by His story.