Introduction: The difficulty of trust.
Trust is one of the most delicate things in the world. While physical realities can affect trust it is not something physical. No can explain, or pinpoint, how it is lost or how it is gained. Someone could do everything to maintain your trust for decades, and then one failure, and the trust is gone. Trust is delicate.
So why is trust so delicate? It is delicate because we are putting our faith in the unknown. Trust requires you some level mystery. No matter how well we know someone or something it could let us down at any moment. What do we do then?
Well that is what the people in our story today are experiencing. The disciples of Jesus had put their faith Him. They left everything and followed Him around for 3 years. They watched Him do miraculous things. Then one day He was gone—laying dead in the ground.
Theme: The power of the resurrection is it restores trust.
1. Those living in darkness struggle with trust—John 20.1-2.
All four of the Gospels mention the resurrection event taking place on the first day of the week (John 20.1). Why is that? Well, that is probably because they want the readers to understand transition that is happening. The Sabbath day (Saturday) would be the end of the week, but this is a new age, a new day—the beginning of a new world.
Something unique with John’s Gospel is the consistent language of “light” and “darkness”—READ John 20.1. Notice how John used the phrase, “while it was still dark”. This is not just a description of the time of day, but also the emotional condition of Mary. The person she put her trust in is gone! She is going through the deep dark emotional pain of the soul.
So here is Mary going through this deep distress of the soul, she shows up to the tomb seeking to work through her mourning, and what does she find? A empty tomb. What is her immediate response?—READ John 20.2. Mary runs to two of Jesus’ close friends, and explains it away in a worldly sense. She says, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb”. Mary believes the body was stolen. She doesn’t run to God, and ask Him what is going on? She doesn’t pray and consider the promises Jesus made? Her emotions are running wild.
But isn’t this many of us? I know when I am in flesh this is what I run to. I seek out every counselor but God. I start rationalizing what is happening. I attempt to come up with worldly wisdom to work through the pain. And during the midst of all of that I struggle to believe the promises of God. I struggle to trust Him. In those moments I am still living in darkness—the darkness of the soul.
2. The light of the resurrection can restore trust—John 20.3-7.
But this is not necessarily the response of everyone in the story. Peter and John (or “the other disciple”) are intrigued by this, so they race to see what happened—READ John 20.3-7. And what do they find? All they find is some neatly folded up linens.
While the mention of the linen may seem like a minor thing to us John has placed it here because of its significance. It was not uncommon in the ancient world to rob graves. There was a great deal of wealth placed in tombs. In fact some wealthy people paid for the burial of Jesus in John 19.38-42. They buried him by wrapping Him in expensive linens and placing expensive spices in there with Him. So, some believe this what Mary thought happened. But when Peter and John arrive on the scene they see this is NOT the case. Why? Because the linen is there, and it is neatly folded up. When thieves come and rob something they are not usually in the habit of leaving neatly folded linens.
In his commentary on John, DA Carson believes the purpose of the neatly folded linen is literal symbolism. It is a literal detail the disciple John is recalling, but it is symbolic because John is remembering another resurrection story—the story of Lazarus in John 11. And when you go back to read that story we see that when Lazarus was raised from the dead he was still wearing his linens:
The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”—John 11.44
Notice the acute detail here. Lazarus’ face is covered with a cloth, but in John 20.7 the face cloth that was on Jesus was just laying there. Lazarus comes out wearing his death clothes, and Jesus tells the people there to “unbind” him. Jesus has the power to raise people from the dead. Jesus conquered death. The only person to unshackle them self from the pain of death is Jesus.
Only Jesus can unbind us from the clothes of death. In the dark times of the soul, those times when you find your faith waning, only Jesus can restored your faith. I am not here today trying to reignite your faith or trust in people, but in Christ. But I will say this, when you look at your trust issues in light of the Death and Resurrection of Christ you find it easier to trust people. Why is that? First, because I can trust God will make my relationships right because of the truth o the resurrection. All the people who have hurt you God promises He will make it right—either in this life or in the one to come. Second, we also we need to remember that while we have been wronged we have also wronged people. Jesus died for our both the mistreated and the mistreater. Before the Cross we are all equals. When we look at our lives in light of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ we see a power to restore trust. And the most important trust you need restored is your trust in God.
3. Resurrected trust does not require a full understanding —John 20.8-9.
When our trust in God is restored this does not mean that we will come to understand everything. That is what resurrected or restored trust actually looks like. The person with resurrection trust in their heart does not have to understand everything. We can see this in our text today—READ John 20.8-9.
Some scholars have had a problem with the phrase, “for as yet they did not understand the Scripture”. But the thing is John heard the testimony, took a look at the evidence, and that was enough for him. He saw the linens neatly folded, the soldiers gone, and the LARGE stone rolled away. John was convinced. Imagine with me for a second that John is window-shopping. Right now he is looking in through the window, but wants to know what it is really like on the other side, so he walks into the shop on faith. While many of the other disciples after the resurrection get to see the physical evidence of Jesus’ bodily resurrection we do not. No, we must come the way John did—on FAITH. We must trust the message that has come to us and look at the evidence of what we have. Peter discusses this in II Peter 1:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty...we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.—II Peter 1.16, 19
Peter tells us we have some more sure than being there—the prophetic word. God wrote down these things through people like Peter and John so we could all look through the window and experience the morning star of our hearts rise. When we take the message on faith is when we begin to truly see.
What does this do for you? Think about it this way. Anyone during this time could have thought these people will delusional, hallucinating, or experiencing any other post-traumatic disorder. But all they had to do was conduct a thorough investigation. I am SURE many people did. How come in 2000 years no one has been able to disprove the resurrection? Simply put, because it is true.
We live in day and age surrounded by skeptics. People are so skeptical they have become skeptical of even themselves. Truth has been lost in our time. No one knows what is true anymore. But friends that is not who we are. No, we know the truth, and we know that it will set us free. What is the Truth? It is this:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.—I Corinthians 15.3-4
While the beginning disciples did not fully understand the Scriptures when they came to faith they understood more than when they started. You may not understand everything in the Christian faith or in your life, but you will understand more with time. There will be things we will never understand, but we are people of faith. We can live resurrection lives, which means we have resurrected trust. I hope your trust was restored today friends.