Monday Reverb – 18April2022





Living the Questions

John 20:1-18 (NRSV)


We Christians have plenty of questions that we would like answered. Today, on Resurrection Sunday, we might ask, “How does God resurrect a person?” And that would be a relevant question, but it is a question that we won’t have answered right now. What are some other questions that we would like answered?

Wait for suggested questions or use the following prompts – 1) How is cancer cured? 2) Who assassinated John F. Kennedy? 3) What do we need to do to have world peace? 4) How can I make 2+2=5?

Rainer Maria Rilke (pronounced RAY-ner MREE-uh REEL-kuh) was an Austrian poet and writer who lived in the late 19th century. One of his most famous works, Letters to a Young Poet, was a short collection of letters he wrote to a young writer named Franz Kappus. The young writer had posed all sorts of questions to Rilke, asking for answers that Rilke knew he wasn’t qualified to give. Here’s what Rilke told the young writer:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.

Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.

And the point is to live everything.

Live the questions now.

Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

It’s not easy living the questions, but we’re not the first to have to do it. We can read the account of Mary Magdalene at Jesus’ tomb and watch her grief turn to quizzical joy as she lived the questions about Jesus’ death into new questions about what it means to serve a risen Savior.

Read John 20:1-18 NRSV

We’re going to look at the passage again, but this time through the lens of the questions that Mary Magdalene and the apostles were living. You’ll notice that these questions are the same questions we also face when struggling with change and difficulty.

Where is Jesus?

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (John 20:1-2 NRSV)

Here we observe Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb while it was still dark. John’s gospel often uses the binaries of darkness and light symbolically, perhaps contrasting human beings’ inability to see and perceive at first with the dawn of understanding. When Mary sees the stone rolled away, she immediately wonders where he is? Someone has taken him, and we don’t know where he is.

How often in life do we ask the same question – where is Jesus? Mary assumed he had been taken; he was nowhere around. How often do we make the same assumption? Where is Jesus when we’re faced with difficult situations, we ask the question, “Where is Jesus?” And rather than make assumptions, such as “This is my fault” or “I’m being punished,” we should focus our attention on Jesus’ words. Jesus had told his disciples that he would be crucified but would rise on the third day. Today, we have Jesus’ words in the Bible to remind us that “In him, we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28NRSV).


Here are Jesus’ words:

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:32-33 MSG)

While we live the question “Where is Jesus?” we can live by the truth that he is alive, he is in us, and we live in him. Where is Jesus? In you and with you, always inviting you to join him in what he is doing. This is the reason we celebrate the resurrection. Jesus is alive and in us; we no longer have to ask where he is.

What do we do now?

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. (John 20:3-10 NRSV)

These verses tell us what happened when Peter and John made it to the tomb. We read that John “believed,” but at that time he didn’t connect the dots that Jesus had told them he would rise from the dead. Right then, John believed Mary that Jesus was missing. He and Peter went home. Why didn’t they stay and try to investigate what happened to Jesus’ body?

If we think about the kind of week these disciples had had, we could say “it had been A WEEK.” It started so promising and ended with much heartbreak and grief. When we are consumed by our grief, it’s difficult to see past the grief. “What do we do now?” was the question they were living. Other questions they might have been living: “Why did he die? Are we next to be killed?”


The disciples had suffered a number of losses, such as the loss of their friend and teacher as well as the loss of a future they had envisioned. Their very typical reaction was to withdraw, go home, and lock the doors. What emotion makes us withdraw? Fear. When we’re living the question “What do we do now?” we are often confronted with our fear of not knowing what we’re supposed to do next or how we’re supposed to do it. We’re tempted to withdraw just like the disciples did.

The resurrection reminds us that Jesus has not left us to wonder what to do next. Death comes to us in many ways throughout our lives: loss, disappointment, disillusionment. When we anticipate something and it doesn’t happen, it’s a kind of death. We are learning that we really don’t control anything. And if we think about it, each time we have faced disappointment or loss, at the very bottom God’s grace has been there. We have come through that smaller “death” to the other side because something or someone has always made a way for us. That’s the power of the resurrection. Jesus reminds us that he claimed victory over death – over anything that can stop us from living in him.

What do we do now? We claim his victory. He proclaim his life in us. We follow him; we participate in what he is doing in us and in those around us. As the Great Commission reminds us, the one to whom was given all power and authority on heaven and on earth will be with us always. We are invited to join him in his mission of bringing many sons and daughters to glory.

What do we do now? We wait for him to show up – confident that he does. When he does, we join him in what he is doing. We rest our hope on Jesus. We proclaim him, we praise him, we worship… but we are getting a bit ahead of the passage.

Why are you weeping?

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” (John 20:11-15 NRSV)

Here we find Mary Magdalene weeping. The disciples have left, but she stays. She finally summons up enough courage to look into the tomb, and sees two angels who ask her “Why are you weeping?” She shares her sorrow with them: Jesus is gone; I don’t know where he is. It seems a little strange that she doesn’t think it odd that two beings are sitting in the tomb, asking her questions. But she answers them, and then she turns around, and Jesus is there. He asks her the same question: Why are you weeping? She thinks he’s the gardener, but she answers the question again.

Did the two angels and Jesus himself not know why Mary was crying? I am guessing that they knew, maybe better than Mary did. Living the question “Why are you weeping?” encapsulates the grieving process. Human beings need to talk about their pain, disappointments, and losses. It’s part of the healing process that God created. Grief is not something that people “get over;” grief must be expressed through talking to someone, journaling, moving our bodies, or creating art and music. Grief must be integrated into a person and talking about our losses can be a part of the process. When we are processing a loss or disappointment, living the question “Why are you weeping?” helps us process and integrate the loss into our lives. It helps us heal and ultimately turns us back to the healer. Jesus understands our pain, our suffering, our grief, and he enters into it with us.

The resurrection reminds us that our weeping is for a moment; the joy of knowing Jesus and knowing his resurrection is our resurrection encourages us to not grieve as others do, with no hope. The resurrection reminds us that our grief will turn to joy because we know we have been risen with him and we have ascended with him.

Will life go back to the way it was?

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:16-18 NRSV)

Jesus says Mary’s name, and she instantly knows him. “Rabbouni!” she says. Though the scripture doesn’t say it explicitly, it’s implied that Mary embraces Jesus, and he says to her, “Do not hold on to me because I have not yet ascended to the Father” (v. 17). This might sound a little cold; after all, who could blame her? The last time she saw him, he was dead on a cross. But it might make more sense if we understand Mary’s unspoken question to be “Will life go back to the way it was?” and if we interpret Jesus’ response to be “Are you willing to change your vision of how life is supposed to be?”

It’s a human tendency to resist change or to be nostalgic for “the good ole days.” It would be a natural assumption for Mary to think that Jesus could take up where he left off. But in any kind of death, coming out on the other side means that things are different. We are different. The Holy Spirit uses the losses and suffering we endure to change us. We already know, deep down, the answer to the question we’re living, “Will life go back to the way it was?” And we, like Mary, must move forward into living the question “Are we willing to change our vision of how life is supposed to be?” Are we willing to surrender to the changes God is leading us through and leading us to? If we are going to participate in resurrection, our answer must be yes because resurrection implies a change.

The resurrection reminds us that when Jesus rose from the grave, everything changed. Death lost its sting. The grave is not a permanent dwelling. There is life after death. Jesus is alive, and because he lives, we too will live forever. The resurrection reminds us to live in our new reality – that we are a new creation, redeemed and reconciled to the Father. The resurrection reminds us that God’s promises are sure – just as Jesus rose from the grave, so will we. Just as Jesus entered into glory, so shall we. Just as Jesus declared victory, we will declare victory. All because he is risen!


Small Group Discussion Questions

From the Sermon

  • The sermon notes four common questions Mary and the disciples faced (Where is Jesus? What do we do now? Why are you weeping? Will life go back to the way it was?).
  • Have you ever wrestled with any of these questions?
  • If so, please share your experience and how you lived the question.
  • We experience a variety of smaller “deaths” as part of our human experience, and if we look carefully at each experience, we can see how God’s grace has carried us through to the other side or “resurrection.”
  • Have you experienced God’s grace during loss or disappointment?
  • If so, how did God carry you through?




Small Group Discussion Questions

From Speaking of Life

  • Jesus’ resurrection means we will also be resurrected.
  • Does this change how you live your life now, in the present?
  • If so, how?
  • Death, “the last enemy to be destroyed,” can actually help us live more meaningful lives now.
  • Does the fact that you will die someday change how you live each day?
  • If so, what do you do differently?





Why do we believe the resurrection is important?

John 20:1-2,3-9 (NKJ)   Now 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. 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.”

Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.


What is the significance of verse 9?



John 20:9 (NKJ) For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

John 20:9 (NIV) (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)


What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection? 

Why is Jesus’ resurrection SO important?  What if Jesus Christ had not been resurrected?


Paul addresses the matter, directly, in 1 Corinthians 15:12-18.

Notice 1 Corinthians 15:12-13

I want to look at why Paul considered the resurrection to be SO important.

But first …

Let us notice something Paul said about the gospel he preached …

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (NKJ) Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.  3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.  7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.  8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.


What would you say Paul considers to be the essential elements of the Gospel? 

Clearly, the resurrection is a VERY important aspect of the Gospel.


What if there were no resurrection?    

Paul addressed this question in his letter to the Corinthian church:

1 Corinthians 15:12-18 (NKJ) Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.  14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.  15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise.  16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.  17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.


What if there were no resurrection? 



What is the main concern Paul would have had IF there were no resurrection? 



What are the ramifications if that were the case? 



How would our preaching be empty? 



How would our faith be also empty? 

  • If there is no resurrection … Then Christ is not risen.
  • If Christ is not risen … Then Christ is still dead.
  • If Christ is still dead … Then He was really no different than any other human “deliverer”
  • If He was no different from other humans … Then He was not God.
  • If He was not God … Then He really can’t save.



How would we be false witnesses? 




How would our faith be futile? 



How/Why would we still be in our sins?  

  • we have a sin problem. God is absolutely righteous and cannot accept us into His presence if we have any sin. Christ died on the cross as the substitute for our sins (15:3).
  • If He is not risen, then His death is no different than any other death, and faith in Him is worthless. We would still be in our sins (15:17). Jesus must in fact be risen if our faith is to be of any effect with regard to our sin problem.



Why would those who have died in Christ have perished? 


  • If there is no resurrection … Then Christ is not risen.
  • If Christ is not risen … Then Christ is still dead.
  • If Christ is still dead … Then He was really no different than any other human “deliverer”
  • If He was no different from other humans … Then He was not God.
  • If He was not God … Then He really can’t save.




How does the resurrection prove (for us) that Jesus Christ is God? 

  • Matthew 12:38-40


Matthew 12:38-40 (NKJ) Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”  39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.


What does this verse have to do with the resurrection of Christ? 


  • The “sign” was NOT just that Jesus spent 3 days and 3 nights in the tomb.
  • The “sign” was that Jesus did not spend the rest of His time in the tomb.
  • The “sign” that Jesus wanted them to take note of was His resurrection.


How does the resurrection show that Jesus has conquered death?  

  • Romans 6:8-9


Romans 6:8-9 (NKJ) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

Jesus Christ died.  But He didn’t stay dead.

Jesus Christ died.  But He was raised from the dead … for all time … never to die again.



How does the resurrection make salvation possible? 

  • Romans 10:8-9


Romans 10:8-9 (NKJ) But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (NKJ)




Most people, when they hear the word “Gospel” tend to think about the death of Jesus Christ, so many people don’t realize that THERE ARE REALLY TWO ESSENTIAL PARTS TO THE GOSPEL:

  1. The death of Christ
  2. The resurrection of Christ

More importantly, many persons don’t realize that WE NEED TO BELIEVE BOTH IF WE ARE TO RECEIVE SALVATION.

See Romans 10:9 above.


1 Corinthians 15:1-8


SO why did Jesus Christ have to be resurrected?  


He had to be resurrected in order for the Scriptures to be fulfilled.

But there is more to it than that.

1 Corinthians 15:19-24  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.  20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.  24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.


Jesus had to be resurrected … to fulfill God’s purpose …

Jesus had to be resurrected … so that we could live (eternally).

  • John 14:19 A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.

IF CHRIST WERE NOT RAISED FROM THE DEAD…according to Paul (in 1 Cor.15:12-19) …

  • Christ would still be dead.
  • The message of the apostles would be useless.
  • Our faith would be vain.
  • Paul and the apostles would have been shown up as liars (false witnesses).
  • We would still be in our sins.
  • Those who have died in Christ are lost.  They will never be resurrected.
  • Our hope would only be for this life.



John 3:16-17  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

God’s provision is Jesus Christ.

But Jesus’ death is only a part of the provision.

God sent His Son to die for us (as payment for our sins), but He did not only send His Son to die for us….

God also raised His Son so that He could live for us








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