Sermon: “Why are you Weeping?” (John 20:1–18)
From one perspective, John 19 ended on the darkest note possible. Jesus’ own people did not love, adore, worship, and obey him; rather, they demanded his crucifixion and death. By the end of John 19, the most that Jesus’ friends can do is to lay his corpse lovingly in a tomb. From another perspective, however, John gives us three sets of clues to let us know that things are not as bad as they may seem on the surface. First, when Jesus died, he did not give the impression that he had failed—in fact, he triumphantly declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Second, John tells us that Jesus fulfilled various prophecies, types, and shadows from the Old Testament Scriptures through his death. Third, after Jesus’ death, he is no longer treated with shame, scorn, and contempt. Instead, Jesus receives a burial fit for a king, suggesting that not only is Jesus’ estate of humiliation finished, but a new estate of exaltation is coming.
All of this brings us to the story of Jesus’ resurrection. On the one hand, Jesus has finished his work to fulfill God’s redemptive plan at his death on the cross (cf. John 19:28–37). On the other hand, Jesus has still more to do. The difference, though, is that Jesus will never again descend back into his estate of humiliation, suffering, shame, and death. From this “first day of the week” (John 20:1) onward, the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ will consist entirely of his estate of exaltation, beginning with his resurrection. The twist, though, is that the joy of Jesus’ resurrection represents so much more than simply receiving Jesus back into the land of the living, so that Jesus will not even allow Mary to cling to him at this point (John 20:17). In fact, the resurrection has cosmic implications, and here in John 20:1–18 we see the first facet of the significance of the resurrection: Jesus rises from the dead to reconcile us to God.