Sermon: Worship Like Never Before John 20:19-23

Worship Like Never Before

John 20:19-23

Truth Taught- Jesus gives His Church the gift of the Holy Spirit and now we can worship like never before.

Father, You have Gathered Your people that You may let us hear Your words, so that we may learn to fear You all the days that we live on the earth, and that we may also teach our children…amen

John 20:19–23 (ESV)

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them 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 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending 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 withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

  1. The First Day They Could Truly Worship, Because Jesus Died and Rose Again

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week

John 20:1 (ESV)

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

John keeps telling us the day all these things took place…the first day of the week. He does this to help us see why the early church began what may be called the Christian Sabbath or the Lord’s Day. By the time John wrote his Gospel the church was already meeting together for corporate worship on Sunday. Saturday had become just another day.

Mary, the first person to see the risen Christ saw Him on a Sunday.

The Apostle John believed after seeing the evidence on a Sunday.

When Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, things changed. Christ, the second Adam, “finished” (John 19:30) the work that the first Adam failed to do (Rom. 5:12-19).

Romans 5:18–21 (ESV)

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It was also that day the New Covenant began…the first day of the week.

Because of that pivotal event, the church determined that for Christians under the new covenant, the day of worship and celebration of the Lord’s grace in Jesus Christ was to be the first day of the week, Sunday:

On this day, we are reminded of and participate in the glorious reality that we have already entered God’s rest (Matt. 11:28Heb. 4:10) and that we await the experience of the fullness of this rest in eternity in the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21-22).

Here’s how it works…
God worked 6 days and rested on the 7th day. Through Moses, God sets in place a divine directive to work 6 days and rest on the 7th.
Exodus 20:8–10 (ESV)

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

So, in the Old Dispensation or Old Covenant the worshipper works six days (like God did) and rests one. He does this week after week.

The resurrection brought in the New Covenant.
Jeremiah 31:31–34 (ESV)

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Now we live in the time of the New Covenant. Notice what the early Church saw in the resurrection and this New Covenant.
Because Christ rose on the first day of the week, they rightly viewed that as the start of the next week as it were. God worked six days and rested on a Saturday and told Israel to keep the Sabbath Day each week. This was but a small foretaste of the eternal rest that Jesus would bring in. Now, at the resurrection, the next week begins on a Sunday and this also begins true rest for all of God’s people.

The work we do is pictured as following the first day of the week or the Lord’s day which pictures for us works of righteousness not just labor. Now, because of the work of Christ, even our work can be done in righteousness for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Now in the New Covenant that Christ brought to us through His death and resurrection, His finished work is applied to us and God has now begun His work in us. The result is that our work now can be done in light of our salvation and for God’s glory.
So what the death and resurrection means for us is that we live in a time of rest or God’s eternal Sabbath.

The early Church rightly saw this major shift and applied that change to the day we worship. To worship on the OT Sabbath is to hold the Old Covenant to a higher standard than the New Covenant that Jesus brought.

Hebrews 8:6 (ESV)

But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

The Church saw the significance of the resurrection on the first day (Sunday) as the marker for the first day we can worship God now through Jesus Christ the Great High Priest who appeared first to His people on a Sunday. Now, because of the death and resurrection of Christ sins of the worshipper have been paid for and forgiven not just covered as in the Old Covenant.

Do not let anyone tell you that we should still hold to a Saturday Sabbath. No, now since we look back to the cross the first day of the week is the day of worship. We live under a New Covenant that is much better than the Old.
Q59: Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?

A59: From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath.[1]

  1. The First Day They Had Real Peace…Because Jesus was With Them

the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them 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.

John reports that they were gathered together in fear. They were afraid for their lives. The Jews were evidently not satisfied with murdering Jesus they wanted everyone dead. If they were to maintain their way of life, the Jews had to exterminate everyone and everything that had to do with Jesus.

The doors were locked in order to keep the Jews out. I’m sure that every time the wind blew and the door rattled they looked to see if someone was there.

Jesus came to His disciples not only to prove to them that He really did rise from the dead as He said He would but He also came to them with a message. It’s the same message that He gave them already, back in John 14.

John 14:25–29 (ESV)

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.

Jesus, back in John 14, promised them His peace and the Holy Spirit. He also tells them that when the Holy Spirit comes, then they will understand everything He told them.

Notice with me what He offered them.
He gave them peace even though the Jews still could enter in and take them away if they chose to do so. However, after they saw Jesus and the marks left by the spikes and the sword then they understood. They realized that this was, in fact, Jesus standing in their presence. He promised them peace and in His prescence is God’s peace. They saw the proof that He was crucified and rased from the grave. All this was done to Jesus for them. They began to realize the truth that it was through His stripes, they were healed. It was through these precious wounds they were forgiven. They saw true forgiveness and grace in those wounds.

Beloved…we too have peace through the wounds of Jesus. Through His stripes we too are healed.
What should our response be? We have peace with God now so our response should be worship.
Revelation 5:6–14 (ESV)

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

       “Worthy are you to take the scroll

and to open its seals,

       for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation,

10    and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,

and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

       “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

       to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might

       and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

       “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

       be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

  1. The First Day They Had Real Peace…Being God’s New Creation

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

When we began the Gospel of John we opened with the first verse…
We immediately were reminded of the opening verse of Genesis 1…In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. As we continue through the creation account we come to the part where God creates Adam. God does something here in Adam that He has never done before…
Genesis 2:7 (ESV)

then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

So, at that moment God gave Adam life of a different kind. You see all the animals had life they walked around but Adam had the breath of God. Adam had a spirit. When God breathed life into Adam, He gave Adam a dimension in which he could commune with God. Adam was made in God’s image with a spirit.

After sin entered the world through Adam, his spirit, while still present, was severely marred do to sin. Everyone since has suffered the effects of sin in the same way. This has greatly diminished the way we can fellowship with God.

Look and see what Jesus does to His disciples…
he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Do you see what gift God has given to His followers? The Apostles, through Christ, received the Holy Spirit, which brought life to their spirit. Jesus was beginning the amazing work of reversing the curse and effects of sin. The Apostles could commune with God; they could understand all that Jesus taught them where before they hardly understood anything. They were alive now.

This day, this amazing day, marked the shift in how God’s people could fellowship with Him.
This is the work of Christ reversing what the work of the first Adam had done. Death comes through Adam but life comes through Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:12 (ESV)

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

Romans 5:18–19 (ESV)

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

We should also see that in this moment the imagery of breath entering dead people should remind us of a famous OT passage.
Ezekiel 37:5 (ESV)

Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.

Beloved, through the death and resurrection of Jesus we, as His people, are alive. He has breathed life within us as He’s given each and every believer the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Now we too can truly worship and have real and lasting peace. We meet weekly, on the Lord’s Day to celebrate our eternal rest and our Lord who brought it to us. He has forgiven our sin and has cast them far from us. We live in the days of the King and the days of a New and better Covenant.

Application Questions

How important is corporate worship to you?

Are you ready to worship when you arrive?

What arrangements have you made the day before to prepare yourself and your family for corporate worship on Sunday?

What changes should you make in order to be more prepared to meet on Sunday mornings?

[1] Westminster Confession of Faith

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