Beyond the Passion: The Rest of the
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
April 11, 2004
John 20:1-18 (NLT)
After our Good Friday service this week,
Shera and I along with a few of you went to see The Passion
of the Christ in the theatre. We had spent the morning
reflecting on the crucifixion and everything that involved, and it
seemed appropriate to go and see it played out on the big screen one
It wasn’t the first time we’ve seen The Passion.
I’ve seen it twice now, and Shera has seen it three times. But watching
it on Good Friday of all days, the specific day of the year that we set
aside to remember what Jesus did that day, it was especially moving.
And as I sat there watching the movie, horrified at the torture Jesus
endured, and realizing that what I was watching really happened, I
couldn’t help but be awed that what Jesus did He did for me.
Because I’ve done things that have hurt God. We all have. We have all
rebelled against Him in some way. You and I have committed the sin of
treason against God, and as a result we deserve the death penalty. God
is a God of Justice, and that justice demanded that sin be punished.
But God is also a God of Mercy. And it was that mercy that lead God to
become the man, Jesus, and He died to serve the death sentence in our
place. That’s the extent of His love for you and for me.
I also remembered while watching the movie that when Jesus died on the
cross He was 33. I’m 33. So in a sense I identified with Him a bit more
and the reality of it struck home with even more power.
But it’s not just me. This movie, The Passion, has
had a tremendous effect on many of the people who have had the
opportunity to see it. Let me read you a short perspective I received
in my email this week from Tony Perkins. Tony is the president of the
Family Research Council in Washington, and this is what he said about The
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE
by Tony Perkins
In the weeks leading up to its release, critics called The
Passion of the Christ anti-Semitic and said it would spawn
violence and ruthless attacks. Some police departments even went so far
as to send their hate-crime units to view the movie as preparation.
Well, there have been no reported attacks on Jewish people or anyone
else, for that matter. In fact, there have been numerous reports that
the movie has had the opposite affect.
A neo-Nazi confessed to two decade-old bombings in Norway after
watching the death of Jesus in The Passion. In the
states, a man in Arizona walked up to police and confessed to a
half-dozen burglaries after watching the movie, and, in Florida, a
fugitive from a bank robbery that happened two years ago turned himself
in to police after watching Gibson's film. And now, in Texas, a man has
confessed to killing his girlfriend –after the death had been ruled a
suicide—saying he had been moved by his experience viewing The
This stunning turnabout gives a whole new meaning to a movie being
rated "R": Warning, this movie may cause you to repent.
The movie has had a tremendous impact on the
people who have seen it in theatres. And it also had a tremendous
impact on the people who worked on the movie and visited the set.
Several of the cast members expressed that their own faith was
strengthened as a result of working on The Passion. There were reports
of miraculous healings happening on the set. Jim Caviezel who plays
Jesus was even struck by lightning and had no side effects other than
his hair looked like Don King’s for a while.
Over the past two months I’ve listened to a lot of people and I’ve read
a lot articles about The Passion, and for the most
part the response has been positive. But there have been several
criticisms. Several people have complained about the extreme violence.
In fact, several church leaders in Europe right now are warning people
to stay away for that very reason. But the truth is, the Roman justice
system was brutal and crucifixion was a nasty business. We talked about
that on Friday, and if you missed it you can read about it on our
website. If anything, the actual crucifixion was worse than what is
portrayed on the screen.
Another complaint has been that the movie is anti-Semitic. But after
seeing the movie twice I would say it’s more anti-Italian. Because it’s
the Romans who actually carry out the crucifixion. Some of the Jewish
religious leaders framed Jesus and set Him up, but the Romans did the
dirty work. Besides, even though several Jews pushed for Jesus to be
executed on the cross, there were several others who begged for His
release. Plus, all of His followers in those early days were Jews.
But there is one complaint I’ve heard which may hold some merit.
Personally, I think Mel Gibson did a terrific job portraying the last
12 hours of the life of Christ, and that’s exactly what he wanted to
do. But several people I’ve talked to complain that they wish Mel took
it a little bit further. The wish Mel had gone beyond the Passion…
beyond the suffering… and told the rest of the story. Granted, Mel does
deal with the Resurrection in a brief and I think very well done scene,
but there are many questions left unanswered.
So this morning, on this Easter Sunday, that’s where we’re going to
spend the majority of our time. Beyond the Passion.
Kim read for us earlier about what happened that Easter morning. Mary
Magdalene came to the tomb where the body of Jesus had been buried.
Previously, Mary had been possessed by seven demons. According to
tradition, although it’s not mentioned anyplace in the Bible, she was
also a prostitute. But then she met Jesus, and all that changed. He
freed her and called her to follow Him. In Mary, we see a person who
had been at the far end of the pendulum away from God, but after
encountering Jesus she swung to the other end and became a devoted
follower of His. In fact, some of the Apocryphal writings portray her
as being just one of the guys… one of the disciples.
Now, before anyone asks, no, Mary and Jesus were not lovers. And they
did not have children together. There are some books out there right
now that claim that, and they’re even talking about upcoming movies
that will make this claim. Don’t believe it. There’s no indication that
Mary was anymore than a very grateful follower of Jesus. Did Jesus love
her? Yes. As much as He loves you and me today.
Mary was present at the crucifixion. And now, just days later, she’s
present at the resurrection. It’s early in the morning and Mary is
taking spices to the tomb. Kind of like you and I might take flowers
today. And Mary wasn’t alone… the other Gospels reveal that there were
several other women with her. On her way, Mary’s thinking about the
huge stone that had been rolled in front of the tomb and the guards who
had been stationed there to watch the tomb. Strange. Any other time,
guards at a tomb would be there to keep others out. But these guards
are stationed there to keep Jesus in. Just goes to prove, you can’t
keep a good man down.
As Mary’s on her way, she wondering if she’ll be able to get the guards
to roll the stone away for her, but as she comes close, the guards are
no where in sight. And then she sees it… the stone is rolled away. She
immediately concludes, “Someone has stolen the body!” So she runs back
to town to tell the disciples.
When Peter and John hear, they run as fast as they can to the tomb.
They want to know what happened to the body. So they run there only to
discover that Mary was right… no body… the grave clothes still lying
there… without a body in them.
Then it all begins to gel for them. Things Jesus had said to them start
coming to mind… Riddles He had told them…
Matthew 12:40 (NLT)
“For as Jonah was in the belly of the great
fish for three days and three nights, so I, the Son of Man, will be in
the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”
Mark 9:31 (NLT)
"The Son of Man is going to be betrayed. He
will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead."
John 2:19 (NLT)
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I
will raise it up."
They didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about at first, but
suddenly they put two and two together, and they realize that Jesus was
talking about Himself! He had risen! So they went home.
But Mary wasn’t with them. She was hanging around outside the tomb.
Only after Peter and John were long gone did she bend over and look
inside. And when she did, she was amazed at what she saw. Two angels,
all dressed in white, sitting there. She still didn’t understand. Then
she noticed a shadow behind her. She figured it was the gardener. So
she says, without really looking at Him, “Sir, if you’re the one who
took Jesus, let me know where you took him… Please.”
Then she heard Him say, “Mary.” As soon as she heard the voice, she
knew. She wielded around in wide-eyed wonderment, astonished to see
Jesus… alive. He had risen!
Did this really happen? And if so, so what? What does it mean? What
difference does it make? Those are fair questions. After all, it’s not
everyday that someone rises from the dead. So what proof is there? Let
me give you five proofs. And you can use your notes provided in your
Sunrise Update to follow along.
Jesus Rose From The Dead:
A. The change in the disciples.
John Stott is a best-selling author, a
professor, and perhaps the leading theologian in the world today. And
“Perhaps the transformation of the disciples is the greatest evidence
of all for the resurrection… When Jesus died, they were heartbroken,
confused and frightened. But within less than two months they came out
of hiding, full of joy, confidence and courage. What can account for
this dramatic transformation? Only the resurrection, together with
Pentecost which followed soon afterwards.”
~ John Stott
And this bizarre group of mostly uneducated men went on to change the
B. Eyewitness accounts.
Acts 1:3 (NIV)
After his suffering, he showed himself to
these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He
appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the
kingdom of God.
Notice it wasn’t just a one time shot like “Surprise! Here I am!” and
then He’s never seen again. No, it says he gave many proofs that He was
alive. It says for 40 days He continued to appear to them and tell them
about the kingdom of God. He didn’t just show up once. For forty days
He’s walking around the streets of Jerusalem and all kinds of people
are seeing Him. How would you like to be those religious leaders who
put Jesus to death? “You know that guy you just crucified? He’s back!”
If I were them, I’d be freaking out!
Do you know that there are eleven times recorded in the Bible that
Jesus appeared to people after his death? And there were probably many
more times not mentioned in the Bible. He appeared to individuals, to
the disciples, and one time appeared to a group of over 500 people.
Some people today claim that these were all hallucinations. And I could
understand that if Jesus only appeared to individuals. It could have
simply been wish fulfillment. But he didn’t just appear to individuals.
He appeared to groups of people, too. And hallucinations are not group
events, at least not outside of the 1960’s. And the truth is that
having 500 different people experience the same hallucination at the
same time would be a greater miracle than the resurrection itself!
That’s why about half the city became believers. Archeologists and
historians tell us that within twenty years of the resurrection,
Jerusalem, a city of about quarter million people, had between 100,000
and 125,000 believers. Why? Because so many people had seen Him. That’s
the guy we just put on the cross! That’s the guy the Romans killed. He
claimed He was God, and look! He’s back.
C. Modern-day accounts.
We’ve already talked about the change that
happened in the lives of the disciples. But do you realize that Jesus
is still changing lives today? Many of us here know that to be true by
personal experience. We have a relationship with Him today. Our lives
have been transformed. And that power to change is only a reality
because Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today.
D. The Roman and Jewish leaders
couldn’t disprove it.
They tried to, they desperately wanted to,
but they couldn’t. They couldn’t produce the body, they couldn’t show
that the body was stolen, they couldn’t say that he was in a different
grave, they couldn’t explain why the highly-trained guards failed, and
they couldn’t explain away the appearances. They had all the motivation
and power in the world to squash this new religion, but they simply
weren’t able to do it because they couldn’t disprove it.
E. The disciples were willing to
die for their beliefs.
Do you realize the disciples had nothing to
gain? They would be beaten, imprisoned, persecuted, and killed for
their beliefs. Now, I am aware that there have been plenty of people
throughout history who have died for their faith, whether what they
believed was true or not. We’ve seen this in recent days with
terrorists and suicide bombers. This is true:
People will die for their faith if they believe it’s true.
But this is equally true:
People will not die for their faith if they know it’s false.
Nobody knowingly dies for a lie.
If the disciples had fabricated the Resurrection story, they wouldn’t
have defended it to the death. At least one of them if not all of them
would have come clean. But they didn’t. They staked their lives on the
fact that Jesus rose from the dead.
Easter means that I can have confidence in
Jesus, because he is who He says He is. The proof is there: He is
risen! And that proves He is the Son of God.
Romans 1:4 (NLT)
And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be
the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of
the Holy Spirit.
So what does that mean for you and for me today? Four things…
Does Easter Mean for Me?
1. I can be forgiven.
This past Friday in our Good Friday service,
we took part in communion together… the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s
Supper is a practice which Jesus Himself began and instructed us to do
also. It’s a symbolic re-enactment of the last supper Jesus had with
His disciples. During that last supper, Jesus took a glass of wine and
used it as a metaphor when he told his followers:
Matthew 26:28 (CEV)
This is my blood, and with it God makes his
agreement with you. It will be poured out, so that many people will
have their sins forgiven.
What was Jesus saying? He was saying that through his death the price
would be paid for our sins. We would be spared and forgiven.
But throughout the years many people have promised things only to be
incapable of delivering on them. Think about some of the promises that
have been made to you that haven’t been kept. Think about promises like…
“You car will be ready in an hour.”
“This won’t hurt a bit.”
“You have a 1 in 9 chance of winning at Roll Up the Rim.”
“This won’t take long.”
“True friends always.”
“Till death do us part.”
Did people mean to break those promises when they made them to us? No,
they were just incapable of keeping them. Jesus promised that he would
forgive me for the wrongs I have done… for my sins. How do I know that
he can keep that promise?
The Bible says…
1 Corinthians 15:17 (CEV)
Unless Christ was raised to life, your faith
is useless, and you are still living in your sins.
But the fact is Jesus did rise from the dead. He is who He says He is.
And that means that He does in fact have the power to forgive. He can
forgive me, He can forgive you. It’s one of our basic human needs and
one of God’s greatest gifts.
His forgiveness is real. It’s freely offered to you. But you have to
decide, will you receive it?
2. I am given a second chance.
Jesus Christ comes to earth, lives a perfect
life and dies on the cross for my sin and for yours. It’s all been paid
for. Every sin you will ever commit. Even the ones you haven’t done
yet. The ones you haven’t even thought about – next week, next year,
ten years from now. They’ve already been paid for.
When Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross, just before He died He
exclaimed, “It is finished.” He did not say, “I am finished” because He
wasn’t. He came to life three days later. He didn’t say, “I am
finished.” It said “It is finished.” The payment for all your sins has
John 19:30 (NLT)
… He said, "It is finished!" Then he bowed
his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus said, “It is finished.” In the Greek, that is actually one word:
tetelestai. Tetelestai literally meant “paid in full.” When a person
had paid off a bill they would stamp tetelestai on it. It’s paid in
full. You can forget it. When a person would serve their time in prison
and their sentence was commuted they’d stamp on their prison papers
tetelestai – paid in full. You’re a free man. You can go. You’re not in
prison any more.
When Jesus, on the cross said, “It is finished.” He was saying
“Tetelestai! Paid in full. I have paid for all the things you’ve ever
done wrong so you can go to Heaven.”
I realize it’s one thing for Jesus to say that, another for it to be
true. How do we know that our account is paid in full? Because of the
1 Corinthians 15:21 (NLT)
So you see, just as death came into the
world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun
through another man, Christ.
Jesus dies and rose from the dead to offer you a second chance. But you
have to decide, will you take it?
3. The Power of God is available to
Here’s a little secret just for your
benefit. The power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, it is
available to you to help you with your problems if you invite Jesus
into your life. The Bible says…
Ephesians 1:19-20 (NLT)
I pray that you will begin to understand the
incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the
same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead…
That power is available to you if you believe in Him and trust Him with
your life. But you must decide, will you trust Him?
4. I can have hope.
What is hope? It’s not just wishful
thinking. It’s a guarantee of what’s to come.
“Hope is enjoyment of the future in advance.”
With the resurrection of Jesus we who know him personally can have
hope. And what I mean by that is that we can live with a confidence and
an expectation that we are never alone and that once this life is over
we can spend forever in eternity with Him, and forever is a long, long
1 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT)
Now we live with a wonderful expectation
because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. For God has reserved a
priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you,
pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
That wonderful expectation is eternal. That hope is sure. But you must
decide: do you believe it, or not?
Let me ask you, what would you say is the
most famous verse of the Bible?
John 3:16. You’ll seen this verse at any football game. You can be
watching a game in person or on TV, and suddenly you notice some guy,
usually with coloured hair, holding up a John 3:16 sign in the end
zone. What in the world is John 3:16?
John 3:16 (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His
only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but
have everlasting life.
That verse is often called “The Gospel in a nutshell.” Look, it’s right
there in the verse…
[PowerPoint (God… Only… Son…
What does the word “gospel” mean? It’s just the old English word for
“good news.” Gospel just means good news. And the Good News is that you
can have the hope of Eternal Life. That’s what Jesus came to offer.
Take another look at that verse…
I want you to notice first of all there are 25 words in this verse –
John 3:16. The middle word, the thirteenth word is the word “Son”
talking about Jesus Christ. The first half of the verse is all about
God the Father. “For God so love the word that He gave His
only begotten.” Then there’s “Son” in the
middle. And the last twelve words are all about man. “That
whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
That in itself is a picture. Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth to
be the bridge between God the Father and man.
In the movie The Passion of the Christ one of the
most significant scenes to me is when Pilate, the governor of Judea,
walks out in front of an entire mob and he asks the single most
important question in history. He asks, “What will you do with Jesus?”
I’m asking you that question right now. What will you do with Jesus? It
is the most important question you will ever be asked in your life. It
not only determines the rest of your life on earth but where you’ll
spend eternity. What will you do with Jesus?
Let me explain something to you. You don’t have to have all of it
figured out, all your questions answered, all your doubts resolved
before you begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. I didn’t and I still
don’t. After 26 years I still have a lot of questions. I still have a
lot of things I don’t understand. I still have doubts about different
things. But it hasn’t stopped me from having a relationship—a
friendship—with God and enjoying that.
One day a guy came to Jesus who had a sick daughter. He said, “Lord, I
want You to heal my daughter.” Jesus looked at him and said, “Do you
believe I can heal her?” The guy said, “I want to believe. Yeah, I
believe. Help me with my doubts.” Jesus said, “That’s good enough!” And
Bam! He healed her.
You can come to Jesus Christ this morning and say, Jesus I want to
believe. Help me with my doubts!
So where are you at? Is this a day of celebration for you? Do you
already know Jesus, and is this a day you celebrate His resurrection?
Or have you never experienced His forgiveness in your life and come to
know Him personally? You can meet Him today.
I’m going to ask you to close your eyes for a minute. Just out of
respect for the person next to you. If you’re here and you don’t know
Jesus personally but would like to, just slip up your hand. Here’s what
I want you to do… I’m going to say a prayer, and you can say it after
me. You don’t have to say it out loud, you can say it in the quietness
of your heart.
Say, “Dear Jesus. I may not understand it all but I want a relationship
with You. I want to thank You for loving me. I want to thank You for
coming to earth for me. I want to thank You for giving Your life for me
so I could go to heaven. I want to accept Your free gift of forgiveness
and salvation. I want to trust You with my life. You call the shots
from here on out. I want to learn to trust You and to love You and to
fulfill Your purpose for my life. Amen.