“But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’ Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, ‘Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’’ Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
Today is Easter Sunday. At our daytime service I preached on the topic “We should thank God who gave us new life.” Brothers and sisters a glorious new life is waiting of the righteous who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As for the righteous, life on earth is not everything, but there is new life, a glorious new life after the resurrection of our physical bodies.
What should our true hope be? Our hope should be waiting for our Lord to return. Everyone waits for something great to happen whilst living on this earth. What then would be the most desired thing people are waiting for during their lives? It is to have a second chance to live by being resurrected. People have many regrets during their lives, so they want to make up for these failures to live a perfect life if they could have just another chance to live again. We the born again will enjoy what we have hoped for when that Day arrives. Therefore, we the righteous should wait in anticipation for our glorious new lives in Heaven by faith as we live in this world.
There was a woman named Mary Magdalene while Jesus was on earth. She was caught in the act of adultery, but she met Jesus and was saved from all her sins by His grace. She was one of the first women who went to the tomb of Jesus on the third day after His burial.
Our Lord loves everyone, but He specially loved May Magdalene who had received the grace of salvation from Him. Our Lord loves people like Mary Magdalene more whose soul was poor and hungry for His grace.
At the dawn of the third day after Jesus’ burial, Mary Magdalene went to His tomb with another woman. It was to pour spices and perfume on His body, as was the custom. But she was absolutely surprised to see the heavy tombstone had been rolled away when she arrived there. When she turned around whilst standing there, she noticed someone standing behind her. She did not know that it was Jesus. At that moment Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Thinking that he was the gardener she said, “If you had carried Him away, please tell me where you put Him, and I will go and fetch Him.”
When the man who she thought was the gardener called her by her name, “Mary!” she realized then it was Jesus who had risen from the dead. So she cried out in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” which means ‘teacher.’ Jesus said, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene returned immediately to the disciples and said, “I have seen the Lord,” and she told them what Jesus told her.
Mary Magdalene was one of those people who had received the remission of all their sins from Jesus. She was the one who was about to be stoned to death when she met Jesus, and both of her body and spirit were saved by the grace of Jesus. Because of this she could not help but love Him very much.
We notice a number of women with the same name as this ‘Mary’ in the Bible. For example, the name of Jesus’ mother was Mary, so you might think that the woman who went to the tomb first after Jesus was buried was the mother of Jesus. But the Bible says clearly that it was in fact Mary Magdalene. When Jesus was crucified on the Cross, there were several Mary’s standing there including Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the wife of Clopas (John 19:25). The name ‘Mary’ was a common name in Israel just like there are so many ‘Sunja’ in Korean women’s names.
Mary Magdalene was a woman who had received great grace from Jesus. So she visited Jesus frequently and spent time with Him. This is described in detail especially in the Gospel of John. The other gospel writers did not lay emphasis on Mary. However, the Apostle John highlighted this Mary in the Gospel of John.
Let’s go back to the tomb scene. The other women who accompanied this Mary thought that the man standing in front of the tomb was an angel. So they ran away gripped with fear. But Mary Magdalene stayed and asked the man if he was the gardener, and she told him boldly that she would go and fetch Jesus’ body if he told her where the body was. When Jesus called her by her name, “Mary!” she then realized it was Jesus. That is why she shouted, “Rabboni!” Unlike Mary Magdalene, most people could not recognize the resurrected Jesus right away. It might have been because it was early in the morning.
You all know what early dawn is like, don’t you? When we go to early morning prayer meetings, it is still dark to see anything. By the time we get done with our morning prayers, it slowly starts to brighten up so that we can see the roads and people’s silhouettes. We call this time of the day early dawn, and that was the time when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.
Mary Magdalene met the resurrected Jesus at dawn the next day. “Rabboni! Are you really my Teacher?” This was Mary’s question as she tried to hold on to Him. Then Jesus told her not to touch Him for He had as yet not gone to the Father. He told her to go to the disciples instead and tell them that He was going to ascend to the Father. He was indeed the resurrected Lord. So Mary Magdalene ran to the place where the disciples were and testified to them with much excitement.
Brothers and Sisters, I believe that our Lord has risen from the dead. I believe this because by being resurrected from the dead He was able to complete the work of salvation. If our Lord had not been resurrected, our salvation would not have been completed. I have been telling you over and over again that we have gained new life because of our Lord’s resurrection. We need to understand that we will not live the same kind of lives as we are living right now in the next world. We will not live this miserable life which is limited and then dies, but rather everlasting new life awaits us. We the righteous are living a whole new life. I want you to know our lives are blessed forever.
I would like to tell you a little about myself. On my heart’s tablet is engraved God’s remission of sin. And the fact that the Lord is my shepherd, and that I will live in His Kingdom forever is also engraved there. Therefore, a great hope arises in my heart whenever I think, “I will live again. I will surely live again!” Because of this a great hope arises within me that I will be living a glorious life with God forever. What I always wanted and hoped for will come about. I will live this life when I will rise up from the dead. The Book of Revelation describes what that day will be like. The Apostle Paul also waited for that Day when he will enjoy the glory of Heaven with the Lord by saying, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). I believe we will live a wonderful and satisfactory life then. So I am looking forward to that Day.
Brothers and Sisters, this hope is not a temporal hope that fades away like the morning mist. This is the kind of hope we keep thinking about during our lifetime. I want you to know that this is the glorious and precious blessing that our Lord gave us. We the righteous should hope for this first resurrection. As we carry on living in these end days, our hope is that we will be the partakers of the first resurrection. We must think about these things; “My life will begin anew. Present suffering and pain are not everything that I will face. A glorious ‘New life’ is waiting for us the righteous,” and we must wait patiently for that Day. Our Lord gives us enough joy, patience and boldness to handle things that have been assigned to us until that day when we get to live with Him. I believe the whole Bible relates to this hope. I know that new life is waiting for you and me. Therefore, I live with anticipation that this hope we have will eventually come true. I want you to live with the hope of resurrection also. I really have this hope.
Jesus revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene and the other woman on Easter Sunday morning. And only showed Himself to His disciples on that Sunday evening. His disciples were gathered together for fear of the Jews who were trying to arrest them. They were talking about what they saw; some might have said, “I have seen Jesus. He really rose up from the dead.” Peter and John might have talked about how the tomb was empty when they arrived there.
“Peace Be with You”
They kept all the doors and windows locked in order not to be caught by the Jews, when Jesus suddenly appeared amongst them. He said to them, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). This was the very first greeting to His disciples after He was resurrected. “Peace be with you.”
What is this peace? This Heavenly Peace is the great thing to have. Peace is a state of absence of any danger accompanied with the presence of pure joy. People who do not know this peace call being comfortable and having safe conditions, peaceful. But the word ‘peace’ here was one of the very first words Jesus said to the disciples after He arose from the dead. Jesus greeted them, “Peace be with you.”
We know what Jesus said was very appropriate for that moment. Why did Jesus wish them peace more than anything else? The reason was that the disciples were very uneasy and fearful at that time. That’s right. Since the Jews crucified their teacher Jesus, they were afraid of getting arrested as well for following Him. They were afraid that things would get worse and the Jews would decide to arrest them as well by saying, “Why don’t we arrest and kill those who h followed this Jesus as well?” They were worried that the Jews would want to kill all the followers of Jesus as they did with their teacher.
So at that very moment when they were talking about the risen Jesus with all doors locked in fear of the Jews, He appeared amongst them with this greeting, “Peace be with you.” The disciples physically saw the resurrected Lord. They also saw His hands and side with its wounds. When they saw Him and His wounds, they were overjoyed.
“If You Forgive the Sins of Anyone, Their Sins Are Forgiven”
Let’s read John 20:21-23. “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” Jesus showed His wounded hands and side to His disciples, and greeted them with “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And He breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is ‘Pneuma’ in Greek. The word ‘Pneuma’ has the meaning of breath. What does this mean? Do you remember the verse from the Book of Genesis where God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into His nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being? That’s it. Jesus breathed into His disciples just like that. He first said, “Peace to you!” and then said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And finally He said, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Our Lord came to this earth in a human body through Mary’s body according to the will of God the Father. He was baptized by John the Baptist when He was thirty years old. And through this He took all the sins of the world onto His body once and for all. He was crucified on the Cross bearing all the sins of the world; He shed His blood and died on the Cross. He rose up from the dead on the third day; and He appeared to His disciples with this greeting, “Peace to you.” He also said, “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”
Let’s Think about What These Words Mean
He came to this world to save us from the sins of the world. He did indeed save us by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He completed His work of salvation, and told His disciples that He was going to send them forth. His Word is His commandment that goes like this, “Save the souls of people the same way I did while I was working with you on this earth.” That is why He told them to receive the Holy Spirit and about the authority to forgive the sins of people by saying, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Our Lord has indeed removed all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. After He rose up from the dead, He gave the authority to forgive people’s sins. Whoever believes in this will indeed be one of the people who have received the remission of their sins. Those whose sins have been forgiven have received the Holy Sprit as a gift. Brothers and sisters, we were saved from our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Those who are saved receive the Holy Sprit. What happens when you receive the Spirit of God? You become a child of God immediately. Here is one very important thing for us to remember. The Holy Sprit is not something we can obtain by praying. It is a free gift from God given to His children who have been saved from all their sins.
Jesus told them to receive the Holy Spirit. And He gave them authority to remit the sins of others. From here we can see that the disciples who received the remission of sins received the authority to forgive other people’s sins. The Lord indeed gave this authority to His disciples. Let’s look at today’s Scripture passage again. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Jesus told them these words for a very good reason.
Jesus’ disciples knew well who He was. They knew and believed that He was born of Virgin Mary; and that He was baptized by John the Baptist when He was thirty years old to bear all the sins of the world; and that He was crucified on the Cross to save us from the punishment of death and from all our sins; He rose from the dead; and through this became the Savor of all humankind. When they shared their faith with other people, these people who heard and believed also received the remission of sins. If the disciples were wicked and decided not share the gospel of water and the Spirit with other people, they would never be able to receive the remission of there sins.
A question arises here on whether or not the followers of Christ really have this authority to remit the sins of others. Firstly, we need to know that Jesus has this power to remit sins. And secondly we see this same power been manifested in the disciples who believed in Jesus, who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, we too have this very same power so that we can preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to other people. Those who have as yet not heard or refused to accept the gospel of the water and the Spirit will not receive the remission of their sins; but on the other hand those who believe and are obedient and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit through us who preach it, will receive the remission of their sins without exception by faith. So we see that the authority of the disciples was very great.
When Peter looked directly at the lame beggar and said, “Silver or gold, I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk,” the man stood up immediately and walked and even ran with joy. What did Peter say he could in fact give him? He said, “What do I have that I can give to you.” What he only had was his faith. When Jesus’ disciples gave their faith to people, it immediately brought results in people.
If this be so then what kind of change can we bring to people we meet? We have this very same authority to remit people’s sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We are the righteous people who can bring changes to everyone. We have this very same power. I cannot overly emphasize this fact. But despite this, there are still people who mistreat us, and try to harm us, hate us so much and desire to kill us like the disciples. What they don’t realize is that they are not doing this to us, but to God. These very stubborn people are rebelling against God’s righteousness.
We are the true and approved ambassadors of God’s Kingdom. There are a lot of ambassadors in Korea, as in your country. They include the American ambassador and the Japanese ambassador etc. If any unpleasant thing happens such as distorting our history in say, the Japanese textbooks, our Minister of Foreign Affairs calls the Japanese ambassador and would question him about it. “Why does your country teach what is not true in our history? Are you not supposed to teach the truth?” Then what would this ambassador do? As the representative of Japan, this ambassador might say to the Korean people. “We sincerely regret that such an unpleasant affair has happened. I will notify our government about this as soon as possible to rectify it.” So we see in this example, the Japanese ambassador is only doing his job as a representative of his country.
Likewise, we as the true believers who have received the remission of our sins are working for Jesus Christ as His ambassador. We are the people who are carrying out His work. He has given us this very same authority to do His work. So we are doing it diligently. Therefore, those who carry on disregarding and ridiculing our words and make fun of the gospel of the water and the Spirit will never receive the remission of their sins. On the other hand, those people who bless us ‘the truly born-again’ will be blessed. But as mentioned before, those who despise, mistreat and kill the righteous who have receive the remission of sins by faith will be judged severely by our Lord Jesus Christ. People will win prizes or be punished according to what they deserve. God has given us such authority.
Only the righteous have this authority to remit people’s sins. Brothers and sisters, do you think this authority is worthless? Never! This is a great authority. No one else in this world has this authority as a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Only we the children of God have this authority. Only you and I have this authority. No matter how many shortcomings we have, we do indeed have this authority to remit sins and bring changes in others.
Pastor Park’s brother-in-law who was notified too late that he had liver cancer, passed away a few days ago. He lost consciousness and was hospitalized last weekend. He was in-and-out of a state of consciousness. When he woke up, Pastor Park earnestly shared the gospel of the water and the Spirit with him.
His wife Pastor Park’s elder sister had also been suffering from breast cancer. While he was taking care of his wife in hospital, he discovered that he had liver cancer. Pastor Park’s sister recovered from the cancer after her surgery, but her husband passed away not long after he was admitted into hospital.
Before he died, Pastor Park asked his brother-in-law, who was not able to keep consciousness, “Do you believe that all your sins are taken away, because Jesus bore the sins of the world when he was baptized by John the Baptist?” His brother-in-law just nodded his head. So he continued, “Can you receive the remission of your sins just by offering prayers of repentance? You will most certainly stand before God now. The problems of your sins must be solved now! I am telling you again: Jesus bore our sins when He was baptized by John the Baptist, and He took all your sins as well. You can be saved if you will accept this truth in your heart. We are not saved by our works. Do you understand?” To this, he nodded again without saying anything. He then passed away after being a few days in the hospital. I believe he received the remission of his sins.
People become very truthful when they face death. Their faith becomes purer than a child’s faith when they are staring into death. People in these moments say “yes” and “no” exactly according to the condition of there hearts. Dong-ook’s grandfather also heard about the gospel from Pastor Park and Deaconess Yung-Ae Kim. He could not do anything but to accept the gospel by faith, and received the remission of all his sins solely by faith.
So the question, who has this authority to wash away people’s sins? You are right! This authority belongs to you and me who truly believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Pope does not have this authority. Neither do any Catholic priest. Only you and I who believe the gospel of the water and the Spirit have this power. Do you truly believe this?
Brothers and sisters, people who condescend on us by holding onto and believing in the doctrines of their own respective denominations are being separated from true blessings. But we should know that God indeed promised Abraham,
“I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
God also promised here that he would be the source of all blessings. Who is the real source of blessings? The real source of blessings stems from no-one else but Jesus Christ. What does this mean? Whoever believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit becomes this source of blessings on this earth. Therefore, if someone blesses us by understanding and showing favor on God’s righteous people, He will bless and show favor on such a person. On the other hand, should one despise God’s church and mock His people, that person will indeed be cursed.
The Lord said, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” This is the authority God gave each one of us. In other words, God gave us ‘the righteous’ the power to forgive sins. We most certainly have this authority. That is why we should preach this gospel. Since we have this authority, we withhold from preaching this gospel to those who do not fear God and stand furiously against Him and His righteousness. There are people who openly argue and reject His gospel even when we explain it to them. These are the pitiful souls that will be cursed in the end.
Dear fellow believers, God indeed has given us these great blessings. In summary, I would like to share this with you. There was a disciple named Didymus or Thomas, he was not present in the room when Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. Even though he was told about Jesus Christ being resurrected he would not believe it unless he put his finger into Jesus’ wounded hands and side. Jesus appeared to them again. The doors and windows were locked as before, but despite this Jesus appeared in their midst and showed Himself to them. Jesus again greeted them, “Peace be with you!” and then said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Then Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” From Jesus’ appearance and greeting, we can say with certainty that the resurrection of Jesus was clearly an established fact.
Dear fellow believers, I am telling you over and over again that Jesus Christ indeed rose up from the dead! He started a new life after He was resurrected, and ascended to Heaven. Because of this fact we also will have this new life in the near future. The Bible tells us that there were many other miracles besides Jesus’ resurrection. Verse 30-31 says, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” What would the reason be for the author to mention some events without writing about the other miracles? The Bible tells us clearly that it is in order for us to have eternal life in His name. John in his epistle wanted us to know that we have eternal life through our Lord, who rose up from the dead.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And He is God who rose up from the dead, and He also has revived us up from the dead. Jesus is also our Savior who has the power to heal the deaf, open blind eyes and make the lame to walk. He is your God as well as my God. Do you believe this?
Jesus said about Himself, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). He is the Master of Life. If He decides to destroy all the creatures on earth, nothing will be left. Jesus who is the Master of the universe promised us that He would make a whole new world. And He told us that we would begin this new life there. When our Lord says He will do this, things will happen just as He had promised. Our Lord has the power to do all these things. That’s why we have been learning about our great Lord and fully trust Him.
There are many people who believe and know Jesus properly. Their faith will keep growing as time passes by. But there are other people who have heard the gospel but cannot or just simply refuse to understand it. Some people have received the remission of their sins, but are unfortunately in a spiritual slumber due to the desires of their flesh. Others do not know how precious this gospel is, and do not know how to serve God by not knowing their positions and duties in the Church.
That is why we need to always watch ourselves carefully. We need to know what our duties are and what the Church has entrusted us to, and realize that God also confirms these duties. We have to try hard and do our best to take good care of these works God has entrusted us with. When we try to take good care of these entrusted works with strong faith and responsibility, we will be able to stay spiritually alert.
My heart feels so blessed on this Easter Sunday. It is difficult to talk about the resurrection of Christ unless it is Easter Sunday. So I am thankful that I could talk about His resurrection today. I am especially thankful that there is this glorious new life waiting for us. So I thank God for this. I believe you feel the same way.
I want you to stay alert both in body and spirit. Do not just sit around to kill time during the hours of sermons. Your job is to listen and take notes to what God is talking to you during these sermons. I am delivering to you what God wants me to tell you. “What does God tell us through these sermons?” This is very important. If you are interested in finding out what God is saying, you must listen carefully with a clear mind no matter how tired you are.
But, if you are just sitting here to kill time, you will be bored to death. If you are not fully awake, you will feel bored even with the most exciting Word of God. Even though you think I have been repeating this same old story over and over again, there should be no way for you to feel bored. But you need to know there is ‘no same-old story’ in my sermons. If you were to read my sermons in our books, you will find that they differ from one another. Each sermon is preached differently to bring change in people’s hearts. Through this you will get the whole picture eventually.
I pray that God will give you faith and bless you both in body and spirit. I pray that God will give you faith that makes you fully alert and live by His grace.