Written and preached by David P. Nolte

JOHN 20:11-29

The laboring classes of the world toil and sweat, looking forward to whatever respite comes. One famous American slogan is abbreviated: "TGIF!" "Thank God it's Friday!" It means a break, a week-end, sleeping in, fishing, golfing, a picnic, rest! For the disciples, however, Friday was a different story. It was gloom, doom and despair; it brought woe, misery and defeat. On Friday, you see, Jesus died! And with him died hopes, dreams, aspirations, anticipations. All their joy went to the dark confines of the tomb with the lifeless corpse of Jesus. For them his words, "it is finished!" sounded like, "it's over!" They had pinned their hopes on Him, and He had been crucified. In 1808 the British and other Allies pinned their hopes on soldier-statesman Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, who was sent to lead Allied Troops into battle against Napoleon. The message that came through to them on June 18, 1815 was one of defeat. The flashing light from Winchester Cathedral sent out the code, "W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D" and then the fog closed in and the message light couldn't be seen anymore. "WELLINGTON DEFEATED!" What a horrible outcome for their hopes. It was like that dark Friday on which Jesus was nailed to the cross. The message they read was, "J-E-S-U-S D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D!" "JESUS DEFEATED!"
"But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;
    1. They had been convinced that Jesus was the long prophesied, long awaited messiah, but now His body lay dead in a borrowed tomb! And Mary was there weeping copiously!
      1. With Him were entombed the dead dreams of the defeated disciples!
      2. The cross towered over the ruin of wrecked hope.
      3. The anticipation, desire and confidence of Jesus' followers was crushed in the dust of Calvary.
    2. What took place in the lives of the defeated disciples?
      1. Verse 9: they were caught up in a web of confusion. They didn't understand the scripture that He must rise from the dead. They missed the connotation of the prediction of the Psalmist: "for thou wilt not abandon my soul to sheol; neither wilt thou allow thy Holy One to undergo decay." Psalms 16:10.
      2. Verse 11: they were filled with sorrow and weeping. Their hearts were broken and they were bereft of hope.
      3. Verse 19: they hid themselves in fear. They took refuge from the jews thinking that if they'd killed the Shepherd they surely would not spare the flock.
      4. Verse 25: there was stubborn disbelief. Thomas refused to believe without incontrovertible evidence.
    3. Maybe you are still living in that pre-resurrection Friday. Maybe you are caught up in the motif of despair, disbelief, and fear of death.
    4. When Friday comes, and it brings defeat, remember that sunday is coming!
It was a day of defeat in the minds of the Allied Troops. Wellington had often been criticized in Britain for partial victories and for retreats he had undertaken. So when the British heard that he and his troops had been defeated they were not greatly surprised, but you can imagine the despair that filled their hearts and minds. It would mean the french emperor would go on in his military conquests. It would mean that any hope of winning the Napoleonic wars was ended. These were moments of despair. So were the hours following the cross. Hope was past-tense; any illusion of a restored Israel was forgotten like a dream after waking.
"When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'"
    1. Their dreams had been ruined, their hopes dead. Their Lord was buried and they were hiding out in fear and trepidation. But there are recorded in scripture several instances of desires dashed:
      1. Job, sitting in ashes, his body festering with sores, his heart breaking at the great losses he had sustained must have despaired of life ever being livable again. But God restored his fortune seven-fold.
      2. Abraham and Sarah were promised a child when Abraham was 75. A full 25 years passed before the promise was fulfilled. Don't you think there were times when both Abraham and Sarah despaired of it ever coming to pass?
      3. The Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years must have despaired of ever gaining Canaan land. But the day came when they entered the land and, to a degree limited by their unfaithfulness, possessed it.
    2. The disciples were at the point of despair and beyond it! But, you know, sometimes, it seems, God brings us to the point of utter despair, and beyond it, so that when he works things out, it becomes obvious that he did it! Nothing we did brought it about. Nothing we could have done solved the problem.
    3. Perhaps you are in days of despair over your marriage, your job, your health, your attitude, your children or whatever. This is a time
      1. To pray fervently
      2. To hope expectantly
      3. To wait patiently
      4. To work faithfully.
    4. We ought to take the perspective of the Psalmist in his hours of desperation: "why are you in despair, o my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence." Psalms 42:5. Sometimes we are astounded at life, but must never give up hope!
The British were astounded, dismayed and overwhelmed at the message "wellington defeated!" But after awhile the fog lifted and the signal lights sent out the message: "W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D T-H-E E-N-E-M-Y!" "WELLINGTON DEFEATED THE ENEMY!" What a different message! What a different outcome! Napoleon had literally met his waterloo! Just so, resurrection day brought the completed message: "J-E-S-U-S D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D T-H-E E-N-E-M-Y!" "JESUS DEFEATED THE ENEMY!" What a world of difference!
"And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, 'Peace be with you.'"
    1. Like a bright and sunny day after a rainstorm, the resurrection brought the brightness of hope renewed. There He stood in their midst and spoke peace to them.
    2. The disciples were slow to believe; some refused to believe; but when they did believe their lives were transformed.
    3. They were delivered from
      1. Despair and hopelessness.
      2. Grief and misery.
      3. Fear and anxiety.
      4. Loss of purpose and aimless confusion.
      5. The power of Satan and of death: Hebrews 2:14-15 "since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives."
    4. Until the light broke through, the disciples were like the woman who had been blind for 50 years. She had surgery and her sight was restored. She wept as she drank in the green of the grass and the blue of the sky and the light of the morning. The tragedy was that she could have had the same surgery 20 years earlier if she had but known. If the disciples had but known, their despair could have been eliminated before it began.
But when Jesus died it was gloom for His followers. In the words of another preacher, "but that was Friday, and sunday was comin'!" Today we can say, "T.G.I.N.F!" Thank God, it's not Friday! It's the Lord's day. Sunday has come! It's resurrection day! Hope revived, hell vanquished, death defeated, life triumphant, heaven victorious, the tomb emptied, Jesus is alive! And we can face the future because he lives. Let inflation blow prices out of proportion. Let wars and rumors of wars disturb the peace. Let anti-Christian forces raise their feeble fists, let the pipsqueak enemies of God think they've got him backed into a corner -- Jesus lives and we can face whatever comes. Friday came and was displaced by sunday! Thank God it's not Friday! Have you received the hope of the risen Jesus? Is he your Lord and Savior? Are you living daily in His presence and power? Has He given you the assurance of sin forgiven and life everlasting? Until you face the issue of the risen Jesus you are facing the future in blindness. But you can meet it, and anything it brings, head on and in confidence when you face it with Him!
Story of Wellington from Knight book of illustrations

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