RECTIFYING LIFE (JOHN 19.31)

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O'Neill


Will you take a Bible loved ones and turn to John 19?

John 19:31, "Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and at once there came out blood and water.”

Then in verse 38, “After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus and Pilate gave him leave. So, he came and took away His body. Nicodemus also, who had at first come to Him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. They took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now, in the place where He was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was closed at hand, they laid Jesus there.”

Then in the next chapter John 20:26, "Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, "My Lord and My God!”

Then in John 21:9, when they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish lying on it and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you've just caught", so Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast.” Now, none of the disciples dared asked Him who are you, they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after He was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”

That was the breaking of the death barrier. In our history as a human race that was the breaking of the death barrier. Until then, we men and women had observed one pattern in all our lives, you would grow old or you'll get sick and gradually your blood circulation will slow and your muscular systems will contract, and the fluids in your body will no longer secrete as they used to and we'll do our best to keep you alive but gradually you'll deteriorate either through age or sickness and there'll come a moment in the darken room when you would breathe your last breath and we would take you and bury you in a cemetery plot and you would never be seen here on earth again. If we dug up your bones two years later, that's all we would find, your bones. That was the pattern of life that we've had as human beings until this event. This was the breaking of the death barrier.

This was something that doesn't fit into what you and I have experienced in the past. This was a definite change. This turned all that upside down. It changed it all. You read how it was. Roman soldiers came along to break the legs of the three people who were crucified to make sure that they were dead and when they came to Jesus, they didn't break His legs because He was already dead so the soldiers just stuck a spear in His side and water and blood gushed out.

Then you remember how His friends came and they took Him down from the cross and put Him in a tomb and buried Him there and that was Friday night. Then on Sunday morning, one of His disciples, Mary, came to visit the grave and the grave was open and then a man stood behind her and said, "Mary,” and it was Him. Then later on, His disciples were together in a room filled with fear and He suddenly appeared to them. Then a few days later on the road to Emmaus, He appeared to two more of them. Then for about a month and a half He kept appearing to different ones of them and walking and talking with them.

It wasn't that ghostly apparition. It wasn't. The old accounts go to great trouble to point out it wasn't a ghostly operation. Thomas was a skeptic. He said to him, "Look, put your fingers in the holes here in My hands" there was no kind of false ritual about it or false holiness. He said, "Look, I know you don't believe this is a body, I know you think this is an apparition or this is a hallucination that you're all having. Now Thomas, put your hand right in the hole of My hand here and feel it, feel that. Now do you see my side, where the soldier put the spear in? Now put your hand in there and feel that, that's flesh you feel.”

He did that, in different ways. I mean He met them on the seashore and He said let's have breakfast because He wanted them to see, "Look this is a physical body I have. Make no mistake about that. I can eat these fish and I can digest them.” This is the physical body that you saw crucified on the Cross, still with the symptoms of death in it, except that He wasn't dead.

So, it was physical life. There's no question of it. It was physical life and the holes in the hands were open and the hole in the side was open but the blood wasn't gushing from them. Yet obviously the blood was circulating because He was walking and talking and yet He was able to pass through solid walls and still He was able to digest solid fish. So, it was physical life but it was obviously physical life PLUS. I mean it was physical life that seemed to be able to take the symptoms that we normally identify with death and it was able to overcome those symptoms.

So, sure it was physical life but it was physical life that seemed to destroy the laws that you and I have learned to attach to death and so it was a different kind of physical life. It was a physical life that took the normal symptoms of death, like lack of heartbeat and lack of blood circulation and lack of brain activity and it was a physical life that was able to exist without those.

You probably saw that little guy yesterday on television that was 20 minutes under the water in lake Michigan. I think he still is handicapped in some way isn't he? But I mean the miraculous thing is that he is alive after 20 minutes under the lake and so, we have seen isolated cases that suggest to us that our own ideas of what is necessary for life are not real.

I mean we've all heard of adults that have been longer in the coma than the doctor say they can be, without eventually becoming a vegetable and actually they come through. So, there are instances. It's just as if God gives us little things to blow away our theories and make us realize that there are things that you don't understand. Would you stop tying yourself down to heartbeat, brain activity and blood circulation? Would you stop that? Actually life is possible without all those things.

It's as if he can give his instances like the little guy who was under the water in Michigan for 20 minutes. We saw the little girl, you remember, a year or two or three years ago that was in Lake Superior overnight and still survived. It's just as if God is saying to us, "Would you stop nailing yourselves into a narrow little world where only certain things are possible? These things I am allowing to happen to show you that there is a life that is available on the earth that is more powerful than your ordinary physical life. It is a physical life but it's a physical life PLUS. It’s life that can take the normal symptoms of death and can maintain life despite them.”

Loved ones, that's what you're facing, that's what you're facing. I mean we're just the dumbest people if with the evidence that we have, even in ordinary human situations, if we don't see that. You just have to take seriously the instances that we have of people having their physical deterioration simply turned around or having other people who are filled with physical deterioration, living despite that. It's because they're entered into our earth through this dear man in 29 A.D., a physical life that destroys the things that normally destroy our physical life.

Of course, we being the people we are, have a tendency to be like those at the beginning of the century or centuries even before that who said, "Well, earth is stable and the sun goes around the earth" and that's the way it is and it can't be any other way because I know that's the way it is. There's a strong tendency for us to say, "Look, I have not seen a person rise from the dead. Whatever you say about this, people don't rise from the dead. People don't, they just don't rise from the dead. I mean this thing that you're describing here it's illogical. This kind of thing does not happen today so it cannot happen.”

Really loved ones, we're being exactly like the people who say, "Look, I have it fixed in my head that the sun goes round the earth and you can't tell me any different.” In fact our scientific age will not put up with that kind of fundamentalist blindness. Our scientific age says, "Listen, you can't say to yourself this is the way it is, and it doesn't matter what evidence you present to the contrary, I know what's right.” Our scientific age says you can't do that. You can't be fundamental and blind like that. You have to take into consideration any new evidence that comes to you. In other words you have to face this evidence.

You can't be obscurantist. You can't say, "Look, as far as I am concerned, dead people don't rise. So this can't have happened.” That is fundamentalist blindness and you can't be that. You have to be scientific in the true sense of the word. You have to say, "Any evidence that is presented here on this earth, I have to take notice of it, otherwise I am really like a person who says, "Yeah, I don't like the new corvette because it is not the right color.”

In other words, you reject the new corvette not on the grounds that it ought to be examined at all but on the grounds of its color. Or you say, "Yeah, I don't like the Mona Lisa because it doesn't smell nice.” You're examining the Mona Lisa not on the grounds that it has to be examined, its painting and its appearance, but on the grounds of its smell. It's just the same thing, it's saying, "No, I don't believe this, because I don't believe the dead rise.” It's not being fair to this.

This is a historical fact. You have to examine it on grounds of its historicity, not on the grounds of what your prejudices think are possible. That is not scientific. A true scientist will say, "All right this is a historical fact. All right, did this really happen?" Not taking the attitude 'I know this can't happen' so there's no point in even looking at it. No, a true scientist says, "I don't know. In my limited observation, this hasn't happen but admittedly my observation is very limited to just my seventy years. In the limited observation of some other human beings it hasn't happened but I agree with you we're only a small fraction of all the people that have ever lived or will ever live in the world and it could be. So did this really happen?"

Let's look loved ones, a little behind the account there. If you look at John back to what we read, John 19, you can get a few clues that would help you in your examination of whether this did happen or not.

John 19:34, "But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and at once there came out blood and water. He, who saw it has borne witness, his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth, that you also may believe.” So that's the man that wrote this. He says, he who saw it, he says actually, I saw this and I have borne witness to this and my testimony is true. I know I am telling the truth so that you may believe that this actually did happen and then in John 21:24, near the end of that Gospel where we find this recounted.

John 21:24, "This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Now, this is the man who wrote these things- John. If you say, "Well, can you tell whether John ever lived in those days or not?" Yes, there are other people who wrote about these things from different viewpoints, but they were eyewitnesses and they talked about John and they tell substantially the same things as he said in this collection of books. They write about John himself. Just look across the page to Acts 1:12.

Acts 1:12, "Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away; and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.” There were all kinds of other documents that were written about these men during that time and there are many references to John in them.

Not only the documents that are in this book that we call the bible but there are other books that we do not include in this bible and they refer to John. In other words, John was a well known disciple in Jerusalem at that time of this man Jesus and there are many other writers who referred to him and show that yes, John did live in that day and he was alive at that time. In fact, to reject the existence of John at that time, you would have to destroy all kinds of documents and history books that were written there.

It would be like trying to prove that John F. Kennedy did not exist by destroying all references to him in history. In fact there are all kinds of references to John but you know it's not only people who really believe this, that wrote about it, there were other people who didn't believe at all that wrote about these things. That show that they really happened. There was a man called Tacitus that I have shared with you before. He was really the outstanding historian of imperial Rome and he wrote this, “the author of that name Christian was Christ who in the reign of Tiberius suffered punishment under His procurator Pontius Pilate.

That's written into Latin history and Roman history. The resurrection, is written about by Josephus who was a Jew. He had no interest in proving Christianity at all but he is a well-known Jewish historian. Everybody has come across at one time or other, the volumes of Josephus. Here is what Josephus writes, "There was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works. A teacher of such man has received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to Him, both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was Christ and when Pilate at the suggestion of a principle man amongst us had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved Him at the first, did not forsake Him for He appeared to them live again the third day.”

Yeah, I mean Josephus had no interest in proving Christianity but he made reference to the fact that this Jesus actually rose from the dead. In other words, it's very difficult to reject the fact that Jesus did actually rise from the dead. If you say to me, "Well, yeah I mean it seems all these people believed He rose from the dead, but I mean that was years ago. How do we know that what they wrote is what we've actually got?" well, you know I shared with you.

If you go to London sometime on vacation, go to the British museum. In the British museum, you'll find manuscripts of the Bible as old as may be 300 A.D., that's about 1600 years ago. You may say, "Well, 300 A.D. I mean it's still about two or three hundred years from 95 A.D. when John wrote this.” Yeah, but if you go to Manchester and go to the university museum there, you'll find there a tight piece of manuscript, part of the account that John wrote of Jesus arrest and trial before Pilate and that piece of manuscript is dated by the carbon 14 ageing method at a 125 A.D. Now 125 A.D. means that thing was in existence just 30 years after John wrote the Gospel in 95 A.D.

In other words, if you say, "Do we have what John wrote?" undoubtedly we have. If you push me and you say, "Well, what about the 30 years in between?" Loved ones, there are people that talked to John in those days. There was a man called Polycarp and he died in 154 A.D. and he says this about him, "Polycarp would describe his intercourse with John and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord,” and how he would relate their words and whatsoever things he had heard from them about the Lord and about His miracles and about His teaching, Polycarp has, having received them from eyewitnesses of the life of the world, would relate it all together in accordance with the scriptures.

In other words, there's just no question. But what John wrote about this in 95 A.D. is what is on that scrap of manuscript in Manchester museum and that scrap of manuscript is exactly the same as the account in all the other manuscripts that we have of the New Testament. Did this happen? Thousands of manuscripts attest to it, hundreds of eyewitnesses attest to it and thousands of other historians corroborate it. Yeah this is scientific fact in the sense that it is empirical fact. It is something that was observed and was touched. The man that put his finger into the hole in Jesus hand, his evidence is what we have here this morning, as solid and as reliably reinforced with documents as the evidence of any doctor who has just operated on a patient on the University hospital this past week.

It's that close. The evidence is so sure. Undoubtedly, this man Jesus did rise from being dead. Of course, the incredible difference between Him and for instance, the little guy that survived the Lake Michigan drowning, is that this physical life PLUS that He had, was able to be transmitted by His own followers to other similar situations. In other words, this destruction of the limitations of physical life was able to be transmitted to other people through faith.

So James and John, a few weeks after the resurrection, were going to the temple to pray. Well, I'll tell you, look at it yourself, it's Acts 3:1-10, "Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour and a man lame from birth was being carried whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms, and Peter directed his gaze at him with John and said, "Look at us,” and he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them.

But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold but I give you what I have, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong and leaping, he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the beautiful gate of the temple and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

The disciples knew that Jesus’ physical life had been able to make him alive despite the fact that his heart had stopped beating, his blood had stopped circulating and his brain activity had stopped, his physical life was still able to keep him alive physically and mentally and emotionally and spiritually despite that and they knew it was able to make this man's legs that had no muscles in them, suddenly strong enough to bear his weight.

If you question, just remember that lady that was on a secular television program a few months ago. It wasn't a religious program at all. She had MS and her legs were so thin. I don’t know about you but I often question how much is true of healings and how much is exaggeration. But this was a purely secular account. She had MS and had had it for years so that her legs had no muscle. In a moment, in her bed, she sensed Jesus saying, "Get up and walk,” and she walked. Her mom then pulled the dressing gown up. She knew the legs and what her daughter look like. And the legs were normal.

So, we have evidence. I don't care if you saw that program, it's on videotape and you can see it. But we have evidence, we're not faced only with this, we have evidence that John and Peter knew that this physical super life of Jesus was able to counteract the weaknesses of physical bodies and so they said that to them. That's how they explain it to you. If you look at that's how they explained it to the crowd in Acts 3:14.

Acts 3:14, "But you deny the holy and righteous one and ask for a murder to be granted to you and kill the author of life whom God raised from the dead, to this, we are witnesses", and then he says, "And his name, by faith in his name has made this man strong whom you see and know and the faith which is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. Wherever you or I believe that Jesus’ physical life is able to counteract the weaknesses of our own physical life, that life begins to be manifested in us, that's right because it is through faith.

Wherever you take hold of this piece of history and you say, "God, this is reality and I know this is available to me now today. Lord, I believe that and I am going to bank on that and count on it the way the disciples did and I am going to start acting on it.” That resurrection life of Jesus will begin to work in your own body. It will either remove your symptoms of your sickness or will enable you to live an ordinary life despite the symptoms still being there. Or He will heal the thing utterly and completely but His strength will be made perfect IN your actual weakness.

That's why He said look the holes are still here. The holes that normally mean I should be dead are still here but this life I have, enables Me to live a full abundant life despite these symptoms that are normally connected with death. That's what will happen to you. It will work in your money, and in your business. If you have things that are going wrong, that are weak and deteriorating and you believe that Jesus life is able to turn upside down deteriorating physical situations, God will either so work the cash flow of the payables and receivables that the money will work or He will bring you money, or He will bring you into an absolutely new and better life through the financial disaster. But God through the resurrection life of Jesus will deal with the physical situation.

Loved ones that's reality. And we're the dumbest people if we put this into a pigeonhole with the daffodils and the tulips in the Easter bonnets until next year and struggle our way through all kinds of sicknesses through the rest of this year, all kinds of financial disasters, all kinds of physical circumstances that need to be changed, the truth that God gave to us in Jesus is life depends on My power and My spirit, not on your heartbeat, not on your brain activity, not on the stocks and shares falling outright, not on the psychological things that are affecting your husband or your wife or your children. It depends on my life which is released into your life the moment you believe me and begin to depend upon me, and loved ones that's it.

You know I feel for those of you who may be have heard this for the first time. It doesn't matter loved ones. You have enough evidence. You have the same evidence that I have in this world. You have enough evidence to see that this is true. So there's no point in saying, you know you're not religious or you haven't heard much about this, you haven't thought much about it, the evidence is all around us, you know fine well our life is shot through with moments when for no reason that you could find the whole thing turn around. You know that.

The moments when you were almost killed, the thing turned around. There are moments in your own family when the thing looked hopeless and the thing turned around. Don't you see? Don't you see that it was God graciously showing you this is a normal thing that can happen all the time if you begin to depend on Me? I am giving you a few outstanding examples here to try to get you to stop in your tracks and stop being caught in this closed universe you have with your little psychological and physical and economic loss. I am trying to get you to see I am the Creator. The laws are not more powerful than the Creator. I am the Creator, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets you free from the law of sin and death, and loved ones that's for us.

So this business of having an argument with him or with her and then letting the thing go on you know into a cold war or letting it carry on down, keep on deteriorating, stop that. Why lie down and let Satan trample all over the top of you? Get into your own room, say, "God, there is no reason why she should be different tomorrow, there's no reason why the child of mine should be different, but Lord, I believe that You are able to change this and God, I am going to be confident that You're changing it now and I am going to be confident until I die so that Your life can begin to change this situation. It’s the same with the business and the finances. But you have to start believing it and living as if you believe it instead of worrying and being anxious. So it is for all of us loved ones, it's for all. You can live a free man or a free woman or you can live a slave, you can choose really. Let's pray.

Dear Lord, you know how brainwashed we are with these things. Lord, we're so blinded by the things that we're supposed to think, can't be changed that, so it’s almost an oppression we're under. We think this is needed for health, this is needed for economy, this is needed for psychological life in the family and Lord, we see You blew all that apart on the first Easter day. So Lord God, we're going to start coming to you and believing that all the things are possible and believing God that if You could keep Jesus alive without heartbeat or without blood circulation or could overcome those things and start them again, then that life is available to us, just as it was available to that lame man at the gate of the temple.

So Lord, we now take our stand in different areas here in our lives, which are overcoming us. God, we just stand up now against those things and we stop looking at those things and listening to all the talk and reasoning that makes them unavoidable and Lord God, we believe. Lord Jesus we believe that You're here on earth, that You set loose this super physical life among us and Lord that You're able to affect these circumstances and change them.

The way you do that, Lord, that's Your business, it's not ours. Whether you remove them or give us strength or change them it's up to You, but Lord we believe that You are able to come in and radically change and affect this whole situation so that Your will may be done in our lives. Lord, we're going to start being happy in that and start governing our happiness not by the things that happened to us but by the fact that we know everything has been changed in You, Lord Jesus and all evil has been destroyed and all good has been created.

So we're going to base our happiness on that now and have happy hearts, not only this day, but everyday of our lives because we know this life has been released amongst us. We thank You Lord Jesus, thank You. Thank You that our lives can be changed today. We believe that change now in these situations and thank You for it and we intend to go out expecting to see the changes for Your glory. Amen.

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