Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."



1 Timothy 4:6-16

" If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim 4:6-16 (KJV)

“Is Seeing Believing?” An Easter Message by Shane C. Montgomery

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Scripture Reading: John 20:1-18


The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of our faith. Christianity, is above all, a
religion of Resurrection. The Church is called primarily to be the community of the
Resurrection. We as God's Covenant people are called to be witnesses to the
Resurrection. We might not have been in the tomb with Mary, Peter and John on that
first Easter Sunday, but we know what is true and we bear witness to this truth.
On Easter we celebrate the Resurrection, on this day we come together as believers in
the Resurrection, and we worship and then we celebrate the fact that the Tomb was
empty, that Christ has indeed Risen, that Christ is alive today and sits at the right hand of
God the Father in Heaven, and that Christ is a witness on our behalf of our faith and

This morning we worship and celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and this afternoon
we will continue to celebrate with a dinner and a Easter egg hunt. We do this to show
Christ that we are thankful and that we love Him for being our Lord and Savior.
The cross has always been a symbol for Christians, a symbol to draw us together, to
rally around, we look at the cross as a sign of remembrance that Christ gave His life for
our sins, and this is all true, but a more appropriate symbol for Christianity would be the
Empty Tomb, think about it, Christ died on the cross, but so did thousands of other
people back then, but what is unique is that Christ Was Risen from His grave, He alone
defeated death, He was Raised by God, no one else has ever done this, so it is the empty
tomb, the resurrection of Our Lord and Savior that we celebrate. Christ Is Risen! Christ
Is Risen!

I. Seeing is Believing, But!

“1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto
the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2 Then she runneth,
and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto
them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they
have laid him.” John 20:1-2 (KJV)

A. In John's Gospel account we see that Mary is the first to arrive at the Tomb of Jesus
on that Sunday morning, and in all Four Gospels we see this, women being the very first
to witness the empty tomb, the first to witness the evidence of the Resurrection. Why
Mary and other women instead of men, instead of His own disciples?
B. That is an easy one to answer, these women, including Mary Magdalene were the
first because they were the ones who Believed in Christ the most! They were also the
ones that Loved Christ the most. The Bible makes sure to point out that at the Cross it
was these women, not the men that stayed, and at the Tomb it was these women.
C. For these women were the ones who Believed and Loved Christ the most, more than
His disciples even. Today we still see those who Believe and Love Christ remaining
faithful and those who lack in faith and love sitting on the sidelines.
D. I named this First Point, of Three Points,.. “Seeing Is Believing” and I know we all
understand what that means, at least, to a point, but what does that mean to you and me
and what does that saying mean to those who follow Christ as Lord and Savior? To the
believer “Seeing means more than comprehending, it means more even than simple
Believing, you see, in Scripture “Seeing” means “Trusting” and I mean Trusting with
your entire life, and being and all that you are and all that you own and all that you will
ever be and will ever have! That is what “Seeing” means, comprehending, believing,
understanding the ramifications of what you See!.....And that what you Saw was of such
magnitude that it completely and totally changes your life! That is “Seeing!”
E. In our first two verses of this chapter we See that Mary, Saw and she on one level
Understood that Christ was gone, but she failed to “See” the truth that Christ had Risen.
This is not something we can condemn Mary for, her lack of proper Seeing and
understanding may seem silly to us 2,000 years removed from that first Easter Sunday,
but the same mis-Seeing that came over Mary back then still afflicts souls today.
F. This world is full of people who “see” and know that Christ died for sinners, they see
and know that God raised Jesus from the grave, that He defeated death and all this so we
can have eternal communion with God, having our sins forgiven and washed clean,
making us holy, and continuing to make us holier through the indwelling of God's Spirit
in us, they have heard all this, they comprehend what is being offered in the Gospel,
they “see” but they do not “See” in a Biblical way. Just like Mary saw, they see, they
fail to understand the ramifications of this event in time. God chose this first Easter
Sunday to raise Christ as King! As Lord, and to offer those who believe eternal life,
eternal rest, eternal forgiveness of all wrong doings, this Gospel offer that is only
available during this short life on earth, a chance at redemption and communion.
G. They “See” that Christ died for sinners and the forgiveness of their sins, they see that
this makes Christ Savior, but they fail to see that this also makes Christ “Lord” and that
means that if He is not your Lord, then He is not your Savior! You will have No
Forgiveness of Sins without Christ as Lord! But today, no one wants to believe that,
they hear and see that Christ is the Savior of Sinners and they accept that, but they will
not accept Him as Lord, they are to busy worshiping their own lord,....themselves. For
to accept Christ as Lord means you throw yourself out of the throne and allow Christ to
dwell there.
H. People do not want to humble themselves and get off their own thrones and bow to
Christ. That is why so many perish, not that they have not heard the Gospel, not that
they do not know about the cross, and the empty tomb, that Christ is risen! But because
they will have to realize that the world does not revolve around them, and “See” that
truly, it revolves around Christ, then they will never be forgiven, they will live as
enemies to God, feeling His wrath in this life and the one to come. Continue to pray for
those you love who still refuse Christ as Lord.
Mary did not understand on her first visit, and we will see in the next verses, she did not
understand any more after her second visit.

II. Seeing.....But Not Comprehending!

3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. 4 So
they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the
sepulchre. 5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet
went he not in. 6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre,
and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with
the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8 Then went in also that
other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet
they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the
disciples went away again unto their own home.” John 20:3-10 (KJV)
A. In these verses we are shown evidence of a Resurrection, the evidence laid out in a
manner that points to something supernatural in nature and divine in origin. A
Resurrection that is Radical, so radical it is hard to accept upon first sight. In this
account of the first three people into the tomb after the Resurrection of Christ, we are
given a very detailed account of the clear evidence of a magnificent work of God in
Resurrected His Son from the grave.
B. The evidence is overwhelming to say the least, the empty tomb, the grave clothes
laying about in disarray, the absence of a body, the napkin that was on His head is now
lying separate from the clothes, but wrapped together in a bunch by itself as if someone
rose and pulled the napkin from His face and wadded it up in a ball and tossed it aside,
no longer in need of it. And of course the fact that the large stone that blocked the door
was rolled out of the way, not to let someone in, but to let someone out!
C. This evidence must have appeared very radical and hard to understand to those
first visitors, just as it would be to people today, this stone being moved, this tomb
without a body, these clothes being scattered, all this pointing to a Radical Resurrection.
Hard for people to believe and accept then, and just as hard for people to believe and
accept now. But the evidence was clear to those first three in, two saw and did not
understand, the third, (John) saw and believed.
D. I mentioned earlier of how Christianity is a Religion of Resurrection, that our entire
faith is rooted in the Resurrection of Christ, and as believers we are Resurrected by our
faith and in our baptism we are raised from our dead sinful self’s to new creatures in
Christ. The Resurrection is the center of our faith, if Christ was never Resurrected then
we are all fools, we are as Paul said, “to be pitted most of all.”
E. But the evidence is overwhelming and it clearly points to the Risen Christ. Just as
then, not everyone who Sees believes, and those who believe don't always comprehend.
Lets take a moment and look at the reactions of Mary, Peter and John, the first three into
the empty tomb, what did they see? What did they make of what they saw? How did it
affect them and change them?
F. John tells of three different people “Seeing” the empty tomb- but only one of these
actually realizes it's significance and believes in the Resurrection.
1. Mary Magdalene- saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance but she
jumped to the wrong conclusion, saying “They have taken away the Lord out of the
sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” Vs. 20:2
Since Mary, their have been many others who likewise have jumped to the wrong
conclusion regarding the Resurrection,for example, many deny the resurrection by
saying silly things like... Christ body was stolen away by His disciples, or that Mary
went to the wrong tomb, and several others conspiracy theories that have always existed.
People will grasp at the silliest of straws to deny Christ as Lord, just so they do not have
to place Him at the center of their lives and removing themselves, that is what it all boils
down to.
2. Peter- who also saw the empty tomb, and the rest of the evidence, the linen lying
about, the napkin wadded up, but Peter did not know what to think, he did not jump to
the wrong conclusion as Mary did, but still he did not have an answer, he did not
believe, he did not know what to think of the evidence presented to him.
The evidence of the Resurrection was plainly before his eyes, yet he could not believe
his eyes. For Peter, “Seeing Was Still Not Believing.
Whereas Mary was presented the evidence of the Resurrection of Christ and she jumped
to the wrong conclusion and thus went in the wrong direction, she was like those today
who jump to the wrong conclusion and will try to set up their own belief system, those
who are among a fast growing group of people who refer to themselves as “Spiritual”
but not “Religious” meaning they believe in Christ and that He is their Savior but they
will not attend worship, they do not celebrate Him, they will not recognize Him as Lord.
They have this strange hybrid belief where man is still center, a false gospel that has
some truth from Scripture but veers so far of course from the truth that it is absurd to a
thinking person, yet it remains very appealing to those who do not understand the
Resurrection and God's Word.

Peter on the other hand, differs from Mary at this point in that he would be considered
an “Agnostic” he has seen the evidence but has no idea what to make of it. Once again,
this type of person is alive and thriving today, Agnostic thinking makes up the majority
of Americans. Of course, if the agnostic person would simply sit down with his Bible
and read and pray, he would not remain so for long.
There have been many others since Peter, who have heard the Easter message again and
again yet they still cannot come to a conclusion, maybe they need to look a little closer
at the evidence.
3. John- The third person into the tomb that Easter Sunday was John, he differs because
as soon as he saw the evidence, he believed. He understood right away. He saw the
stone removed from the doorway, he saw the empty tomb, the significance of the grave
clothes and their arrangement, and he allowed the evidence to speak for itself. And that
is exactly where so many fail today, they see the evidence yet they argue with it instead
of allowing it to speak and believing.

 Little Philip, born with Down's syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday
School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls. Typical of that age, the children
did not readily accept Philip with his differences, according to an article
in Leadership magazine. But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about
Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully. The Sunday after Easter the
teacher brought Leggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large eggs. Each
receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that lovely spring day, find some
symbol for new life, and put it in the egg-like container.
 Back in the classroom, they would share their new-life symbols, opening the
containers one by one in surprise fashion. After running about the church property in
wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom and placed the containers on the
table. Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one. After each
one, whether flower, butterfly, or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh. Then one was
opened, revealing nothing inside. The children exclaimed, "That's stupid. That's not fair.
Somebody didn't do their assignment." Philip spoke up, "That's mine." "Philip, you don't
ever do things right!" the student retorted. "There's nothing there!" I did so do it," Philip
insisted. "I did do it. It's empty. the tomb was empty!" Silence followed. From then on
Philip became a full member of the class.
He died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged
off. At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar not with flowers,
but with their Sunday school teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose egg.

H. We see things everyday, but we our mind does not always see the significance of
what our eyes are seeing. Mary and Peter saw the same evidence as John, yet only John
saw and understood. Today, many thousands see the evidence of the Risen Lord and yet
their minds do not see the importance, or if not their minds, maybe it is their hearts that
lack the vision of the evidence.

III. Hearing Is Believing!

“11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped
down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one
at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 And they say
unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken
away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 14 And when she had thus
said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing
him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where
thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned
herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17 Jesus saith unto her,
Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say
unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he
had spoken these things unto her.” John 20:11-18 (KJV)

A. After leaving the empty tomb, the two disciples went back home, but Mary stayed.
She hung around outside the tomb and she wept, obviously she was very upset that
Christ was missing. She worried what had happened to His body, still not able to put all
the evidence together, she cried tears of sorrow when she should have been crying tears
of Joy!
B. While she is still crying she stoops down and looks back into the empty tomb but this
times she sees two angels in white, and they are sitting where Jesus was laid. Now, you
would think, okay, she has to put 2 and 2 together now! Angels sitting where Jesus once
laid?! She must know by now that Jesus Christ has risen!'
C. The angels see Mary and they say to her, “Why are you weeping? Because they
understand that God has raised Jesus from the dead and that this is a truly joyful
occasion, Why is this woman crying?
D. But Mary still doesn't catch on, she answers them that she is crying because
someone stole the body of her Lord. Then she turns around and looks right at the Risen
Lord and He asks her almost the same question the angels asked of her, “Woman, why
weepest thou? whom seekest thou?”
E. Mary of course still not comprehending what she saw in the empty tomb with the
missing body, the grave clothes and the rolled away stone, even after seeing two angels
sitting where Jesus would have been laying, now she is face to face with the Risen Lord
and she still does not understand, she is still jumping to wrong conclusions.
F. Thinking Jesus must be the gardener, because there is no way He can be Jesus,
because He is dead and His body missing, Mary answers Him, “Sir, if thou have borne
him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”
G. After seeing all this evidence, Mary doesn't comprehend that Christ is Risen until she
hears Him speak to her. After hearing Jesus call her name, she says “Master.” Once she
hears her Lord she understands and it is interesting to know that her first word to Him is
“Master.” Even though she did not recognize all the evidence the first three or four
times she saw them with her eyes, she did recognize the first time she heard with her
ears, and heart.
H. Mary being a woman who loved Christ deeply, calls Him by Master because this she
understood, this truth she believed and comprehended. That Jesus Christ is Lord, she
knew this news already, she just did not understand that He had defeated death, that God
raised Him from the dead, but she knew in her heart long before all this that He was

I. We can mock Mary for her lack of seeing, but her heart bares witness to her faith and
love. I pray we all should have a heart like Mary's.
J. Why was it that Mary's first reaction to the Risen Lord was to call Him Master?
Because her heart was humbled, her eyes might not have been receptive enough, maybe
not even her wits, I believe her heart was so strong for her Lord that the idea of Him
being missing was so disturbing that it affected her judgment, but her heart was humbled
enough, enough that she had removed herself from the center of the universe, and rightly
placed Jesus Christ in that position.
K. As long as we remain the center of our universe, we will never reach that point of
sanctification that Mary reached. We will never recognize Jesus Christ as Lord. Even
the evidence in the tomb, the stone absent from the entrance, the missing body, the grave
clothes ripped off and tossed about, the napkin balled up and discarded, the angels
sitting where Christ had laid, all this evidence will have no effect on us until we prepare
our hearts, until we humble ourselves to the fact that we are not the Risen Lord, that we
do not reign in Heaven at the right hand of God,......but Jesus Christ does, He alone is
L. Until a person can humble their hearts as Mary did that first Easter morning, they
will never be one of His, they will never call to Jesus as Mary did, “Master,” they will
only be pretending, playing a game, gambling our eternal salvation, risking all on their
own abilities and their own good deeds and works.
M. Faith comes in specific ways, Romans 10 says this... “For there is no difference
between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on
him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not
heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be
sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring
glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who
hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Romans 10:12-17

N. God's Word is clear on this point, that faith comes by hearing, friends today you have
heard, will you have faith? Will you believe that Christ is Risen? That He defeated
death, and that God raised Him from the grave and He now sits at the right hand of God
the Father?
O. You have seen the evidence, you have heard the ancient story of the first Easter, will
you humble your heart and place Our Risen Lord in the center of your life? Will you
serve our Risen Savior or continue to serve yourself?
Conclusion: I would like to conclude this message with a poem from the early
Reformer Martin Luther.

Christ Jesus lay in death's strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God's right hand He stands
And brings us life from heaven;
Therefore let us joyful be
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of hallelujah.
It was a strange and dreadful strife
When Life and Death contended;
The victory remained with Life,
The reign of Death was ended;
Holy Scripture plainly saith
That Death is swallowed up by Death,
His sting is lost forever.
Then let us feast this Easter Day
On Christ, the Bread of Heaven;
The Word of Grace hath purged away
The old and evil leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed.
He is our meat and drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other.

 This morning, you bear witness to the evidence, your eyes have seen the glory of the
Lord, you ears have heard His wonders. Will you humble yourself? Will you serve Our
Risen Savior? Life is a funny thing, we are not in charge of what happens down here,
we never know what tomorrow will bring, happiness, health, illness, death? We do not
know, but we do know that God has made a way for us, He has sent His Son, Jesus
Christ to die for sinners like us, and raised Him from the grave, this is the Gospel offer
for those who will humble themselves and believe. This Gospel offer is yet offered.
Let's bow our heads in prayer....


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