Current Sermon Notes

A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST

Heritage Church                John 20:11-18                     June 5, 2022

Years ago, when I served in an Infantry Brigade with a Catholic Priest, he told me that he knew Christ “sacramentally” for years. But while in Viet Nam, a Protestant Chaplain led him into a “personal” relationship with Jesus, and this changed his perspective about being a practicing believer.

Just a couple weeks ago I read that Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco decided to bar House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic, in her defiance of respecting the Church’s pro-life position. The newspaper said, the Cardinal felt there must be “sacramental” consequences of her support for increased access to abortion. By the way, Catholic theology says the Eucharist is the “sacramental presence” of Christ’s own body and blood.

When we become Christians, we actively believe that Christ died for us. We make that decision to wholly yield to Him and His work on the cross. This is more than “sacramental” is is very “personal.” John 1:12-13 tells us:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name; who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Consider these verses from Colossians 1:26-27:

“. . . the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The Spirit of Christ in us is very personal!

Communion and baptism are as close as most Protestant churches come to the sense of “sacrament.” We do not accept a church or priesthood that has the authority to change the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood. So we come to the Lord’s table believing in the “remembrance” aspect, which is more of a spiritual presence of His death in our meditation or a simple memorial focus on what literally happened on the Cross—that 2000 years ago He died in our place.

WHAT IS A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP IS NOT!

#1 The experience of Peter and John who ran to the tomb and saw evidence of Christ’s grave clothes, and they believed (John 20:8), but they did not understand that Christ must be raised from the dead (20:9). They returned to their homes without the personal relationship that Mary Magdalene developed with Christ in the next few minutes.

#2 James 2:20 states, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” More than mental acknowledgement is necessary for a personal relationship.

#3 Jesus talks about degrees of faith. For example, when the centurion told Jesus simply to say the word for his servant’s healing—that He need not come to his house—Jesus responded, “. . . not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”

WHAT ARE THE PIECES OF A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST?

#1 Mary stood and wept, which indicates the need to wait or linger. Her weeping indicated an emotional response. In an earlier situation with another “Mary” (Lazarus’ sister), Jesus emotionally responds to Mary’s tears with tears of His own. This response is different from hearing the theological statements of her sister, Martha. (See John 11:21-35)

#2 Mary’s spiritual eyes were opened. She saw two angels and talked with them. We must embrace the spiritual, supernatural and miraculous to have this relationship. Our world view is always larger than our material, modern life.

#3 Mary’s focus, even while talking to angels, remains on Jesus Christ, 20:13, “I do not know where they have laid Him.” Relationship with Christ demands an abandon to Him unlike any other worldly commitment.

#4 Mary is persistent. She stays with the subject of the location of her Lord. For us, relationship with Christ demands confession (1 John 1:9) and the conscious filling of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Whereas the institutional church has specific meetings; with Jesus, our meeting is every day, and our relationship is constant.

#5 Mary’s relationship with the resurrected Christ moves from initial awareness to an affectionate conversation and personal connection. Apparently she grabbed Jesus and held him, to which He responded, “Stop clinging to Me!” (20:17). We can’t imagine her emotional joy! In 20:27, He invites Thomas to touch Him, so I think Jesus is simply encouraging Mary to get on with the proclamation that He is risen. Relationship with Jesus is INTIMACY with Him.

 #6 Mary speaks about the risen Lord, “I have seen the Lord.” (20:18). Relationship with Christ, like any love relationship, ends up in telling others about who He is (read Romans 10:13-17).

Summarizing a personal relationship with Christ in one sentence: Tears and human emotion are part; we move from the material to the supernatural; the “all and all” of the relationship is faith in Jesus Christ; it is persistent and constant; and there is conversation with Him (prayer and Bible study today), ending with enthusiastic proclamation!