Our Christian faith rests on the resurrection of Jesus. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” – 1 Cor. 15:17. That means that Jesus is the only truth and the only way to the Father as Jesus said in John 14:6. Each of the gospels tell the story a little differently. Some add things and some leave things out. That only proves that they are witnesses and witnesses see thing differently. Their account is not a memorized story. John explains His account, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” – John 20:31.
John 20:1-9 – The Empty Tomb
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where Jesus was laid. She saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. She ran to Peter and the other disciple, the one who Jesus loved (John) and told them that they had taken the Lord away and that she didn’t know where He was. (John 20:1-2).
The Jewish leaders feared the disciples would steal Jesus’ body and claim He had risen so they had Pilate secure the tomb by placing a seal around the stone and posting guards. Matthew 28 tells us that there was a violent earthquake and an angel of the Lord came down and rolled back the stone. The guards were afraid and became like dead men. Later they reported this to the chief priests and were given a large sum of money to say that the disciples stole Jesus’ body.
Peter and John ran to the tomb, but John outran Peter and reached the tomb first. John waited outside the tomb while Peter ran in. They saw the trips of linen and burial cloth lying there. The cloth was folded separate from the linen. John went inside and saw and believed although they still didn’t understand Jesus had risen from the dead. (John 20:3-9)
Jewish burials involved wrapping the dead body with strips of linen and spices to offset the smell of the corpse. The head was wrapped separately. Robbers would not have taken time to remove the clothes and fold them. I heard someone say that it is possible that Jesus Himself folded the linen was like a customer in a restaurant who folds his napkin to indicate to the waiter that he would be returning.
At first Mary, Peter, and John didn’t understand or expect Jesus to rise from the dead. They were all confused. Peter was impulsive and often acted before thinking. He rushed ahead of John to the tomb. John stopped before entering the tomb and pondered it all. He probably was remembered all that Jesus had told him before he reacted. They all believed and followed Jesus, but John tells us that he saw and believed. What does he believe? He believed that Jesus was raised from the dead to life. He realized all Jesus had said and that Jesus was truly the Son of God. The others came to believe this after He appeared to them.
What does your attitude reveal about you as you study the Bible? I don’t know about you, but it seems the more I study and learn about Jesus, the more I want to know about Him. I heard it said, “In the physical we get hungry by not eating. In the Kingdom we get hungry by eating”.
John said that Jesus “had to” rise from the dead. (John 20:9). If He had not, then none of us will either. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” – Rom. 4:25. Jesus’ resurrection proved He was really God’s Son. He had defeated death. This shows us that death is not the end, but the beginning of a new life with God.
John 20:10-18 – Jesus Appeared to Mary Magdalene
Peter and John went back to their homes, but Mary stood crying outside the tomb. She saw 2 angels in white seated where Jesus’ body had lain. They asked her why she was crying. She told them that they had taken her Lord away. She turned around and saw Jesus, but didn’t realize who He was. “Woman, he said, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” – John 20:15.
She thought he was the gardener and asked Him to tell her where Jesus was. Then Jesus called her by name. She turned and cried out “Rabbon!” – John 20:16. “Jesus said, Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”. – John 20:17. Mary went to the disciples and told them she had seen the Lord and all that He had said.
Jesus called Mary by her name and she recognized His voice. He knows the names of all His sheep. He knows your name. If you know Him, you will know His voice. When He calls you, you need to listen. He has work for you to do, too.
What work is God calling you to do?
Why did Jesus choose Mary Magdalene to be the first to reveal Himself to? She was a woman and not an important person. Women were not considered reliable witnesses. She had a sinful past. Jesus had rescued her from her sinful life and cast demons out of her. This is a ray of hope for all of us who struggle with sin and guilt. If He can rescue her and let her be the first witness of His resurrection, He can save you and use you to serve Him.
John 20:19-23 – Jesus Appeared to His Disciples
The disciples were together with the doors lock because they were afraid of the Jews. Jesus came in and said, “Peace be with you!” – John 20:19. He showed them His hands and side. They were overjoyed to see Him. Then Jesus told them He was sending them as the Father had sent Him. He breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit and that they had the power to tell others that God forgives sin. (John 20:19-23)
They were hiding out because they were afraid. Their faith was lacking. It had been 3 days since Jesus was crucified. They thought the Jews were looking for them to arrest them, too. Fear makes people hide. Remember Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple because of fear. Are you hiding out and afraid to speak of Christ? If you speak out, it will cause others to follow your example.
Jesus showed up in the room with the disciples. There was no knock at the door and no one opened the door. He was just there in their midst. Jesus showed kindness and desire to build the disciples’ faith by appearing to them before anyone else. He reassured them by showing them His wounds in His hands and side. He gave them the Holy Spirit and blessed them. He also commissioned them to go into the world and tell others about Jesus. This is the same commission God had given Jesus.
The first thing He says to them is “Peace be with you”. He wants them to not be afraid and that everything will be alright. For them to do the mission He has for them they need to have peace with God. They need to trust Jesus. When you trust in Jesus, you enter into a new relationship of peace with God through the blood of Jesus. We have peace through His constant presence with us. We have peace with God, the peace of God, and peace with one another so we can carry out His mission.
Jesus breathed on them giving them the Holy Spirit. These men were receiving this new life. They were becoming born again and born of the Spirit. Even though they were following and believing in Jesus, they had not been born again. Unless you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, you are not born again. “If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Rom. 10:9. Before the resurrection they had not believed that He had been raised from the dead. Now they believed. Now they have the Holy Spirit.
John 20:23 can be confusing. It sounds like the disciples are given authority to forgive sins, but we know that only God can forgive sins. They are given the authority to proclaim that someone’s sin is forgiven or not forgiven.
When we first come to believe that Jesus died and rose again to forgive our sins, we receive the Holy Spirit to live inside us. Then His Spirit seals us in God’s family. Then no one can snatch us away.
There are many proofs that Jesus has risen. Luke 24:40-34, Acts 1:3, and 1 Cor. 15:3-8 tell us that He appeared to the disciples over a 40 day period. They saw His wounds. He even ate with them. He appeared to Mary. He appeared to Peter. He appeared to James. He appeared to over 500 people at the same time.
Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead?
John 20:24-31 – Jesus Appeared to Thomas
For some reason Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. It was a week later when Thomas was with the other disciples. They told him they had seen the Lord. But Thomas was skeptic and said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” – John 20:25. Then Jesus appeared again as before. He showed Thomas His wounds and Thomas placed his fingers into His side. Jesus said, “Stop doubting and believe.” – John 20:27. Then Thomas believed and said, “My Lord and my God.” – John 20:28. Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29
Jesus is telling Thomas that he has seen many miracles and that the testimony of the other disciples should have been enough for him to believe. He should look at the evidence of all the eyewitnesses.
How many people have to testify the truth for you to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died and rose again?
How are you like Thomas?
When do you doubt Jesus?
Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15:6-8 of the other appearance of Jesus. “After that, he appeared to more than 500 people of the brothers at the same time…” . You might ask why He didn’t appear to unbelievers so they would come to have faith in Him. Peter tells us that He appeared only to those chosen by God. “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.” – Acts. 10:40-41.
Summary of the evidences of for Jesus’ resurrection:
The stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty.
The grave clothes were folded and left in the tomb.
He appeared to Mary, the disciples many times over a 40 day period and to over 500 people at one time.
The lives of the witnesses were changed.
All Jesus’ claims and predictions were fulfilled.
Principle: The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection should lead us to believe in Him as Savior and Lord.
John tells us in verse 31, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Did John accomplish his purpose in writing this Gospel?
Are you convinced that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?
Join me next time for John 21. Have a blessed day and thanks for visiting my site. Hope to see you here next time.
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