John 20:24-31

In John 20:24-31 Jesus has just revealed Himself as the risen Savior and released the Holy Spirit on them.  And He gave them the authority to impact the people they touched.  But one of the Twelve was not there when Jesus came, and Thomas is really struggling with Jesus as the resurrected king.  “But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.” He hears from the rest of the bunch that they had seen Jesus, and he just isn’t buying their story.  He has to see some evidence himself before he will believe.

Thomas, whom we often call doubting Tom, wants physical evidence. “But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.” Thomas is merely an unbeliever who will not accept the testimony of others. He throws down the gauntlet and wants proof.  So the doubting continues.  But then Jesus makes another appearance.  “Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” The proof begins when Jesus enters the room through locked doors.  No opening the door, just walk right through it.

Jesus takes on Thomas’ doubt head on.  He challenges Thomas to stick his finger into the wounds from the crucifixion.  “Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.” Jesus wants to make sure Thomas’ doubt is addressed so he can truly believe. Jesus repeats Thomas’ demands back to him word for word. This must have been very impressive to Thomas, and very convincing. Jesus also plainly commands him to cease his unbelief and to start believing.  And it works.  Thomas believes. “Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”

Jesus makes a point that faith shouldn’t always require us to see things. “Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” There is a special promise blessing given to those who believe. The faith of Thomas is the climax of the book: Jesus has triumphed over sickness, sin, evil men, death and sorrow; now He conquers unbelief. But wait, there is more. “Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.” John captured the story of Jesus so that we can have life, and have it abundantly.

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John 20:17-23

In John 20:17-23 Jesus has risen and just revealed Himself to Mary.  He gives her the task of going and telling the rest of His Followers that He has come alive. “Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’” Jesus is pointing out a difference between His relationship with God and the disciples’ relationship with God. We can have a direct and meaningful relationship with God, but it isn’t anything like being God’s Son.  So Mary goes and tells the rest what she experienced. “Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: “I saw the Master!” And she told them everything he said to her.”

The fact that Jesus makes a woman the first witness of His resurrection is significant. The law courts of that day would not recognize the testimony of a woman, but Jesus did. This was a significant opportunity for her to shout it from the mountaintop. “Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.” The disciples were very gun shy of the religious leaders, fearing they would come after them next since they had successfully gotten rid of Jesus (at least they thought they had).

How did Jesus enter the room? We can’t explain it, but apparently resurrection bodies are not subject to the same limitations as our present bodies. We are told of five appearances in scripture of Jesus on the resurrection day:

  • to Mary Magdalene
  • to the women
  • to two on the road to Emmaus
  • to Peter
  • and here to ten of the disciples, Thomas being absent.

The Gospel of John tells of two of these five appearances. But the cat is out of the bag and Jesus is resurrected and now communicating with His Followers.  “The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.” Jesus is reconnecting with His people, and they are finally getting it.

Jesus quickly goes beyond the simple greetings.  After their desertion of Jesus on Friday, the disciples were probably expecting words of rebuke or blame. Instead, Jesus brought a word of peace and offered reconciliation to Himself. “Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” Jesus offers His Followers the gift that was promised – the Holy Spirit.  And equally important He tells them the power that comes with the Holy Spirit at work in them – that they are empowered to even forgive sins.  A new life is ahead for the disciples, and Jesus is getting them started!

John 20:10-17

John 20:10-17 has Jesus out of the tomb discovered by Mary and some other women who notified Peter and John that went and verified that He was not there.  They hadn’t really figured out what had happened, but they went home. “No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.” That is, all except Mary.  “But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”

Mary was there dealing with the grief of losing Jesus.  The angels appear, and she engages with them.  This is one of the few places in the Bible where someone encounters angels and they are not stricken with fear. It shows that Mary was so grieved at the loss of Jesus that she was unaffected even by an appearance of angels. She answers their question of why she is weeping from her heart. “They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.” There is still a complete disconnect between what Jesus had been telling His followers, and the tomb being empty.

Jesus is there and speaks to Mary. “Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”  Jesus is seeking her heart.  And she lays it out there.  She wants to take care of Jesus’ body the proper way. “She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.” Her assumption of Him being the gardener made since, as Jesus hadn’t revealed Himself yet.  But then He does.  He speaks to her in the way that connects and she immediately recognizes Him.  “Jesus said, “Mary. Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!”

Her immediate response was to run to Him and grab on.  But Jesus stops her from that. Jesus had only to say one word, and all was explained. There is no other one word interaction that has as much impact and emotion as when He called out her name.  But she isn’t allowed to latch on as He was still in a state of ascension. This shows that the resurrection body of Jesus was different, yet similar to His pre-resurrection body. It was definitely real and tangible, and Jesus was not a phantom.  “Jesus said, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.  Mary’s reaction was to hang on, but Jesus wants her to go and tell the others so His resurrection could come to reality!

John 20:1-9

In John 20:1-9 Jesus has been crucified and laid in a tomb.  It is early, and Mary goes to the tomb to check on the body. “Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance.” Other gospels tell she was not the only woman to come to the tomb that morning. At least three other women accompanied her. But Mary was the one who ran back and told the disciples about the empty tomb. “She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, “They took the Master from the tomb. We don’t know where they’ve put him.”

There is confusion as the body is gone.  Mary wasn’t wishing for a resurrection, and then hopefully imagined it. She had no thought of resurrection yet, and believed the body has been stolen. “Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in.” Peter and John, who calls himself ‘the other disciple’ take off running to the tomb.  John is faster and gets there first.  He peers in from the outside and sees the grave clothes laying there, but no body.

Peter finally gets there a bit behind John, and true to his nature, he heads right into the tomb.  “Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself.” He tinds that the cloths were still orderly and neat. I was as if the body “evaporated” out of the grave clothes. The neat, orderly arrangement of the grave clothes showed that this was no grave robbery and that something absolutely unique had happened in that now-empty tomb. Jesus didn’t rise and fight with the cloths He had been wrapped in.  God merely brought Him to life and left the clothes behind to show it happened.

John then decides to enter the tomb too.  “Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed.” Upon seeing the grave clothes and how they lay on the “bed” of the tomb, John believed that Mary’s report was true, and that something awesome and incredibly unique had happened. But so far, all we have is an empty tomb. Jesus is not where He had been placed a few days earlier. The apostles never emphasized an empty tomb, but a risen Lord. They knew Jesus had risen because they saw and touched the resurrected Christ.

John 19:38-42

In John 19:38-42 we finish the chapter on Jesus crucifixion. Customarily, the bodies of crucified criminals were left on their crosses to rot or be eaten by wild animals. But the Jews did not want a display like that during the Passover season.  The Roman soldiers were known to grant the bodies of executed men to friends or relatives for proper burial. So a couple of religious leaders who had secretly followed Jesus ministry come and ask for Jesus’ body. “Afterwards Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jewish leaders, boldly asked Pilate for permission to take Jesus’ body down; and Pilate told him to go ahead.” He has new found boldness now for some reason.

But it wasn’t just Joseph of Arimathea that wanted to take care of Jesus.  Another secret followers named Nicodemus came bringing spices to put with the body. “So he came and took it away. Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night, came too, bringing a hundred pounds of embalming ointment made from myrrh and aloes.”  Joseph and Nicodemus followed the burial customs of that day – the best they could, considering that they had very little time because the Sabbath was almost there.  “Together they wrapped Jesus’ body in a long linen cloth saturated with the spices, as is the Jewish custom of burial.”

Guzik writes “Joseph and Nicodemus served Jesus too late. Not too late to fulfill prophecy, not too late to be of thoughtful service to Jesus. But too late to satisfy their own timid hearts; too late to escape the painful regret of what they might have been and what they might have done for Jesus. May we never wait to give ourselves fully to Jesus.” The reality is that we are all sinners and timid like these two.  We may seek the truth about Jesus, but knowing about Him is not enough. We must know Him.  We must believe in Him.  We must make Him our own Savior and when we do He also becomes our Lord.  Following Jesus requires action.

A rich man like Joseph of Arimethea would probably have a tomb that was carved into solid rock; this tomb was in a garden near the place of crucifixion. “The place of crucifixion was near a grove of trees, where there was a new tomb, never used before. And so, because of the need for haste before the Sabbath, and because the tomb was close at hand, they laid him there.” The tomb of Joseph of Arimathea that Jesus was laid in was close to the place of Jesus’ crucifixion. Tombs like this were very expensive. It was quite a sacrifice for Joseph of Arimathea to give his up – but Jesus would only use it for a few days!

John 19:28-37

In John 19:28-37 has Jesus on the Cross fulfilling the last prophecies before He dies an earthly death.  The time has come, and Jesus is now going to give up His place as a man to take on the place of Savior and Lord. He tells the soldiers that He is thirsty. “Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures said, “I’m thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so a sponge was soaked in it and put on a hyssop branch and held up to his lips.” Jesus didn’t accept a pain-numbing drink at the beginning of His ordeal (Mark 15:23), but now He accepts a taste of greatly diluted wine, to wet parched lips and a dry throat so He can make one final announcement to the world with a “great cry.”

Jesus makes the announcement that He has completed what God had sent Him to do. “When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished,” and bowed his head and dismissed his spirit.” Jesus’ final word is the cry of a winner. Jesus had finished the eternal purpose of the cross. It stands today as a finished work, the foundation of all Christian faith, as He paid in full the debt for our sin. No one took Jesus’ life from Him; He, in a manner unlike any man, gave up His spirit. Death had no righteous hold over the sinless Son of God. He stood in the place of sinners, but was never a sinner Himself. So He could not die unless He gave up His spirit.

It was the day before Sabbath, and the leaders didn’t want the three they had crucified hanging on the Cross for another day. “The Jewish leaders didn’t want the victims hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath at that, for it was the Passover), so they asked Pilate to order the legs of the men broken to hasten death; then their bodies could be taken down.” In order to cause death to come more quickly, they want to break legs and speed up the agony. They did exactly that with the other two men who were crucified on either side of Jesus, but when they came to Him, they saw there was no need as He was already dead having given up His spirit earlier.

This fulfilled a prophecy of His death in scripture as they didn’t do what was intended and did not break his legs. “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus; but when they came to him, they saw that he was dead already, so they didn’t break his.” This was not how things normally went. But in doing this, the soldiers unknowingly fulfilled prophecy. “However, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out. I saw all this myself and have given an accurate report so that you also can believe.The soldiers did this in fulfillment of the Scripture that says, “Not one of his bones shall be broken,” and, “They shall look on him whom they pierced.”

John 19:16-27

In John 19:16-27 we have Jesus being taken to the Cross to be crucified.  Pilate has given up his efforts to set Jesus free.  Jesus has willingly chosen to carry out God’s plan for the salvation of mankind and the forgiveness of sin to be carried on His back and defeated on the Cross.  “Then Pilate gave Jesus to them to be  crucified.”  Pilate knows it is wrong, but is fearful for his life and his future.  So he hands Jesus over.  “So they had him at last, and he was taken out of the city, carrying his cross to the place known as “The Skull,” in Hebrew, “Golgotha.”

 “There they crucified him and two others with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them.”  John spares the gory details, only mentioning the fact of Jesus’ crucifixion. This was because the agony of crucifixion was well known to the people of Jesus’ day. In a addition, the true pain of the cross was more spiritual than physical.  But crucifixion wasn’t enough.  Pilate had to make fun of Jesus to make sure he appeased the religious leaders. “And Pilate posted a sign over him reading, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Golgotha was a very public and well traveled place, so ther was maximum exposure to what Pilate posted on the Cross.  The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and the signboard was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people read it.”

But the religious leaders weren’t happen with how Pilate had written it, proclaiming that Jesus was King of the Jews.  They asked him to rephrase it.  “Then the chief priests said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”  It was a strong request, but finally Pilate has the courage to stand up to the Jewish rulers. Sadly, it is on a rather unimportant issue because Jesus will still be crucified.  But he doesn’t change it. “Pilate replied, “What I have written, I have written. It stays exactly as it is.”  The sign was right as written – Jesus truly was and is the King of the Jews and all mankind.

The soldiers divide up his clothes and fulfilled scripture by rolling dice to see who would get them.  “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they put his garments into four piles, one for each of them. But they said, “Let’s not tear up his robe,” for it was seamless. “Let’s throw dice to see who gets it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my robe.” So that is what they did.” Jesus came all the way down the ladder to accomplish our salvation. He let go of absolutely everything – even His clothes – becoming completely poor for us, so we could become completely rich in Him.

In the midst of the excruciating pain and suffering, Jesus still doesn’t lose track of the people around Him.  He sees His mom, and asks John to care for her going forward.  “Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, Mary, his aunt, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside me, his close friend, he said to her, “He is your son.” This shows that even to the end, Jesus thought and cared for others. If there was ever a moment when Jesus deserved to be self-focused, this was it. Yet He remained others-centered to the end. John accepts the charge.  “And to me he said, “She is your mother!” And from then on I took her into my home.” What a Savior who loves us even to the very end of His life on earth!

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