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John: Chapter 20

 

By: Steve Shirley

     "The Resurrection Of Christ!" Let's begin by reading (John 20:1-18).

     (Verse 1) "the first day of the week" This was Sunday. We see in a number of later verses that the followers of Christ in the early church changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday to commemorate this pivotal event in Christian history (i.e. 1 Cor 16:1-2, Acts 20:7). In the book of Revelation, John calls Sunday "the Lord's Day," (Rev 1:10) "I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day...." This is why most Christians today now worship on Sunday (the Lord's Day) rather than on Saturday (the Sabbath).

 

     (Verses 1-2) Seeing that the stone had been taken away from the tomb of Jesus, Mary Magdalene ran to tell Peter and "the other disciple whom Jesus loved." As we have spoken of previously, "the disciple whom Jesus loved" was John. He uses this term in several other places too to describe himself (Jn 13:23)(Jn 19:26)(Jn 21:7,20).

***Note: The stone covering the entrance to the tomb of Jesus is estimated to have weighed several tons, and was "rolled" into place (Mt 27:60)(Mt 28:2)(Mk 15:46)(Mk 16:4)(Lk 24:2).

 

     (Verses 3-4) At this news, Peter and John ran to the tomb. "The other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre." Why did John mention this little detail?

 

     (Verse 7)(NKJV) "the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself"

          A concern by some was that the body of Jesus might be stolen (i.e. verses 2, 13, Mt 27:62-Mt 28:15). If the body of Jesus had been stolen by thieves, why would they take the time to neatly "fold" the handkerchief that had been on Jesus' head?

     (Verse 8) Seeing the "linen cloths" and "handkerchief" was enough for John to "believe."

 

     (Verse 9) "For as yet they knew not the scripture that He must rise again from the dead." That Jesus would rise from the dead was prophesied in the Old Testament (Isa 26:19)(Dan 12:2)(Ps 16:10). In addition, Jesus had spoken of His resurrection from the dead in numerous places before He died. Let's look at 3 in John (Jn 2:18-22)(Jn 10:17-18)(Jn 16:16-22). (More verses below.)

 

     (Verses 10-12) Peter and John returned to their homes, but Mary Magdalene remained at the "tomb weeping." At some point between the time when Peter and John looked in the tomb, and Mary later looked in, two angels appeared inside the tomb.

 

     (Verse 14) "she (Mary).... saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus." A similar failure to recognize Jesus occurred on the "Road to Emmaus" in (Lk 24:13-32). In (Lk 24:16), we are told that the "eyes" of the two men on the road "were restrained, so that they did not know Him." It seems clear that Jesus supernaturally prevented some from recognizing Him until He chose to reveal Himself.

 

     (Verse 17) "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father." This is a key verse in understanding what likely happened to Jesus during the time between His death (on Friday) and His Resurrection.

     Christians are somewhat divided on this point, but the majority seem to believe that after Jesus died, His body remained in the grave, but His spirit and/or soul descended into Sheol (or the heart/lower parts of the earth). Sheol was made up of two places: Paradise and Hades. All of the people who died in the Old Testament went to one of these two places. Believers went to Paradise, and non-believers went to Hades. We can see a picture of these two places in Jesus' story of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in (Lk 16:19-31). Lazarus was in Paradise (also called: Abraham's Bosom), and the Rich Man was in Hades. A great gulf separated these two places. In Hades, the Rich Man was tormented (Lk 16:23-24), and in Paradise, Lazarus was comforted (Lk 16:25).

     When Jesus was on the cross, He told the thief next to Him that He would join Him in Paradise that same day because he believed in Him (Lk 23:43).

     When Jesus died, He spent 3 days (Mt 12:40) proclaiming His victory and the Gospel to those in Sheol (1 Pet 3:19)(1 Pet 4:6). It was a message of joy for those in Paradise, and a message of sorrow for those in Hades.

     However, Jesus' soul was not left in Hades to see corruption (Ps 16:10)(Acts 2:27,31), but instead, He was resurrected from the dead on the 3rd day.

     It is also believed by some that during Jesus' 3 days in Sheol, He took believers from Paradise to Heaven. Personally, I do believe that Jesus took believers from Paradise to Heaven, but I am not quite so sure it was during these three days. My theory is that it may have been after His resurrection, and His subsequent 40 days on the Earth (Acts 1:3); occurring during His ascension to heaven afterwards. My reasoning is simply based on Jesus' words to Mary when she met Him after His resurrection and said to her "touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father..." (Jn 20:17). If Jesus had taken believers to Heaven previously, it seems to me that he would have already ascended to the Father.

 

          Next, let's read (Jn 20:19-32).

     (Verses 19-20) "the same day at evening... the first day of the week" (Sunday night), Jesus appeared to the disciples.

     The disciples were in a room with the doors shut when suddenly "Jesus came and stood in the midst." "He showed them His hands and His side." In other words, Jesus was showing them the scars where hands and feet had been nailed to the cross, and where a spear had been thrust into His side after He had died (Jn 19:33-34).

 

***Note: (Small rabbit trail) One day, all Christians will receive a "glorified body." The Bible tells us that these bodies will be like the body Jesus had after His resurrection (Phil 3:21)(1 Cor 15:48-49)(1 Jn 3:2). This being the case, we can look at several examples of things He did in His resurrection body, that we should also be able to do in our new bodies.

     Jesus:

walked (Lk 24:15)
talked (Lk 24:19,25-27,36-39)
ate (Lk 24:42-43)(Jn 21:12-15)
was able to move from one place to another instantly (Lk 24:36)
(angels can do this, and we will share some of the same characteristics as the angels: Mt 22:30)
had the ability to pass through solid objects (Jn 20:19,26)
could vanish from sight (Lk 24:31)

     In addition, these new bodies will:

be made of flesh and bone (Lk 24:39)
be powerful not weak (1 Cor 15:43)
be imperishable (1 Cor 15:42)
never die (1 Cor 15:54)(Lk 20:36)
eat (Rev 19:9: Marriage Supper of the Lamb)(Rev 22:2: Fruit Trees)
drink (Mt 26:29)(Lk 22:30)

     Jesus' resurrected body looked nearly identical to the body He had before His resurrection. His disciples knew who He was, and I believe we will also have the same basic recognizable features minus the ravages of sickness or disease. We will have the perfect body for us. This is a moment that Paul eagerly anticipated (Rom 8:23)(2 Cor 5:1-7), and that should be a great comfort for each of us.

 

     (Verse 22) "He breathed on them, and saith unto them, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Since Jesus was clear that the Holy Spirit would not come to live inside of believers permanently until Pentecost (Jn 7:39)(Jn 16:5-15), this would have been a temporary infilling of the Holy Spirit, similar to what occurred in the Old Testament.

 

     (Verse 23)(NKJV) "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." What does this mean?

 

     (Verse 24) "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus." The name Thomas actually means "twin," and "Didymus" is the Greek word for "twin." Some speculate that because of his name, Thomas might have had a twin, but there is no clear evidence for this. He is also called "Didymus" in (Jn 11:16)(Jn 21:2).

 

     (Verses 25-28) Thomas was not at the first appearance of Jesus to the disciples, and therefore refused to believe the other disciples testimony that Jesus appeared to them. However, He was there 8 days later when Jesus appeared again (as before, in a room where the doors were shut). After touching the scars of Jesus, Thomas believed, making the statement, "My Lord and my God!" This is one of the clearest statement in all of the Bible for the deity of Jesus.

***Note: Often asked question: "Why did Jesus tell Mary Magdalene not to touch Him (verse 17), yet encouraged Thomas to touch Him?" The thought is that the "touch" that Mary gave Jesus was a possessive, clinging type of touch. She was grabbing a hold of Him like she did not want to let Him go, and lose Him again. In contrast, the "touch" of Thomas was a brief touch of the wounds of Jesus to examine that it was truly Him.

 

     (Verse 29) "Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." Does this apply to us today, and if so, how?

 

     (Verses 30-31) "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book." In other words, Jesus did many more things that John did not write about (also see: Jn 21:24-25). However, what is recorded in the Bible is EXACTLY what God wanted written (2 Tim 3:16)(2 Pet 1:20-21), and is all that we need to know.

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     The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the key upon which the Christian faith is based. Let's turn to two places which show us why this is so important:

(1 Cor 15:12-19)

(Rom 10:9-10)

     In addition to these, there are numerous other reasons why the Resurrection is important. Here is a list of reasons:

(1) Jesus victory over death and evil showed that we have a Savior who is ALIVE. Death could not contain Him. (Acts 2:24)

(2) It shows us that because He overcame death, we can overcome it as well through Him. (Jn 14:19)(1 Cor 6:14)(Rom 8:11)(Phil 3:21)(1 Cor 15:20)

(3) He is now seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. (Rom 8:34)(Heb 7:25)(Heb 9:24)(1 Jn 2:1)(Isa 53:12)

(4) It shows He is indeed the Son of God. (Rom 1:4)

(5) Jesus prophesied His resurrection at least 15 times before He died. His resurrection proves that His promises are trustworthy. See:
Mt 16:21, 17:9, 17:22-23, 20:18-19, 26:32
Mk 8:31, 9:9, 9:31, 10:34, 14:28
Lk 9:22, 18:33
Jn 2:18-22, 10:17-18, 16:16-22

(6) Jesus' resurrection also fulfilled Old Testament prophesy. (Isa 26:19)(Dan 12:2)(Ps 16:10)

(7) His death was for our justification. (Rom 4:25)

(8) It gives us hope of a new body one day that will never die, will be without sickness or disease, free from sin, glorious, powerful, and spiritual.

(9) It guarantees a final judgment. (Acts 17:31)

     These truths turned the apostles from timidness to boldness, from dejected to elated, and many of them were martyred, no longer fearing death. The Resurrection of Jesus became a cornerstone of their preaching and converting the lost. The book of Acts alone has numerous verses concerning the Resurrection. (See: Acts 1:22-23, 2:23-24,31-32, 3:15-16,26, 4:10, 5:30, 10:39-41, 13:29-39, 17:30-31, 26:22-23)

     What a glorious hope we have to know that one day we will be able to spend eternity with our beloved Savior Jesus Christ. Of all the major religions in the world, Christianity is the only one who has a Savior who is ALIVE!!

 

***Note: Following is a list of all the people Jesus appeared to after He arose:

#1 To Mary Magdalene: (Mk 16:9-11)(Jn 20:11-18)

#2 To two people, one named Cleopas, on the way to Emmaus: (Mk 16:12-13)(Lk 24:13-35)

#3 To Peter: (Lk 24:34)(1 Cor 15:5)

#4 To the 10 disciples in the upper room (without Thomas): (Lk 24:36-49)(Jn 20:19-23)

#5 To the 11 disciples in the upper room (with Thomas): (Mk 16:14-18)(Jn 20:26-29)(1 Cor 15:5)

#6 To the 7 disciples while fishing on the Lake of Tiberias (Galilee): (Jn 21:1-23)

#7 To the 11 disciples on a mountain in Galilee: (Mt 28:16-20)

#8 To the disciples before His ascension at the Mount of Olives: (Mk 16:15-19)(Lk 24:50-52)(Acts 1:3-10)

#9 To more than 500: (1 Cor 15:6)

#10 To James (Jesus' brother): (1 Cor 15:7)