John 20 The Resurrection of Jesus
The resurrection of Jesus is the crowning event of the Bible. All previous history looked forward to it and all history after that point looks back upon it. And, the Apostle Paul told the Christians at Rome that Jesus “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness,” (Rom. 1:4). He also devoted a full chapter in his first letter to the Corinthians to it. The Apostle Peter also mentioned it (1 Pet. 1:3).
Well, as chapter 20 opens, Mary Magdalene is the first witness of the resurrection (vs. 1-2).And, she ran to report the empty tomb to Simon Peter and John. Well, they run together at the tomb, John arriving first. And, he stoops to look in the tomb and sees the linen wrappings that Jesus had been buried with. But, it was Peter who went inside the tomb and also saw the head cloth and that no body was there (vs. 3-8). The disciples had not understood the Scripture or words of Jesus that He would raise from the dead. But now John “came to believe it.”And, they returned to the place where they were staying in Jerusalem.
In vs. 11-18, is the first of many times that Jesus would be seen by his disciples. The Apostle Paul stated the fact of Jesus’ appearances after His resurrection as part of the book of Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:1-9). And so, John comes back to record that Mary Magdalene was weeping outside the tomb when she looked in and saw two angels who asked her why she was weeping. Her weeping was likely a loud lamentation typical of scenes of death in the Middle East. Mary may have thought that the angels were men as she does not seem to have made more than a typical reaction to the scene.
Even when Mary turned to see Jesus through her tears, she still did not recognize Him, thinking He was the gardener. So, this Gardener asked her why she was weeping. She asks Him if the body of Jesus has been taken elsewhere. But, when Jesus said her name, Mary, she recognized Him and cried out, “Rabboni!” And, she is clinging to Jesus as if she feared He might disappear. But, He tells Mary to go to the disciples whom He calls “brothers” and tell them that He will ascend back to the Father. And so, Mary returns to Jerusalem and reports what she has seen and heard to the disciples.
Well, for the first time Jesus appears to the disciples who were gathered in a room with the doors locked for fear of the Jews. He greeted them with “Shalom” (vs. 19). And then, to further demonstrate that He had indeed risen from the dead, He showed them the imprint of the nails and the spear. Well, this caused unspeakable joy to the disciples and is also the reason why John later wrote, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:1-3).
Now, Jesus commissioned the apostles for the special work they were to do in the world (vs. 21). They were to be an ambassador or special agent. And, Jesus also promised the Holy Spirit to come upon them soon (vs. 22-23). Jesus further promised to the apostles that as they “forgave sins;” they would stand forgiven. Of course, this forgiveness rested with God as the apostles were God’s spokesmen.
Now, in vs. 24-29, Thomas, called Didymus or Twin, was not with them. And, he required indisputable proof of Jesus’ resurrection. Ironically, he has been labeled as, “doubting Thomas” even though all of the apostles found it difficult to believe that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. And so, Jesus gave Thomas the opportunity he required by having him feel the nail scars on His hands and where the spear had been thrust into His side. Jesus said: “Stop being unbelieving but a believer.” That is, don’t be in the middle about this. And so, after the evidence, Thomas’ response was, “My Lord and My God!” It Is interesting that this is the strongest confession of Jesus’ divinity in the entire Bible. The resurrection was indeed the turning point in the lives of all the apostles. And, it turned a mourner into a missionary, a penitent into a preacher, the bereaved friend into an apostle of love, timid disciples into heralds of a new movement and a skeptic into a confessor. This shows the purpose of the book of John. It was written that people would believe (commitment to Jesus in obedience to His will) and have life (being crucified with Him—Gal. 2:20).