Study Notes

John 20:19-31


Last week, we saw that Mary Magdalene had seen the Lord. Mark tells us,

Mark 16:10-11 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. And when they heard that He was alive, and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.

Luke tells us that Jesus then appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. After He left,

Luke 24:33 ...they arose that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them,

But Mark tells us that...

Mark 16:13 ...they went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.

There was not a lot of faith happening here.

20:19-20 It Was Evening

It was the evening of the day that Jesus was resurrected - the first day of the week, which we call Sunday. It is somewhere in the early evening quarter of the clock - between 6pm and 9pm.

For Fear Of The Jews

Their faith was lacking, but fear was abundant. It was just three days ago that Jesus was arrested and crucified. They thought for sure that the Jews were on the lookout for them, hoping to see all of Christ's followers arrested.

Fear makes people hide out. You remember that it was fear that kept Joseph of Arimathea a secret disciple. Back in chapter seven,

John 7:13 one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

The Bible tells us,

Prov. 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.

Paul told the Philippians while he was in jail,

Phil. 1:14 ...most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

When one Christian stands up for Christ, even if there are negative consequences to it, it helps others to have courage. If you're hiding out for fear, if you're afraid to speak of Christ, if you're fearful to preach the gospel, you're caught in a snare. But if you gather up your courage and speak, not only will you be exalted, but others will follow your example.

They Saw The Lord

It seems that the Lord entered the room in a supernatural manner. But just as Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus at first, neither did the disciples. When He stood in their midst, there was fear and anxiety, so He said "Peace."

It was only after He showed them His hands and side that they saw the Lord and rejoiced. Last week when we looked at how Jesus retains His wounds to this day, several people got to thinking about our glorified bodies. Are we going to look the same? Will our scars be retained as well? That's a tough question that the Bible addresses specifically, but not clearly.

1Cor. 15:35-44 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one {flesh} of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the {glory} of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable {body} , it is raised an imperishable {body}; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual {body.}

Our glorified bodies will be imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual. Acts 3:21 refers to the restoration of all things. I believe personally that our glorified bodies will be just like God would have created us in perfection if we lived in the garden of Eden before sin. So I do believe that we will look much the same, yet without birth defects, bad teeth, bum knees, diseases, and other problems that sin has brought into the world.

So why does Jesus have to retain His wounds?

1Pet. 2:24 ...He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

If it were not for those wounds, we would never be able to be restored.

20:21 I Also Send You

Mark tells us specifically where and why Jesus was sending them.

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."

Jesus was sending them into all the world to preach the gospel - repentance from sin and salvation through Him.

20:22-23 Imparting The Holy Spirit

Jesus breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." The only other time that God breathed into a man was back in Genesis 2, at the creation of Adam.

Gen. 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

It is the breath of God that gives us life. And these ten apostles were receiving this new life, becoming born again, being born of the Spirit.

You see, even thought these guys had left their businesses and families, left their security and their homes to follow Jesus Christ, were taught by Him, and ministered for Him, they had not yet become born again.

You cannot be born again unless you have believed that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Rom. 10:9 ...If you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved

Before resurrection Sunday, they had not believed that Christ had been raised from the dead. Now they believed in the resurrection, now they've received the Holy Spirit

Receiving The Holy Spirit

People are often confused about this issue of receiving the Holy Spirit. But the Bible is very clear in describing to us that there are three different relationships that the Holy Spirit has with the believer. They are described using three different Greek prepositions: "para" (with), "en" (in), and "epi" (upon).

Back in John 14, Jesus told the disciples about the Spirit,

John 14:17 ...He abides with (para) you, and will be in (en) you.

The Spirit was with the disciples - walking next to them, drawing them into a saving relationship with Christ. The same is true in every believer's life. The Holy Spirit used to be "para" - He was with us, next to us, convicting us of sin, and drawing us to Jesus.

But then when we believed that He died and rose again to forgive our sins, He became "en" - inside of us. God breathed on us and the Spirit came to live inside of our hearts. By that action, He...

2Cor. 1:22 ...sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

Eph. 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise

The third work - when the Spirit is "epi," is when the Spirit comes upon us, fills us, falls on us, baptizes us. This won't happen to the disciples until Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. Maybe some of you have received the Holy Spirit, but never been baptized in the Holy Spirit. That is why we have afterglow services on Sunday nights.

Forgiving And Retaining Sins

When people read verse 23, they often get confused because of the language. At first, it sounds like Jesus is giving them the authority to forgive sin. But as the Pharisees rightly said,

Luke 5:21 "...Who can forgive sins, but God alone?"

Literally this says, "Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven." In other words, we have the authority to proclaim that someone's sin is forgiven or not forgiven. For example, I often find myself in counseling situations where a brother or sister is so defeated in their life that they are actually questioning whether their conversion was real, whether they have truly been saved.

I often ask them who they believe Jesus is. I ask them about what they believed when they prayed to receive Christ. I can then assure them, "You are truly saved. You have been born again, and your sins have been forgotten by God. Walk in victory, go in peace."

On the other hand, we also have the authority to retain someone's sins. I've had people tell me, "Well, I'm a good person, and that's all I need to do to get to heaven. I've got my own religion, I don't need to believe in Jesus." In that case, we have the authority to say, "You have the right to believe and practice what you want, but your sins haven't been forgiven."

20:24-25 Not With Them

For some reason, the apostle Thomas was not at this Sunday evening meeting. He missed out on the radical blessing of meeting the Lord when He showed up.

It often saddens me that, although the Lord has promised to show up when we gather together in His name, there are always Thomases who find a reason not to be there. "I've been waiting to see this TV show for weeks." "My friend's got a ball game." "I just need to sit home and veg out today."

But the book of Hebrews says,

Hebr. 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging {one another} ; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

If you're not usually here on Thursday nights, or Sunday nights, or at the men's or ladies' Bible studies, I don't want to condemn you. But I do want to stimulate you - to love and good deeds, to not forsake our assembling together. I've never come to church at Calvary Chapel when the Lord didn't meet us here. To me, that's a radical appointment that shouldn't be bypassed because of a TV show or a ball game.

20:26-29 Eight Days Later

Jesus came eight days later. You know, you will find many Christians who will give you a hard time about meeting on Sunday rather than Saturday, which is the Sabbath. They say that God commands we gather on the Sabbath day. But there are three big problems with that argument:

1) The disciples had gathered together the last Sunday evening. Now, they are together on another Sunday. In Acts 20, we read,

Acts 20:7 And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul {began} talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.

And Paul told the Corinthians,

1Cor. 16:2 On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.

In other words, from the very first day that Jesus was resurrected, the disciples made a point of gathering together on the first day of the week, on Sunday.

2) The Sabbath was given to the Jews, not to the church. God said in Exodus 31,

Exod. 31:16-17 "So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.' It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever..."

3) The day you worship doesn't matter anyway. Paul told the Romans,

Rom. 14:5-6 One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord...

So, my conclusion is the same as Colossians 2:

Col. 2:16-17 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day

If people want to worship on the Saturday sabbath, that's great, more power to them. But don't let anyone judge you for gathering together with believers on Sunday.

Not Seeing, But Believing

Jesus comes to Thomas and says the exact thing that he had said in unbelief the week before. Jesus, although we cannot see Him, is present always and hears what we say.

When Thomas saw Christ, he proclaimed, "My Lord and My God!" Jesus responds, saying,

John 20:29 ..."Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed {are} they who did not see, and {yet} believed."

Jesus is telling Thomas that the testimony of the ten apostles, the women, and the disciples that came back from Emmaus should have been enough for him to believe.

20:30-31 That You May Believe

John didn't write down every word Jesus said, every step Jesus took, and every miracle Jesus performed. John wrote this book specifically for the purpose

John 20:31 ...that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

When you look at the evidence of the eyewitnesses to all that Jesus did, you find yourself in the same boat as Thomas. "Tom, you should have believed Mary, you should have believed the ten apostles, you should have believed the two disciples from Emmaus." How many people have to testify the truth to you before you'll believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who is offering you eternal life?

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