Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: John's Gospel Studies|
Chapter: John 20
Passage: John 20:1-9
A. Find Out:
1. Who went when and found what? v.1
2. Who did she tell what? v.2
3. What was their response and what happened? v.3,4
4. What did the first disciple do and see? v.5
5. What did Peter do and see? v.6,7
6. What did the other disciple then do? v.8
Three people and three responses. Mary Magdalene sees the body gone and assumes grave robbers, and so goes to tell the men. She will shortly have her particular encounter with the Lord but for the moment she is in unbelief.
Peter comes with John but is outrun by him, but when he arrives at the tomb, goes plunging in to see fully for himself. According to Luke, (Lk 24:12) Peter left wondering what had happened. He is in a perplexed state. John, who had come with Peter, had arrived before him but had held back from actually going into the tomb and saw just the strips of linen lying there. His thoughts were inconclusive.
Once Peter has led the way into the tomb, John then follows and once in the tomb he also sees the cloth that had been around Jesus head, neatly folded up and put to one side. Something about that, perhaps, seemed to create in him a picture of Jesus coming back to life and first of all taking the cloth off from around his face and putting it neatly aside before he unwound all the rest of the burial strips which he then just left in a heap near the entrance of the tomb. John believes! But, he is willing to confess, it wasn't because he realised it was all in accord with the prophetic Scriptures, for he was still blind to them at that moment. Yet something tells him it HAS happened.
1. Different people come to faith in different ways. Some take longer.
2. Jesus Christ died and DID rise from the dead. He IS alive!
A. Find Out:
1. What did Mary do and see? v.11,12
2. What did they ask and what did she reply? v.13
3. Who did she then see but who did she think he was? v.14,15b
4. What did he ask and what did she reply? v.15
5. What seemed to open her eyes and what did he command? v.16,17
6. What did Mary then do? v.18
If Peter denied Jesus three times, Mary Magdalene stated her unbelief three times (v.2,13,15). She had been with the disciples, she had heard Jesus teaching them that he would rise from the dead, yet we see her with her mind firmly fixed in her grief. Mary had clearly loved Jesus deeply for she owed him much (see Lk 8:2). She had been there at the Cross (see 19:25 ) and she had come at first light to see if she could minister to the body. The other Gospels indicate that she was not alone in her actions, but John highlights her as if, although she did have company, in her grief she just felt totally alone. In her grief therefore, she is completely locked into her belief that Jesus is dead. How often do we allow our emotions to lock us into untruth?
She encounters angels and turns away from them; she encounters Jesus and just cross examines him. It seems she is in a daze that means she misses the wonder of all that is before her. Grief can do that! Then Jesus speaks that one intimate word, her name, and suddenly her darkness is pierced and she realises who it is. Joy and relief! Hold on, says Jesus, I know you want me never to leave you again, but it can't be like that yet. I've got to go to Father and then (implied), I'll be with you by my Spirit for ever.
1. Grief blinds us to the truth.
2. Strong emotion often holds us in unbelief.
A. Find Out:
1. Where were the disciples when? v.19a
2. How did Jesus come and what did he say? v.19b
3. What did he do and how did the disciples respond? v.20
4. What did he then say? v.21
5. What did he then say and do? v.22
6. What did he finally tell them? v.23
It is later on in that same day, Sunday, that Jesus comes and now shows himself to all the gathered disciples. The first thing to note is the amazing way he comes. The doors are locked but he just appears in the room. The body he has now is obviously not limited in the way it had been before. Yet he is not a ghost for, as we'll see tomorrow he doesn't mind them actually touching him.
The second thing to note is the way that he immediately seeks to calm their fears. They were probably all aware of their having failed him at his point of greatest need, when they all deserted him and left him to the authorities. But he is not there to condemn, only to send! So twice he says, be at peace! Again and again we fear the Lord is coming to tell us off, but again and again he comes to affirm and send us again to do the work!
Whether he actually imparts the Holy Spirit here, when he breathes on them, is questionable. It certainly happened on the day of Pentecost and so it is more probable that here he was simply giving them a graphical forewarning or even instruction as to what was to happen to them. Under the empowering of the Holy Spirit they would do the works he had done and assess and bring forgiveness as he did.
1. Jesus comes to encourage, build and send us, not condemn!
2. He imparts his Spirit to enable us to do his works.
A. Find Out:
1. How had Thomas missed out? v.24
2. What was his response to the other disciples? v.25
3. When and how did Jesus come to them again? v.26
4. What did Jesus tell Thomas to do? v.27
5. What was Thomas's response? v.28
6. Why did John say he had written these things? v.30,31
When Jesus had come Thomas had not been there. Jesus did not stay (we don't know what he did in between visitations), and so when Thomas came back and was told what had happened, he basically assumed they had all been imagining it. We noted in a previous study how some of the others had had trouble believing; now it's Thomas's turn! It is a week later that Jesus comes again. Again we don't know what the disciples did in that week but all we are told is that a week later they are still together and they are still behind locked doors. Jesus just appears in the room as he had done previously and now Thomas has no further reason to doubt.
The way Jesus speaks to him indicates that he knew exactly what Thomas had said a week ago and he meets him head on. OK, he says, here I am, feel me and stop doubting! Thomas believes and makes a strong declaration - “My Lord and my God!”. Excellent, says Jesus, but even better in the days to come when people can say that without having seen me! That's right, almost adds John by implication, and I've written all these things so that when you read you will believe. So do we believe? This Gospel of John has been specifically written to help us believe.
1. Thomas saw Jesus in the flesh, we see him in his word.
2. Thomas believed. We are called to believe. Do we?
A. Find Out:
1. Where did this take place? v.1
2. Who were there & who suggested what with what result? v.2,3
3. When did Jesus come and what did he ask? v.4,5
4. What did he tell them to do? v.6a
5. With what result? v.6b
6. Read Luke 5:4-11 What happened then?
Chapter 21 is unique to John's Gospel and in it he records a very intimate and personal encounter that Peter had with Jesus (perhaps by the time he wrote it Peter had died and fulfilled Jesus' prophecy in this chapter). The other Gospels tell us that Jesus told the disciples to go back up to Galilee to wait for him (see Matt 28:10). When they get there, there is no sign of Jesus and so after a while the impatient Peter decides he's off to do what he used to do, to go fishing. The others go along with this suggestion and go with him and they take their old boat out again and do what they had done hundreds of times before - but to no avail! By the time dawn comes they are tired and weary and have nothing!
And then Jesus comes! At first they don't realise it is him. Whether it is because it is still semi-dark, or because they simply weren't expecting him, or because there was something else about him, we don't know. He makes a suggestion to them which they follow. Why did they take instructions from a stranger? We aren't told, perhaps it was just an indication of their tiredness, but they did it and found a tremendous catch! At this point Peter must have thought, “I've been here before”, and remembered his initial call. Jesus is preparing his man for an important conversation!
1. Jesus often takes us back to a previous encounter. We need it!
2. He comes in grace and love and gentleness. Don't forget it.
A. Find Out:
1. Who first recognised Jesus? v.7a
2. What did Peter do and what did the others do? v.7b,8
3. What did they find Jesus doing and what did he say? v.9,10
4. Who responded and did what? v.11
5. What did Jesus say and do? v.12,13
6. How many times had Jesus appeared to them all? v.14
Note first of all the “strangeness” of Jesus. Remember that Mary had not recognised Jesus to start with. Luke records the two men on the road to Emmaus not being able to perceive who it was with them, and now the disciples seem unable to see who it is. It is only the one who is the closest to Jesus who seems able to discern who it is. There almost seems a spiritual dimension to this, whereby only those closest to Jesus, who see or hear something from the past that triggers off recognition. Closeness to him is a key to recognition it seems.
Observe next the atmosphere that Jesus seems to create: he is on the beach, with a fish meal prepared. There is a sense of peace and order about this. When you want to have a difficult talk with someone, then having a meal together is often a good environment in which to have it. Jesus seeks to bring a sense of peace to the disturbed and tired disciples-cum-fishermen.
See finally, Peter's actions in all this. He wasn't the first one to recognise Jesus but once Jesus was pointed out to him he was off like a shot to get to him. For him now, it doesn't matter about the catch of fish, only that he gets to Jesus. Perhaps there is a sense of urgent need to meet the Lord to make amends. We will see.
1. Those whose hearts are looking for Jesus, see him first.
2. Jesus comes to bring peace and restoration to us.
A. Find Out:
1. What did Jesus first ask Peter and then tell Peter to do? v.15a,c
2. What did Jesus then ask Peter and tell Peter to do? v.16a,c
3. What did he ask then ask Peter and what did Peter feel? v.17a,b
4. What did he then tell Peter to do? v.17c
5. What did Jesus say would happen to Peter? v.18,19a
6. What did he tell him to do finally? v.19b
Observe the direction of the questioning:
Now note the answers:
Now why this order?
When Jesus asks questions it's not to find out answers because he knows them all the time. It is to make us become aware of the answers. Peter is no longer the bold and brash leader he once was. He is humbled and broken and no longer self-confident.
Now look at the keys to what is happening here. They are Jesus' instructions following Peter's answers:
Feeding young Christians only requires simple knowledge and understanding. Caring for older believers requires a measure of wisdom, sensitivity and compassion, feeding older believers requires much maturity. This is growth in responsibility. The more Peter is able to face the truth about himself and his weakness, the more the Lord entrusts to him.
To carry spiritual responsibility requires facing the truth about me.
A. Find Out:
1. Who did Peter ask about? v.20,21
2. How did Jesus reply to Peter's question? v.22
3. What rumour spread but what was the truth? v.23
4. Who is it that wrote this Gospel? v.24
5. How does he describe the other things Jesus did? v.25
At various times in this Gospel, John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Now it may well be that Jesus loved all the disciples (as he surely did), but what it indicates is that John was particularly aware of being loved by the Lord. This love of Jesus is the one thing that comes over again and again in John's Gospel and his letters. There also have been a special closeness between Jesus & John for certainly there were the “inner four disciples” and it may be that he did in fact, knowing John's future, show special care for John.
In this passage Jesus prophesies Peter's end which, tradition tells us, was that he was crucified for his faith, though upside down as he refused to go the same way as his Lord! John's future is perhaps hinted at here, for he was the only one who, we believe, did not die a violent martyr's death. It is in his old age that he writes and others are there to verify his acceptance as a witness.
Finally, says John as he goes to end this Gospel, the things that I've written are jut a few of the things that Jesus did while here upon earth; I've picked out just a few for if I wrote everything he did (and it was so much!) we wouldn't have room for all the books that would have to be written. So we may see this book as a taster or introduction to the glorious things the Son of God did while here.
1. Jesus knows my future. I may rest in it.
2. Jesus loves me uniquely. I may rejoice in that.
In this last group of 8 studies we have seen :
These chapters are the record of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the facts are incontrovertible. But these chapters are more than that. They also tell of Jesus appearances to Mary Magdalene and then the disciples hidden away behind locked doors in fear of their lives. They tell of the slowness of the disciples to believe that Jesus has risen, but they also tell of Jesus meeting with them in Galilee and commissioning Peter.
1. It was the power of God that raised him from the dead
2. It was all the grace and mercy of God towards us!
3. We may be fearful but jesus comes to reassure us.
4. We may fail him but he still uses us.
Thank the Lord for the wonderful truths here: He died to save us. He took our sin and used it to bring salvation. praise him!
In these last seven chapters of John's Gospel we have seen:
1. The Last Supper Discourse
2. Jesus Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane
3. Jesus' Arrest & Trial
4. Jesus' Death & Burial
5. Jesus' Resurrection Appearances
As we come to the end of this Series of Studies, and to the end of John's Gospel, the following are perhaps some of the things we should note:
1. The Peculiarities of John's Gospel
This Gospel is different in many ways from Matthew, Mark and Luke. In the chapters we have just read, the passages that are unique to John are the Last Supper Discourse, Jesus' Prayer, Jesus handing Mary over to John for safe keeping at the Cross, and the whole of the encounter with Jesus in Galilee.
As John wrote considerably later than the others, these additional details are completely in keeping with John's desire to record some of the more intimate details of their encounters with Jesus that the others had omitted. Again he does not bother to restate many of the details that they had noted, not because they were not true but simply because John did not deem it necessary to repeat what was already well known. He includes just sufficient of that which is similar to their accounts to avoid any supposition that he is writing a completely different story! All of these things help establish the integrity of John's Gospel and his concern to be seen as an accurate witness to the things that had occurred many years before.
2. The Intimacy of these Accounts
For the reasons given above the details in the chapter we have just read have a very much more personal and intimate ring to them than those recorded in the other Gospels. John maintains, I was there, I saw it all, it is true (see also 1 John 1:1-3). These things recorded here show us things “on the inside”. This Gospel written near the end of the first century gives us added confidence in the truth and wonder of the historical accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. They also show him very much as the man who was God. There is this amazing blend of the divine clothed in the human. We have seen the pastor showing care and concern for his flock, the teacher imparting knowledge for his disciples, and the son providing for his mother.
In each of these things, Jesus not only brings us comfort and reassurance in his dealings with his followers, but he also sets us a powerful example to follow in all his dealing with people. Worship him, praise him, and thank him, for the wonder of these things!