Vs. 20, “After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” Certainly, one of the most theologically important aspects of Christology (Study of Christ) and our faith is the fact of resurrection. Having recently read through the other synoptic Gospel accounts (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24), we have a rich understanding of Jesus’ appearances to His disciples. John takes us a bit deeper into the discovery of not finding Jesus’ body (vs. 1-9). After waiting the full Sabbath Day (Saturday), She along with the other women came to attend to Jesus’ body in the tomb that was bought by Joseph of Arimathea. John gives us almost a humorous account of him outrunning Peter to the tomb. After their inspection of the tomb, Mary lingers and has an encounter with Jesus (vs. 10-18). Jesus’ appears to the disciples on Sunday evening (Easter Sunday) as they hide with locked doors in fear of the Jews (vs. 19-23). In this little section houses one of the most theologically controversial passages in Scripture! Question: What does John mean when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them (Vs. 22)? When we look at the full scripture, we are quite familiar with the giving of the Holy Spirit seven weeks later at Pentecost to the early church. Theologians have debated whether or not those in the upper room were given the Holy Spirit earlier. And lastly, we are given a memorable encounter with doubting Thomas (vs. 24-29). We can’t help but see the patient love and teaching Jesus gives to Thomas. The disciples had the privilege to see many things, that were done for their benefit as well as ours to help increase our faith (vs. 30-31).
Regarding application…We Are Blessed. Vs. 29, “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” There are moments in Jesus’ dialogue that He is looking past the disciples and envisions His church! Similar to Jesus’ prayer (John 17), Jesus again is referring to us! It’s natural to have a tendency to be envious of the disciples who had such an intimate relationship with our Lord. Yet, Jesus is reminding us (the church) that we are even more blessed! Serving the church over all these years, I’ve seen God work in mysterious ways. Yet, the most intimate moments are not found in the unexplainable. Our faith is based on what we do not see. The disciples were challenged to believe Jesus was truly the Son of God. We don’t even have the physical manifestation of Jesus, yet our faith is challenged even more. But are more blessed. I’ll take that! Take time in your day today to focus on the blessings rather than the struggles.
Vs. 10, “Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Yesterday, I shared a message on the women visiting the tomb. The first part of Matthew, we are reminded of the Resurrection (vs. 1-10). Jesus’ birth on earth was a miracle and now His resurrection closes His tenure as fully man. Jesus not only appears to the women, but over a forty day period He would make numerous visits. While there were many testifying of Jesus’ resurrection, there were others (Chief priests & elders) conspiring to ensure that the truth stays hidden (vs. 11-15). The whole premise of the story is not very believable given the fact that there were guards hired to guard the tomb. The guards knew what truly happened with their fear and the earthquake (vs. 2-4). Matthew then closes his gospel with the Great Commission (vs. 16-20). Question: Why did the eleven doubt (vs. 17)? There are differing views on this, but some scholars point out that the doubt here was in the context of the eleven being unsure of the future.
Regarding application…Make Disciples. Vs. 19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Question: What is our purpose in life? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Jesus gives us a mandate and purpose to our lives. The Gospel isn’t just for the Jews, but it is to be spread to all nations. Question: What does that look like for us? Does that mean that we all must be international missionaries? The application to this is quite varied. Not all of us are going to be missionaries, but all of us can support making disciples; financial support, material support, prayer support, etc. Someone shared the gospel with you at some point in your life. They were making disciples. And now we must help in support not just a church emphasis, but the very exhortation of Jesus!
Vs. 1, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” It is early Sunday morning and some women with Mary Magdalene (healed of seven evil spirits) come to the tomb. Question: What were they doing that morning? The women came to honor Jesus by finishing anointing the body more completely. It must have been quite alarming and disturbing to find the stone rolled away to the entrance of the tomb. She and the women run and tell Peter and John (vs. 2). We then see Jesus appear at different times to encourage the disciples who were living in fear of the wrath of the Jews. First, we see Jesus appear to Mary Magdalene (vs. 10-18) to encourage her in her grief and to instruct her to tell the others! Second, Jesus appears to the disciples (vs. 19-23) and breathes the Holy Spirit on them (vs. 22). And lastly, we see the love and patience of Jesus with doubting Thomas (vs. 24-31).
Regarding application…Dealing with Doubt. Vs. 25, “So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” Notice how Thomas had missed the first meeting when Jesus appeared to the others (vs. 24). It is not a sin to question our faith. God gave us minds to be able to have the reason and ability to think about why we believe in Him. It’s important to be mindful of Jesus’ loving response to Thomas. Jesus knows we will have times of doubt, but I love how we are reminded we are very blessed for believing all the more (vs. 29). Question: Are you dealing with doubt? Don’t despair, some of us just need more time to connect the dots of this life. I had a student year’s ago ask many numerous questions for two years about Christianity. He grew up in the church and was quite knowledgeable about the Bible. One night, he called me with a slew of questions and I was surprised when he asked me to pray with him. That night over the phone, he accepted the Lord Jesus!