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John, Part 3 - Jesus Is Risen!

INTRODUCTION: This next segment of the Bible study series that presents a brief biographical sketch of the apostle John, resumes with the events of resurrection morning. John and Peter were mentioned together several times in the preceding study, and that pattern continues through this study. After the Lord's resurrection the gospel of Matthew has no record of conversation in the upper room between Jesus and the disciples, but rather only a brief encounter with them in Galilee. Mark's record does indicate that the disciples did not believe that Mary had seen Jesus alive, and there is only brief mention of the appearance of Jesus to the eleven around a table, and he rebuked them for not believing others who had seen him. Luke and John provide more detail, with some interesting non-parallel information to be noted as those two gospels are compared.

NOTE: All Bible passages are taken from the World English Bible [WEB].

A1 - Jesus rose from the grave

Mark 16 "9 Now when he had risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 When they heard that he was alive, and had been seen by her, they disbelieved. 12 After these things he was revealed in another form to two of them, as they walked, on their way into the country. 13 They went away and told it to the rest. They didn't believe them, either. 14 Afterward he was revealed to the eleven themselves as they sat at the table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they didn't believe those who had seen him after he had risen. 15 He said to them, "Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation."

COMMENTS: All four gospels record that Jesus arose from the tomb on the first day of the week. Mark's account gives a brief summary of several events that are not covered by Matthew, and those are made clearer with extra details in the gospels of Luke and John. Mark's text indicates that Jesus rebuked the eleven (his apostles minus Judas) because they had not believed the report of Mary who had seen Jesus at the tomb, nor did they believe the report of the two who had seen him on the road to Emaus.

A2 - Peter ran to the tomb

Luke 24 "6 He isn't here, but is risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again?" 8 They remembered his words, 9 returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. 10 Now they were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them told these things to the apostles. 11 These words seemed to them to be nonsense, and they didn't believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. Stooping and looking in, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he departed to his home, wondering what had happened."

COMMENTS: With Luke's account we learn that Peter and the other apostles did not believe what the women had reported, which likely included the things the angel had told the women. The angel had reminded the women that Jesus had said, "the Son of Man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." The apostles had heard similar words directly from the Lord while they traveled with him. Peter did run to the tomb to see for himself. He saw the linen grave wrappings without a body, but went away wondering what had happened. Some weeks earlier, Peter had witnessed Lazarus coming forth from the tomb in grave wrappings, having clearly been dead, but Peter apparently was still not fully prepared to grasp the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord happening in the manner as it did.

A3 - The other disciple saw and believed

John 20 "1 Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went early, while it was still dark, to the tomb, and saw the stone taken away from the tomb. 2 Therefore she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have laid him!" 3 Therefore Peter and the other disciple went out, and they went toward the tomb. 4 They both ran together. The other disciple outran Peter, and came to the tomb first. 5 Stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths lying, yet he didn't enter in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying, 7 and the cloth that had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So then the other disciple who came first to the tomb also entered in, and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they didn't know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes."

COMMENTS: In John's account he mentions only Mary and not the women who were with her. He states that the "other disciple" (a term he seems to apply to himself) who ran to the tomb with Peter "saw and believed." Then the text tells us that "as yet they didn't know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead." Being aware of a fact does not assure that the meaning and the full impact is truly comprehended. Even though Jesus had told his disciples more than once that he would rise on the third day, after they saw the empty tomb, they went to their homes wondering what had happened. They were not able as yet to realize and accept that this event was part of the fulfillment of the prophecies of Messiah as recorded in the Old Testament.

B1 - Jesus appeared before the disciples

Luke 24 "36 As they said these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace be to you." 37 But they were terrified and filled with fear, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 He said to them, "Why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is truly me. Touch me and see, for a spirit doesn't have flesh and bones, as you see that I have." 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they still didn't believe for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" 42 They gave him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 He took them, and ate in front of them. 44 He said to them, "This is what I told you, while I was still with you, that all things which are written in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me must be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds, that they might understand the Scriptures. 46 He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send forth the promise of my Father on you. But wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high.""

COMMENTS: Luke tells us that when Jesus appeared in the midst of the disciples, they were terrified, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. Jesus knew their thoughts and took action to verify his physical presence and to dispel their fears. He invited them to touch him, and then he ate something in their presence. He reassured them that these things were what he had told them previously, and used the scriptures as he said, "that all things which are written in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me must be fulfilled."

But then the Lord Jesus actually opened their understanding so they could comprehend that which they previously had not been able to grasp through human reasoning alone. This also is how Christians of today come to a more complete understanding of scriptures that contain the mysteries of God, as the Holy Spirit determines when and to whom to reveal them. 1 Corinthians "2:12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things. 14 Now the natural man doesn't receive the things of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can't know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

Even though we may still not understand some parts of scripture, we have this assurance about all scripture. 2 Timothy "3:16 Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." As Paul prayed for the church at Colossi, so Christians should also pray for each other to increase in scriptural wisdom, Colossians "1:9 For this cause, we also, since the day we heard this, don't cease praying and making requests for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 that you may walk worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, for all endurance and perseverance with joy;"

B2 - Gladness replaced fear

John 20 "19 When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were locked where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be to you." 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord."

COMMENTS: John presents his eyewitness account of the appearance of Jesus in the securely locked upper room after the resurrection. He makes no mention of great fear on their part, nor does he record that Jesus ate food to demonstrate that he indeed had a body of flesh as another means of removing their doubt about his physical resurrection. When John states, "The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord," his "therefore" gives only subtle indication that they needed some time and some demonstrations before they could fully accept that he was indeed appearing bodily before them.

B3 - Thomas was absent from the first appearance of Jesus

John 20 "24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, wasn't with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." 26 After eight days again his disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being locked, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace be to you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see my hands. Reach here your hand, and put it into my side. Don't be unbelieving, but believing." 28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed." 30 Therefore Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."

COMMENTS: Except for John's account, we would not have the common label known as the "doubting Thomas." And yet, was he more the doubter even though the other ten disciples had to se Jesus first hand before they would believe the testimony of those who had seen the resurrected Jesus before they did? Should the testimony of the ten to Thomas have been more convincing just because they were disciples who had been so close to Jesus; and if so, why did chosen apostles not believe the report of others when Jesus had foretold them that he would rise again in just three days after his death? Perhaps the more significant part of this record is that any person can doubt, but by the words of Jesus to Thomas we can all understand the special blessing that is ours when we believe in him without seeing him bodily. "Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed." Another important aspect of this event is that Thomas declared "my Lord and my God" as he realized that Jesus was truly standing there with him and that Jesus is God in flesh! This is an important factual event that the apostle John personally witnessed, and has recorded for those who read his gospel.

C1 - Jesus appeared in Galilee

John 21 "1 After these things, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, "I'm going fishing." They told him, "We are also coming with you." They immediately went out, and entered into the boat. That night, they caught nothing. 4 But when day had already come, Jesus stood on the beach, yet the disciples didn't know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus therefore said to them, "Children, have you anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." 6 He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." They cast it therefore, and now they weren't able to draw it in for the multitude of fish. 7 That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It's the Lord!" So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around him (for he was naked), and threw himself into the sea."

COMMENTS: When Jesus first called to the disciples who had been fishing with nothing caught, they did not know who he was. But after he told them to cast their net with the result that they weren't able to draw it in for the multitude of fish, John then recognized this was Jesus on the shore. This must have seemed like a flashback of how Jesus had first called them to follow him some three years earlier, and said he would make them to be fishers of men.

C2 - Jesus prepared breakfast on the shore

John 21 "12 Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." None of the disciples dared inquire of him, "Who are you?" knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus came and took the bread, gave it to them, and the fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus was revealed to his disciples, after he had risen from the dead."

COMMENTS: Only John gives us this information in his gospel account of two appearances in an upper room, and now a third one when this smaller group of disciples had returned to commercial fishing at the sea of Tiberias (Galilee). This is not in conflict with the account in Matthew, but it is a good example of how a series of events can be recorded under the direction of the Holy Spirit. There may seem to be a conflict until a greater understanding is obtained by comparing scripture with scripture while maintaining the firm belief that the Word of God is totally trustworthy.

c3 - Three questions for Peter

John 21 "15 So when they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you have affection for me?" Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, "Do you have affection for me?" He said to him, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep." 18 Most certainly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you, and carry you where you don't want to go." 19 Now he said this, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. When he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me." 20 Then Peter, turning around, saw a disciple following. This was the disciple whom Jesus sincerely loved, the one who had also leaned on Jesus' breast at the supper and asked, "Lord, who is going to betray you?" 21 Peter seeing him, said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" 22 Jesus said to him, "If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you? You follow me." 23 This saying therefore went out among the brothers, that this disciple wouldn't die. Yet Jesus didn't say to him that he wouldn't die, but, "If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you?" 24 This is the disciple who testifies about these things, and wrote these things. We know that his witness is true. 25 There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they would all be written, I suppose that even the world itself wouldn't have room for the books that would be written."

COMMENTS: Though most of this passage is conversation between Jesus and Peter, John provides us with a saying that became misconstrued even during his own lifetime. John then closes his gospel account with a phrase that should assure everyone that the Lord is so far beyond human description and comprehension that even the greatest hyperbole becomes an understatement of his power and majesty. John had already explained to the readers at the end of chapter 20 that there were many other signs performed by Jesus, but the ones recorded were written "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."

--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord Jesus, as I review the above passages I am overwhelmed by how much they display about you, and about those you chose as your apostles. I could reread succeeding portions of the scripture herein, and simply pause periodically to pray in thanksgiving and adoration. I have become so much more aware of how the apostles had related to you as a man; and then after your triumphant resurrection, how much more they were convinced that they had spent some three years with God in flesh! Even though I cannot truly comprehend all the dimensions of the fact that you took upon yourself humanity, I now have a deeper appreciation of how your life within the world system, while always apart from it, can provide guidance for the way I should also live as I await your kingdom and eternity. I also praise you for what I have learned about those common men, with many faults, that your transforming power set apart according to your plan. Therefore I praise you for whatever part you have purposed for me to have as you establish your kingdom. I want to return to you any time I fail, just as Peter returned for forgiveness and cleansing. thank you my Lord and Savior, that I am among those who believe and have great blessing though I have not seen you in the flesh! Amen and amen.

Published 28 August 2011