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Sunday, April 21, 2019

posted Apr 21, 2019, 7:51 PM by Site Administrator



John 20:1-31

Key Verse: 20:28


Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”


          First, “Woman, why are you crying?” (1-18). Look at verses 1 and 2. It was Sunday morning, the first day of the week. While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She was the one whom Jesus set free from seven demons. Once she experienced Jesus’ grace, she was truly thankful for his grace. Since then, she followed Jesus, supporting his ministry together with other women. Because of Jesus’ grace, she lived a totally different life, the life of God’s servant, and she became a happy woman. But when Jesus died on the cross, she became utterly sorrowful. Now the only thing she could do as the final act of love for Jesus was to anoint his body with spices. So, early morning on Sunday, she went to the tomb. But when she arrived at the tomb, she found that the stone had been removed from the entrance of the tomb, and the body was gone. She was shocked, ran to Peter and John and told them about it.


          When Simon Peter and John, the author of this book, heard this, they started off for the tomb. Both were running as fast as they could, but John outran Peter, and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then, Simon Peter arrived, and went right into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head, folded up by itself, separate from the linen (2-7).


          The empty tomb is the first piece of evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. The strips of linen and burial cloth prove that Jesus’ body was not taken away. In that case, the linen and burial cloth would be gone also. The burial cloth0 testifies that Jesus had truly been raised from the dead, unwrapped himself, folded his burial cloth and left. Look at verse 8. “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.” When John saw the evidence of the empty tomb and the burial cloth, he believed. When he saw the evidence, he reasoned, “Jesus must be alive!” What an amazing thing to believe! What did John do after believing such an amazing fact? He quietly went home (10). His understanding of the resurrection based on reasoning and evidences did not give him anything; he saw and believed in the resurrection of Jesus, but it did not mean anything to him; it was just like knowing that 2 + 2 = 4.  If he had real resurrection faith, he could have been changed completely and become powerful. If he had genuine resurrection faith, then even though Jesus had died, the reality of Jesus rising again could have been burning in his heart, and he could have gone to the people of Jerusalem and proclaimed by faith, “The Lord is Risen!” But instead, he just returned home quietly, keeping his thoughts to himself.


          The author John shares with us the problem in verse 9, saying, “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” Their faith was not based on the Scriptures but based on evidences and reasoning. At that time, even though John believed in Jesus’ resurrection, his so-called faith had no power to remove fear from him, and no power to change his life; it was just head knowledge. People think that, if they have evidences, they will believe. So, they watch a lot of youtube videos. The problem, however, is that, even if they think they believe because they are convinced by many evidences, that faith does not do anything. 2+2 = 4. What does that mean to you? Nothing!


          John’s case portraits so many Christians’ problem. They ever go to church on the Easter and hear the resurrection message; it seems that they believe in the resurrection. But despite their faith in the resurrection, there is no real change in their life; their so-called faith has no power to remove fear or sorrows from their hearts; it has no power to change them into powerful servants of God. They just have knowledge of the resurrection, and nothing more. Why? It is because their so called-faith is not from grasping God’s words; it is not great revelation to them based on God’s words, but just head knowledge which they have acquired in the Bible, just like in the way they acquire some knowledge by studying the history. Verse 9 shows us the importance of having the resurrection faith based on the Scriptures. That’s why we struggle hard to write deep testimony every week so that we can really grasp God’s message through the word of God. When we grasp the resurrection through the word of God, at that time, great revelation comes to us, and we are amazed at the reality of the resurrection, and we are completely fascinated about it. At that time, all things in this life suddenly loses its power and grip on us, and we are set free to love God and pursue God. This is the principle for all aspects of our spiritual life - God’s creation, God’s love, God’s plan, God’s goodness, God’s power, resurrection, and eternal kingdom - faith in all these things through the Scriptures. 


          Look at verses 10 through 13. The disciples went back to their homes, but Mary could not simply leave the tomb because of the deep sorrow that filled her heart. She just stood outside the tomb crying. Even though Jesus died, her love for him did not die.


          As Mary wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him” (13b). At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).


          When Jesus was standing right in front of her, she did not recognize him maybe because the Risen Christ looked a little different in appearance or because she did not expect that it would be Jesus, even if he looked like him. But when Jesus said, “Mary,” she was surprised because it was exactly the same way Jesus had addressed her before. She recognized that it was Jesus - no question about it at all! After rising from the dead, Jesus now was God in glory, yet he was the same Jesus who knew and loved Mary. Several years ago, you met Jesus personally; at that time, his love for you was so tender and satisfying that you wept a lot with tears and snot. Today, Jesus is the same for you, so loving and compassionate. Often, Christians are scared and troubled because they think that Jesus may be angry with them for their poor performance. But today, Jesus calls you with his loving voice, “Mary,” just in the same way he used to call you before. Later, when we go to heaven, when we stand before him, he will call us by our name just in the same way he called us first. And we will recognize his voice. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


Look at verse 17. Let’s read this verse together:


17Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.””  


          “Do not hold on to me,” means literally, “Stop clinging to me” (NASB). Mary was so happy that she ran to Jesus and clasped his feet, determined never, ever to let go of him again. But Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me.” “Stop clinging to me.” She could not cling to Jesus - that kind of relationship with him would not be possible any longer, because Jesus would leave her and return to the Father. Now, instead, Jesus showed her how she would be with him continually, saying, “Go instead to my brothers and tell them.” Often, we dream about holding onto Jesus physically, having him sit right next to us, bringing all our questions and requests, and Jesus solving them immediately so that everything would go well with us, and we would have no problem ever. But that kind of relationship is not possible, because now Jesus is in heaven. But Jesus shows us that we can still hold onto him, remain in him and enjoy such beautiful relationship with him by holding onto his mission, by obeying his command to bring this good news of his resurrection to the ends of the earth. As long as we live for this holy mission, we are holding onto him, and we remain in him. That’s how we can love him and enjoy life together with him. Today, he is with us in our life of serving his mission.


          Jesus gave her the exact message she should deliver to the disciples, saying, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Jesus was returning to the Father, but he did not simply say to them that he was returning to the Father. Instead, he emphasized that he was returning to his Father and their Father, to his God and their God, showing that God was their God and their Father also, declaring the restored relationship between God and his disciples. That was the result of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He paid the price of the sin of the world through his death on the cross, and thereby, the relationship between God and those who believed in him was restored - they became God’s people and God became their God. God is Jesus’ Father and Jesus’ God, and now God is our Father and our God. As Jesus returned to the Father after completing his mission, we too will return to our Father and our God. This was the message Jesus wanted Mary to deliver to his disciples. Today, this is the message Jesus wants me to deliver to all of you. Jesus’ Father in heaven is your Father who loves you; Jesus’ God is your God who watches over you; and you will return to the Father as Jesus returned to the Father. There, you will spend eternity with Him in joy, thanks and happiness. How great it is that we now are in the right relationship with God, calling him, “Father.” How great it is to live as children of God! Now we have our eternal home, which we will go back to and spend eternity, our Father’s house. Now we do not live as endless wanderers on earth. Instead, we know where we are going and what is waiting for us. This is the true condition of all those who believe in Jesus. This is the result of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. And now this is the message Jesus wants us to deliver to all peoples on earth. 


          At this, Mary went to the disciples and gave them the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her (18).


          Second, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (19-23). Look at verse 19. That Sunday evening, the disciples were altogether. It was only three days since Jesus had been arrested, convicted, crucified, and killed. The disciples knew that the Jewish authorities would be coming for them next (18:19). So they cowered together in fear behind locked doors. Because of fear, they were paralyzed and useless. As they sat there, the Risen Christ was suddenly in their midst, even though the doors were locked. He said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.


          When Jesus rose again from the dead, the first thing he did was to visit his disciples and restore their spirit - first, Mary, and then, other disciples. Jesus visited sorrowful Mary, and kindled fire in her by planting the resurrection faith in her; then, she became overjoyed, and her spirit was revived; she ran to his disciples and delivered the resurrection message. Then Jesus visited his fearful disciples and kindled fire in them by planting in them the resurrection faith. Then, all fear disappeared from their hearts and they were overjoyed. This is what Jesus wants to do for his disciples - kindling fire in them by planting in them the resurrection faith. Due to life’s challenges, often Jesus disciples are discouraged and lose their spirit - thanks to so many problems in their life such as job problem, marriage problem, family problem, sin problem, and sheep problem, their spirit is damaged and fire is gone in their hearts and life; some disciples are sorrowful, while others are fearful. Jesus visits them and kindles fire in them by planting the resurrection faith. This is Jesus’ heart’s desire for you. Today, Jesus kindles the fire in us and revives our spirit. He says to us, “Peace be with you.”


Look at verses 21 and 22. Let’s read these verses together:


21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”


          Jesus said to them, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus commissioned them as his missionaries. God sent his Son as the first missionary to this world to save men from their sins, and the Son fulfilled his mission successfully. As he was sent, the Risen Christ also sent his disciples into the world as missionaries to spread the good news of eternal salvation. With that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” So, what happened? Did they feel warmth filling their hearts? Or, did they feel strong wind blowing upon them? Or were they suddenly in the Supersane mode and their bodies glowing in gold color? No. Nothing happened! Actually, about 47 days later, they would receive the Holy Spirit. But Jesus here said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” with his gesture of breathing on them, showing that, when he sent them out, they would not be alone in doing God’s work, but Jesus would equip and empower them by sending them the Holy Spirit. So, they should not be scared or worry about it; instead, simply, they should accept Jesus’ will and obey his mission assignment. This is the confidence now we have in Jesus Christ that when we obey God’s world mission command, God sends us the Holy Spirit to empower us to do His work. As we go out to the campuses and teach students the words of God, we can be rest assured that the Holy Spirit is working in and through us, guiding us into all truth and letting us know what to say and how to teach the Bible to the students. Eventually, it is God who is at his work to save souls to this very day, and we are only his instruments - just simply do what God asks you to do and God will do His work in and through you.


          Look at verse 23. Jesus said to them, “23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” This means that Jesus entrusted all the matters of God’s salvation work that would be going on here on earth into the hands of the disciples. As they proclaimed the forgiveness of people’s sins in Jesus Christ, their sins would be forgiven. If not, no one would be forgiven. They were now in charge of serving God’s salvation work here on earth.  


          Without the resurrection faith, the disciples had no direction for their lives because they were under the power of death. They did not know what to do and where to go. The only thing they could do was to tremble behind locked doors out of the fear of death, and the only thing they wanted to do was to run away to save their lives. But when they met the Risen Christ, they were changed, and because of this life-changing grace, they lived as missionaries for God’s world salvation purpose. “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” This statement of Jesus shows what we must do as the people who accept Jesus and have resurrection faith, that is, we must live as God’s missionaries bringing the message of sin-forgiveness to many dying people in this world. Why does Jesus reveal Himself to us? Why does Jesus give us His Holy Spirit? It is because he wants us to live as witnesses of his resurrection by preaching the message of eternal salvation. Without resurrection faith, we are lonely, sorrowful, and fearful. Without resurrection faith, we live a life ruled by our emotions, desires, and feelings. But with resurrection faith, we become God’s missionaries.


          Third, “My Lord and my God!” (24-31). Look at verses 24 and 25. Thomas called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came the first time after his resurrection. Later, when Thomas joined them, he found that they were different; their faces were shinning, their words had changed, and their demeanors had changed. Something great must have happened. And they all told him the same thing, “We have seen the Lord! Jesus is alive.” But Thomas said, “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.” He must have recognized the changed mood of the other disciples: they were fearful, but now they were confident and joyful. When all other disciples whom he had lived together for a few years said that they had seen the Lord, he could have believed what they said. They were not the ones who would make up a story altogether and pretend to be joyful - he knew them. But still, he refused to accept their message. He was a stubborn person.


          Look at verses 26 and 27. A week later, Jesus visited them, and rebuked Thomas, saying, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Jesus used exactly the same words Thomas had said one week ago – busted! Don’t utter unbelieving words, or you will be really embarrassed when Jesus mentions about them. What a shocking moment and puzzling experience it was for Thomas! At this, Thomas fell to the ground and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” The word, “Lord,” means, “the one to whom a person or a thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding.” When Thomas called Jesus, “my Lord,” he meant that Jesus had the absolute control and right over his life; it meant that Thomas would not decide anything by himself any longer, but Jesus would decide - where to go, how to live and what to do, and Thomas would simply obey whatever Jesus decided for him; in this way, when he said, “My Lord,” he surrendered his life to him, yielding his own sovereignty to Jesus.


          He also called Jesus, “my God.” God is the object of worship, the true worthy object of our life’s complete devotion. He would live the life of pursuing Jesus, because Jesus was his God, the only true worthy object of his complete life devotion. Finally, Thomas stopped doubting; finally, he had made his heart’s complete determination to serve and live for Jesus his God. “My Lord and my God!” Jesus died on the cross for you; Jesus rose again from the dead and sits on the throne in heaven. Who is Jesus’ to you today? Is Jesus your Lord and your God? Surrender your life to Jesus; live your life for Jesus. 


Look at verse 29. Let’s read this verse together:


Then, Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”


          The 11 apostles saw the Risen Jesus and believed. So, they lived and died for Jesus. We envy them – they saw the Risen Jesus. But Jesus shows us here that those who don’t see but believe are really blessed. Today, even though we have not seen Jesus physically, we love him and dedicate ourselves to him; we call him, “my Lord and my God.” We are really blessed.


Look at verses 30 and 31. Let’s read these verses together:   


Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


          This is the conclusion of John’s gospel. John’s purpose in writing this book is not to entertain people with amazing stories of Jesus’ miracles, but to help them understand who Jesus is, the Christ, the Son of God, the promised Messiah, your Lord and God, so that by believing you may have life, zoe, eternal life in him. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and your God, you live for Him. That life which lives for Jesus is zoe, eternal life, which is truly fulfilling and wonderful.


One Word: I Have Seen The Lord