John 20 (NRSV)
The Resurrection of Jesus
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved,
John, the author, humbly does not refer to himself directly.
and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.
4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.
13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”
Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
16Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
One Bible scholar has written: “Never was a one-word utterance more charged with emotion than this.”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
The fact that Jesus makes a woman the first witness of His resurrection is significant. The law courts of that day would not recognize the testimony of a woman, but Jesus did. This also argues for the historic truth of this account. If someone fabricated this story, would they make the first witnesses to the resurrection women, who were commonly (if unfairly) regarded as unreliable witnesses?
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
The disciples were full of fear when Jesus came to them. After their cowardly desertion of Jesus on Friday, they may have been expecting a rebuke from him. But our kindly Lord knows our weaknesses, and instead “stood among them” and offered peace. He does the same for us today. Peace be with you!
21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
He showed them His hands and His side: Jesus gives assurance to the disciples about who He is and that He really has risen from the dead.
As the Father has sent Me, I also send you: Jesus gives His disciples a mission, to continue His work on this earth.
Receive the Holy Spirit: Jesus gives His disciples the Holy Spirit, bringing new life and the ability to carry out their mission. Many people see the connection between this breathing on the disciples and when God created man, and breathed the breathe of life in him. This is a work of re-creation, even as God breathed life into the first man. This is where the disciples are born again.
If you forgive the sins of any: Jesus gives His disciples authority to announce forgiveness and to warn of guilt, as authorized by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus and Thomas
24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”
28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Thomas is a good example for us in many ways. He refused to say he understood when he didn’t, he refused to pretend to believe when he didn’t. And when he did understand and believe, he went all the way and properly called Jesus Lord and God.
AND THE GLORY
by Ann Weems
The silence breaks into morning.
The One Star lights the world.
The lily springs to life and
not even Solomon . . .
Let it begin with singing
and never end!
Oh, angels, quit your lamenting!
upon your knees in tearful prayer,
and take your hearts
We who were no people
are named anew
for he who was no more
The Purpose of This Book
30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
This song tells the story of the resurrection from the point of view of Peter. HERE is “He’s Alive” sung by Dolly Parton.
1) The resurrection can seem incredible, if not impossible, to our scientific minds. What are some images you can use to explain resurrection to someone who is not familiar with John’s Gospel?
2) Lift up your hearts! We lift them up unto the Lord! Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God! Thank God for Christ’s resurrection!
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.