Last week, we arrived at the empty tomb in John 20. This week, we see Jesus appear to his disciples.
Apparently, Mary’s declaration was met with a large dose of skepticism. We join the action with the disciples hiding out behind closed and locked doors. They are scared that the Jews may bust through the doors at any moment. Suddenly, Jesus appears. Does He walk through the doors? Does He just materialize among them? The text doesn’t tell us. However, we know what He says:
Peace be with you.
He knows what His appearance will mean and do to them. It can be rather upsetting to see someone rise from the dead. What Jesus is telling the disciples is to stay calm.
Joy. He showed them this hands and His side. And they rejoiced
Then Jesus does something that seems strange. He breathes on them and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. This may seem strange, considering that the Holy Spirit comes upon them later in Acts, but it seems that this is totally different from that one. Here it seems that Jesus is breathing eternal life into them. Later, they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
Next, we run into Thomas. For whatever reason, he is not with the other disciples when Jesus appears to them. Naturally, since he didn’t see it, Thomas does not believe the word of ten of his closest friends. So, Jesus appears again for Thomas’ benefit. Thomas had already said that he would not believe unless he had seen Jesus’ wounds.
So, Jesus appears. Again, He says, “Peace be with you.” And He tells Thomas to touch His wounds.
Thomas’ reaction is priceless: “My Lord and My God!!!”
Jesus tells Thomas that he has seen and believed, but those who have not seen and believed are blessed.
That seems to be the overriding point of all of this. None of the disciples really believed until they saw Jesus. None of them went by the word of anyone who had seen Jesus. However, they are going to be commissioned to tell people what they saw and those who believe will be blessed.
Believing is seeing in this case.
Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead? Have you received this blessing?
As we begin chapter 20 of John’s gospel, we open up at the tomb. You can read about this in verses 1 through 18.
It’s early Sunday morning and still dark as Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb. She immediately sees that the tomb is open. She does an about-face and hightails it to the disciples. Her thought is that the Jews have stolen Jesus’ body. So, Peter and John head to the tomb to check things out. John was a little faster and got there first. He poked his head in to see, but waited for Peter before going in. Peter got there and went in. They saw the linen lying there. They didn’t understand the scripture about Jesus’ resurrection, so they went back home.
Mary had followed them and just stood there in a highly emotional state, weeping and crying. She finally went to look for herself. Sitting there were two angels. The angels asked her why she was crying. She answered, of course, that her Lord’s body had been taken away. She turned around and saw Jesus standing there. However, she thought He was a gardener. She asked Him if He knew were they had laid Jesus. Jesus then simply called her by name. At that point, she knew who He was. She began to cling to Him. He told her to stop and go tell the disciples that she had found Him and that He would be ascending. So, she took this message to them.
What do we learn from this account?
Knowing Isn’t Understanding
These folks had known Jesus for some time now. They had listened to His teaching. The things He had shrouded in parable, He had explained to them. If anyone was going to understand that Jesus was going to be resurrected, it would be these guys and gals.
Why didn’t they believe that He would come back? They had seen His miracles. They had seen Him give a preview of this with Lazarus and Jairius’ daughter. They had seen Him walk on water. Why did they believe the grave could hold Him?
I think they knew that He said it would happen. However, wrapping your mind around it with all of the emotion of Jesus being arrested, tortured and crucified was just a bit much to all take in. Plus, they were afraid for their own lives.
They knew. They just didn’t understand.
Perhaps there are some people who would build an entire theology out of the fact that Jesus revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene first. Maybe they would place a huge significance on the fact that Jesus sent Mary back with a message to the disciples.
I think it was significant.
Men and women are different. They approach and see everything in different. And I mean all of this in general.
At this point, Mary was who needed to hear from Jesus. Mary was who was needed to deliver the message.
Perhaps this is a precursor to what Paul later says about there being neither male nor female in Christ.
Whatever the reason, Jesus reveals Himself to Mary first and she tell the disciples He is alive.
Do you ever know without understanding? Do you place any significance on a woman being the first to see Jesus alive?