JOHN 20 COMMENTARY

The Book of John is unique among the Gospel accounts. You may read it when you are yet in shallow waters near the shore, and you will find Jesus there. You may read it and find yourself totally immersed in deep truths about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will go deep, and if it is too much, don’t worry! Stay in the shallow waters for a bit. He will take you deeper, as you get to know Him!

In John 20, you will see Jesus Christ declared the Son of God with power (Romans 1:4), by His resurrection from the dead. If He had died and not been resurrected, He would not be the Christ. But He WAS resurrected, and there were many eyewitnesses — more than 500 (1Corinthians 15:6). The first was Mary Magdalene, and then the eleven disciples. Watch!

Verses 1-2 — Mary went early to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark. She immediately saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and reported it to Peter and John (“the other disciple whom Jesus loved”). Her report? Not, “He is risen,” but “They have taken Him, and we don’t know where they have laid Him.”

IMPORTANT POINT: Mary did not immediately believe He had risen, though He had told them many times that He would rise on the third day (Matthew 16:21, 17:23, and 20:19, among other passages). She and the disciples did not understand yet.

Verses 3-7 — So Peter and John went to the tomb. They ran together, but John was the first to arrive. He stooped down to see the linen wrappings lying there. To go in would have made him ceremonially unclean, unable to enter the Temple to worship. So he stood at the entrance. Peter entered, and saw the linen wrappings and the face-cloth that had covered Jesus’ head, lying separately, rolled up in a place by itself.

IMPORTANT POINT: If Jesus’ body had been stolen and taken elsewhere, why would the grave clothes be removed? Wouldn’t it be harder to keep his arms and legs from dangling, without the wrappings? And why would one particular garment — the face-cloth — be carefully placed separately? It was as if someone was trying to make a point, that these things were no longer needed by the wearer. But they didn’t understand that He had risen.

Verses 8-10 — So John entered the tomb and believed. What did he believe? Did he have divine revelation that Jesus was risen? No. He believed Mary’s report — they had taken Jesus’ body and no one knew where they had laid Him.

IMPORTANT POINT: Why do I say that? Because Verse 9 says they still didn’t understand that the Word of God specifically said  He must rise again from the dead [see Hosea 6:2 for the “third day” reference, and Isaiah 53:11, “He will see (life) and be satisfied” and Psalm 16:10 “He will not suffer His Holy One to see decay,” and Psalm 49:9, again “will not see decay,” which according to Jewish thought, happened on the third day.]

So, they did not believe that He had risen. They believed Mary’s report that someone had taken His body. So they went home.

Verse 11-12 — Mary Magdalene must have returned after them, because she stood outside the tomb, weeping, and looked into the tomb. Two angels sat where Jesus’ body had been laid. They asked why she was weeping. She said they had taken Jesus’ body away, and she did not know where they had laid Him.

Verses 12-16 — Then she turned around and saw a figure at the door of the tomb, just outside. It was Jesus, but she did not recognize Him. Why? The tomb was dark and the light shone in. She would have seen only His silhouette.

IMPORTANT POINT:  Please note that you will also see evidence in the gospels that Jesus’ resurrected body looks somewhat different from before He was resurrected. He bears the marks of His crucifixion, though — nail-pierced hands and feet and a wound in His side, where He was pierced with a spear by the Roman solders. It is Him!

Jesus asked why she was weeping, and whom she was seeking. She thought He was the gardener, and asked if he had taken the Lord away.

But then He spoke her name. And she knew it was Him, and cried, “Rabboni,” which means Teacher, for she had sat at His feet (Luke 10:39), the position of a disciple.

IMPORTANT POINT: When Jesus speaks your name, you will know it is Him. And you, too, will see His nail-pierced hands and feet, and the wound in His side.

He will bear those forever, in His resurrected body. He is still the Lamb that looks as if it has been slain, per Revelation 5:6,  and in Revelation 13:8, in the original Greek —“. . . the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain from the foundation of the world,” that is, before the world was formed. Long before He created Adam, God knew mankind would need a Savior. He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).

Verses 17-18 — In the original Greek, Jesus said, “Do not cling to Me,” not “stop clinging to Me.” Why? He has not yet ascended into heaven. He must ascend, at the end of 40 days, to be glorified at the Father’s right hand, and to pour out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

His command to Mary? Go and tell His brethren —- the disciples. And say to them, I go to My Father and Your Father, My God and Your God. Why did Jesus say it that way?

IMPORTANT POINT: Because He died and rose, we have the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but (born) of God.” Now they would be able to be born from above, and God would be come their Father and their God, just as He is Jesus Christ’s Father and His God. We do not have the exact position of the always existent God the Son, but we are children of God, even now seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).

As Jesus commanded, Mary went to tell the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and repeating what He said to her.

Verses 19-20 — You will see a big contrast here in the disciples, between the time following Jesus’ resurrection and the time following Pentecost. It was evening. The doors were locked because the disciples feared the Jews.

IMPORTANT POINT: Compare that with their boldness in Acts 2:14, and the rest of the Book of Acts! Their boldness happened when they experienced their own personal Pentecost, and so will yours.

And Jesus came in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” That means He was able to go through a locked door. His resurrected body WAS different.

IMPORTANT POINT: “Peace be with you.” Don’t you remember that I said you would have My peace (John 14:27)? It will happen soon — when you are filled with My Spirit!

And to make sure they knew it was Him, He showed them His hands and His side. Then they rejoiced, because they knew it was the Lord — Jesus Christ!

Verses 21-22 — Again, He said, “Peace be with you,” and, “As the Father sent Me, I send you.” It was their commission to go forth, just as He did.

Then He breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” But it was not Pentecost yet. They were not yet filled. How do I know that?

IMPORTANT POINT: In the original Greek, the word “receive” in this passage is “lambano.” That is, receive a portion, not receive in full.  But if He had said, “apolambano,” or “paralambano,” it would have been receive in full. He gave them a portion of His Spirit when He breathed on them. They would need that portion for the moment, but the promise of the Father was yet to come (see Acts 1:8).

IMPORTANT POINT: For further evidence that they were not filled with the Spirit when He breathed on them, remember that the Holy Spirit was not to be poured out until Jesus was glorified. In this passage, that had not happened yet.  He had not ascended and been seated at the Father’s right hand, 50 days after He rose from the dead. THEN He would pour out His Spirit (John 7:39, Acts 2).

Verse 23 — What does this mean? Some say He gives them authority to forgive sin or not to forgive sin, but only God the Father and God the Son can forgive sin, not man. Some say it refers to the preaching of the gospel, that Jesus died so our sins could be forgiven. But I believe Jesus refers back to Matthew 6:14. He reminds them that they must forgive sins. If they do, they have forgiven the one who wronged them. But if one of the disciples do not forgive someone who wronged him, does that mean that person cannot come to Christ for forgiveness? No way!

IMPORTANT POINT: But if one of the disciples does not forgive (or you do not forgive), the sin of the one who wronged them remains on that disciple (or you), for God will not forgive that disciple (or you) if he does not forgive. I can see this passage no other way.

The Greek-to-English reads this way: Of whomever you forgive the sins, they are forgiven to them. Of whomever you retain, they are retained. To retain is to hold onto. That is, you are holding onto the wrong committed by them, rather than forgiving them, dear disciple. The Father cannot forgive you until you forgive (Matthew 6:15).

Verses 24-25 — Now we come to Doubting Thomas. He was not there when Jesus passed through a locked door and stood among the disciples. So they told him, “We have seen the Lord.” And Thomas said he would have to see the imprint of the nails in Jesus’ hands, and put his finger in those holes, and put his hand into Jesus’ pierced side. THEN he would believe.

Verse 26-27 — So eight days later, the disciples were hiding behind a locked door, and Thomas was with them. And He came and stood in their midst and once again said, “Peace be with you.” And because Jesus knew and saw Thomas as he spoke earlier, even though He was not physically with Thomas, He was able to repeat to Thomas exactly Thomas’ requirements to believe. It was a rebuke from the Lord. “Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus and the Father see and know all that you do and say. They will rebuke you if you are unbelieving. But They will forgive you if you ask Them to forgive you and to increase your faith.

Verse 28-29 — Then Thomas believed, without ever having touched the holes in Jesus’ body. He said, “My Lord and my God!” And Jesus said, it’s only because you have seen Me. But blessed are those who did not see, and yet believed. Huh?

IMPORTANT POINT#1: Think about it! I was not with the disciples. I have not seen Jesus risen. But I know He is real! How? I believed His promise that if I believed in Him, I would be born from above. God the Father gave me the gift of faith to believe. It was not of myself or as a result of works I could do, so I could not boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). That believe caused me to receive from Jesus a portion of His Spirit. Then I believed He would fill me with His Holy Spirit, and the Father and He would dwell literally inside of me (John 14:23).

IMPORTANT POINT #2: So how do I know Jesus is real? The Father and Jesus are literally in Me, because I am filled with the Holy Spirit! Do you now see what Jesus means? I am blessed because God gave me the gift of faith. And then I believed for all of God’s promises, and was filled with His Holy Spirit! He (the Holy Spirit) was a blessing from God, given to me, so God the Father and God the Son are now in me, permanently, large and in charge! Glory to God!

So, blessed am I, because I am one who never physically saw the risen Christ, but yet I believed —

1Peter 1:8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory . . .

I do rejoice with joy that can’t be described, a joy that comes when anyone is filled with the Holy Spirit, the very glory of God!

Verse 30-31 — So what was John’s purpose in writing his gospel? Here it is —

Jesus performed many signs beyond what was in John’s gospel, but the purpose of sharing these particular miracles was so that you — YOU — may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that He is God the Son, and that by believing, you would have His eternal life and His nature literally located inside of you, here and now!

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Author: Susan Wynn, servant of Jesus Christ

Healed by Jesus Christ of MS in 2001, in the middle of the night! Proclaiming His gospel, His healing, His heart. Author of From Death To Life--A True Story of Healing, Hope and Being Set Free. Our ministry: My Father's Place, a ministry without walls, proclaiming Jesus Christ to the world.

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