[24]   Resurrection (20:1-31)

Section F. Resurrection (20:1-31)

o        All four Gospels come to the climax in the resurrection story, although each records different events. Biblical scholars have shown that there is no contradictions in the stories.


[F1]    20:1-10........... The empty tomb

After seeing the angels (Mt 28:1-8, Mk 16:1-6, Lk 24:1-9), the women went to tell the disciples.

20:1     Based on the Synoptic Gospels, the women came to the tomb with spices to anoint the body as Nicodemus was unable to complete the burial which began too late in Friday afternoon.

20:4     “The other disciple” is most likely John who, being the younger man, ran faster than Peter.

20:7     The cloth that had been on Jesus’ head was not with the strips of linen but was wrapped up in a place of its own. It appears that the grave clothes were just as they had been placed around the body and Jesus’ body passed through the grave clothes. It was an orderly scene, not one of confusion. This means that the body had not been taken by grave robbers or Jesus’ enemies.

20:9     John’s reference to the Scriptures is similar to Paul’s statement (1Co 15:4). There are a few possible passages: Is 53:10-12 (speaking of the Servant as alive and active subsequent to His death), Hos 6:2 and Jonah 1:17 (for reference to the third day) and Ps 16:10.


 [F2]   20:11-29......... The appearances

It is significant that Jesus first appeared to a woman (Mary Magdalene) instead of the apostles.

The second appearance in John was to the disciples on the evening of the first Easter Day (Lk 24:36ff). The third appearance in John was again to the disciples one week after the first Easter.

20:11   The Greek verb for “weeping” indicates a noisy lamentation typical of the people of that day.

20:14   Why she did not recognize Jesus is not said. It is possible that the light was still weak because of the early hours. The more likely reason is that the risen Jesus appeared different from before so that he was not always recognized, such as the disciples on their way to Emmaus.

20:15   Mary jumped to the conclusion that the person before her might have carried away the body.

20:16   Something in the way her name was spoken caught Mary’s attention. Mary recognized Jesus and called out in Aramaic “Rabboni” which means much the same as “Rabbi”or teacher.

20:17   KJV: “Touch me not.” But there seems to be no reason why Mary should not touch Jesus. The phrase likely means “Stop clinging to me,” as Mary in her joy at seeing the Lord had laid hold on Him (see Mt 28:9). Other possibilities: (a) “Stop clinging to me. There is no need for this, for I am not yet at the point of permanent ascension. You will have opportunity of seeing me.” (b) “Stop clinging to me. I have not yet ascended to my Father, it is true. But I shall certainly do so. Tell this to my brothers.” The term “brothers” likely refers to the disciples as Mary told to the disciples in the next verse. It is significant that these important messages were entrusted to a woman. According to ancient Jewish tradition, women were not permitted to bear witness.

20:19   The group included more than the apostles (Lk 24:33). The doors were “shut” likely meaning “locked”. Jesus had not come through the door in the normal fashion but Scripture says nothing about how. After their forsaking Jesus at the time of the arrest, the disciples might well have expected rebuke. Instead Jesus pronounced peace on them.

20:20   Jesus showed His hands and side where He bore marks of the wounds. Jesus immediately took steps to convince them of His identity and to take away their fear as described in Lk 24:37.

After this, “therefore” the disciples rejoiced, convinced that it was Jesus that they saw.

20:21   Jesus now passed on His mission and sent His followers into the world.

20:22   Jesus bestowed on them the Holy Spirit, the equipment they would need for the discharge of their commission. The word “breathed” is the verb used in Gen 2:7 when God breathed the breath of life into man. The thought is that there is now a new creation.

There are many speculations as to the relation of this gift to that made on the day of Pentecost but none is definitive. It can possibly be explained as different spiritual gifts to different persons.

20:23   The church is given authority to declare that certain sins are forgiven and certain sins are retained. [The words for “whose” are plural. It is the sins of whatever people, not the sins of whatever person.] As only God can forgive sins, it means that the church is entrusted to proclaim forgiveness. If the church is really acting under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, her pronouncements only reveal what has already been determined in heaven (the phrases “are forgiven” and “are not forgiven” are in perfect tense, meaning something already done).

The gift Christ made was surely made to the church as a whole and not to individuals, not just the apostles as other disciples were present at the same time.

20:24   Thomas was a skeptic and he asked for the plainest of evidence. “Didymus” means “twin”.

20:25   Thomas demanded visual and tactile (touch) proof before he would believe. The phrase “will not” is in emphatic double negative. The word “hand” could be used of the wrist or forearm.

20:26   The phrase “eight days” is inclusive counting signifying one week, that is, Sunday evening after the first Easter. Again, Jesus appeared even though the doors were locked.

20:28   At the sight of Jesus, the doubts of Thomas vanished and he did not need to touch Jesus. Immediately, Thomas pronounced Jesus as God. It marks a leap of faith.

20:29   Jesus addressed to Thomas a word of approval, not rebuke. Those who believe without seeing are “blessed”, not “more blessed”. This does not look like a comparison of these people and Thomas. In any case, there is blessing for all those in the future who believe without seeing.


 [F3]   20:30-31......... Conclusion: the purpose of the fourth gospel

20:31   The verb “are written” is in perfect tense indicating what he has written stands permanently.

The purpose of his writing is that people may believe. The verb “may believe” is in aorist tense meaning “may come to believe”, indicating the book has a gospel message. However, in a few manuscript, the verb is in present tense meaning “may continue to believe”, indicating the book aims to strengthen the faith of believers. The first meaning is more likely.

Again, the name means the whole person.


§         The church has the duty to proclaim to the world God’s message of forgiveness as well as to warn the world about their sins of rejecting God and opposing God (v.23).

§         The purpose of this Gospel is about faith in Jesus as Christ. This faith will lead to eternal life.


Hymns of Life no.135 “Day of resurrection”

The day of resurrection!

Earth tell it out abroad;

The Passover of gladness,

The Passover of God.

From death to life eternal,

From earth unto the sky,

Our Christ hath brought us over

With hymns of victory.

Now let the heav’ns be joyful,

Let earth her song begin,

The round world keep high triumph,

And all that is therein;

Let all things seen and unseen

Their notes together blend,

For Christ the Lord is risen,

Our joy that hath no end.