The Resurrection (John 20–21)
The death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion had put the disciples in a deep funk. To them it seemed that everything they had worked for — all that time they had spent following Jesus — was for nothing. Their leader was dead and gone, and the movement they believed he was starting was finished.
The Resurrection is also recorded in Matthew 28:2–15, Mark 16:1–9, and Luke 24:1–12. As you study this passage, look at those three scenes and notice the differences of viewpoint and emphasis in the accounts. For example, Luke gives an account of angels telling the women who followed Jesus what had happened and why.
But this story wasn';t finished. Not by a long shot. In fact, on the third day after Jesus';s death, God would perform his greatest miracle of all: raising Christ from the dead. John sets up his account of the Resurrection scene by telling about two members of the Jewish religious leadership — Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus — who saw to a proper burial of Jesus';s body (John 19:38–40).
John tells us that on the morning of the first day of the week (which would have been Sunday according to our calendars), a woman named Mary of Magdala, one of Jesus';s followers, went to the tomb only to find that the stone had been removed from the entrance. Mary ran to get Peter and “the other disciple” (John), who both ran to the tomb. When Peter looked into the tomb, all he saw was strips of linen and the burial cloth that had been around Jesus';s head.
Although they still didn';t understand that the resurrection of Jesus was in keeping with Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah, Peter and John both knew something was up (John 20:6–9). They both returned to their homes, while Mary stayed behind grieving over what had apparently happened. It was then that Jesus appeared to her.
The apostle Paul pointed out to the Corinthian church, which was battling some doubts, the centrality to the Christian faith of the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his death when he wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
John points out that Jesus later appeared to all the remaining disciples, including one named Thomas, who had plainly stated that unless he could touch Jesus physically, he wouldn';t believe he was alive again.
How do you respond when it seems that what God had said would happen didn';t happen — at least in the way you';d believed it would?
In what instances of your own life have you seen God fulfill a promise you had forgotten he';d made?