John 20:19-31- The Risen Christ and the Disciples

Explanation- As is common when the supernatural enters into the realm of those who are of natural order, Christ comes to the disciples and says, ‘Peace be with you’. Elsewhere we have a description of angelic beings saying, ‘fear not’. This reassurance seems to imply that when the natural is met with the supernatural there tends to be a great amount of fear on the part of the natural. That of pure light is unnatural to us who dwell in a world of darkness and I can imagine that the first thoughts when encountering such an awe-inspiring presence are those of fear and corruption. Isaiah the prophet was keenly aware of his own sin and the sin of those who dwelt among him when he stood in the presence of the Lord. What other reaction can there be? It is also interesting to note that John takes the time to inform the reader that, on two separate occasions, the door leading to where the disciples were dwelling was locked. Even still, Jesus appears among them. He is not limited by walls and locked doors and is now allowing the disciples to experience Him in a new way.

When John says that the disciples were glad to see Jesus, I believe that this is one of the greatest understatements of all time. I can only imagine the overflowing joy and excitement that these men had as they came to the full realization that Jesus had returned from the dead. All of what Christ had taught them was beginning to come together in a whole new light and they were beginning to receive the faith, hope, and strength that would lead them into a world of darkness to spread the message of all they had experienced with their blessed Savior.

We also have the account of the man who would be forever known as doubting Thomas. This man, upon hearing of Christ’s ascension, is skeptical. He refuses to believe without first having proof that this is indeed the same Jesus that he had come to know. Christ, knowing this, invites Thomas to place his finger in His hand and side. He provides Thomas with the proof that he desired, and it is then that this doubting disciple comes to believe. Christ then says that those who believe without having first seen are truly blessed. This would refer to all those who were not eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those who, by faith alone, come to believe in the Savior of the world by the innerworkings of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, we come to the purpose of the book. John tells us that there were many other signs that Christ did in the presence of His disciples that He did not record. He believed that these further signs were unnecessary because what had already been written of Christ’s work, death, and resurrection are sufficient enough to cause men to believe. This book is set forth for the purpose of providing an account of Jesus so that those who may read it will come to know the same God who these disciples had come to know. In this intimate knowing is eternal life.

Application- As John lays out the purpose of this book, it is important to note that the Gospels were not only written for those who would come to believe in Christ, but also those who already believe and seek to grow in holiness and love for God. As we mine into the deep cove of the Gospel of Jesus Christ there is a vast treasure available for those who are first coming to the faith, as well as those who are seasoned saints. As one theologian put it, ‘Scripture is like a river again, broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim.’[1] Certainly there is much truth here. There is a simplistic element to the Gospel that even a child can begin to grasp. The truths of sin, death, judgement, salvation, faith, and heaven/hell are all able to be understood relatively easily. Yet at the same time, each of these truths can be expounded upon by the greatest minds ever produced by this world, and still they will not be exhausted. There is life giving, spiritual nourishment found for all who seek truth from the pages of Scripture, so let us make it our great duty to regularly mine this vast tavern for the precious jewels of truth that it will surely yield!

[1] Gregory, Brian Kerns, and Mark DelCogliano. Moral Reflections on the Book of Job. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press/Cistercian Publications, 2014.