The meal described in this passage has often been referred to as “The Lord's Breakfast.” In contrast to the Last Supper, which spoke of the fulfillme... Read more
The meal described in this passage has often been referred to as “The Lord's Breakfast.” In contrast to the Last Supper, which spoke of the fulfillment of the Passover type that Jesus was shortly to complete, this meal appears to speak of the relationship between Jesus and His people. In one sense, Jesus had provided everything for the disciples; in another, their labors had entered into it, as their obedience to His command provided some of the fish they ate. The point is not “who did what” but an object lesson, contrasting the fruitlessness of the disciples' work without Him to its productivity when under His guidance and control.
The meal itself was one of renewed fellowship. As He had done so often, Jesus broke the bread and gave it to them, likewise distributing the fish. His actions must have called to mind many a meal together prior to His resurrection; perhaps the disciples even recalled how He had fed the five thousand and the four thousand. If so, the meal was also a reminder of His sufficiency and of His concern for the needs of those who would follow Him, Jew and Gentile alike. Read less
Jesus met the disciples as they were coming into shore after their fruitless night's work. His opening question was rhetorical, as anyone with experi... Read more
Jesus met the disciples as they were coming into shore after their fruitless night's work. His opening question was rhetorical, as anyone with experience of such things who saw how the boat rode in the water would have known that it carried no great cargo beyond its passengers. But His direction would have seemed strange to experienced fishermen, as neither the growing light nor the shallow waters so close to the shore (John 21:8) would be conducive to a large catch. Nonetheless, the disciples obeyed, perhaps remembering another time when they had followed the directions of a landsman and been rewarded (Luke 5:1-11) and beginning to suspect who this stranger might be. When their obedience was followed by exactly the results Jesus had predicted, any doubts as to His identity were removed. Read less
Peter's decision to go fishing was a human one, based on human reasons. Most likely he still felt uncertain and unsure of himself in the aftermath of... Read more
Peter's decision to go fishing was a human one, based on human reasons. Most likely he still felt uncertain and unsure of himself in the aftermath of his betrayal of Jesus and sought the comfort of something he knew well. He may even have thought that, if he had disqualified himself for Jesus' service, he could at least go back to his old trade. The others may have had similar thoughts based on their own knowledge of themselves, or they may have gone with him in simple friendship. Regardless of the reason, they went, but their endeavors proved fruitless. Read less
John here summarizes his purpose in writing the Gospel that bears his name: not to present a history or a biography in the sense that most moderns wou... Read more
John here summarizes his purpose in writing the Gospel that bears his name: not to present a history or a biography in the sense that most moderns would understand them, but to testify to Jesus as the unique God-man and the Redeemer of mankind. To that end, John selected those actions, teachings, and miracles of Jesus that most clearly pictured who He was and what He came to do. John makes no bones about the fact that there were many other events from Jesus' life that he could have included; his purpose was not to write an all-inclusive study of Jesus' life but to give converts and potential converts sufficient background for a faith based on evidence. John would have had no traffic with the common “straw man” definition of faith as forcing oneself to believe a dogma against all logic and reason; his faith in Jesus was a reliance on Him based on what he had personally witnessed and experienced, and this is the faith that he shares to this day through his Gospel. Read less
Thomas is popularly remembered among Christians as “Doubting Thomas,” yet this appellation is perhaps unfair, for after all the other disciples had no... Read more
Thomas is popularly remembered among Christians as “Doubting Thomas,” yet this appellation is perhaps unfair, for after all the other disciples had not believed the reports of Jesus' resurrection either until they had seen Him for themselves. Why he had not been with them on that first Easter Sunday is not told to us, but perhaps he had been grieving alone, in too much pain to desire company. He seems to have been one of those naturally cautious souls whose loyalty and love, once won, are unshakable (compare John 11:11-16 and associated notes), and his refusal to believe what the other disciples told him may well have come from a deep fear of being hurt again if hope rose anew and then proved unfounded. That his faith, once convinced, ran deep is testified to by the remainder of his life, for Church tradition holds that he was martyred for the faith in India, leaving behind a church (the Mar Thoma denomination) that to this day traces its roots back to his ministry.
Ironically, Thomas' demand for visible, tangible proof of Jesus' resurrection is a valuable counter to those who try to explain away Jesus' resurrection as either being a group hallucination serving the purpose of wish fulfillment or a spiritual resurrection only (see notes to Matthew 17:1-8 and Luke 24:28-35). Just as much as any of the other disciples, Thomas was clearly not expecting to see Jesus again as a living man. His response to receiving what he had demanded was spontaneous worship of Jesus as his God, a response no believing Jew could have given unless he truly believed Jesus to be one with the same God who had dealt with Israel throughout the Old Testament.
Jesus' gentle rebuke to Thomas regarding his need for empirical proof probably was not directed at his doubt of the other disciples but at his failure to recognize until that moment what the Old Testament Scriptures and Jesus Himself had said all along regarding Jesus' death and resurrection. Had Thomas and his fellows understood and accepted these teachings earlier, they would have been spared much of the anguish they had endured and would have found joy even in the terrible events of Jesus' death, knowing that God's plan of redemption was being fulfilled. Thus, any who believed without needing such proofs indeed had a blessing and a happiness unique to them that Thomas did not receive. Read less
Following the bombings of England by the Luftwaffe in World War II, workmen engaged in repairing a cathedral found a statue of Jesus that had been dam... Read more
Following the bombings of England by the Luftwaffe in World War II, workmen engaged in repairing a cathedral found a statue of Jesus that had been damaged by shards from the bombs. Skilled craftsmen were able to restore all of the statue except the outstretched hands, which had been destroyed. A debate arose as to whether a new set of hands could or should be fashioned for the statue, but in the end a different decision was reached. Instead of trying to make new hands, the workers changed the inscription at the base of the statue to “Christ has no hands but ours.”
The restored statue pictures the mission which the risen Lord gave His disciples. He was soon to depart the world in bodily form; it would now be their place to embody God in the midst of a lost world, and to be the primary vehicle for His activity among men. Their filling with the Holy Spirit, which would take place at Pentecost, was not only the beginning of a new relationship with God which would be more intimate than ever before but was also the needed empowerment for the fulfillment of their commission. From their day to this, when men and women act in the guidance and power of the Spirit, the world cannot help but take notice. This does not mean that godly lives and actions will always be welcomed, but they will always bear undeniable witness to the God who lives in them and His power to transform human lives.
Regarding the church's role in relation to the forgiveness of sins, see Matthew 18:18 and associated notes. Read less
Although Mary Magdalene and the other women had testified to their encounters with the risen Jesus and with angels telling them of His resurrection, a... Read more
Although Mary Magdalene and the other women had testified to their encounters with the risen Jesus and with angels telling them of His resurrection, and although Peter and John had seen the empty tomb for themselves, the disciples were still unsettled in their minds as to what had really happened. Even if Jesus had already appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34), Peter may have still been so shaken by all that had happened to him that he could hardly accept what he had seen. (It is also possible that Jesus' appearance to Peter was part of the encounter related here, and that the reason Peter's encounter with the risen Lord received special note was that Jesus took him aside to speak to him privately.) Thus, the eleven remaining apostles had come together with other disciples and friends of Jesus (Luke 24:33), probably to discuss everything they had seen and heard on that day. They may even have feared that with Jesus' body gone, the Jewish leaders would accuse them of having taken it. But when Jesus Himself appeared in their midst and showed them the proof that the One who was now among them was the same man whom they had seen crucified, their fears were finally laid to rest. Their rejoicing held both the joy of rediscovering Him whom they had thought dead and lost to them and the new joy of seeing Him as the One who had overcome death itself. Read less
Like Jesus' other disciples, Mary Magdalene had no idea on that first Easter Sunday that she would encounter a risen Lord; to her, the sight of the em... Read more
Like Jesus' other disciples, Mary Magdalene had no idea on that first Easter Sunday that she would encounter a risen Lord; to her, the sight of the empty tomb meant only that someone had removed Jesus' body. It was not until Jesus revealed Himself to her that she understood the truth which she was immediately commissioned to carry back to Jesus' other followers. Her desire to cling to Him and remain with Him are completely understandable (although not because of a romantic relationship; her spontaneous identification of Him as “Teacher!” is hardly the address a wife or lover would use!), but Jesus gently turned that aside, commanding her to go and share the joy of a new relationship with her risen Lord. And this she did, telling her fellow believers what she had seen and heard. Read less
See Matthew 28:1-10 and associated notes. When the disciples went to the tomb in response to Mary Magdalene's insistence (possibly reinforced by test... Read more
See Matthew 28:1-10 and associated notes. When the disciples went to the tomb in response to Mary Magdalene's insistence (possibly reinforced by testimony from some of the other women who had also gone there), they indeed found the tomb empty, confirming what the women had said; that much they believed. But as John testifies, even then they still did not understand or accept that the reason that the tomb was empty was that Jesus had risen. The “homes” they returned to were not their own residences in Galilee but the places where they were staying in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was still ongoing. Read less
In claiming to be righteous, the people of Judah were throwing the blame for their miseries on God. God countered this charge with the stern reminder ... Read more
In claiming to be righteous, the people of Judah were throwing the blame for their miseries on God. God countered this charge with the stern reminder that they had not only been anything but righteous but had refused to heed His previous discipline or the warnings given by the true prophets. Not only that, they had actively persecuted those who sought to make them aware of their true position before God and bring them to repentance. Read less