John 20

Listen to John 20

The Resurrection

1 1Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that 2the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, 3the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and 4we do not know where they have laid him."
3 5So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.
4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5 And stooping to look in, he saw 6the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,
7 and 7the face cloth, which had been on Jesus'[a] head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.
8 Then the other disciple, 8who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;
9 for as yet 9they did not understand the Scripture, 10that he must rise from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.
12 And 11she saw 12two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.
13 They said to her, 13"Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, 14"They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."
14 Having said this, she turned around and 15saw Jesus standing, 16but she did not know that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, 17"Woman, why are you weeping? 18Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be 19the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."
16 Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic,[b]20"Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to 21my brothers and say to them, 22'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to 23my God and your God.'"
18 Mary Magdalene 24went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"--and that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 25On the evening 26of that day, the first day of the week, 27the doors being locked where the disciples were 28for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 29"Peace be with you."
20 When he had said this, 30he showed them his hands and his side. Then 31the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As 32the Father has sent me, 33even so I am sending you."
22 And when he had said this, he 34breathed on them and said to them, 35"Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 36If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."

Jesus and Thomas

24 Now 37Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,[c] was not with them when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, 38"Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. 39Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 40"Peace be with you."
27 Then he said to Thomas, 41"Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe."
28 Thomas answered him, 42"My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? 43Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

The Purpose of This Book

30 44Now Jesus did many other signs 45in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
31 46but these are written so that you may 47believe that Jesus is the Christ, 48the Son of God, and that by believing 49you may have life 50in his name.

John 20 Commentary

Chapter 20

The sepulchre found to be empty. (1-10) Christ appears to Mary. (11-18) He appears to the disciples. (19-25) The unbelief of Thomas. (26-29) Conclusion. (30,31)

Verses 1-10 If Christ gave his life a ransom, and had not taken it again, it would not have appeared that his giving it was accepted as satisfaction. It was a great trial to Mary, that the body was gone. Weak believers often make that the matter of complaint, which is really just ground of hope, and matter of joy. It is well when those more honoured than others with the privileges of disciples, are more active than others in the duty of disciples; more willing to take pains, and run hazards, in a good work. We must do our best, and neither envy those who can do better, nor despise those who do as well as they can, though they come behind. The disciple whom Jesus loved in a special manner, and who therefore in a special manner loved Jesus, was foremost. The love of Christ will make us to abound in every duty more than any thing else. He that was behind was Peter, who had denied Christ. A sense of guilt hinders us in the service of God. As yet the disciples knew not the Scripture; they Christ must rise again from the dead.

Verses 11-18 We are likely to seek and find, when we seek with affection, and seek in tears. But many believers complain of the clouds and darkness they are under, which are methods of grace for humbling their souls, mortifying their sins, and endearing Christ to them. A sight of angels and their smiles, will not suffice, without a sight of Jesus, and God's smiles in him. None know, but those who have tasted it, the sorrows of a deserted soul, which has had comfortable evidences of the love of God in Christ, and hopes of heaven, but has now lost them, and walks in darkness; such a wounded spirit who can bear? Christ, in manifesting himself to those that seek him, often outdoes their expectations. See how Mary's heart was in earnest to find Jesus. Christ's way of making himself known to his people is by his word; his word applied to their souls, speaking to them in particular. It might be read, Is it my Master? See with what pleasure those who love Jesus speak of his authority over them. He forbids her to expect that his bodily presence look further, than the present state of things. Observe the relation to God, from union with Christ. We, partaking of a Divine nature, Christ's Father is our Father; and he, partaking of the human nature, our God is his God. Christ's ascension into heaven, there to plead for us, is likewise an unspeakable comfort. Let them not think this earth is to be their home and rest; their eye and aim, and earnest desires, must be upon another world, and this ever upon their hearts, I ascend, therefore I must seek the things which are above. And let those who know the word of Christ, endeavour that others should get good from their knowledge.

Verses 19-25 This was the first day of the week, and this day is afterwards often mentioned by the sacred writers; for it was evidently set apart as the Christian sabbath, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. The disciples had shut the doors for fear of the Jews; and when they had no such expectation, Jesus himself came and stood in the midst of them, having miraculously, though silently, opened the doors. It is a comfort to Christ's disciples, when their assemblies can only be held in private, that no doors can shut out Christ's presence. When He manifests his love to believers by the comforts of his Spirit, he assures them that because he lives, they shall live also. A sight of Christ will gladden the heart of a disciple at any time; and the more we see of Jesus, the more we shall rejoice. He said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, thus showing that their spiritual life, as well as all their ability for their work, would be derived from him, and depended upon him. Every word of Christ which is received in the heart by faith, comes accompanied by this Divine breathing; and without this there is neither light nor life. Nothing is seen, known, discerned, or felt of God, but through this. After this, Christ directed the apostles to declare the only method by which sin would be forgiven. This power did not exist at all in the apostles as a power to give judgment, but only as a power to declare the character of those whom God would accept or reject in the day of judgment. They have clearly laid down the marks whereby a child of God may be discerned and be distinguished from a false professor; and according to what they have declared shall every case be decided in the day of judgment. When we assemble in Christ's name, especially on his holy day, he will meet with us, and speak peace to us. The disciples of Christ should endeavour to build up one another in their most holy faith, both by repeating what they have heard to those that were absent, and by making known what they have experienced. Thomas limited the Holy One of Israel, when he would be convinced by his own method or not at all. He might justly have been left in his unbelief, after rejecting such abundant proofs. The fears and sorrows of the disciples are often lengthened, to punish their negligence.

Verses 26-29 That one day in seven should be religiously observed, was an appointment from the beginning. And that, in the kingdom of the Messiah, the first day of the week should be that solemn day, was pointed out, in that Christ on that day once and again met his disciples in a religious assembly. The religious observance of that day has come down to us through every age of the church. There is not an unbelieving word in our tongues, nor thought in our minds, but it is known to the Lord Jesus; and he was pleased to accommodate himself even to Thomas, rather than leave him in his unbelief. We ought thus to bear with the weak, ( romans 15:1 romans 15:2 ) . This warning is given to all. If we are faithless, we are Christless and graceless, hopeless and joyless. Thomas was ashamed of his unbelief, and cried out, My Lord and my God. He spoke with affection, as one that took hold of Christ with all his might; "My Lord and my God." Sound and sincere believers, though slow and weak, shall be graciously accepted of the Lord Jesus. It is the duty of those who read and hear the gospel, to believe, to embrace the doctrine of Christ, and that ( 1 John. 5:11 )

Verses 30-31 There were other signs and proofs of our Lord's resurrection, but these were committed to writing, that all might believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Saviour of sinners, and the Son of God; that, by this faith, they might obtain eternal life, by his mercy, truth, and power. May we believe that Jesus is the Christ, and believing may we have life through his name.

Cross References 50

  • 1. Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1, 2; Luke 24:1
  • 2. Matthew 27:60, 66; Matthew 28:2; Mark 15:46; Mark 16:3, 4; Luke 24:2
  • 3. See John 13:23
  • 4. ver. 13
  • 5. Luke 24:12
  • 6. John 19:40
  • 7. John 11:44
  • 8. ver. 4
  • 9. Matthew 22:29
  • 10. Psalms 16:10; Luke 24:46; Acts 2:25-31; Acts 13:34, 35; Acts 17:3; 1 Corinthians 15:4
  • 11. [Mark 16:5]
  • 12. Luke 24:4
  • 13. ver. 15; [John 2:4]
  • 14. ver. 2
  • 15. Mark 16:9; [Matthew 28:9]
  • 16. John 21:4; Luke 24:16, 31
  • 17. ver. 13
  • 18. John 1:38; John 18:4, 7
  • 19. [John 19:41]
  • 20. See John 1:38
  • 21. See Matthew 28:10
  • 22. [Mark 16:19]; See John 14:12
  • 23. Matthew 27:46; Ephesians 1:17; Revelation 3:2, 12; [1 Corinthians 3:23]
  • 24. Mark 16:10; [Matthew 28:10; Luke 24:10, 22, 23]
  • 25. 1 Corinthians 15:5; [ver. 26]
  • 26. Luke 24:33, 36
  • 27. ver. 26
  • 28. See John 7:13
  • 29. See John 14:27
  • 30. Luke 24:40
  • 31. John 16:22
  • 32. John 17:18; See John 3:17
  • 33. John 13:20; See Acts 1:2
  • 34. Genesis 2:7
  • 35. [Acts 2:4]; See John 7:39
  • 36. [Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 5]
  • 37. See John 11:16
  • 38. ver. 20; [Psalms 22:16]
  • 39. ver. 19
  • 40. ver. 19
  • 41. ver. 20; 1 John 1:1; [Luke 24:39]
  • 42. [John 1:1, 49]
  • 43. 1 Peter 1:8; [2 Corinthians 5:7]
  • 44. John 21:25
  • 45. Acts 10:41
  • 46. 1 John 5:13
  • 47. See John 11:27
  • 48. See Matthew 14:33
  • 49. John 3:15, 16; John 5:40; John 6:53; John 10:10
  • 50. [Acts 10:43; 1 Corinthians 6:11]; See Acts 3:6

Footnotes 3

John 20 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.