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The Fourfold Gospel

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 Chapter 19
Chapter 21
 
 
 
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20:1  Now on the first [day] of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early1, while it was yet dark, unto the tomb, and seeth the stone taken away from the tomb.

    ANGELS ANNOUNCE THE RESURRECTION TO CERTAIN WOMEN. PETER AND JOHN ENTER THE EMPTY TOMB. (Joseph's Garden. Sunday, very early.) Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8,12; John 20:1-10

  1. Cometh Mary Magdalene early. John mentions Mary Magdalene alone, though she came with the rest of the women. As she was the one who reported to John and Peter, he describes her actions, and makes no mention of the others.

20:2  She runneth therefore2, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved1, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we know not where they have laid him.

  1. The other disciple whom Jesus loved. John.

  2. She runneth therefore. Though Mary Magdalene came with the other women, she departed at once, while the others tarried, as the sequel shows. The narrative proceeds to tell what happened to the other women after Mary had departed.

20:3  Peter therefore went forth1, and the other disciple2, and they went toward the tomb.

  1. Peter therefore went forth. See Luke 24:12.

  2. And the other disciple. John himself.

20:4  And they ran both together: and the other disciple outran Peter, and came first to the tomb1;

  1. And they ran both together: and the other disciple outran Peter, and came first to the tomb. It is generally accepted that John was younger, and hence more active than Peter.

20:6  Simon Peter therefore also cometh, following him, and entered into the tomb1; and he beholdeth the linen cloths lying2,

    John 20:6,7

  1. Simon Peter therefore also cometh, following him, and entered into the tomb. The impulsive, thoroughgoing nature of Peter was not content with a mere look; he entered the tomb, neither reverence nor awe keeping him out.

  2. And he beholdeth the linen cloths lying. The sight which he saw puzzled him. Why should those who removed the body pause to unswathe it? why should they unswathe it at all? why should they fold the napkin and place it aside so carefully? But Peter left the tomb with these questions unsolved?

20:8  Then entered in therefore the other disciple also, who came first to the tomb1, and he saw, and believed2.

  1. Then entered in therefore the other disciple also, who came first to the tomb. Assured that the grave was now empty, and emboldened by the example of Peter, John now entered it.

  2. And he saw, and believed. As he looked upon its evidences of quietude and order, the truth flashed upon his mind that Jesus himself had removed the bandages, and had himself departed from the tomb, as the firstborn from the dead. Here, then, was the first belief and the first believer in the resurrection.

20:9  For as yet they knew not the scripture1, that he must rise from the dead.

  1. For as yet they knew not the scripture. It is important to note that the Scripture did not suggest the fact, but the fact illumined the Scripture.

  2. That he must rise again from the dead. Psalms 16:10; Isaiah 53:10 and many other passages set forth the resurrection of our Lord; his own words, too, had plainly foretold it, yet among the disciples it was so much beyond all expectation that the prophecies had no meaning until made clear by the event itself. Yet these are the men whom the Jews accused of inventing the story of a resurrection!

20:11  But Mary was standing without at the tomb weeping1: so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb2;

    FIRST AND SECOND APPEARANCES OF THE RISEN CHRIST. THE RESURRECTION REPORTED TO THE APOSTLES. (Jerusalem. Sunday morning.) Matthew 28:9,10; Mark 16:9-11; Luke 24:9-11; John 20:11-18

  1. But Mary was standing without at the tomb weeping. This picture is intensely natural. The Lord's death had been sorrow enough, but to be deprived of the poor privilege of embalming the body seemed a veritable sorrow's crown of sorrow; and so Mary wept.

  2. So, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb. But it suddenly occurs to her that in her haste she had not yet looked into the tomb at all, having jumped to the conclusion that it was empty because she saw it open; she therefore looks in.

20:12  and she beholdeth two angels in white sitting1, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain2.

  1. And she beholdeth two angels in white sitting. Her grief at the loss of the Lord is so great that she forgets to be frightened at the angels; just as a mother in her anxiety for the sick child forgets to fear its fever, no matter how virulent.

  2. One at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. The angels were placed like cherubim upon the ark, as though the grave of Christ was a new mercy seat, which indeed it was. See Exodus 25:19,20.

20:14  When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and beholdeth Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus1.

  1. She turned herself back, and beholdeth Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Before the angels can speak the glad news to Mary, Jesus himself becomes his own messenger. That Mary did not recognize him may be due to her grief, for tears blind our eyes to many of the tender providences of God; but to reason by analogy it seems more likely that her eyes "were holden" (Luke 24:16), lest the shock of his sudden appearance might be too much for her, as it was for even his male disciples (Luke 24:37). Conversation with him assured her that he was not a disembodied spirit.

20:15  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him2, and I will take him away.

  1. Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? Christ's first question expressed kindly sympathy; the second suggested that he knew the cause of her grief, and might be able to help her find what she sought.

  2. Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him,
  3. and I will take him away. Thus encouraged, Mary at once assumes that the gardener himself had removed the body, probably under instructions from Joseph, and hope lightens her heart. In her effort to remove the body, she doubtless counts upon the help of her fellow-disciples.

20:16  Jesus saith unto her, Mary1. She turneth herself, and saith unto him in Hebrew, Rabboni; which is to say, Teacher.

  1. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. Her eyes and ears were no longer held; she knew him. It was the same way he used to speak, the same name by which he used to call her. The grave had glorified and exalted him, but had not changed his love.

  2. She . . . saith unto him in Hebrew, Rabboni. Seasons of greatest joy are marked by little speech. Jesus and Mary each expressed themselves in a single word.

20:17  Jesus saith to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father1: but go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God2.

  1. Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father. This passage is one of well-known difficulty, and Meyer or Ryle may be consulted by those wishing to see how various commentators have interpreted it. We would explain it by the following paraphrase: "Do not lay hold on me and detain yourself and me; I have not yet ascended; this is no brief, passing vision; I am yet in the world, and will be for some time, and there will be other opportunities to see me; the duty of the moment is to go and tell my sorrowing disciples that I have risen, and shall ascend to my Father". See Matthew 28:9 for comparison.

  2. But go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God. Jesus does not say "our Father". Our relation to God is not the same as his. While, however, our Lord's language recognizes the difference between his divine and our human relationship to the Father, his words are intended to show us our exaltation. We have reason to believe that next to our Lord's title as Son, our title as sons of God by adoption is as high in honor as any in the universe.

20:19  When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first [day] of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you.

    FIFTH APPEARANCE OF JESUS. (Jerusalem. Sunday evening.) Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25

20:20  And when he had said this, he showed unto them his hands and his side1. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.

  1. He showed unto them his hands and his side. See Luke 24:40.

20:21  Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace [be] unto you1: as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

  1. Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace [be] unto you. Now that the apostles knew their Master, he repeats his blessing (John 20:19).

20:22  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them1, Receive ye the Holy Spirit:

  1. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them,
  2. Receive ye the Holy Spirit. As the New Testament is now sealed in his blood according to the commission under which he came, he, in turn, commissions the twelve to go forth and proclaim its provisions. Symbolic of the baptism which they were to receive at Pentecost, he breathes upon them.

20:23  whose soever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained1.

  1. Whose soever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained. Having thus symbolically qualified them, he commissions them to forgive or retain sin, for this was the subject-matter of the New Testament.

20:24  But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus1, was not with them when Jesus came.

  1. Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus. See Mark 3:18.

20:25  The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe1.

  1. Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. The apostles had undoubtedly seen and talked with someone, but the question was, Who? They said that it was Jesus, and Thomas, holding this to be impossible, thought that it must have been someone else whom they mistook for Jesus. But "he" would not be deceived; he would thoroughly examine the wounds, for these would identify Jesus beyond all doubt--if it were Jesus.

20:26  And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace [be] unto you1.

    SIXTH APPEARANCE OF JESUS. (Sunday, one week after the resurrection.) John 20:26-31; 1 Corinthians 15:5

  1. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace [be] unto you. He came in the same manner and with the same salutation as formerly (see John 20:19), giving Thomas a like opportunity for believing

20:27  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach [hither] thy hand, and put it into my side1: and be not faithless, but believing.

  1. Reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach [hither] thy hand, and put it into my side. Thomas had proposed an infallible test, and Jesus now cheerfully submits to it.

20:28  Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God1.

  1. My Lord and my God. We have here the first confession of Christ as God. It should be said in Thomas' favor that if his doubts were heaviest, his confession of faith was fullest. He had more doubts as to the resurrection because it meant more to him; it meant that Jesus was none other than God himself.

20:29  Jesus saith unto him, Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed1.

  1. Blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed. Thus, while rejoicing in the belief of Thomas, Jesus pronounces a beatitude upon the countless numbers of believers in his resurrection, who are not witnesses of it.

20:30  Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book1:

    John 20:30,31

  1. Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book. This sounds like some of Paul's apparent but not real endings. Starting it with the proposition that Jesus, as the Word, was God, he comes here to the climax of Thomas' confession that Jesus is God, and the beatitude of Jesus upon those of a like faith. He then declares that he has written his book that men might have this faith, and the eternal life to which it leads.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

Bibliography Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 20". "The Fourfold Gospel". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/tfg/view.cgi?book=joh&chapter=020>. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.  

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