John 20 Bible Study
Matthew records what happened prior to the first verse of John chapter 20.
Matthew 27:62-66 62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first." 65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
Are the chief priests and Pharisees concerned that Jesus
may rise from the dead?
The stated concern is that Jesus' disciples may "come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’" But their logic is flawed since in order for the disciples to make that claim, there will have to be evidence of Jesus being alive again, not just his dead body being missing. The chief priests and Pharisee may have felt insecure after what they witnessed when Jesus gave up His last breath on the cross.
Why did they go to Pilate instead of just ordering their
own temple guards to guard the tomb?
The disciples of Jesus would have had a rightful claim to Jesus' dead body. At worst, they would have been guilty of stealing a dead body. However, once they "made the tomb secure" by "sealing the stone" with a Roman seal, breaking that seal for any reason was punishable by death. Roman soldiers were not only also better trained than Jewish temple guards, they also have have defended the seal with their lives since failing to do so was also punishable by death.
Matthew 28 and Mark 16 provide additional details.
Matthew 28:1-8 1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” 8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.
Mark 16:1-8 1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” 8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Who went to the tomb?
Three women: "Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome" (Mark 16:1)
When did they go?
Sunday morning, which corresponds to "the first day of the week" (John 20:1) in the Jewish calendar, since the Sabbath ends on Saturday. And since Jesus died on Friday and the Jews counted any part of a day as "1 day", it was now the third day after His death on the cross.
Who rolled back the stone?
"an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone." (Matthew 28:2)
Who saw the stone being rolled back?
The guards. Based on the three accounts above, the women got their just after it had been rolled back.
How many angels were there?
At least two who were visible. One "sat on" (Matthew 28:2) the stone, and the other sat "on the right side" (Mark 16:5) inside the tomb.
What did the angels look like?
To the women, they looked like "young man in a long white robe" (Mark 16:5), but to the guards, their face was like "lightening" (Matthew 28:3) and so fearsome that they "shook for fear of him, and became like dead men." (Matthew 28:4)
Did the angel roll back the stone to let Jesus out?
The Bible doesn't say that. The Bible says that the stone was rolled back to show the women that, "He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him" (Mark 16:6). The Creator of the universe doesn't need to wait for angels to open doors for Him; He comes and goes through walls as He pleases on His own, as He did again later on this day, "when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)
Did the women believe the angels?
We’ll see below, but the answer is no.
How does Matthew 28:8 reconcile with Mark 16:8?
Amazement, trembling, "fear" and " great joy" all describe what they felt after what they saw and heard. The only thing they knew for sure at this point was that the body was no longer in the tomb. They didn’t tell or question the people on the street, but ran to tell the disciples.
Who was "the other disciple" (John 20:3) who outran Peter to the tomb?
John, who wrote this Gospel.
Did he go inside the tomb first?
No, he stopped at the door and "did not go in" (John 20:5) until Peter "went into the tomb". (John 20:6)
What is meant by, "He saw and believed" (John 20:8)?
John believed what Mary had said, that the body of Jesus was gone. At this point, they still didn't believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, "for as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead." (John 20:9)
How did Mary get there?
She had run after Peter and John, and either got there after they left or stayed behind after they left.
Who did Mary see inside the tomb that Peter and John didn’t see?
The two angels (again), who had either returned or had been invisible to Peter and John.
Does she ask them about the risen Lord?
No, she's crying because she doesn't "know where they have laid" (John 20:13) His body.
How must Mary have felt when she heard the Lord call her by name?
Not unlike how many other Christians felt when they realized for the first time that Jesus indeed had risen from the dead and is calling them by their name.
What happened to Salome and Mary the mother of James?
"And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me." (Matthew 28:9-10)
So what’s the correct sequence of events?
Mary outran the other two women and told John and Peter, who took off toward the tomb, probably on a different route. So while the two other women were still going to "tell His disciples", Jesus appeared to them as above.
What happened to the guards?
"Some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, "Tell them, 'His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.' And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure." So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day." (Matthew 28:11-15)
What's amazing about the chief priests' actions?
Upon being informed that Jesus indeed had risen from the dead as He had prophesied and they had feared, they should have been wailing in repentance for what they had done to Him, not trying to cover it up.
Why did the guards go along?
They had no choice. They had failed to defend the Roman seal, so they were as good as dead if nobody intervened for them. That's why they had gone to the chief priests instead of their own barracks, which was just next to the temple.
To whom else did Jesus appear?
Luke 24:13-32 13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” 18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” 19 And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” 25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. 28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"
Where is Emmaus?
"Seven miles" (Luke 24:13) west of Jerusalem.
Who were these two men?
"Cleopas" (Luke 24:18) and "Simon" (Luke 24:34).
Were they two of Jesus' twelve disciples?
No, but they refer to Mary Magdalene, Salome and Mary the mother of James as "our" (Luke 24:22)company and Peter and John as "certain of those who were with us" (Luke 24:24), so they were among His disciples in the larger sense of the term.
Do they see Jesus as their Savior?
No, they see Him as a "Prophet" (Luke 24:19) " who was going to redeem Israel" (Luke 24:21), much like the twelve original disciples saw Him.
So what does Jesus do for these two men?
He teaches them all over again: "Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:27)
When did this happen?
Later during the same day: "Today is the third day since" (Luke 24:21) "the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him." (Luke 24:20)
So to how many people did Jesus appear before His eleven remaining disciples?
At least five: these two men plus the three women.
Luke 24 provides additional details.
Luke 24:33-47 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence. 44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Why didn't Jesus simply appear to the eleven disciples first?
Even after being prepped by five different people, "they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit." (Luke 24:37) when Jesus finally did appear to them, so it may have been too much of a shock for them if He had appeared to them first.
Why did Jesus ask for and eat the fish and honeycomb?
To prove that they weren’t seeing a ghost, that He had been physically resurrected. If anyone had doubts after He left the room, others could point to the fish bones and remind them that someone physical had eaten the flesh that used to be on those bones.
What is Jesus telling them in Luke 24:44 and Luke 24:46?
That everything happened according to plan and as foretold throughout the Old Testament.
What finally enabled them to understand?
Jesus opening their understanding: "And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures." (Luke 24:45)
How is that different today?
It isn't. Unless Jesus opens our understanding, we cannot comprehend His truth.
What did Jesus say we’re supposed to do once we comprehend?
Preach "in His name to all nations" the "repentance and remission of sins" by His sacrifice on the cross. (Luke 24:47)
Why were the disciples referred to as "eleven" in Luke
24:33 if Thomas wasn't with them?
The "eleven" or the "twelve" in John 20:24, refers not to a headcount, but to the group of disciples Jesus chose early in His ministry.
How does Jesus’ resurrection prove that He is God?
Imagine someone says and does great things for three years, claims to be God and that he will die to pay for our sins, then rise from the dead. If he then dies and stays dead, he remain someone who said and did some great things but was delusional. But if he does rise from the dead, then he validates his claim of being God. If there was no resurrection, Jesus wasn’t God, the Bible is a lie, and this study is a waste of time.
Did Thomas touch Jesus’ wounds as Jesus invited him to?
There is no mention of it in the passage, according to which he simply declared, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28)
Will you ask to touch His wounds before making that declaration?