For an introduction to this series, click here.
May 19, 2007
This chapter tells the story of the Resurrection. John repeats a certain phrase, which must have struck him as being very important: "So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead." (20:3-9)
This passage gives us the best insight as to how the Resurrection actually happened. Jesus' did not have to unwrap Himself, the cloth was still there, intact. And the cloth was not gone, as it would have been if someone had stolen the body. Jesus apparently just passed through the cloth as if it were nothing.
You should notice what John says about himself and the other disciples. They did not understand what was happening. They had no clue Jesus was going to rise from the dead. Also notice another reason I say John was probably a teenager. He outran Peter, who we know was already married, to the tomb.
I think you know the basic story, but Thomas is always intriguing. Thomas was not there when the disciples saw Jesus, probably on Sunday night after the Resurrection. John is the only one who mentions this story, by the way. Jesus does not criticize Thomas. He tells him, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." (20:27) Thomas does not need to feel. He has seen enough. He says, "My Lord and my God!" (20:28) Of course, Jesus pronounces a blessing on all who follow: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (20:29) Of course Jesus is talking about us, those who follow in the footsteps of the disciples.
Finally, John gives us the purpose of his book: "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (20:30-21, ESV) John is never shy about telling people they need to believe. That's why I say John has the most editorial content of the Gospels. John is writing this book with a specific purpose in mind: these people saw Jesus say and do these things, and they believed; you need to believe, too.