BSF Study Questions John Lesson 28, Day 5: John 20:24-31

Summary of passage:  Thomas who was absent the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples refused to believe Jesus had risen unless he sees Jesus.  So Jesus appears a week later in much the same manner when Thomas is present and he believes.  However, Jesus commends those who believe without seeing.

Questions:

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He’s devoted to Jesus and follows him.  His faith is weak though when Jesus is not around.  He’s a skeptic but he questions honestly.  He was authentic:  he never pretended.  If he didn’t understand something, he said so.  If he felt discouraged, he acted like it.  I’m very much like Thomas–open book.  One who questions and doesn’t pretend “I’m good” when strangers ask when I’m not.  Once Thomas sees, his faith is 100%–never to leave again.  All in.  That’s me too.

13)  Jesus appearing before him.  He acknowledged Jesus as his Lord and God–the only disciple to do so.

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Truthfully, it hasn’t.

Conclusions:  Another weak lesson despite the fact I like Thomas.  Questioning leading to faith is the lesson here which should have been the focus of the questions instead of personalizing them.

End Notes:  “Thomas” is Aramaic and “Didymus” is Greek for twin, which could have been an epithet.  By not staying together as Jesus had said to do (John 15:17; 17:11), Thomas missed out on the first blessing of Jesus.  Hence, this recorded exchange earned Thomas the nickname “Doubting Thomas”, which is unfair to what he’ll become.  It wasn’t that he doubted; he refused to believe in the disciples’ testimony.  Thomas is slammed for this but he could be in shock still or mourning.  He was still with the disciples however.

Again, Jesus appears in the same way and says the same thing on the same day–a Sunday–evidence of the disciples gathering together on Sundays.  The doors are locked still, indicating the disciples still haven’t quite internalized the resurrection of Jesus yet.

Jesus gave Thomas what he asked for (his physical presence and proof) out of mercy and kindness.  He didn’t have to appear for Thomas’ sake but he did.  For Thomas, the implication of a risen Jesus was too great to take someone else’s word for.  Jesus orders him to stop doubting and have faith.  Despite all the previous faith Thomas had, without faith in the resurrection none of it mattered.  The same is for us.  Doubt is okay to a certain extent.  It moves us towards faith and deepens it.

Thomas quickly believes, calling Jesus Lord and God, titles Jesus does not refuse.  He calls Jesus my Lord and my God–titles of deity.  He also is not half-way in.  He’s all out (100% doubting) or all in (100% belief).  This is the high point of faith.

Fun Fact:  Thomas in fact is the only disciple that is recorded who directly addresses Jesus as God.

Scholars are divided on whether or not Thomas actually touched Jesus’ wounds.  Because Jesus points out only that Thomas has seen him that strengthens his faith, most say Thomas didn’t actually touch Jesus.  However, sight could have been what had convinced Thomas and not the physical touching.

Ironically, Jesus says those who believe without seeing are the blessed ones–that would be us!  Those who are satisfied with God’s gifts and not yearning for more.  This is another beatitude from Jesus to us.  If we demand a voice, a vision, or answers, our faith is diminished.

Some scholars say Thomas’ belief is the climax of the book of John.  Here, Jesus has conquered unbelief–more important than the miracle of sight or sorrow or sin.

Thomas’ questions led to faith because he expressed them sincerely and looked for answers.  We last see Thomas in the Bible in Acts 1:12-14 praying, waiting with the other disciples for the Holy Spirit to come.

Tradition has it Thomas went to Parthia and India to spread the Gospel.  Present-day Christians of St. Thomas of India claim spiritual descent from him and a place near Madras is called St. Thomas’s Mount.

John sums up this chapter with the whole point of the Gospels–the show the truth of Jesus’ Messiahship and to present him as the Son of God so that readers may believe in him– and to bring about faith that leads to life.

Advertisements

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 28, Day 4: John 20:19-23

Summary of passage:  Jesus appeared to the disciples as they huddled together, afraid of the Jewish authorities.  He showed them his hands and thighs and the disciples were overjoyed at seeing Jesus.  Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit and commissioned them to the world.

Questions:

9a)  He personally appears to them.  He gifts them with the Holy Spirit to guide them in his ways.  He shows them his wounds.  He blesses them with peace.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Above all, by choosing me to be a believer.  By giving me a purpose for my life and a means to achieve it through Him.

10)  He appears to Mary who clings to him physically.  He appears to the disciples and shows them his wounds physically.  Luke tells us he ate food with his disciples.  He appeared to the disciples and others over a period of 40 days and spoke of God’s kingdom.  He appeared to more than 500 of his brothers at the same time.  He appeared to James.  He appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus.  Jesus must rise again to conquer death so we can live forever with the Father.  It proves the Gnostics of the time wrong that he only died a spiritual death.

11)  Privilege:  They are the chosen ones to spread the Good News.

Authority:  Jesus personally commissioned them.

Power to accomplish the commission:  Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit to aid in their mission and peace as well.

Message:  If you forgive others, they are forgiven as Jesus has forgiven them of their sins.  If you don’t forgive them, they aren’t.

Conclusions:  Not a big fan of these questions.  Repetitive.

End Notes:  This is the same day that Mary saw Jesus at the empty tomb.  5 times Jesus appeared on Resurrection Day:

  1.  To Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)

2)  To the other women (Matthew 28:9-10)

3)  To the two on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32)

4)  To Peter (Luke 24:33-35, 1 Corinthians 15:5)

5)  To ten of the disciples, Thomas and Judas being absent (John 20:19-23)

Jesus prayed for them to stay together and they did (John 15:17)–all except Thomas, who we don’t know why he wasn’t there.

Jesus visits small groups of people (one exception in 1 Corinthians 15:6) in remote areas or closeted indoors.  By the garden tomb, in a locked room, on the road toe Emmaus, beside the Sea of Galilee, atop Mount Olives–such private encounters bolster the faith of people who already believed in Jesus.

Fun Fact:  As far as we know, not a single unbeliever sees Jesus after his death.

What would have happened if Jesus made a public spectacle and appeared before Pilate?  Would it have bolstered faith?  Jesus tells us no.  “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even is someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

Jesus appeared amongst them despite the locked doors.  Jesus did not rebuke his disciples for abandoning him at the cross.  Instead, he told them “peace” or all is well.  Jesus revealed himself and invited all present to touch him to prove he’s real (Luke 24:39-40).  Jesus came for us.  He was also calming the disciples at his sudden appearance.

Jesus commissions them to do his work on earth such as he prayed in John 17:18.  Luke tells us there are others there besides the disciples.  Jesus sends them as well!  We are sent in the same way–for Jesus!

Jesus gives the disciples the Holy Spirit as their guide, John purposefully connecting this with Genesis, saying Jesus breathed on them.  Cool!  I want Jesus to breathe on me!  This is re-creation or born again.  This is Jesus’ spirit as well.

This also creates the duty of the church to forgive and warn of the consequences of unforgiveness.  We are the messengers, announcing forgiveness according to God’s word.  In essence, if you repent of your sins and believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, you will receive God’s forgiveness.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 28, Day 3: John 20:11-18

Summary of passage:  John and Peter depart.  Mary weeps and saw 2 angels in the tomb where Jesus’ body had been.  Jesus appears at the tomb but Mary does not recognize him until he calls her name.  Jesus orders Mary to return to the disciples and tell them what she has seen.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He called her name.  How amazing and powerful!  I’ve never noticed this before.  A name is power.  When Jesus calls your name (like when your parents do when you’re in trouble), you’d better listen.

7)  Jesus wants her to realize he is only risen and here temporarily.  That soon the Holy Spirit will descend upon her and take his place.  Not to get attached to him physically for he is leaving again.  He is headed back home to His Father.  He has important work for her to do.

8 )  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus told Mary to go and tell his brothers/disciples what she has seen.  It’s the same for us to spread the word about Jesus.  Also, Jesus tells us our work here on this side of heaven to complete and we must obey!

Conclusions:  What power in a name!  Love the focus on women again and how Jesus uses Mary to spread the word.  We are all equal in God’s eyes.

End Notes:  Mary did not yet believe in the resurrection so she weeped.  Mary was not afraid when she saw the angels.  She may not have even known they were angels (Hebrews 13:2).  They were seated at the head and feet like cherubim (Exodus 25:18-19).  She didn’t notice the burial cloths.

Matthew has one angel (Matthew 28:2).  Mark a young man (Mark 16:5).  Luke has 2 men who were angels (Luke 24:4, 23).

Mary turned possibly because she heard Jesus or the angels motioned for her to turn.  She didn’t recognize Jesus.  Perhaps he was a bit different in appearance or her tears blurred her vision.  Or perhaps Jesus intentionally blinded them to him.  A number of times he was not recognized (John 21:4, Matthew 28:17, Luke 24:16, 37)  Jesus asks her questions so she’ll push through her unbelief.  She plans to carry Jesus’ body for burial.  Likely, she is not strong enough but all she is thinking about is Jesus!

Jesus calls her by her Hebrew name.  In one word, Jesus changes a life.  She recognizes the voice of her shepherd as his sheep instantly.  Jesus told her who she was to him not who he was to her.

Spurgeon points out how in the garden the sentence of sorrow falls heavily upon a woman.  And after the resurrection the comfort and peace falls upon a woman as well.  How apropos!

The presumption of verse 17 is Mary is clinging to Jesus and does not want to let him go.  Jesus tells her he has important work for her to do (notify the disciples of his return) and that he will be around for a bit longer.

Jesus made a woman the first witness of His resurrection.  The law courts in ancient times would not recognize the testimony of a woman, but Jesus did.  This shows the historic truth of this account.  If someone fabricated this story, they would not make the first witnesses to the resurrection women, who were regarded as unreliable witnesses.

Fun Fact:  This is the first time Jesus calls his disciples “brothers.”

Jesus says “my Father and your Father” because his relationship with God is different than ours.  By nature, Jesus.  By grace, ours.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 28, Day 2: John 20:1-10

Summary of passage:  Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb and saw the stone to the entrance had been moved.  She ran and told Peter and John who came running to the tomb.  John got there first and looked in and saw no body.  Peter went in and saw the strips of linen lying there and the burial cloth, folded up separate.  John followed inside.  They left and still did not get it that Jesus had risen!

Questions:

3a)  John was the cautious one.  He had to stop and think.  Peter the reckless, impulsive, more courageous one.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m unsure I expect anything of Jesus.  I hope for things–for him to work in my life and provide me the way and the strength to do His will–but I don’t think I expect anything from him.  His death was enough for me.  I’m in bible study to draw closer to God and Jesus.  Period.

4)  John saw the strips of linen and the burial cloth folded up separate from one another.  This wouldn’t have been done by tomb robbers who would have ripped the cloth and thrown it haphazardly about.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  If Jesus doesn’t rise from the grave, none of us will rise either.  He was raised so we’d be justified before God and spend all of eternity together with Him.  Furthermore, it was in Scripture and thus the will of God.  It has made all the difference.

Conclusions:  Stock answer to “difference in life” question we’ve had many times in this study.  I think they saw and believed but still didn’t get it.  The Holy Spirit has yet to descend on them.  I believe this is where all the disciples finally get it.

End Notes:  Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus risen from the dead and spread the word.  All we know about her was she came from Magdala, a city on the Sea of Galilee and Jesus drove 7 demons from her.  Afterwards, she dedicated her life to him and helped finance his ministry.  She was there at the crucifixion and went faithfully to care for his body.  As a second class citizen in ancient times, God chose her to be the first to witness Jesus’ work fulfilled.  Imagine:  Jewish courts did not even accept women’s testimony.  Take that, mankind!

Fun Fact:  Mary Magdalene is mentioned more often than most of the other believing women, and usually first.

Jesus was crucified on a Friday (or some say Thursday).  Afterwards, the tomb was guarded (Matthew 27:62-66) until today.  Other Gospel accounts say Mary was not the only woman to go to Jesus’ tomb.  She was just the one to run back and report her findings.  The women were probably going back to finish burial rites.  She immediately thinks the body is stolen.  No one was expecting a risen Jesus!

John was humble enough not to mention his name but prideful enough to say he outran Peter!  Peter is in his mid-40-50’s and John is in his mid-20’s.  Obviously, he outran Peter.

The Greek work blepei meant “seeing clearly.”  There was no doubt what John saw.  However, he didn’t enter either presuming the body was there since he saw the wrappings or out of fear of defilement of touching a dead body.  A rich man’s tomb would have been big enough to walk into but probably with some stooping.

Peter saw (Greek theorei meaning contemplate and scrutinize) the cloths as if the body has evaporated.  Remember the linens were lathered with ointments, aloes, and spices.  They would have hardened and would have had to have been cut off the body.  Think ancient Egyptian mummies and Howard Carter and King Tut.  The point here is something inhuman was at work here.

Some scholars point to the Shroud of Turin here.  However, would God allow the wrappings to be preserved so it could be worshipped?

John then saw (the Greek word eiden meaning, “to understand, to perceive the significance of”) and then believed.  The distinctive arrangement of the burial wrappings convinced him.  Note that John believed here but Peter did not.  He would not until he met the resurrected Jesus.  John believed on faith with his eyes only.  It is obvious they did not make up a story of a resurrection to fit  preconceived understanding of Scriptural prophecy when it was written about later.

Both Peter and John know the fact Jesus rose again.  They don’t understand the meaning behind it yet.  That Jesus is the Son of the One, True God.  That he died sinless for our sins so we can rise again and be with God.  It proves the gnostics of the day wrong that God does have a plan for our bodies, which is sacred (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).