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The Simplicity Of Witness

John 20:18

Mary came to the tomb in sadness: she returned in gladness.  She had expected to sprinkle embalming spices on a dead body, but was distraught that the body was missing (John 20:11-15).  Then she met the risen Jesus and her whole outlook changed (John 20:16-17).  Going back to the sad, confused and anxious disciples, Mary radiated joy, certainty and hope.

Joy Inside

John 20:19-20

It had been a long day.  Mary Magdalene and other women went to the tomb to find the stone rolled away, and angels who said that the tomb was empty because Jesus was alive (Luke 24:1-8).  Later, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-17); also to two of Jesus’ followers who lived in Emmaus (Luke 24:33-35).  But Jesus’ disciples did not know quite what to make of these reports.  They were very frightened, assuming that the authorities who crucified Jesus would target them now that the body of Jesus was missing.

Get Ready To Receive

John 20:21-23

Jesus had come into the room full of frightened disciples who had barred the doorway so that nobody could enter (John 20:19-20).  Only one day previously, the disciples had no hope because they thought Jesus was dead (Luke 23:44-49).  Their whole lives had been bound to His: His work was their work, and His presence was their peace.  And that was going to continue.  But there would be a big difference.  Jesus was alive but with His resurrection body He would physically appear among them and then disappear as He chose over the next 39 days – getting them ready for His ascension.

Jesus Rebukes Aggressive Doubt

John 20:24-28

Simple doubt is honest.  It says that we do not know or cannot be sure, but it is open to instruction and help (Mark 9:24).  However, Thomas’s doubt was not like that.  It was wilful, aggressive and hard-hearted (Mark 16:14).  Despite the evidence of the other disciples and the reports from the women who had been at the tomb, Thomas was determined not to believe unless he had physical first-hand evidence.  His doubt had extended to an arrogance which called the other disciples liars and ignored Christ's promise of resurrection (Matthew 20:17-19).

Believing Is More Than Seeing

John 20:29

Jesus had met His disciples on the Sunday evening when He rose from the dead (John 20:19).  But Thomas was not there and later refused to believe that Jesus was alive unless he had physical evidence (John 20:24-25).  The following Sunday, Jesus joined the disciples in the same room, where the doors were still locked because they were still afraid of the Jewish leaders who might arrest them.  This time, Thomas was there.

Faith Comes From Believing What Is Written

John 20:30-31

Jesus had just rebuked Thomas for refusing to believe the resurrection without seeing His crucifixion wounds (John 20:29).  The recorded miracles are only a selection of the many wonderful things Jesus did. Seeing miracles had been a familiar part of the disciples’ lives, and yet even they had difficulty in believing His words despite the overwhelming evidence of many miraculous signs (John 14:11).  

When Nothing Seems To Be Happening

John 21:1-3

It must have been a strange time for the disciples.  Their usual daily routine with Jesus had gone, and with it their sense of daily purpose.  Despite the occasional surprise appearances of Jesus to various disciples (1 Corinthians 15:3-8), it was clear that life would not be the same again.  For the last three years, Jesus had been their life, and practical and financial support came to the group as they travelled with Jesus.  What would their lifestyle be, how would they earn their living?  

Jesus In Command

John 21:4-7

Although Jesus had not told the disciples to go fishing, it was the best thing Peter could think of doing.  But it was a wasted night on the water.  They caught no fish at all (John 21:1-3).  At dawn they were only one hundred metres from the shore (John 21:8) when they saw a man at the water’s edge.  Despite the shameful ways in which they had denied or deserted Him, the Man called them ‘Friends’.  He called out to them to throw out their net on the other side of the boat; and when they did so they caught an amazing number of fish.

Counting Your Blessings

John 21:8-11

The disciples had fished all night in Lake Galilee and caught nothing (John 21:1-3).  At dawn Jesus shouted to them from the shore, telling them where to find the fish.  The haul was so large that they could not get the fish on board (John 21:6), and the net had to be towed to shore.  That miracle convinced John to identify the man as Jesus, and Peter swam to shore to greet Him first (John 21:7).  When he arrived, he found a barbeque burning with fish and bread already cooking.

Recognising The Lord At Work

John 21:12-14

The disciples had been fishing in Lake Galilee after Jesus’ resurrection (John 21:1-3).  Despite their experience, they caught nothing all night.  At dawn, a stranger on the shore told them where the fish were - on the other side of the boat - and they hauled in a huge catch.  John recognised the man as being Jesus and Peter swam to shore to greet Him.