John 20

* The sepulchre found to be empty. (1-10) Christ appears to

Mary. (11-18) He appears to the disciples. (19-25) The unbelief

of Thomas. (26-29) Conclusion. (30,31)

1-10 If Christ gave his life a ransom, and had not taken it

again, it would not have appeared that his giving it was

accepted as satisfaction. It was a great trial to Mary, that the

body was gone. Weak believers often make that the matter of

complaint, which is really just ground of hope, and matter of

joy. It is well when those more honoured than others with the

privileges of disciples, are more active than others in the duty

of disciples; more willing to take pains, and run hazards, in a

good work. We must do our best, and neither envy those who can

do better, nor despise those who do as well as they can, though

they come behind. The disciple whom Jesus loved in a special

manner, and who therefore in a special manner loved Jesus, was

foremost. The love of Christ will make us to abound in every

duty more than any thing else. He that was behind was Peter, who

had denied Christ. A sense of guilt hinders us in the service of

God. As yet the disciples knew not the Scripture; they Christ

must rise again from the dead.
11-18 We are likely to seek and find, when we seek with

affection, and seek in tears. But many believers complain of the

clouds and darkness they are under, which are methods of grace

for humbling their souls, mortifying their sins, and endearing

Christ to them. A sight of angels and their smiles, will not

suffice, without a sight of Jesus, and God's smiles in him. None

know, but those who have tasted it, the sorrows of a deserted

soul, which has had comfortable evidences of the love of God in

Christ, and hopes of heaven, but has now lost them, and walks in

darkness; such a wounded spirit who can bear? Christ, in

manifesting himself to those that seek him, often outdoes their

expectations. See how Mary's heart was in earnest to find Jesus.

Christ's way of making himself known to his people is by his

word; his word applied to their souls, speaking to them in

particular. It might be read, Is it my Master? See with what

pleasure those who love Jesus speak of his authority over them.

He forbids her to expect that his bodily presence look further,

than the present state of things. Observe the relation to God,

from union with Christ. We, partaking of a Divine nature,

Christ's Father is our Father; and he, partaking of the human

nature, our God is his God. Christ's ascension into heaven,

there to plead for us, is likewise an unspeakable comfort. Let

them not think this earth is to be their home and rest; their

eye and aim, and earnest desires, must be upon another world,

and this ever upon their hearts, I ascend, therefore I must seek

the things which are above. And let those who know the word of

Christ, endeavour that others should get good from their

19-25 This was the first day of the week, and this day is

afterwards often mentioned by the sacred writers; for it was

evidently set apart as the Christian sabbath, in remembrance of

Christ's resurrection. The disciples had shut the doors for fear

of the Jews; and when they had no such expectation, Jesus

himself came and stood in the midst of them, having

miraculously, though silently, opened the doors. It is a comfort

to Christ's disciples, when their assemblies can only be held in

private, that no doors can shut out Christ's presence. When He

manifests his love to believers by the comforts of his Spirit,

he assures them that because he lives, they shall live also. A

sight of Christ will gladden the heart of a disciple at any

time; and the more we see of Jesus, the more we shall rejoice.

He said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, thus showing that their

spiritual life, as well as all their ability for their work,

would be derived from him, and depended upon him. Every word of

Christ which is received in the heart by faith, comes

accompanied by this Divine breathing; and without this there is

neither light nor life. Nothing is seen, known, discerned, or

felt of God, but through this. After this, Christ directed the

apostles to declare the only method by which sin would be

forgiven. This power did not exist at all in the apostles as a

power to give judgment, but only as a power to declare the

character of those whom God would accept or reject in the day of

judgment. They have clearly laid down the marks whereby a child

of God may be discerned and be distinguished from a false

professor; and according to what they have declared shall every

case be decided in the day of judgment. When we assemble in

Christ's name, especially on his holy day, he will meet with us,

and speak peace to us. The disciples of Christ should endeavour

to build up one another in their most holy faith, both by

repeating what they have heard to those that were absent, and by

making known what they have experienced. Thomas limited the Holy

One of Israel, when he would be convinced by his own method or

not at all. He might justly have been left in his unbelief,

after rejecting such abundant proofs. The fears and sorrows of

the disciples are often lengthened, to punish their negligence.
26-29 That one day in seven should be religiously observed, was

an appointment from the beginning. And that, in the kingdom of

the Messiah, the first day of the week should be that solemn

day, was pointed out, in that Christ on that day once and again

met his disciples in a religious assembly. The religious

observance of that day has come down to us through every age of

the church. There is not an unbelieving word in our tongues, nor

thought in our minds, but it is known to the Lord Jesus; and he

was pleased to accommodate himself even to Thomas, rather than

leave him in his unbelief. We ought thus to bear with the weak,

#Ro 15:1,2|. This warning is given to all. If we are faithless,

we are Christless and graceless, hopeless and joyless. Thomas

was ashamed of his unbelief, and cried out, My Lord and my God.

He spoke with affection, as one that took hold of Christ with

all his might; "My Lord and my God." Sound and sincere

believers, though slow and weak, shall be graciously accepted of

the Lord Jesus. It is the duty of those who read and hear the

gospel, to believe, to embrace the doctrine of Christ, and that

record concerning him, #1Jo 5:11|.
30,31 There were other signs and proofs of our Lord's

resurrection, but these were committed to writing, that all

might believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Saviour

of sinners, and the Son of God; that, by this faith, they might

obtain eternal life, by his mercy, truth, and power. May we

believe that Jesus is the Christ, and believing may we have life

through his name.

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