LINK: John 20
"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." (John 20:31)
That is the reason John wrote this book. The statement concludes the account of Jesus' actions, death, and resurrection. The life that is promised only comes as a result of believing that what this book has stated is true.
Jesus had told his followers that He would die and rise again, but they hadn't understood. That is clear from the events in this chapter.
Mary Magdalene, along with other women who aren't mentioned in this account (other than the "we" of verse 2) , are the first to visit Jesus' tomb. They go early in the morning of the first day of the week (Sunday!), so early that it's still dark. When they find the stone moved away from the door and the tomb empty, Mary runs to tell the disciples. She thinks that someone has taken Jesus' body.
Peter and "the other disciple," probably John himself, on hearing the women's news, run to see what's happened. The account is quite specific about what they find. "The other disciple" runs more quickly than Peter and gets to the tomb first. He has to stoop down to look in and he sees the linen cloths, the cloths that the body was wrapped in, lying there. Then Peter goes into the tomb and sees the cloths and the face cloth, too, folded up away from the other cloths. They noted the details, but didn't understand yet that Jesus must rise from the dead. They didn't make up a story to fit their ideas of what was predicted. The details are important though. If someone had taken the body away, then why would they have left the cloths?
The action again focuses on Mary, who returns to the tomb and meets her risen Lord. Then the scene shifts to a room later that same evening, when the disciples are gathered in a locked room and Jesus appears to them. Thomas is missing and so questions their accounts to him. Jesus, eight days later, visits His disciples again, and this time Thomas is present and is able to verify the truth of their account for himself.
In this chapter the risen Jesus appears several times to those closest to Him, not because they're expecting it, but because they are having trouble understanding that He is truly alive.
Read this chapter again and put yourself in the place of one of those followers. Imagine the joy they felt when they realized that Jesus really was alive!
Jesus' death and resurrection, an event in time and space, is the foundation of our faith. Jesus' resurrection changed everything for us (for people) and indeed for the whole the created world.
Here's what C.S. Lewis has to say in about the Resurrection in his essay "What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ":
"Something perfectly new in the history of the universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open. ...
'What are we to make of Christ?' There is no question of what we can make of Him, it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us. You must accept or reject the story.
The things He says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, 'This is the truth about the universe. This is the way you ought to go,' but He says, 'I am the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.' He says, 'No man can reach absolute reality, except through Me. Try to retain your own life and you will be inevitably ruined. Give yourself away and you will be saved.' He says, ' If you are ashamed of Me, if, when you hear this call, you turn the other way, I also will look the other way when I come again as God without disguise. If anything whatever is keeping you from God and from Me, whatever it is, throw it away. If it is your eye, pull it out. If it is your hand, cut it off. If you put yourself first you will be last. Come to me everyone who is carrying a heavy load, I will set that right. Your sins, all of them, are wiped out. I can do that. I am Rebirth. I am Life. Eat Me, drink Me, I am your Food. And finally, do not be afraid, I have overcome the whole universe.' That is the issue."
To sum it up in another way, "He died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:15
Jesus' resurrection demands a response. We either accept that He is Life or we reject Him.
Jesus told Thomas, "Do not disbelieve, but believe." (27) Thomas' response? "My Lord and my God." Believing in Jesus' resurrection produces that response.
Jesus went on to say," Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." That's me! If you believe by faith you are blessed, too. Praise Him!
He is Risen!
You forever changed this world when you stepped into it, became one of us, died and then defeated death forever by rising from the dead. You brought us hope, and rest, and LIFE and so much more! Our thanks aren't big enough. Help me to live, not for myself, but for you, who came for my sake.