John 21

John states at the end of chapter 20 that many other miraculous signs were witnessed by his disciples but they are not recorded in this book. John has carefully constructed his eyewitness account with a specific purpose: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Chapter 21 is an eyewitness account with Jesus not included in the other gospels but included for us so that we may believe. The resurrected Lord appear to the disciples over 40 days, they never knew when he would appear. A group of disciples are back in Galilee, doing what is familiar, fishing on the Sea of Galilee. This is where Jesus ministered for three years, their home towns, the disciples were waiting for Jesus and keeping busy. Mark 16:7 records that the angel at the tomb told the women, “Jesus is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you”.

Again they are fishing all night without any success, which reminds us of another fishing trip with Jesus in Luke 5. As dawn approaches, they are not far off shore only 100 yards, when a man calls out to them, then tells them to throw their net on the right side of the boat. They do as suggested and catch so many large fish that they cannot pull the net into the boat. Perhaps they learned from their previous encounter, when the miracle catch began to sink the boat and their nets were torn.

At this point the apostle John identifies the man on the shore, “It is the Lord!” Peter immediately ties his clothes to himself and swims to shore, leaving the other six to row to shore dragging the net full of 153 large fish. After greeting Jesus, Peter leads the hard work of dragging the net full of fish onto shore. When they arrive on the beach, Jesus had lovingly made a fire, a breakfast of fish and bread, and then served them. John records that everyone recognized Jesus. John is exact in his account, giving us specific details of the time of day, the place, 153 large fish, and the net did not tear, the fire, cooking fish and that Jesus ate with them. John includes all eyewitness details of Jesus, not a ghost or mass hysteria, but a living, breathing, talking, teaching, and eating man raised from the dead.

As their meal is ended Jesus speaks directly to Peter asking repeatedly, “Do you love me?” Each time Peter answers, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” Then Jesus responds by commissioning Peter to feed and tend my sheep. John wants us to get this; next to a fire in the courtyard of the High Priest Peter denied that he knew and loved Jesus. Next to this fire Jesus reverses the three denials, by restoring Peter and giving him a ministry of shepherding his fledgling disciples.

Jesus then reveals to Peter some of his future with a prophecy, “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. Follow me!”

John ends his great masterpiece with interesting details, the early church and Peter understood this prophecy to mean the kind of death Peter would die. Which he did, Peter was martyred during the persecution of Nero in 64 AD – church tradition records that he was crucified upside-down at his own request because he was unworthy die the same way as Jesus.

John also records Peter questioning Jesus about John’s future, which Jesus responds with, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me”. John lets us know that a rumor spread, that John would not die and Jesus would return in John’s lifetime. John wants us to understand, that was a misunderstanding, especially by using the word “rumor” and we get that John is at the end of his life, expecting his death, but that we should all get the importance of those other words of Jesus. Jesus said, “Until I return” – Jesus is returning there will be a second coming!

John concludes his gospel by identifying himself, “this is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down”. John is an eyewitness to Jesus’ life and teachings; to the seven miracles, seven witnesses and the seven I AM statements of Jesus. John ate with Jesus and learned from him before his crucifixion, and he also ate with him and learned from him after Jesus’ resurrection. We know that his testimony is true.

Next week 1 John 1
Memory Verse:
“But if we walk in the light, as HE is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, HIS Son, purifies us from all sin.”
1 John 1:7

John 20

Between the end of John 19 and beginning of chapter 20 are approximately 36 hours. The 24 hours of the Sabbath, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, plus the hours between sundown Saturday and sunrise Sunday. In Jewish accounting this is three days, this goes contrary to our measure of 24 hour days, but here is how it works. Jesus was placed in the tomb before sunset on Friday – that is day 1. He is in the tomb on the Sabbath, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset – that is day 2. He is in the tomb until sunrise on Sunday – that is day 3.
What John doesn’t record is the disciples anguish; he gives us hints to their distress by telling us that when they eventually meet it is behind locked doors because they fear the Jews. How completely depressing that High Holy Sabbath must have been, while their neighbors are celebrating the Passover feasts, the disciples’ world has fallen apart, they fear for the lives and all they hoped for has been ruined.
Sunday morning Mary Magdalene leaves home while it is still dark to go to the tomb; there was still the work of mourning for Jesus to complete. Mary finds the stone rolled away from the tomb, her first thought is that Jesus’ grave has been violated and his body stolen. Mary’s first thought is exactly what the Chief Priests and the Pharisees hoped to avoid, on Friday evening they once again went to Pilate. They violated the Sabbath in order to insure that Jesus’ tomb would stay sealed. Pilate gave them Roman guards to seal the tomb as they wished. All Friday night and the long Sabbath day and night they stood guard, allowing no one to come near.
But at dawn on Sunday there was a severe earthquake and an angel descended from heaven and rolled away the stone and the soldiers abandoned their post. When Mary arrives she finds the empty open tomb, she immediately runs to find Peter and John and they all return to the tomb. Peter and John go inside the tomb they see the strips of linen lying there and the burial cloth that had covered Jesus’ head folded up neatly and put aside. What a mystery, this was not a ransacked grave, the guards are gone and so is Jesus’ body.
Peter and John return to their homes, but Mary stays behind weeping. She looks inside the tomb and sees two angels, one at the head and another at the foot of where Jesus body had lay. They ask her why she is crying, Mary replies in her grief “they have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him”. She turns around and sees a man, who also asks her why she is crying, she says, “tell me where you have put him”. Jesus lovingly calls her by name, and she immediately recognizes him calling him “Rabboni”. Jesus gives her instructions to go and tell the disciples.
I am reminded of two grace filled truths; as we will soon see Jesus did not need the stone to be rolled away to get out of the tomb. God had the angel remove the stone so the disciples could see inside the empty tomb; see the angels and the neatly folded grave clothes. Jesus also spoke to Mary using her name, he knew her by name and she knew his voice; Jesus knows our name and hears us when we grieve.
Later Sunday evening all the disciples except for Thomas are gather, they have heard the news from the women and are wondering what all this means. But it is still very dangerous, they gather in secret and have the doors locked as a precaution. Suddenly, Jesus is right there, with them again saying “Peace be with you”. Jesus shows them the wounds in his hands and side, it really is him and they are filled with joy.
Now Thomas wasn’t in attendance and he didn’t believe the disciples, he said I will need proof and not merely seeing, he will need to put his finger where the nail was in his hand and put my hand into his side. Thomas defiantly declares unless all this empirical proof is met “I will not believe!” This is quite a demand, but Jesus lovingly responds by re-appearing in the same room one week later just for Thomas, but also for us. Jesus says, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”.
John records all these encounters of real people, who were fearful, grieving and doubting so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Memory Verse:
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter,
“IT IS THE LORD!”
John 21:7a

John 19

“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged”, Jesus was betrayed by those closest to him now he will be brutalized and humiliated in front of the crowd that just days earlier had proclaimed him blessed as the one who comes in the name of the Lord. The crowd hailed Jesus as their King, David’s descendant and Savior; now the soldiers used those words to mock him, hitting Jesus and jamming a crown of thorns on his head.

Pilate hoped that the flogging and humiliation would satisfy the Jews, he knew they hated him out of envy. Three times Pilate declared that Jesus was innocent, “I find no basis of a charge against him”. Finally, he shows Jesus beaten and abused to the crowd saying “Here is the man”; only to have the chief priests and their officials shout “Crucify! Crucify!” Exasperated Pilate says, “You take him and crucify him”, the Jewish leaders respond that according to their law Jesus must die because he claimed to be the Son of God.

This admission by the Jewish leaders concerns Pilate, he questions Jesus about where he came from, all the while Jesus remains silent. Finally, Pilate says “Don’t you know I have the power to free you or crucify you?” Now Jesus answers, “You would have no authority over me at all, unless it was given to you from above”. From Pilate’s perspective all power and authority came from Rome directly from Caesar. Jesus makes it ultimately and completely clear all authority comes from God above. Once again Pilate tries to free Jesus, so the Jewish leaders threaten Pilate with word getting to Caesar, which is something Pilate cannot risk. Pilate says, “Shall I crucify your king?” and the chief priests answer, “We have no king but Caesar”. Pilate doesn’t believe Jesus is king but John wants us to understand that Jesus truly is the King of the Jews sent by God. The Jewish leaders rejected their King and Messiah and now claimed Caesar as their king, the ultimate rejection of God. Finally, Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.

The soldiers take charge of Jesus; he carries his cross to Golgotha to be crucified between two convicted criminals. Pilate has a sign made and nailed to the cross in three languages saying Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. The Jewish leaders complain about the sign, but Pilate simply answered, “What I have written, I have written.” The soldiers take Jesus’ clothes and divide them between the four of them; his undergarment was too valuable to divide so they cast lots to see who would get it.

On the cross Jesus sees John, his mother Mary, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. Jesus lovingly cares for his mother, handing over her care to the apostle John; John cares for Mary for the rest of her life.

Knowing that all was now completed to fulfill the Scriptures Jesus says, “I am thirsty”. The soldiers give him a rag soaked in sour wine to drink, after receiving the drink he says, “It is finished” and dies. John records that Jesus gave up his spirit, we need to get the emphasis here Jesus died of His own choice, He gave his life, He gave up His spirit.

John records that it was Friday of a high holy week, leaving bodies on the cross would desecrate the Sabbath, so they set about breaking the leg bones of the men so they would die faster. When they arrive at Jesus they discover that He is already dead, so they take a spear to his side to make doubly sure that Jesus is dead. Like the Passover Lamb not a bone of his is broken.

Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus, boldly went to Pilate to get Jesus’ body for burial. Pilate is stunned that Jesus is already dead, after checking he releases Jesus’ body for burial. Joseph and Nicodemus quickly care for Jesus’ body, wrapping it in strips soaked with spices and wrapped in a shroud. They place his body in Joseph’s new tomb. Sunset and the Sabbath was approaching, they rolled the stone into place; Mary and Mary saw Joseph seal the tomb with the stone.

Memory Verse:
Thomas said to him, MY LORD AND MY GOD!
John 20:28