John 20:18-23

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 18) This was the first appearance of our Lord after His resurrection (Mark 16:9). Matthew tells of another appearance to the women as they went to tell His disciples (Matt. 28:9-10). Luke wrote that He appeared to two disciples as they were going to Emmaus, also mentioned by Mark (Mark 16:12-13). These appearances were all on the same day on which He arose. The Apostle Paul reports several appearances of Christ during the time between His resurrection and ascension (I Cor. 15:3-7).

(Vs. 19) On that same Sunday evening the disciples were assembled in a certain place with the doors securely shut and locked. The Jews had taken their Master's life; and they feared that they may be next, especially since it was rumored that they had stolen His body. Our Lord came, stood in their midst, and said, "Peace be unto you." There is no indication that He came through the door without opening it. This would deny the very thing He said to them in Luke 24:39-43. He is THE MAN Christ Jesus–glorified, but flesh and bones. The locks, bars, and bolts on the doors simply gave way to Him and let Him in. The stone was rolled away that He might come forth from the grave. He did not walk through the stone.

(Vs. 20) When He had greeted them, He showed them the scars on His hands made by the nails when He was crucified and the wound in His side made by the spear of the soldier. Luke adds that He showed them the scars on His feet also (Luke 24:40). The primary reason for showing the disciples His wounds was to convince them that He had indeed risen and that the reports given by the women and the two disciples (which they did not believe–Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:11) were true. But the wounds and scars of our Lord Jesus are and will remain as proof of His great love for those whom He redeemed and evidence of our full salvation in Him (Isa. 53:4-6). The disciples rejoiced and were glad when it finally dawned on them that it was their Lord and that He was alive.

(Vs. 21) "Peace be unto you" was a usual salutation among the Jews (Gen. 43:23); but our Lord repeated it after He had showed them His hands and feet to show that notwithstanding their forsaking Him, denying Him, and not believing His word, He was indeed reconciled to them, loved them, and they had peace with God (Rom. 5:1). It also may have reference to the gospel of peace, which they would preach to all nations; for He continued, "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." The Father sent the Son into the world to redeem His covenant people; now the Son sends His disciples into the world to preach the gospel of Christ to those people that they might believe and be saved (II Tim. 2:9-10). How was their mission like His? (1) Their authority is both Divine–God sent them. (2) They are both sent into the same place–the world. (3) They would be treated the same–hated and killed. (4) Their ministry, like His, would be confirmed by miracles and wonders (Heb. 2:3-4). (5) They were sent to preach the gospel, which gospel heals, delivers, and sets men free (Luke 4:18).

(Vs. 22-23) When He had set before them this awesome task of which Paul said, "Who is sufficient for these things," He breathed on them. The word "Spirit" signifies BREATH. As God breathed into Adam the breath of life, our Lord breathed into His apostles the Holy Spirit of God (John 3:8). The disciples had before received the Spirit of God in regeneration and in sanctification, and even had worked miracles. They had believed Christ and confessed Him, which is impossible apart from the Spirit of God (I Cor. 2:9-12). As indicated by the words of Christ, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained," these disciples had the Holy Spirit, power, discernment of spirits, the gift of tongues, and authority which ordinary ministers and Christians since that day cannot with any truth and modesty pretend to have. Read in the New Testament of their discernment of men's hearts and spirits (Acts 5:3-5). Read of their speaking in languages they never learned, of casting out demons and raising the dead (Acts 16:16-18; Acts 20:9-12), and of their authority expressed in their epistles to the churches, which epistles are verily THE WORD OF GOD without error or contradiction. The Holy Spirit was upon these apostles as upon no other men, and they had revelations and authority as given to no other men. However, Christ did not give them the authority or power to forgive sins; this is not what He is saying. Only God can forgive sin, and that through the blood and righteousness of Christ. And without true repentance toward God and faith in Christ, no man's sins are forgiven. The power here is the power of DISCERNMENT beyond the ordinary, outward signs. There are no apostles today and really no need for such; for the gospel of Christ has been preached, confirmed by God, and the Scriptures are complete. Let those who would hear from God hear His Word: and let those who would see God glorified, sinners saved, and believers confirmed, PREACH THE WORD; for the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16; Rom. 10:13-17).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.