John 20:1-2-Before sunrise on Sunday morning, Mary (Magdalene, :18) goes to the tomb and finds it empty. She goes to find Peter and John…and tells them that someone has removed the body of Jesus from the tomb and they don’t know where they have taken Him.
John 20:3-10-Peter and John go quickly to the tomb. John arrives first and looks inside, but Peter enters first. Then John enters..."and believed" (:8)..."For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes" (:9-10).
What led John to believe that Jesus was no longer dead?
God carefully records through John another small but important detail. The napkin that was wrapped around His head lay there in tact, separate from the linen wound around His body. It was in the shape of the head, lying just as it had been folded around the head. I think this convinced Peter that the Lord had risen. There are three different Greek words used in this passage, and they are all translated as "seeing." This is unfortunate. In verse 5, when John stooped down, looked in and saw, the word means to perceive and understand. It involves inspection and perceiving. In verse 6, when Peter went in and saw, the word used is theaomai from which we get our word theatre. He viewed it. In verse 8, when John went into the sepulchre and saw, it means to know. He knew and he believed before he ever saw the risen Christ.
(Thru the Bible, Matthew through Romans, J. Vernon McGee, p. 496)
For the moment Peter was only amazed at the empty tomb; but then things began to happen in John's mind. If someone had removed Jesus' body, if tomb-robbers had been at work, why should they leave the grave clothes? And then something else struck John—the grave clothes were not disheveled and disarranged; they were lying there still in their folds—that is what the Greek means—the clothes for the body where the body had been; the napkin where the head had lain. The whole point of the description is that the grave clothes did not look as if they had been put off or taken off; they were lying there in their regular folds as if the body of Jesus had simply evaporated out of them and left them lying. The sight suddenly penetrated to John's mind; he realized what had happened—and he believed. It was not what John had read in scripture which convinced him that Jesus had risen; it was what with his own eyes he saw.
(The Daily Study Bible, The Gospel of John, vol. 2, William Barclay, pp. 310-311)
John 20:11-18-Mary had followed John and Peter back to the tomb. John and Peter leave and return to their homes. Mary is now standing outside the tomb alone, weeping. She then stepped slightly into the tomb and two angels appear there. They question why she is weeping. She says because they have taken the body of Jesus and she doesn’t know what they have done with it. Jesus appears behind her but she does not recognize Him, thinking He was the gardener. He asks why she is weeping and who she is looking for. She asks that if He is the one who has taken the body to please tell her where it is...and she will take the body away. Jesus calls her name, “Mary”...and immediately she recognized Him…turned and grabbed hold of Him. He tells her to stop clinging to Him...but to go tell the other disciples that she has seen Him and that He will rise to the Father. She goes and tells the disciples, "I have seen the Lord" and what He had told her (:18).
The order of Christ’s appearances after His resurrection seems to be as follows:
(1) To Mary Magdalene and the other women (Matt. 28:8-10; John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9-10);
(2) to Peter, probably in the afternoon (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5);
(3) to the disciples on the Emmaus road toward evening (Luke 24:13-32; Mark 16:12)
(4) to the disciples, except Thomas, in the upper room (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25);
(5) to the disciples, including Thomas, on the next Sunday night (Mark 16:14; John 20:26-29);
(6) to seven disciples beside the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-24);
(7) to the apostles and more than 500 brethren and James, the Lord’s half brother (1 Cor. 15:6-7);
(8) to those who witnessed the ascension (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12).
(Ryrie Study Bible, John 20:1)
John 20:19-25-The disciples had secretly gathered together...still afraid of the Jewish leaders...the doors were shut. Suddenly, Jesus appeared, standing right in the middle of them and said, "Peace be with you" (:19). He showed them His hands and side as proof of Who He was...and they rejoiced. Jesus tells them that just as the Father had sent Him, He was sending them. He then "breathed on them"...giving them a partial filling of the Holy Spirit that would guarantee them power to do what He was telling them until the fullness of the Holy Spirit would come on the day of Pentecost. He tells them to pronounce the provision for the forgiveness of sins by the Father. The consequence is that the opposite is also true…if they don’t receive God’s provision for the forgiveness of sin, then their sins will be “retained” (means: not forgiven). It is not that the disciples, or the church has the right or power to forgive sins. But, they are given the authority by Jesus to declare what happens when God extends forgiveness of sin. Only God can forgive sin. Thomas was not present at this time and later when he arrived he refused to believe that Jesus was really alive until He touched the place where the nails and spear pierced His body.
John 20:26-31- 8 days later they are gathered together, again. Jesus appears to them as He had before. This time Thomas is present. Jesus tells Thomas to put his finger in the places where He had been pierced..."be not unbelieving, but believing" (:27). Thomas responds, "My Lord and my God!" (:28). What an incredible statement affirming the deity of Jesus. And notice that Jesus does not correct Him...but accepts what Thomas says as being true.
20:28 My Lord and my God. Thomas, the doubter, finally recognized the full deity of Jesus Christ. This marks the climax of John’s Gospel. The Lord had claimed deity throughout His ministry. Note: (1) the names of deity which He uses (Matt. 22:42-45; John 8:58); (2) the attributes of deity which He claimed (holiness, John 8:46; omnipotence and omnipresence, Matt. 8:20; omniscience, John 11:11-14); (3) the things He claimed to be able to do which only God can do (forgive sins, Mark 2:5-7; raise the dead, John 5:28-30; 11:43; judge all men, John 5:22,27).
Jesus says that those who do not have the opportunity to see and touch Him, as Thomas had...and yet who believe in Him...will be blessed (:29). Jesus performed many other signs that are not included in this gospel...but the ones that were included were done so in order that we might believe in Him and have life in His name (:31).
Prayer: Jesus, when You called Mary’s name her heart must have almost exploded out of her chest! Proof, comfort, hope…all of those and more were included in that one word from your lips. Lord, please let me hear You speak my name when I am troubled. Give me the joy that You gave Mary. And Lord, please give me faith in You even though I have never tangibly seen or touched You. Please give me Your blessing...the blessing of faith.