Summary: It’s after the resurrection and Jesus has begun to appear to different individuals. Why was it important for Jesus to appear to people before He ascended into heaven? Does it say anything about the people’s faith?
It’s after the resurrection and Jesus has begun to appear to different individuals. Why was it important for Jesus to appear to people before He ascended into heaven? Does it say anything about the people’s faith? Last time we saw that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. (Explain that Mary was not a prostitute)
Mary Magdalene has suffered from what is believed to have been a historical defamation of character. Some argue that she has been misidentified as a repentant prostitute in historical tradition and as depicted in art as a weeping sinner wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair.
According to Luke 8:2 and Mark 16:9, Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons." Some contemporary scholars contend this concept means healing from illness, not forgiveness of sin. On the other hand, some major Christian saints, including St. Bede and St. Gregory, interpret the seven devils to signify that she was "full of all vices." Hence, on this interpretation, the episode does signify the forgiveness of sins. Was Mary Magdalene a Prostitute?
Mary Magdalene is mentioned in all four of the canonical gospels, but nowhere is she described as a prostitute. This popular image of Mary comes from confusion between her and two other women: Martha’s sister Mary and an unnamed sinner in Luke’s gospel (7:36-50). Both of these women wash Jesus’ feet with their hair. Pope Gregory the Great declared that all three women were the same person and it wasn’t until 1969 that the Catholic Church reversed course.
So even though some may dispute this, nowhere in Scripture does is say that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.
In tonight’s passage, Jesus makes His first appearance to His disciples as a group after His resurrection. What would He say and talk about? What would be the topic of conversation and the subjects covered? Whatever He chose to say would be important. This is what John focuses on: the subjects and the topics discussed when Jesus first appeared to the disciples.
READ v. 19. We’ve heard this verse before, many times. Let’s just take a minute and clarify some things. First, the disciples were hiding for fear of the Jews. They were behind locked doors, probably in the upper room of the same house where Jesus had met with them just a few days earlier. They were scared and fearful of the authorities who had vented so much wrath and vengeance on their Lord. There was the imminent danger they could be arrested and imprisoned or executed as revolutionaries just as Jesus had been.
Note that it was Sunday, the very day that Jesus had arisen, and it was nighttime. Luke tells us there were numerous reports that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
Remember, the doors were locked. Suddenly, unexpectedly, Jesus stood before them—right in their midst. What did He talk about? He immediately began to talk about three things.
The first thing was the risen Lord Himself. READ 19b-20. His presence was very real. His sudden appearance shook and frightened the disciples. They thought they were seeing a vision or a spirit (a ghost). (Lk. 24:36-37) The first thing Jesus did was prove that it was really He. He did this by doing two things.
1. HE used the simple day-to-day greeting that was common among Jews, “Peace be with you.” Using the greeting so familiar to the disciples would help to put them at ease. The fact that He spoke just as He had always spoken would give them some indication that it was really He and not just a vision or a spirit.
2. He showed them His wounds. This must have been a dramatic and touching moment, a moment that just exploded the minds of the disciples. Jesus probably moved around to each of them, allowing each one to see the wounds. They knew for sure that they weren’t seeing a ghost. They knew for sure that this was His body, the body of their Lord.
The effect of the disciples was unbelievable joy and amazement. Their spirits and attitudes were charged with joy and were transformed from the lowest point of dejection to the highest point of triumphant conviction. They now knew what Jesus meant, that He was truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
In Him was life—His words were literally true. He had meant exactly what He had said. They had just spiritualized His words before, twisted them to mean what they had wanted. But now they knew.
• When He had said the He was going to die, He meant He was going to die.
• When He had said that He was going to arise, He meant He was going to arise.
And here He was standing before them, revealing the most glorious truth in all the universe. Man could now conquer sin and death and live forever. He had actually come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest. They now saw and understood that.