Summary: We have to take the Apostle's word of testimony concerning the physical resurrection of Jesus who physically experienced it in their lives. But the Holy Spirit serves to corroborate their testimony so that we might believe also.
Yes It’s Me! Touch and See!
Last week, we saw Mary weeping uncontrollably at the tomb, not knowing what was about to happen. John had been unraveling the evidence to the Resurrection one detail at
a time. Mary stooped down and saw the two angels who asked her why she was weeping. God was preparing her for a very special meeting.
Mary should have gotten the idea that this was no mere grave robbery. The very presence of the angels in white should have tipped her off. But we must not be too hard on Mary as this was a very confusing and emotional time. I doubt whether any of us would have managed as well, no less better.
She turned and saw Jesus. But she though Him to be the gardener and asked where they had taken Jesus. But Jesus made Himself known in a very personal way, by the calling of Mary’s name. Others would be sure that Jesus had risen by the breaking of bread, touching the nails, watching Him eat, or even in a glorious vision on the way to Damascus. It is important to know that Jesus is personal and deals with us as individuals and not just as a large group.
Mary was told to go tell the brethren that Jesus had risen. The first preacher was a woman! Jesus could have revealed Himself to Peter and John first, but waited for Mary. And He sent her to tell rather than going in person. She had a very difficult bunch to witness to. They would think her mad, even as the world thinks us mad. But the truth would be known soon enough.
Exposition of the Text
John 20:19—It was evening on the first day after the Sabbath, and the doors were securely locked where the disciples were because they feared the Jews. And Jesus came into their midst and said to them, “Peace be unto you.”
This account most closely relates to the account in Luke 24:36-43. In both cases, Jesus appears suddenly in the midst of the disciples and says “Peace be unto you” which was a familiar Hebrew greeting. This means that Jesus had already appeared to some of the followers of Jesus on the road to Emmaus where he identified Himself to them in the breaking of bread. He had also appeared once to Simon Peter (Luke 24:33).
I would guess that the disciples appeared anything but peaceful at the appearance of Jesus. Peter had seen Him, and Mary Magdalene and the women had seen Him. There was probably a mixture of excitement, confusion and fear. They were at a loss to understand what this all meant. We do know that John mentions that the doors were securely locked because of fear of the Jews. They were not about to let anyone in who was knocking at the door, regardless of who they said they were. So Jesus had to find another way in.
The very fact that Jesus just appeared in their midst without coming through the door must have convinced them that they were seeing Jesus’ angel or spirit. People are not in the habit of materializing out of thin air unless one thinks of Star Trek. This would have been in the realm of their belief as they did believe in spirits and ghosts.
John 20:20—And after he said this, He showed them his hands and side. Then the disciples rejoiced knowing that it was the Lord.
The showing of Jesus’ wounds cheered the disciples in that they knew it wasn’t just any ghost or spirit. It seems unlikely at this point that they understood that they were not just seeing Jesus’ angel, but Jesus in His resurrected body. Luke goes on to tell us that Jesus asked for a bite of fish and that a ghost did not have flesh and bones as He had (Luke 24:39). Jesus in the account in Luke invited them to touch Him. We can see how the details given in Luke and those in John confirm and explain each other. This is a certification that the testimony is valid and believable.
John 20:21—He said to them again: “Peace be unto you! Even as the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.
Jesus now repeats His “Shalom to you”. This time, I think the disciples were more at peace with the greeting. Jesus comes to bring peace to those who will accept Him. All of the gospels give a “Great Commission” in which Jesus commands His disciples to go out into the world as witnesses. And Jesus probably repeated this commission several times to make sure it sunk in using slightly different words. The word for sent in the Father’s sending of Jesus is the same base word for “apostle”. Jesus uses a different word for “sent” for the apostles, but they are closely related in meaning. What is significant is that the verb for the Father’s sending of Jesus is in the perfect tense in Greek. It indicates that the end of Jesus mission on earth was very near because the act of sending is related as a past tense event. But the result of Jesus’ mission to earth has everlasting consequences. This is what is brought out by the perfect tense in Greek.