John 20:19-23 – The Eye Witnesses of Jesus’s Resurrection: He has risen Indeed Part 4

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Comment: Again we see the first day being mentioned. The first day became the day that the early church started to meet in and that’s why even today we also meet on Sunday. John tells us that the doors were locked where the disciples were meeting because they feared the jews. While they were there, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them peace be with you. After this, Jesus showed them His hands and His side and the disciples were glad when they saw that it was Jesus. John does not give us a lot of details but, we know from Luke 24:37-39, that a lot happened from the time Jesus appeared to the time He showed them His hands and side.
For an example, Luke tells us in verse 37 that when Jesus appeared to them, the disciples were frightened and startled, and they thought they saw a ghost. In verse 38, Luke tells us that Jesus asked them why are they troubled and why does doubt arise in their hearts. This is also probably
the part were according to Mark in Mark 16:14, were Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardening of their hearts. This is because they did not believe those that said that they saw the risen Jesus. In this case it would most probably include Mary Magdalene. This is then most probably the reason why Jesus then showed them His hands and side. Jesus even went as far as to tell them to touch Him and see, according to Luke 24:39. In realizing that the disciples through He was a ghost, Jesus told them that a ghost does not have flesh and bones. Luke in this portion proves without a shadow of doubt that Jesus had risen flesh and bones and all. He was not just an imaginary figure but a real person with flesh and bones that the disciples could even touch. John confirms in verse 20 above that indeed Jesus showed them His hands and His side.
After this John tells us in verse 21 that Jesus once again said to them that peace be with them and as God has send Him, He is now sending them. In verse 22, Jesus then breathed on them and said that they should receive the Holy Spirit. According to me, these verses seem to relate to Luke 24:48-49, where Jesus tells the disciples that they are witnesses and in verse 49, promises them the Holy Spirit. So, Luke 24, verse 40, is exactly as John 20:20 and Luke 24:48-49 is John 20:21-22, this means that what happened in Luke 24:41-47, must have happened before John 20:21-22.
Having said this, we can now look at Luke 24:41-47, and there Luke tells us that after Jesus showed them His hands and side and feet, even asking them to touch Him and telling them that, unlike a ghost, he has flesh and bones, while they were still disbelieving in joy and marvel, for even extra proof, Jesus asked them for something to eat and He ate before them. This seems to have got them to finally believe since after this, Jesus explained to them that these things had to happen, meaning His suffering, death and resurrection, so that the Law of Moses, Prophets and Psalms must be fulfilled. At this point Jesus opened their minds so that they could understand scripture. Jesus told them all these had to happen so that the repentance and forgiveness of sins must be proclaimed to all nations in His name. Take note that it was not so that Health Wealth and Prosperity must be proclaimed but repentance and forgiveness of sins.
This then brings us to John 20:21-22 and Luke 24:48-49 where John tells us that Jesus breathed into them and said receive the Holy Spirit but, where Luke tells us that Jesus promised them the holy Spirit. This might seem contradictory at first but we know that the disciples only received the Holy Spirit after Jesus had ascended. So, here, Jesus could not have been giving them the Holy Spirit but a promise of the Holy Spirit. So, what John describes as breathing into them and saying receive the Holy Spirit, is nothing more than a pledge that Jesus was making to them.
Then in verse 23, John then said that if they forgave sins of anyone, their sins will be forgiven and if they withheld forgiveness for anyone, their sins will also be withheld. Now, this verse has caused all sorts of issues, where some think that christians can forgive sins. Mark 2:7 makes it very clear that only God can forgive sins. So, interpreting this verse to means that Christians can forgives sins, would be contrary to scripture. So, what does this verse mean? The best explanation I got is that this verse gives us as Christians a right to say to someone who has confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead,  to say that their sins have been forgiven. That’s all. Those that don’t, to say that their sins have not been forgiven.
John in the passage from verse 1 to 29, uses the word “saw” up to 11 times. This clearly gives us a clear indication that John wants us to take note that we have eye witnesses not only to the resurrection but to the risen Jesus. In this passage above, Here John emphasizes that when the disciples saw Jesus, they were glad.
Message: Jesus rose from the dead indeed. Mary Magdalene and the disciples are eye witnesses to the risen lord. They did not imagine seeing Jesus but they saw Jesus with flesh and bones and who was able to eat. They saw Jesus who showed them His hands, feet and side and they could even touch Him. One can argue that John is referring to other people that say they saw Jesus and that’s hearsay evidence. That’s a fair statement to make but, John also is an eyewitness and was there when these things happened. He was at the grave and was there when Jesus appeared to the disciples. So, this Gospel of John, is an eyewitness account of  not only the resurrection but also the risen Jesus. Amen.

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Posted in Jesus Christ, John 20, The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, The Gospel of John.

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