Jesus: The Risen King (20:1-30)

Bible Passage: John 20:1-30

In this chapter we have the account of Jesus’ resurrection, including his appearances to a variety of different people. In this sermon we focus on three of those resurrection appearances: the appearance to Mary Magdalene, the appearance to the group of disciples, and the appearance to Thomas.

Mary Magdalene – Mary is the very first person in this chapter to see that the tomb is empty, and she is also the first to see the risen Jesus. She was tearful because she thought the body had been moved, but this gave opportunity for the most wonderful news, as Jesus appeared to her. Though she did not immediately recognise him, when he said her name, her eyes were opened and she realised who he was. Mary was sent to announce the good news to the others, and in this is a link to the call that each one of us has to proclaim the resurrection to those around us. We should note the significance of a woman being honoured in this way in a day where female testimony was not considered credible in court.

The Disciples – When Mary made the disciples aware of the empty tomb, Peter and John came running, but it was not until later that day that they saw the risen Jesus for themselves. In this meeting, Jesus did three significant things. Firstly, he bestowed peace on them. Given all that had happened, this peace was no doubt exactly what their troubled minds needed. The resurrection of Jesus is the power to bring hope and peace for us in even the hardest of circumstances that we face. Secondly, he sent them on his mission, just as the Father had sent him. We have been commissioned by Jesus with sharing the good news of his resurrection. Thirdly, he breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Jesus has not only sent us on his mission, but has filled us with the Spirit to empower us for the task.

Thomas – For whatever reason, Thomas was not with the rest of the group when Jesus appeared to them, and he didn’t believe what he was told. In one sense it is easy to understand Thomas’s skepticism, and yet he is in the same situation as the majority of believers through history – called to believe in the resurrection of Jesus without having seen with our own eyes. Jesus graciously appears to Thomas and allows him to see and touch for himself. As he does, Jesus uses the moment to declare that those who will believe subsequently without having seen are truly blessed.

Potential Applications:

  • You could ask people about their own response to the claim that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Are they ready to believe and receive him as ‘Lord and God’?
  • You could challenge people in their evangelism, to share the good news like Mary Magdelene was sent, and the disciples were commissioned to do.
  • Just as Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit onto his disciples, you could pray for people to be filled with the Spirit.