September 27th, Day 40 - John 20:11-23

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Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"- and that he had said these things to her. – John 20:18

Who in your life needs to hear that Jesus is alive today? 

Pray for opportunities and the courage to share with them what the living Christ has personally done in your life.

game on

Read John 20:11-23

Forgiveness is powerful. I experienced it in 1982 when God forgave my sins and made me His own. I’ve also met people on the mission field who have had their homes or property destroyed or they themselves were burned with chemicals because of their faith in Christ. I have seen children abandoned by their parents. These are devastating issues. How could these brothers and sisters live a Spirit-filled life, a joyful life in this context? How do they progress? In a word, it comes down to forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an amazing act of grace that the Lord allows us to experience so we can extend it to others. It is all grounded upon Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross. He forgave us our sins and took the punishment we deserved, empowering us to forgive as well. Sometimes we forgive people because it’s a small offense and they ask for it, other times we are confronted with a larger issue that requires us to struggle through the forgiveness process. The latter is difficult because of the personal pain we have endured; it’s a crisis of the will.

Ultimately, there is a freedom that comes with forgiveness. And it is a powerful freedom.

your move

Let’s look to what God wants to say directly to you today through John 20:11-23.

Scripture:  Write down what affects your spirit as you read through today’s passage

Observation: What do you now notice about Jesus’ body in this passage? If you were Mary, how would you describe it to the disciples?


Application: Where in your life are you unaware of where Jesus is, like Mary was? Where are you saddened and unable to see that Jesus is with you, guiding you and working in you?


Prayer: Ask Jesus for the eyes to see Him in you throughout the day. Tell Him where you have been and where you want to go with Him. Spend time with the Immanuel, God with us! (See Matthew 1:23)

bonus round

In an important parallel passage, Luke 24:33-43 describes how the followers of Jesus remained in Jerusalem and did not return immediately to Galilee. Here Jesus appeared to them unexpectedly; they were frightened, and their doubts only disappeared when Jesus provided evidence to them by displaying his wounds and eating a meal.

John builds the same scene but with important differences. It is the evening of this Easter Sunday (20:19) and the doors are shut (or as the NIV paraphrases, the doors are "locked"). Fear has gripped their hearts and they no doubt conclude that the tragic fate of Jesus may soon be theirs. The temple authorities (Gk. "the Jews") will find them and arrest them too. But instead Jesus "comes" to them and stands in their midst. No doubt this appearance is miraculous since John has just told us that the doors were shut tight. But we can hardly speculate how he has materialized among them.

His words "peace be with you" (repeated in 20:19 and 21) were a standard Hebrew greeting (Judg. 6:23; 19:20; l Sam. 25:6; 3 John 1:15), still used in the Middle East today. But here these words are far more than a greeting. At a profoundly personal level, Jesus is summing up the essence of his work and presence in the world. Peace is the gift of his kingdom. In 14:27 and 16:33 Jesus promised that this peace would be his gift to them; now he has delivered it.

The disciples' response (20:20) to his appearance-after they see the evidence of his wounds-is likewise a fulfillment of what was promised. "I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy .... Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy" (16:20-22, italics added). Once they see Jesus in this room, the disciples are filled with joy.

Throughout this Gospel Jesus has been described as the One who was sent by God (e.g., 4:3; 5:23; 6:38). Now with his work nearly completed, his final task is to commission his followers as he was commissioned by the Father. Thus as Jesus was God's special representative (or agent) in the world, so too his disciples become Jesus' agents, working in the world and witnessing to the reality of God and the truth of Jesus' words.

But in this Gospel one feature of Jesus' commission is his empowering. God not only sent his Son but also empowered him with the Spirit. For example, in Jesus' baptism the central event (from John's view) was not the water baptism itself, but the anointing in the Spirit that came to Jesus. Our first introduction of Jesus came from the prophetic words of John the Baptist, whom God had told, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit" (1:33).

This image is reinforced in many ways. In 3:34 Jesus is known as the one person whom God has given the Spirit without measure (cf. 6:27). Above all, Jesus is described as the One in whom the Spirit flows like a living spring, a source of life and refreshment and renewal that will be offered following his glorification (4:15; 7:37-39; 19:30, 34). Therefore to be commissioned (20:21), to advance the work of God as God's agent, means being empowered, as Jesus was empowered - obtaining the Spirit, just as Jesus was anointed and as Jesus promised.

Thus John 20:22 becomes the climax to the entire Gospel. The Spirit - suggested throughout his public ministry, promised in the Upper Room, and symbolized at the cross - is now given to the disciples in a provocative and personal way. Jesus breathes (on them) and says, "Receive [the] Holy Spirit." John 20:22 fulfills the word given at the Feast of Tabernacles, where Jesus' offer of living water referred to the Holy Spirit, which could not be distributed until Jesus was glorified (7:39). Now the hour of glorification has reached its climax. Jesus is departing, and he places the Spirit that is within him in their lives.


*This resource is an excerpt from The NIV Application Commentary on John by Gary Burge (Zondervan, 2000), pages 557-559.