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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
John 20

 

 

Verses 1-18

John 20:1. The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene ear/y, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher.

Her love for her Lord made her rise early, and helped her to overcome the fear which would have prevented many from going out “when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher.” There are fears which some cannot shake off in the dark, and those fears would be apt to become intensified in going to a sepulcher in the dark; but love wakes early to try to find Christ, and love can see in the dark when looking for Jesus. Mary little expected to find the tomb of Jesus rifled, and the stone rolled away; she was so surprised at what she saw that she hurried away to tell the story to other friends of her Lord.

John 20:2. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.

This was the language of ignorance and unbelief. She had forgotten that the Lord had said that he would rise again, the third day; or else she had never understood the meaning of his words; so, instead of saying “He is risen,” she said, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.” Unbelief often reads things wrongly; it reads sorrow into facts that should create joy. Nothing could have made Mary happier than to believe that her Lord had risen from the dead, and nothing ever made her more sorrowful than feeling that she must say, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.”

John 20:3-4. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher.

They wanted to know what had really happened, so they resolved that they would go and see. The woman’s message surprised them, and troubled them: “So they ran both together.” A good many people seemed to be running that morning. Had the disciples known the whole truth, they might have taken to dancing for joy, but their fears quickened their footsteps.

John 20:5. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; —

So that he knew that they had not taken away the body of Jesus; for, if they had, they certainly would not have taken off the linen clothes. It would have been very difficult, and would have taken considerable time to unwrap the cold grave-clothes when they were bound to the body by the unguents that had been used: “He saw the linen clothes lying; “ —

John 20:5. Yet went he not in.

Perhaps, out of reverence; or, possibly, out of deference to the older man, he would give him the preference, and let him enter first.

John 20:6. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

They were evidently both struck with that sight. It indicated that there had been no haste, no hurry by thieves, but deliberate action of quite another kind.

John 20:7. And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

As one has well said, there were the grave-clothes left as the furniture for the believer’s last bed, and there was the napkin, “in a place by itself,” to wipe away the tears of mourners. The chief lesson is that this act had been done at leisure by someone who was in no hurry whatever. He had put together the linen clothes, and wrapped up the napkin, and laid it “in a place by itself.”

John 20:8. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed.

That is a great deal for John to be able to say concerning himself, for Mary had not yet believed. Possibly, Peter had scarcely believed, but John had. He felt certain that the Lord had risen. He remembered his words, and he correctly interpreted the fact now before him: “he saw, and believed.”

John 20:9. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

They did not understand it; even John himself did not until then. The rest of the disciples had never put that interpretation upon our Lord’s words which was the clear and simple meaning of them, namely, that he would rise from the dead. I should not wonder if there are other words of Scripture, with regard to the future, which we should comprehend if we took them exactly as they stand in the Word; but we have put other meanings upon them, and consequently see no further into them.

John 20:10. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

Having ascertained that the body of Jesus was not there, and John having come to the conclusion that the Lord had indeed risen from the dead, he and Peter went away home prayerfully to wait and see what next would happen.

John 20:11. But Mary stood, —

She was not going away home. Love cannot leave the place where it lost its object; it will continue to search there: “But Mary stood” —

John 20:11. Without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked —

Some can weep, but never look. Do not act so, beloved, but look for comfort even when your heart is breaking: “As she wept, she stooped down, and looked “ —

John 20:11-12. into the sepulcher, and seeth two angels in white —

The resurrection color, the color of joy and gladness: “two angels in white”—

John 20:12. Sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

I have no doubt that the angel who sat at the feet was quite as content to sit there as the other was to sit at the head. If any two of you are sent upon the Lord’s business, do not pick and choose as to where you shall be, or what you shall do. “One at the head, and the other at the feet.” I am afraid that, if they had been men instead of angels, both would have wanted to sit at the head, and the feet would have been neglected. This sight seems to remind one of the mercy-seat, where the cherubim stood facing each other, and covering the mercy-seat with their outspread wings.

John 20:13. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

Grief has not many words. It is apt to repeat itself, as the Lord himself did in Gethsemane when he prayed three times, using the same words.

John 20:14-15. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?

Christ often repeats the words of his messengers, as if to endorse them. The angels said, “Woman, why weepest thou?” The angels’ Master says the same. I pray him, tonight, not only to give me the right word to say, but also to say it himself to your hearts. But Jesus added another question to the angels’ “Woman, why weepest thou?”

John 20:15. Whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Did it occur to her that, possibly, the gardener objected to having a corpse in the garden, and that, therefore, he had come early in the morning, and taken it away? We can hardly imagine what she did think; but when people are in great grief, they often think a great many things which they would not think if they were quite in their right minds. What strange delusions, what singular chimeras of monstrous shape will pass through the heart of grief! God help us to be clear-minded, and not to think what we should not like to say! Still, Mary was a brave woman, for she said to the gardener, “Tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”

John 20:16. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

She said, “My Master, my Rabbi, my Teacher, my Leader, my dear Master;” and I expect she said it with great exultation. She delighted to have her Master again, to have her Teacher again; for, to be without her Teacher, and without her Lord, was a terrible bereavement to that gentle, teachable heart. I suppose she was about to lay hold upon Christ, to grasp him by the feet, lest he should again go away from her.

John 20:17. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; —

Or, as the words may be read, “Hold me not; detain me not; “ —

John 20:17. For I am not yet ascended to my Father:

“I have to go away from you, so do not imagine that you can hold me back. Nay, the time for such communications with me is past, for I am now in another condition. I will communicate with you spiritually; but, for that, you must wait a little: ‘ I am not yet ascended to my Father.’”

John 20:17. But go to my brethren, —

He had never called them that before. “Brethren” he had called them, but not with the emphatic “my.” “Go to my brethren,” —

John 20:17. And say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Thus Christ explained to them that the Father, who is God, was God to Christ, and God to them; the Father of Christ, and their Father also.

John 20:18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord,

That was a very different message from her first one. Then she came and said, “He is gone; the tomb is empty; the stone is rolled away;” now she comes with the joyful tidings, “I have seen our risen Lord.”

John 20:18. And that he had spoken these things unto her.

Sometimes, we have to deliver the message of stern justice, which is one of doom to the guilty; but, oh, how sweet it is to be able to come with the message of the gospel!

’He lives; the great Redeemer lives.’

He lives to plead for sinners; so, sinners: come and trust him, for he will manifest himself to you as surely as he did to these disciples, though not in exactly the same form.


Verses 11-29

John 20:11-12. But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

You see, dear friends, love is very patient and persevering. The other disciples had gone away home, but not so Mary, she stands outside the sepulcher, and still waits, for she cannot go till she has seen her Lord. Love, however, has many sorrows for, as Mary stood without the sepulcher, she was weeping. Oftentimes your love to Christ will make you sorrowful when you for a while lose his presence; it will be a great sorrow to you if your Lord should seem to have hidden himself from you. But see how quick-sighted love is; Mary saw the angels, whom the other disciples might have seen if they had not gone home. One of the beatitudes is, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God;” and love is one of the most eminent signs of purity. I do not wonder, therefore, that love saw angels, since love sees God himself.

John 20:13. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?

They could not understand Mary’s tears, their question seemed to say “Christ the Lord is risen from the dead, and all the streets of heaven are ringing with hallelujahs because the great Conqueror has returned bearing the spoils of his victory. Why weepest thou? Art not thou one of those for whom this redeeming work was done? ‘Woman, why weepest thou?’”

John 20:13. She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

That was enough to make any of Christ’s loved ones weep, and if ever you hear a sermon which has not Christ in it, you may well go down the aisle weeping, and if any ask why you weep, you may reply, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”

John 20:14. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

A strange and sad unbelief had taken possession of her, and there is nothing that blinds the eye so quickly as unbelief. Christ is near thee, poor soul, near thee in thy trouble, but thou dost not know that it is Jesus. Open thine eyes, may God the Holy Spirit touch them with his heavenly eye-salve, that thou mayest see that it is Christ himself who is close beside thee!

John 20:15. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Her supposition was wrong in one way, but right in another, for Jesus is the Gardener, and his Church is his garden. There was one gardener in whom we fell; here is another and a better Gardener in whom we rise. It is he, and he alone, who can properly tend all the plants of his Father’s right-hand planting. He is the Gardener, though not the one that Mary supposed, but what a strange request this was for her to make: “If thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” Could she have carried away the body of Jesus if it had been there? If so, what a ghastly load for her tender frame to bear! Ay, but she would have done it somehow or other; for, if faith laughs at impossibilities, and cries, “It shall be done,” it is love that actually does the deed of holy daring. The task that seems well-nigh impossible is readily performed when the spirit is invigorated by love.

John 20:16. Jesus saith unto her, Mary.

In the simple utterance of her name, there were tones which she could not mistake, it was the sweetest music she had heard since her Lord’s last message from the cross: “Mary.” “Why, surely,” she must have thought, “it was the Master’s voice calling me by name!”

John 20:16. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

Or, “My Master!” The word “Rabboni” means something more than “Master.” Mary seems to say, “Greatest and best of all teachers, I know thy voice; now that thou hast called me by my name, I recognize thee, and I wait to listen to the instruction thou art ready to impart to me.”

John 20:17. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father:

“There will be time enough for the fellowship your heart craves:” —

John 20:17. But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Practical service is better than personal rapture. Mary would fain have held her Lord, but he says to her, “Go to my brethren.” You will always find that it is best and safest to do what Jesus tells you, when he tells you, and as he tells you. What a delightful message is this from the risen Christ! “Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”

John 20:18-19. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

If they had possessed more faith, they would have left a door open for Jesus to come in, however anxious they might have been to shut out the Jews. I am afraid, dear brethren and sisters, that we also are sometimes more anxious about shutting out the Jews than we are about letting in Christ. I mean, we are very particular in trying to keep out our own troubles and cares, but if we get Jesus within, we shall not think of the Jews, nor of our troubles and cares; they will all disappear as soon as he appears.

John 20:20. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

That was enough to make them glad. The gladdest sight out of heaven, and the gladdest sight in heaven itself, is to see the Lord.

John 20:21. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

“I am the Messiah, the sent One; you, too, shall be my missionaries, my sent ones;” it is but another form of the same word.

John 20:22-23. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

That is to say, “As you proclaim my gospel, I will back up your message; when you preach of pardoning blood, I will make it efficacious. When you declare to penitent sinners that their sins are remitted, it shall be so; and when you tell those who believe not that they are condemned already, and that except they repent they shall abide in condemnation, their sins shall still be retained.” The true minister of God speaketh not apart from the Word of God, and when he speaks the Word of God, the God of the Word is himself there to make it effectual. It shall be no brutum fulmen, no wasted thunderbolt; it shall fall in reality, and what the servant of Christ declares, according to the Scriptures, shall really be proved to be true.

John 20:24. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

Possibly he did not go out of an evening; it may be that he was a half-dead sort of Christian, like a great many people are in London. They think they have done finely if they go out on the Sabbath morning, but the evening, — well, it is too cold for them, or they must find some other excuse for keeping indoors: “Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.” That was a great pity, because Thomas would not only be a loser by his absence, but he would be sure to influence others, for he was an apostle. Surely, whenever it is possible, we who are leaders in the church, ministers, deacons, and elders, should take care that we are not absent from the house of the Lord.

John 20:25. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord.

But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. There is something good about that declaration of Thomas, for a man is not bound to believe merely on the testimony of others. He should, if he can, endeavor to get evidence for himself, and as Christ is still alive, the very best thing is to go to him. But there was also much that Thomas said which was very wrong, he had no right to demand that he should see the nail prints in Christ’s hands, and, worse still, that he should be permitted to put his finger into them, and to thrust his hand into his Lord’s side. There was more than a little impertinence about that utterance, and something more even than an ordinary unbelief; and when we ask for signs and wonders from God, and say that we will not believe except we have them, we are guilty of very presumptuous conduct. We are bound to look for evidence concerning Christ; but when the evidence is sufficient, we ought not out of curiosity to crave for more.

John 20:26. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them.

That was an improvement upon the meeting of the previous Lord’s-day evening; Thomas had learnt by this time what he had lost the week before, so he was present on this occasion.

John 20:26-27. Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas,

Picking out the one who most needed to be addressed, like the Good Shepherd seeking out the sick sheep first: “Then saith he to Thomas,” —

John 20:27-28. Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

It has been well observed that Thomas was the first person who ever proved to himself the Deity of Christ from the exhibition of his wounds. There is a good argument in it, which we cannot stay to explain at this time; but the very humanity of Christ has in it the doctrine of his Deity; you can easily argue from the one to the other. How divine must he be who, in his condescension, took upon himself our nature!

John 20:29. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

That blessedness can be reached by all of us who believe in Christ. Those who lived in this world before Christ came, saw his day by faith, and they were blessed; those who lived in his day, and saw him in the flesh, and trusted him, were blessed; but we who cannot see him, yet believe in him,

are the most blessed of them all.


Verses 18-31

John 20:18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

She was a true woman — one whom they had known well enough to be quite able to trust her, and her witness ought to have been believed, but there were some that doubted.

John 20:19. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you.

How he came there we do not knew, but doors cannot shut him out. Is there any door between my soul and Christ tonight then? Have I shut myself up in the chamber of doubt, despondency, unbelief? He can come to me. While the doors are yet shut, he can appear within my spirit, and say, “Peace be to you. “Oh! that he would do so! Do we not cry to him to come and breathe peace upon us?

John 20:20. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side.

That they might be sure it was he — the same who had died by crucifixion — that they might see how intimate he was with them — familiar — that his scarcely healed wounds should be seen by them.

John 20:20. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

Oh! for such a sight! There is a depth of gladness in a risen Christ. Those wounds preach peace and joy.

John 20:21-23. Then said Jesus to them again. Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Thus did Jesus Christ support and make for ever true the probing of his word. Do we declare that the sins of penitents are remitted? They are remitted. Are we, in his name, bidden to declare that “he that believeth not shall be condemned”? So shall it be. He will make the word which is uttered to be true. We shall not speak without our Master making the utterance of his word to be readier of fact.

John 20:24. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

Perhaps he lived a long way off, or else, being rather slow, he had stayed away, doubting, and fearing, and questioning, and he had not got there in time; anyhow, he was not there. “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is,” for it will be a loss to you, as it was to him.

John 20:25. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

Dogged, obstinate unbelief. Some have said he was a large-hearted man, who investigated truth. I do not see it. He had not gone to the tomb, like Peter and John, to look at the grave-clothes, and to discover that Christ was not there. He does not appear to have investigated the testimony of Mary Magdalene and of the others. He was just as narrow-minded as he very well could be, as I believe modern doubters are with all their boast of their wonderful thoughtfulness and liberality. We have only their own opinion, I am sure, upon that matter; and when a man sounds his own trumpet, there is not much in it.

John 20:26-27. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then said he to Thomas.

For our Lord has a way of making personal application of his word. He looks after the sheep that is sick, and severs it from the flock, that he may deal with it in his wisdom. “Then saith he to Thomas.”

John 20:27-28. Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

And whether Thomas did put his finger into the print of his nails or not, we cannot tell. Everyone may think as he likes about that. He may have done so, or he may not, but this one thing happened, that he “answered and said unto him, ‘My Lord and my God.’” He made a splendid leap from the depths of doubt to the firm rock of confidence. With two blessed “mys” he seems to grasp Christ with both hands, and in two grand words he pictures him, “My Lord and my God.”

John 20:29. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

That is the faith — the true faith — that wants no buttressing and props, but believes the testimony of God.

John 20:30-31. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God: and that believing ye might have life through his name.

God grant that the object of writing the New Testament may be answered in each one of us.


Verses 19-31

John 20:19. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

He has not risen from the tomb many hours before we find him thus coming to his disciples. His love to them was too great to permit him to be long absent from them. He had said to them, “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me;” so he kept his word. He stood in their midst, and said unto them, “Peace be unto you.” He is the Lord and Giver of peace just as much now as he was then. Oh, that he would speak peace to the hearts of all his people now! May each believing soul among you have a deep peace! May all your troublous thoughts come to an end, and every anxious mind be calmed! Peace! Blessed peace. Oh, that the Spirit of peace would breathe it upon us all! “Peace be unto you.”

John 20:20. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side.

These were the marks to help their recognition of him. These were the memorials to excite their gratitude. These, too, were the tokens of his condescension; for a man does not show his wounds to any but to those whom he loves; “He showed unto them his hands and his side.” You cannot see that sight, brethren, but you can meditate upon it. Think how he gave those blessed hands to the nails, and that precious side to the soldier’s spear; and, as you think of them, let your love flow forth unto him who suffered thus for you.

John 20:20. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

I should think they were glad. They had been afraid of the Jews; but they forgot that fear when they saw the Lord. I suppose that, at first, when he suddenly appeared in their midst, they were afraid of him; but now there was first a sacred calm, and then there was a ripple of holy gladness on the surface of the still waters of their souls. We cannot see him, brethren, with these eyes of ours; but by faith we can behold him, so we may have gladness even as the disciples had. We ought to be the gladdest people in all the world, because Christ is ours, and is spiritually with us as he promised that he would be.

John 20:21. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

“You are to go forth and to bless the world, even as I have done. My Father hath sent me; and ‘even so send I you.’ You are to be my delegates, to carry on my service; my commissioned officers, to go forth to conflict and to conquest in my name.”

John 20:22-23. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

This is as much as for Christ to say, “I will back up your ministry. When you preach that men are condemned for sin of which they have not repented, I will make it to be so as a matter of fact. When you declare pardon to all who trust in my precious blood, I will make it so. That truth, which you preach, shall have my seal of approval set upon it. My power shall go forth with your proclamation of the truth, so that it shall be seen that you are not proclaiming a fiction. When you preach my gospel, I will remit the sins of all who believe it; and when you pronounce sentence of condemnation on such as remain in unbelief, I will confirm your declaration!”

John 20:24. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.”

Very likely, loving Jesus, as he evidently did, very much, Thomas was broken-hearted when he found that his Master was dead; so, when his fellow-disciples told him that Jesus was alive again, he could not believe it, he felt that the news was too good to be true. He had fallen into a fit of despondency, and got away, as broken-hearted, depressed people often do, trying to get quite alone, when Christian company would be one of the best ways of finding comfort and solace. So, “Thomas was not with them when Jesus came.”

John 20:25. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord.

“We have seen the Lord; there is no mistake about the matter, for we have all seen him.” And thus, with loving, anxious desire, they tried to cheer him, and to make him participate in the gladness which they themselves had enjoyed. Dear friends, always look after your weak brethren. If there is a Thomas, who is depressed and sad, and who therefore shuns you, do not you shun him; but find him out, and try to tell him what you have learned by way of comfort for your own heart. Mayhap, God will use it to comfort him also.

John 20:25. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

Thomas should not have said that, because, after all, it was not true. I do not suppose that he did put his finger into the print of the nails, and thrust his hand into Christ’s side, yet he did believe. We sometimes say a great deal that would have been far better left unsaid; and, especially, when our spirit is depressed, it is a token of wisdom to feel, “We are hardly in a condition of mind in which we can speak as we ought, so we had better remain silent.”

John 20:26. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them:

That is better. His love brought him out, you see, away from himself; and it often happens that, by getting a man away from himself, we get him away from his worst enemy.

John 20:26. Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

His first salutation, after his resurrection, was such a choice one that there could not be a better, so he repeated it when he appeared the second time. Peace is so rich a blessing that even the Divine Master can say nothing sweeter to his faithful followers; so again he says to them, “Peace be unto you.”

John 20:27. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

Our dear and condescending Master would give to his feeble, and somewhat petulant disciple, all the proofs he had himself asked to have. He shall have evidence clear as noonday if he must have it; Thomas, however, as I suppose, was wise enough not to accept the gracious offer of his Lord. Sometimes, it is wise not to take what God himself may put in our way. You remember how Balaam was allowed to go with the men sent to him by Balak, and he did so; yet it would have been much wiser of him if he had not gone. I do not think that Thomas did put his finger into the print of the nails, or thrust his hand into his Master’s side. On the contrary, we read: —

John 20:28. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Leaping out of the slough of doubt, on to the rock of confidence, by a single spring, and getting further, perhaps, than others had done who had before outstripped him. He inferred the Deity of Christ from his wounds and his resurrection, — a grand chain of argument of which we have not the intervening links. His thoughtful mind made him feel that, if Christ was indeed risen, — the same Christ who had died, — it was proved, by those death-wounds, that he was both Lord and God; while his personal, appropriating faith, realizing the identity of the Saviour’s person, made him say, “My Lord and my God.”

John 20:29. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed:

That is well.

John 20:29. Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

That is better.

John 20:30-31. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Now, dear friends, has the purpose, for which this Book was written, been answered in your case? Have you been led to “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” and so to believe that you “have life through his name”? If not, why not? May you have grace to answer that question, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 20:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/john-20.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, September 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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