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Sabbath School Lessons on John
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 13: The Power of the Resurrection *
Introduction: I hope that you, like me, have now come to love the
book of John. What a blessing! The bad news is that this is our last
study in John. The good news is that our study is the most joyful
event in the history of the world. Jesus, our Savior, is resurrected
from the dead! Let's jump right into our study of this triumph of
good over evil!
- Out of the Tomb
- Read John 20:1-2. What motivates Mary Magdalene to get up
early on Sunday to go visit Jesus' tomb?
- Who is the "disciple ... Jesus loved?" (This is
John's way of referring to himself.)
- Let's stop just a minute. We accuse Peter of
being full of himself. Is it sin for John to
refer to himself that way?
- I imagine that most of you were raised
with brothers and sisters. What if one of
your siblings always referred to
himself/herself as "the one our parents
loved?" Would that warm your heart or
- Why do you think Mary went to Peter and John first?
(She must have viewed them as leaders of the
- Mary says, "They have taken the Lord." Who do you
think she means by "they?" (The little group had just
been "rolled over" by the religious and secular
authorities. She probably did not have anyone
specific in mind, but meant those in power who had
caused all of the turmoil in their lives.)
- Read John 20:3-8. Compare John with Peter based on the
facts in these verses. (John is a faster runner, but more
discreet. I think John wants to tell us something about
their personalities and physical prowess. However, it
could be he is just telling the story and is giving us
these specific facts to bolster the idea he is telling the
- Is John still bragging? (Sure seems like it.)
- Let's focus on John 20:8 and add verse 9. What is it that
- Remember that John is writing this account. Is he
saying that he believed in the resurrection at a time
when the rest of the disciples did not? (John seems
to say that he believed that Jesus had been raised
from the dead. But, when John writes that "they did
not understand from the Scripture," I think he
includes himself. John tells us that the disciples as
a group had not clearly understood the Old Testament
verses which pointed to Jesus' death and
resurrection. John would not have referred to the
gospel accounts of his fellow disciples as
- If I am right that John did not then fully grasp the
Scriptural basis for the resurrection, on what did he
base his belief? (Consider the scene logically.
Verses 5-7 tell us that the grave clothes were
present and one part even "folded!" If enemies or
robbers had taken Jesus, they would not have
unwrapped Him and they would not have folded His
graveclothes (of all things!) This is powerful
evidence of an intentional, deliberate, exit. Like a
detective, John apparently grasped this.)
- Read Mark 9:30-32. Why didn't the disciples understand
what would happen to Jesus? He had been very plain! (They
did not want Jesus to die. They wanted Him to be King.
They were afraid to ask because they did not want to hear
any bad news. If you look at Matthew 26:32 you will see
that the night before His death Jesus again reminded the
disciples that He would arise ("after I have arisen") and
meet them in Galilee. They were told, they just did not
want to believe. I have seen this with the family of a
terminal patient. I listened to what the doctor said and I
was amazed at how my understanding differed from that of
- Read John 20:10-16. What does this teach us about who Mary
thought the "they" was who had taken Jesus? (This shows
she had no idea. She asks the angels. She asks "the
gardener." She just wants to make sure the body is
- Jesus could have appeared to John (the one He loved)
or Peter just as easily as He appeared to Mary. Why
did Jesus appear to Mary first? (I suspect this has
to do with Eve. Genesis tells us that Eve was the
first to sin ( Genesis 3:1-6). After Jesus had paid
the penalty for sin, after He had overcome death, the
first person He appeared to was a woman.)
- Put yourself in Mary's place. What is the range of
your emotions? (She went from the sad and frustrating
task of trying to find and protect Jesus' dead body
to realizing that Jesus was now her risen Lord! Dawn
breaks from darkness.)
- Read John 20:17. A lot of theology is wrapped up in this
verse. Jesus had been dead since Friday. It was now
Sunday. How could He not have returned to His Father by
- Compare Luke 23:40-43. Was Jesus in heaven the day He
died or not? ( John 20:17 clearly says He was not. It
seems illogical to punctuate Jesus' statement, "I
tell you the truth today, you will be with Me in
paradise." Why would anyone say they were speaking
"today?" Obviously, Jesus was speaking that day. Yet,
that seems to be the only reasonable way to punctuate
this verse based on John 20:17. (As you know, the
original Greek had no punctuation.) John 20:17 is a
powerful argument for the idea that the saints do not
immediately go to heaven upon death - but that they
do, indeed, go to heaven because Jesus has overcome
- The Visits
- Read John 20:18-20. Why did the disciples fear the Jews?
(They thought they might be next. Jesus had been killed,
why not them?)
- Imagine you are one of the disciples in the locked
room when Jesus shows up. Describe your emotions?
(Mary had brought them news that they might not have
believed. Maybe it is true. They are huddled together
in fear. All of a sudden, joy comes when they
actually see that Jesus is alive and well. Fear turns
- Why is Jesus showing them His hands and side?
- Read John 20:24-28. Is Thomas different than the other
disciples? (If you review John 20:18-19 it seems that the
rest of the disciples (other than John) did not accept
Mary's report because they were fearful rather than
- What does Jesus' reaction to Thomas' doubt teach us?
(That Jesus will go out of His way to remove our
doubts if we earnestly seek Him.)
- Read John 20:29. What is the message for us today? (We
need to believe the eyewitness accounts of John and
others. We should not be like Thomas.)
- Read John 20:30-31. What is the goal of our belief in
Jesus? (Life in His name!)
- The Assignment
- Read John 21:1-3. Is this the picture of busy
evangelists? How do you explain this?
- Read John 21:4-6. Why does Jesus perform this miracle?
- If Jesus wants them to be evangelists, why would He
prosper them in their secular business?
- Read John 21:7-9. Not only does John run faster, but he
has better eyesight than Peter! Am I right? Is John's
eyesight better? (Notice that John identifies Jesus after
they get this unusual catch. The miracle may well have
triggered John's mind to give this fellow on the shore a
closer look. Just like John reads the signs in the empty
tomb, he now reads the signs of the unusual catch.)
- Do we see any change in Peter's personality? (He
pulls his sword first. He bursts into the empty tomb.
He jumps into the water. I love him.)
- Does this picture show us that the rest of the
disciples loved the fish more than they loved Jesus?
- Read John 21:10-13. This seems to me to be an odd story.
The disciples are out fishing, not evangelizing. Jesus
rewards them in this relative waste of time. Then they all
sit down to eat together. What is going on? Why is this
story even in John's account? (This is like old times. The
disciples are fishing, Jesus and his disciples are
together eating fish and bread. This is the ultimate proof
that Jesus is really alive. He is no ghost or spirit. He
is eating real food. It is like it was before His
- Why are we told the exact number of the catch?
(Remember that details give credibility to a story.)
- Read John 21:15-17. When Jesus says "more than these," is
He speaking of the fish and the fishing boat, or is He
speaking of the other disciples? (Recall that in Matthew
26:33 Peter is recorded as saying that he would stand with
Jesus even though all the rest of the disciples abandoned
Him. If Jesus means the boat, it certainly makes sense
because Jesus is telling Peter he has a new job - and it
is not catching fish.)
- If Jesus is speaking about the other disciples, what
do you think of Peter's response? (Peter does not say
"Yes, I love you more than they do. Remember, I
jumped out of the boat!" Instead, Peter simply says
"I love you" without comparing himself with anyone
- Friend, we end our study of John with two important
messages. First, we serve a risen Lord. There is no doubt
or vacillation in the eyewitness account. Second, our
risen Lord calls on us to "feed" and "care" for His
followers - the "sheep" and the "lambs." Will you accept
this responsibility? Will you determine that your
influence will build up the body of believers and not tear
- Next week: Isaiah: Crisis of Identity.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.