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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!

  1. Out of the Tomb


    1. Read John 20:1-2. What motivates Mary Magdalene to get up early on Sunday to go visit Jesus' tomb?


      1. Who is the "disciple ... Jesus loved?" (This is John's way of referring to himself.)


        1. 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?


          1. 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 your head?


      2. Why do you think Mary went to Peter and John first? (She must have viewed them as leaders of the disciples.)


      3. 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.)


    2. 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 truth.)
      1. Is John still bragging? (Sure seems like it.)


    3. Let's focus on John 20:8 and add verse 9. What is it that John believed?


      1. 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 "Scriptures.")


      2. 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.)


    4. 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 the family.)


    5. 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 treated properly.)


      1. 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.)


      2. 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.)


    6. 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 then?


      1. 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 grave.)


  2. The Visits


    1. 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?)


      1. 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 to confidence.)


      2. Why is Jesus showing them His hands and side?


    2. 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 rejoicing.)


      1. 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.)


    3. 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.)


    4. Read John 20:30-31. What is the goal of our belief in Jesus? (Life in His name!)


  3. The Assignment


    1. Read John 21:1-3. Is this the picture of busy evangelists? How do you explain this?


    2. Read John 21:4-6. Why does Jesus perform this miracle?


      1. If Jesus wants them to be evangelists, why would He prosper them in their secular business?


    3. 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.)


      1. 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.)


      2. Does this picture show us that the rest of the disciples loved the fish more than they loved Jesus?


    4. 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 crucifixion.)


      1. Why are we told the exact number of the catch? (Remember that details give credibility to a story.)


    5. 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.)


      1. 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 else.)


    6. 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 it down?


  4. 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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